Week Forty Four, Nikon F5

September 5, 2017

Week 44 – The Nikon F5

Ok, from the off! As I write this I am still in a quandary over this camera. Do I like it?

This is the point I tell you a little about it but I can’t! I would be here for EVER! It has buttons, dials, LCD windows, servos and switches everywhere! You will have to go google it but make a brew and get comfy as you will be there for some time. A 35mm camera from 1996 hailed as one of the best cameras in its class, favoured by press and pro’s it is as near to digital as you get. Russell matched it up with a Nikkor 50mm f1.4 and the Nikkor f4 300mm prime, He dropped the bomb shell it was sold and I only had it for a few days to shoot it, he then followed it up with the 4 figure package value and scared me. I have shot his Nikon D300s a couple of times and the similarities are uncanny so at least I’d have a vague idea. On advice from the twitter crowd I set the meter to matrix and started off with aperture priority as something I was comfortable with.

I loaded a Kodak 200 colour plus straight away while dropping a Kodak 400 ultramax into my bag, later I added a much expired Agfacolor ct21 slide film in case I had time left for some fun experimenting. I tried a few shots on the way home just to get a feel for it but ended up smashing through 12 asap largely due to unknowingly catching the second shutter release on the side with my hand wrestling its weight. Once I knew it was there and looked up how to switch it off I didn’t miss fire again.

The following day brought a bright day and a family trip to the Cornish coast. Ideal for me as I wasn’t overly enjoying the camera doing as much as it was for me. I can hear you all piping up “you can use manual” and yes I know that but I wanted to see what it could do. So! Beach, boats and kids gave me lots to point this monster at while playing with the lenses and setting. We had barely arrived and the 200 was gone, in with the 400. I spent an hour wandering on my own then joined them on the small beach, poof the 400 was gone! In with the Agfa and by the time we left I had pretty much done those 36 too, you can burn film with these auto advance things can’t you. I did try both lenses and particularly liked 300 for close-ups without alerting my girls to my actions. I got in manual for a few but mainly used semi auto and found that handy for snapping away with not so much faffing while out with the family. Day 3 I finished off the questionable expired roll walking down to drop it back.

Developing – Boy this is where it gets sketchy! The 200 went in first, I did it all as you should and pulled it out of the rinse to find nothing! Not a sausage! The developer had expired, I was pretty distraught and immediately mixed a new batch then developed roll 2 way into the early hours of the morning, and happily they worked. A few hours kip and in with roll 3, roll 3 was experimental and came out poor, I had prepared myself for that but loosing roll 1 leaves just 25 images.

Those 25 images are causing the quandary, I was sure that all the fancy in camera techy stuff would spoil the experience, but those same electronic mind boggling abilities had given me a full 25 decent return with little idea of what I was doing or what it could really do. I can see why people rave about it. I cannot complain about weight, I have heavier. It did everything I asked and never flinched. The 300mm lens was awesome, the close-up on Lily’s face was from 3 meters and you can count every hair on her face even on 400 film. Sadly I could never afford this kit but I did kind of enjoy it much to my own surprise.

What I have decided is once this project has finished I won’t be home developing colour. I started it for economic reasons but I have never really been happy with the results. For the few colour I will shoot for myself it makes sense to use a good lab and concentrate on my black and white work. I hope you enjoy my remaining images, I did my best in the time I had.

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