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The Nikon F100

I own a Nikon F5, an F100, and an N80 (among others). Out of these, I would say that the F100 is probably my favorite. I could go over the specifications, but I don’t care to, as they are already on the net all over. I’m just going to compare it to my other cameras.

 

Three deer run for cover as the photographer approaches at dusk. Shot with the 70-200 2.8 VR. The F100 is fully compatible with this and other VR and G lenses.

 

F5 vs the F100

Without a doubt, the F5 is a spectacular camera. However, one of its biggest draw backs is the sheer weight of the thing.  I once went on a hike with the F5. Compounding the weight factor was a narrow strap, and after a few miles I was wishing I had another camera. Additionally, the F100 is much smaller, but still allows one to add a grip to it. I really like this feature on a camera, as I like the grip when using heavy lenses, or when needing extra battery power, but at the same time, the grip can freak people out. 

 Of course, the F5 does have a better meter they say (though I can’t say I’ve noticed that much, since I shoot mostly B/W film with a wide exposure latitude.) One other area the F5 is noticeably better is the blazing fast rewind speed. In just a few seconds the film can be wound up. Probably faster than one can even get the next roll out of your pocket. I’ve also read something about how the F100 can have some sort of condition that will spontaneously trigger a rewind of the roll during shooting. Some say it might be due to a low battery but the best defense is to disable automatic rewind on the F100. To manually trigger the rewind, one must hold down the two rewind buttons. With the F5, I feel it is much faster to activate the powered rewind. So if film loading speed is vitally important, then go with the F5. Additionally, the F5 can shoot film much faster than the F100, and can be told to open the shutter for up to 30 minutes.

 

Shot inside our car with either an SB-800 or SB-600. The F100 works pretty well with these TTL flashes.

 

One final consideration, the F5 is a flagship pro camera, and the F100 might be considered either an advanced amateur camera (Ken R certainly would) or as a backup/second body for an F5 equipped pro.  If you’re the sort of person cares, then having an F5 over the F100 might mean a lot. Me. . . I needed both.

F100 vs F80

For me, the F100 wins by a considerable margin in this matchup, though the F80 doesn’t really lose. I prefer the slightly heavier weight, larger size, and more robust feel of the F100. The corollary to this of course is when there are times the F80’s lighter weight or smaller size might be more desirable. And since my F80 has travelled a good bit, I’m also confident that it will hold up. But still, there is a certain feel to the F100.

One area the F100 really wins is in its ability to use common AA batteries. The F80 uses CR123 batteries which are a bit expensive, but if they die and you don’t have spares, good luck finding a set of 123’s in the middle of nowhere. I like the fact that one battery type powers nearly all of my cameras.

 

Inside the supermarket. The AF and metering of this camera are really fast and does great with BW film.

 

The F100 has faster film advance speeds. Not stupidly fast like the F5, but probably more useful in terms of everyday film use. One nice little feature allows you to quickly change the rewind speed from a 9 second high speed to a slightly quieter 19 second rewind speed by quickly rotating the film advance wheel to Cs mode. The F80 allows you to do the same, but you have to venture into the CSM menu with its cryptic numbers that differ between the F5 the F100 and the F80. I generally leave the CSM on the self-timer function, by the way, so I can adjust the length of the self-timer if needed.

One bizarre comparison between the two cameras is that the F100 uses an electronic remote release (like the F5) but the F80 uses a cable release. Cable releases are really small and work, but if you were to go out with an F100 and an F80, then you might have to bring both releases.

Small niggle, but I do like the fact that the F80 allows you to dial in some flash exposure compensation using the camera vs having to go hunt down the button on the flash.  Likewise, there is no built in flash on the F100. I almost never use the built in flashes on cameras, but still, maybe there is a time to use it.

In short, the F100 is perhaps the best of the bunch. If you seek a modern AF camera, then this F100 might be just what you find.

(Will put some more photos up in the future.)

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