Capital F.

Hot of the digital presses, the first roll of Kodak Tri-X from (not) my Nikon F.

Well, it works. Although I had to re-calibrate the light meter to work with non-mercury batteries at a different voltage than intended (setting the film speed a stop and a third lower did the trick). I ran off 36 shots using the camera’s own meter as my only guide and they all came out Ok. It was only after about the 20th shot that I fully got the hang of which way to turn things to adjust the exposure based on the meter needle in the viewfinder, but we got there in the end!


It was barely above freezing all day, so my travels were limited to a lap of the city centre via several coffee shops. Still, always plenty of new stuff to see even in familiar places when you have to use 36 shots up before you can go home.


Using the F was good. Nice and simple, although that’s entirely because there isn’t any settings to mess with. The meter was, at best, a bit flakey. It was never too far off to get a decent exposure but it did like to jump about a bit which is probably due to the mechanical coupling to the lens aperture ring.


The metering head a is fiendishly complex little thing that likely needs a good service, although if you compare it to the alternatives around at the time this camera was new (which was most likely no meter at all) it’s held up remarkably well.


The F strikes me as a camera for the heart not the head. Not that I think it should just be kept in a glass case, that would be cruel. But if one was to compare it directly with something a bit newer and much cheaper like a Nikon FE there is very little going for the F.


The FE is about a quarter of the price, it is  much smaller and lighter, it has a more reliable modern meter (that takes modern batteries), it couples fully with all non-G series lenses, it has a better focusing screen, and it has a semi-automatic aperture priority shooting mode, all wrapped up in a nice solid SLR body with styling not too far off that of the F.


What the F has going for it though is about more than the specification sheet. This is a legendary camera with a status and history that probably far exceeds that which even it’s original designer’s hoped for it.


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