Rewind ’99: The Nikon F100 Review 1999-2019

Hello there you hardcore camera lovers! Now even though my postings all have a twinge of nostalgia in them, every now and then I like doing a post like this where I look back on the gear that I used at a specific point in time.

As 2019 is rapidly drawing to a close, I thought I’d go back in time and look at a some of cameras I used twenty years ago in 1999! There’s going to be about two or three of them and we’ll go through them one by one until the year is done.

PHOTOGRAPHY IN 1999

1999 can be seen as a pivotal year in photography. Film was holding strong, but digital was rising fast. As in really fast!

In 1999 the vast majority of the world were still shooting film. That’s right folks! Even though the digital photography market was making inroads in a big way, the cameras sold to the general public were 1 to 3 megapixel cameras and they were expensive so for most of the world, film was still ruler of the day. But its days were numbered.

Now it might be hard for you youngsters and hipsters who find shooting film cool and different to realize that at one time, not that long ago, film was a format that was used by their “unhip” fathers, mothers, uncles, aunties, grandparents, and heck everyone! If everyone were using it, how unhip is that? πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ»

Now if you were born in 1999, you may feel “old” but really you’re not! You’re still a baby in many ways, and I say that in the best of terms. Be happy about it! I wish I were twenty years younger! πŸ™‚

That’s why I say 1999 was not that long ago even though sometimes it feels like it! And yet sometimes it doesn’t.

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YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who are YouTube fanatics, and admittedly there are millions out there, here’s our video companion video. I’m trying to get these videos out sooner for you guys!

MY GEAR BAG IN 1999

Not that anyone would or should care what I was using in 1999, but I use my gear only as a reference point. I’d love to know what YOU were using back then? πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ»

Now believe it or not, in 1999 I did not even get my first digital camera yet! That would happen a year later in 2000. That means all photography I did up to the year 2000 was only done on film. That’s even hard for me today imagine living in the digital world of 2019!

And while I’m sure I had other cameras, today I am talking about what I considered to be my main camera in 1999 and that camera is the Nikon F100. There will be more to come!

THE NIKON F100

The Nikon F100 is an autofocus 35mm film SLR that was introduced in 1999 by Nikon. It was born of the legendary Nikon F5 of 1996 and indeed has the same Multi-Cam 1300 AF system.

The Nikon F100 has a shutter speed range of 30 secs to 1/8000th of a second. It has the standard P/S/A/M modes. It relies on four AA batteries.

F100 vs F5

The F5 was introduced in 1996 and in 1999, it was still the top camera in the Nikon family. The F5 and F100 both share the Nikon Multi-Cam 1300 AF module and five AF points so their AF should be similar except that the F5 can track up to 8 frames per second while the F100 can go up to 4.5fps by itself or up to 5fps with battery pack MB-15.

What it does better than the F5 is the inclusion of the familiar red AF points that the F5 did not have. Correct me if I’m wrong but I remember reading back then that this was due to patent issues.

The F5, as the pro model, offers interchangeable viewfinder prisms, and can offer up to 100% viewfinder coverage depending on the prism. The F100 offers a 96 percent coverage and the prism is not removable.

The F5 has a mirror lock-up option, the F100 does not. In 1999, this mattered more to people than it might today. Check the video for a better explanation of this.

The F5 employs 1005 pixel RGB sensor for its 3D Color Matrix Metering. The F100 uses Nikon’s “exclusive” 10 segment 3D Matrix Metering.

Now I’ve never mentioned this, but (surprise!) yes I have used an F5 as well! And in all honesty, I never saw a difference. Both cameras produced near perfect exposures in all but the most extreme lighting situations. In fact the only Nikon that I felt I had exposure issues with was the N90s. But I used only one body so I feel that could’ve just been my copy of the camera.

The F100 came in at a much lower price ($1400) than the F5 ($3000 original price!) which made it an instant hit among the photography crowd. I remember reading forums like Photo.net where folks couldn’t wait to get their hands on the camera.

In some ways, it was like a pre Nikon D3 vs D700 magic! Two cameras. One pro model, one enthusiast model. Same AF system. One much more expensive, one much less.

Note: By the way, the Nikon F100 has 22 Custom Functions and if you’re interested in them, look it up! I only ever used one function which is to leave the film leader out πŸ™‚

F100 vs F6

I can’t comment on this because (surprise!) I have NOT used an F6. I have no doubt the F6 is the more technically capable camera but as far as results, I’m going to take an educated guess and say that, with the same lenses, same film, results will look identical πŸ™‚

F100 AS A MAIN SHOOTER IN 1999 VS 2019 PERSPECTIVE

In 1999, even though I had other cameras, the F100 was my main shooter. In a 2019 perspective, that’s the equivalent of someone using say a Nikon D750 or D850 for example. But unlike today where you’d use a D750 and maybe have an F100 as a secondary camera for film, the F100 was my main camera in 1999.

I’m not sure who this guy is, but he looks like a little bit of a nut πŸ™‚

That means that I used it for almost everything! I go to a party, I bring my F100. I go to restaurant, I bring the F100. I go to the beach, I bring my F100. I go to church, I bring my F100. Ok, well sometimes I brought my Pentax IQ Zoom point and shoot but you get the idea. I used the F100 the same way I use my iPhone today. That means even my lamest pictures were taken with the F100 πŸ™‚

Any of you remember the cool and handy Magic Lantern guides? I didn’t buy too many of them but I did for the F100. I thought I might need it to learn all of the cameras advanced functions. As it turns out, I never really needed the book because for basic shooting the F100 is easy to figure out!

We are so spoiled for choices today and unless you lived in a pre digital world you might not fully understand the profound effect digital photography has made on our lives, for better or worse.

I had another film body as a backup but in 1999 there were no digital backups for me! Simply because there weren’t any real digital cameras at the time capable to even delivering close to what film cameras can and even the 1 to 3 megapixel digicams were expensive!

Today, I carry a digital camera and still carry a film camera no matter where I go. Old habits die hard. Living in a world where I carry digital cameras more than capable of replacing film, it’s an amazing thought that the roles are reversed and that I’m only carrying a film camera because I love film and because it’s going to give me results that are different, maybe more artistic, moody, etc but certainly not technically better than my best digital camera bodies.

PICS

I have a lot of personally memorable images with the Nikon F100 but the majority of them are in the old school photo albums that need to be scanned.

And unless I’m showing a photo that demonstrates its autofocus in action I really don’t think it matters much because, for the most part, for example, a Nikon F100 or N80 with the same lens, same film would take the same pictures. But here are a few pictures for the sake of this article and for nostalgia 😘

“Legends” Circa 1999. Nikon F100, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor. In 1999, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were still standing.

“Ho Hum Day” 2011. Nikon F100, 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX lens, Kodak Tri-X in HC-110. The F100 is capable of working with a modern Nikon lens, even digital lenses such as the 35mm f/1.8G DX lens used for this shot!

Here’s a shot I’ve never posted anywhere. How much did I love the F100? So much that I used it at my Dad’s funeral in 2011. RIP Dad, God Bless.

HOW I CAME ACROSS THE F100

I’m not usually an early adopter but I was able to get one only because a photo forum member had bought one and sold it at a pretty steep discount. I had the money and I jumped on it. As I said in one of my videos, just like that Steve Winwood song says “While you see a chance, take it!”

Back in 1999 there weren’t as many photo forums so I’m thinking it was on photo.net but I could be wrong.

Anyway, I loved the camera  then and I still do today! The build was and is superb. It’s not as bulky as the F5 yet not small in any way, especially when compared to today’s mirrorless cameras.

F100 IMPRESSIONS

The camera feels perfect in the hands. The build quality is superb. The magnesium alloy body keeps it strong yet light. Even though it is second tier to the Nikon F5, the F100 is weather sealed like a pro oriented body should be.

All the controls are where you would expect them to be, but if there’s anything that confuses you, read the manual! It is an electronic camera after all with all the complications that might go with that.

The 5 point AF is speedy and accurate. It can run on 4 AA batteries that last a long time. The shutter speed range is 30 secs up to 1/8000th of a second which is always a sign of a top camera. Even though its position was secondary to the F5 which makes it the “prosumer” or “enthusiast” model, it was also marketed to and loved by professionals.

I remember the lenses I used most with the F100 were my ever trusty Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF-D and the 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D Zoom. That’s a very good general purpose zoom for film and full frame cameras.

I sold the F100 maybe two years later because I either needed the money or wanted to upgrade. Can’t remember now, but that’s usually my reasons for selling!

I must’ve gone through about three of these and my current one was bought in 2011. I still hang on to it, despite not using it as much as I should.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition Lens available for PRE-ORDER NOW

ISSUES

As much as I’ve been enthusiastic about the F100, it doesn’t mean the camera is flawless. No camera is. More attention should be paid to potential problems when the cameras are electronic in nature.

One area to keep an eye on is the rear Focus Area Selector. It’s that thing that looks like a pad from a video game controller. The controls may malfunction or not be as responsive over time. The possible culprit could be that the electrical contacts underneath may be effected by oxidation or wear out from use, just like a video game joystick. Some people try electrical spray or resetting the camera. Since I have not faced the problem, I do not have the solution. I’m just giving you leads to help you to find your own answers.

The rear focus area selector is a potential problem area.

Another thing to watch for is “ERR” or error messages from the camera. Many times it’s just the batteries or the electrical contacts may need cleaning but other times, you don’t know! Try changing the batteries first. Clean the electrical contacts on the lens mount. Try a reset. If nothing works, get a repair estimate. You might find it cheaper just picking up another F100!

The last thing I found on two of the three F100 cameras that I have used is that the rubber grip becomes sticky with time. This is due to the sweat, moisture, humidity, water, etc that wear it down over the years. This doesn’t happen with all cameras so that means whatever material Nikon used for the F100 (and F5) grips do not wear well over time. The digital Nikon D70 has become infamous for this problem!

Though she looks beautiful right here, keep an eye for sticky grip surfaces on the Nikon F100. Or “Surface Sticky” as a famous used camera dealer calls it!

If you ever looked at used camera dealer descriptions, this is what they call “Surface Sticky” as I often see at KEH Camera.

For usability, it’s a non issue, but you might want to keep an eye on it. Some possible remedies are to use an isopropyl alcohol rub, hand sanitizer, or even baby wipes! It’s really a process of experimentation and these remedies do not work for every camera.

I’ve never tried to fix the sticky surface on my F100 because it’s not that bad yet, but I have used a combination of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and baby powder to cure the sticky surface of my other cameras.

Keep in mind you may end up doing more damage so if it’s not that bad leave it alone!

BOTTOM LINE

The Nikon F100 is a modern classic and a true Camera Legend. It took the legend of the Nikon F5 to the masses. It’s a perfect Nikon camera in my opinion!

Many people consider it Nikon’s second or third best AF film camera, behind the F5 and F6 respectively. Technically, I may agree with that but in the context of being the best choice for “the people” which is 95 percent of the world, I’d say the Nikon F100 is the BEST! And not just “for your money” but because it is a very capable camera!

CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed this ride back in time. What’s next? Find out in my YouTube video!

But more importantly, I’d love to know: What camera/lenses were YOU using in 1999? And if you weren’t around in 1999, then what gear has been most endearing to you on your photographic journey?

I’d love to know so leave a comment! Thank you πŸ™‚

PRICE & AVAILIBILITY

The Nikon F100 is plentiful on the used market. Because it runs second to the F5 in the Nikon hierarchy, it’s prices have been stable over the years. And today, maybe more so because big SLR cameras in general are seen as almost passe, I hate to say it!

Prices for the F100 are trending at $150-300 USD which makes it a bargain. And indeed, when we talk about cameras like the Contax T2 (which I’ve talked about a lot) and the inflated prices for that camera, $150-300 to me is a STEAL for a camera like the F100!

If you have one or get one, I’d love to hear from you!

Get Your Nikom F100 Here!

Hello from…

Good morning you guys! I know I have been away far too long this time even by my standards but I was gone for about a month and took the opportunity to not only take photos but also to take a digital detox. Didn’t sign on to WordPress once during my trip, sorry to say!

I went to Thailand and the Philippines. Two very colorful countries that appear similar on the surface but couldn’t be more different culturally. The one thing that ties them together really are the wonderful, friendly people.

I was almost always on the move. But on the positive side, I got a lot of rest at night. More sleep than I’ve had in months! On the negative side, I now have bad jet lag and my whole system is all messed up.

On this trip, I brought with me the Hasselblad X-Pan that you saw on the most recent video review. Just because I reviewed a camera doesn’t mean I stop using it! I also brought a couple other film cameras, including an Olympus Stylus Epic and Contax cameras. But which Contax? πŸ˜€πŸ‘πŸ»

On the digital side I brought my Ricoh GR 16mp. I’ve never really warmed up to this camera simply because I’ve always been partial to my beloved original GRD 8.1mp but I took the GR to “break it in” even though I’ve had it for a few years.

A crab found on the beach in Marinduque Island, Philippines. Of course, it was set free afterwards πŸ™‚

Well, I don’t have any of the film developed yet so it will take some time. All of these photos are either from my iPhone or Ricoh. I just haven’t had the time to sort them out.

Guardians at one of the many spectacular temples in Thailand’s Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.

The amazingly funky Mahanakhon building in Bangkok.

I searched for film cameras and film and found them in the Quiapo section of Manila, one of the very few places where you can find film or film cameras in the Philippines!

A simple and undeveloped, unspoiled beach on Marinduque Island, Philippines.

No need for a title, but if I were to give this photo a title, I guess you could figure out what it would be πŸ™‚

Surely there’s a lot of work left to do but I hope these photos give you a glimpse of where I’ve been and hopefully there’s more to come. And definitely, there’s a lot of catching up to do!

Hope you all are doing well, and catch you guys again soon! πŸ˜ŽπŸ“ΈπŸ‘πŸ»

Hasselblad X-Pan Video Review

Good day guys! Here’s our latest YouTube video review on the Hasselblad X-Pan and 45mm f/4 lens. I had an article almost finished but since I’m taking a little trip, I couldn’t put the finishing touches so that will have to wait a little. Of course, it will have a lot more information than the video but the video is probably more entertaining.

I wasn’t happy with all of the aspects of the video, despite trying new techniques but it’s a work in progress.

Anyway, the Hassleblad X-Pan is an amazing camera that will make you rethink the way you compose your pictures. See you guys on the road, and thanks for your support!

Reflecting On The 50th Anniversary Of The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Fifty years ago today, July 20th, 1969, NASA achieved what many still consider mankind’s greatest achievement; landing a man on the moon.

Now, trying not to give away my age, all I can say is I don’t remember the actual lunar landing πŸ™‚

However, as a geeky kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, astronomy was always a passion even as a child. And it remains so today.

So if you grew up in the same era as I did, I’m sure you can agree with me that almost nothing makes you feel as old as knowing it’s been fifty years since that first moon landing! I still remember watching the nightly news when it was the twentieth anniversary! Damn man 😦

CAMERAS USED ON APOLLO 11

The above photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II at prime focus on a Meade 90mm f/11 ETX Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope. But what were the cameras used on that first historic lunar landing?

According to NASA itself, the cameras used were three Hasselblad 500EL cameras. One was used in the command module Columbia, and the other two were taken to the moon on the Eagle lunar module.

These had special modifications to minimize what the astronauts had to do. Basically, they made it as “point and shoot” as possible. The lenses from what I have read were the 80mm f/2.8 Planar and the 60mm f/5.6 Zeiss Biogon. A Kodak Stereo Camera was also used for close ups of the lunar surface.

The film was a specially formulated Kodak 70mm film. I’ve often wondered what the ISO rating was for the film, and it seems like there are a lot of educated guesses but nothing official. I guess only us geeky photo nuts would be interested in knowing this πŸ˜€

At any rate, many skeptics over the years have mentioned how could the astronauts have possibly taken such fine photographs in their bulky cumbersome spacesuits.

The only thing I can say is…hey, in addition to the cameras being modified for ease of use, don’t you think they worked all that out? Practiced countless times?

This was not just a trip of a lifetime, it was a trip for the ages!

HOW FIFTY YEARS CAN CHANGE YOUR VIEWS

Can you believe that something so technologically astounding and complex as landing a man on the moon was something that was done fifty years ago? Are you kidding me?!

And can you believe that after that series of Apollo moon landings that I believe ended in 1972 with astronaut Eugene Cernan as the last man on the moon, we’ve done nothing ever since!

Of course, I’m speaking tongue in cheek but you know what I’m trying to say. When Neil Armstrong  said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he became the first man to step foot on the moon, I think we all can relate to that statement even today.

Yes, I know that out of space technology we have so many things that have helped humanity. Lasers, GPS, microwaves, and many more things we probably don’t even know about.

But what I’m talking about when I say we’ve done “nothing” since, is this; where are the colonies on the moon? Where is the promised man on Mars?

Yes, I know putting a man on Mars has been gaining a lot of momentum in recent years. The way they’re talking, it seems it will happen in the next decade. But the older I get the more skeptical I’ve become. Sadly, I now feel I won’t see a man on Mars in my lifetime.

But even more than that, I now wonder why would we even bother getting a man to Mars? Let me explain further. As a child with endless fascination, and all throughout my young adult years I would have been all for a manned Mars mission.

But now, with all the probes that NASA and other space agencies have sent to Mars, I think it’s very clear that there is no significant life there. Note, I didn’t say there is no life on Mars. I wouldn’t rule that out. But based on all I have seen, Mars is as barren a world as you can imagine.

There is no hint of an ancient civilization. No buildings. No drawings. No artifacts. No animals. No vegetation. No nothing. Just a cold, barren world with a very thin atmosphere not suitable for human beings.

I am a man of science at heart so I marvel at all the discoveries they have made on Mars. Yet at the same time, I believe all the Mars missions have done is to finally take away the romanticism of Mars.

The Martian “canals” of Giovanni Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell, the notion of desperate Martians building a canal system to save their planet, all just imagination. The invading Martians of H.G. Wells, just imagination.

They talk about terraforming Mars. To terraform the planet would take centuries, and would humans be able to survive even with all our best laid plans?

A trip to Mars will be a one way trip and most people who want to go there know this. They may know it, but how many would actually be able to deal with this frightening reality once the spacecraft heads off to Mars?

Anyway, I’m drifting too far off! What I say is, if they plan to go to Mars, they probably should start first with the Lunar colonies. The Moon is a lot closer than Mars. If an issue or emergency arises, it’s possible with our technology today to do something about it.

If an emergency arises on Mars, or on the way to Mars, forget about it!

THE LUNAR LEGACY

All my skepticism about Mars aside, I just want to say that it still amazes me to this day, whenever I look up at the moon and get lost in deep thought. I say to myself, wow, people actually walked up there!

Now even though neither I nor anyone I know personally has walked the moon, the fact that those brave men walked the moon, I think it makes us all united. They didn’t just walk the moon for themselves. It really was an achievement for all mankind.

And it helps to make an otherwise totally alien world seem a little more friendly. More than just a moon that happens to be locked in orbit with our home planet the Earth.

In a time today when celebrities are paid millions for just looking good, the brave men and women (in Mission Control) of the Apollo missions are to be admired.

Can you imagine dealing with the discomforts of doing in outer space, even the simple things such as eating, going to the bathroom (in their spacesuits I think!) and facing such unknowns, not knowing if you’ll ever make it home?

These astronauts and the people who worked behind the scenes are heroes for making one of mankind’s oldest dreams come true. As I said, they are to be admired, respected, remembered. Not just then, but now, and for always.

If you lived through that first historic Apollo 11 mission, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Tuesday Trends: DSLR vs Mirrorless…Is The DSLR About To Go Extinct?

The “trend” we will be looking at today is the topic of the Digital SLR (DSLR) versus Mirrorless cameras and the prevailing thought that the DSLR may be going into extinction soon.

I read the same articles and watch the same videos as you guys do and I saw that this topic was trending on YouTube for a couple of weeks.

Funny thing, I had thought of doing an article about this some time back as part of my “Tuesday Trends” series but I hesitated to post the video because I thought people might not find it relevant. It’s actually a topic of debate that’s been going back for several years!

I’m guessing what might have reignited this debate was this article on Petapixel in which Ricoh marketing general manager Hikorki Sugahara decided to buck the trend and stated that “mirrorless is a newcomer” and seems to imply that because of this people are flocking to these new systems but he predicts that the same people will return to the Digital SLR in 1-2 years. It’s an interesting article of which you can read in full here:

Ricoh Thinks Mirrorless Shooters Will Switch Back to DSLRs in 1-2 Years

I have my own views on this which I will share with you here, but first let’s look at what each system is.

WHAT IS A DSLR?

As mentioned above, a DSLR is a “Digital Single Lens Reflex” camera. The word “reflex” basically means it has an optical system of mirror, ground glass, prism, and eyepiece to form an image.

WHAT IS A MIRRORLESS CAMERA?

A Mirrorless camera is just that. It does not make use of a mirror between the lens and sensor. There is no mirror to move up and down. Some models may use mirrors elsewhere such as for the viewfinder but the important thing for “mirrorless” cameras is that there is no mirror between the lens and sensor.

The image is transferred electronically to the rear LCD. Higher end mirrorless cameras sometimes also have an EVF or electronic viewfinder.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

Here’s the accompanying video I made for this article. While the written article you are reading contains more information, the video makes up for it with raw grit and candid humor πŸ™‚

I didn’t want it to go on so long, but I guess I yak too much! Anyway, in this video I introduce some new “videography techniques” if you can call it that lol πŸ™‚

I will attempt to refine these production techniques in future videos. Remember folks, this is all for your entertainment!

DSLR PROS & CONS

The DSLR has been taking a beating recently by the “experts” and mirrorless proponents but still has a lot of things that make it highly desirable.

First off, it is the last link to actual film SLR cameras. Despite the “film vs digital” thing, a Digital SLR is in many ways an extension of the film SLR in the digital realm,

The most obvious link is the optical viewfinder. While DSLR’s may have sensors and other electronic elements, the good old optical viewfinder is built upon the same concept and engineering as your good old fashioned film cameras SLRS.

Before I start drifting off, let me just put the pros and cons into a more easy to follow numerical scheme:

DSLR PROS:

  1. Optical Viewfinder The view from a large, high quality optical viewfinder is still hard to beat, especially if focusing in daylight. “Ain’t nothing like the real thing baby!” as the song once said 😊
  2. If the LCD ever fails, and sometimes it does, a DSLR with an optical viewfinder can still function for picture taking. A mirrorless camera with a broken EVF or LCD will be completely useless.
  3. Usually fast shot to shot times, less lag.
  4. Battery life is better on the newer DSLR cameras because it does not need to continually supply the LCD or EVF with power.
  5. Very fast AF possible.
  6. Focus Peaking may be available, depending on model, via Live View
  7. There are a ton of native lenses available for the DSLR and for potentially lower prices if buying used.
  8. A large DLSR balances better with long and/or heavy lenses
  9. This is subjective, but many people report that the DSLR feels more solid or better built than their mirrorless counterparts.
  10. Superb video options available on today’s DSLRs
  11. Choice of APS-C and Full-Frame options
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Nothing compares to using a true optical viewfinder especially outdoors!

DSLR CONS:

  1. DSLRs are often large, heavy, and bulky
  2. Lenses are often larger than the equivalent mirrorless lenses
  3. Many older DSLR lenses were optimized for film cameras, not digital sensors.
  4. The Optical Viewfinder cannot support focus peaking
  5. Contrary to what I’ve read, I find it harder to focus manual lenses at night or low light through the optical viewfinder.
  6. Focus confirmation chips not as accurate as focus peaking with fast lenses
  7. Limited ability to adapt lenses due to mirror being in the light path between lens and sensor
  8. Not inconspicuous or stealthy
  9. Potential shakiness at low shutter speeds due to mirror slap.
  10. You look old and unhip with a DSLR!

“Roar!” 2019. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/1.2L. DSLR’s can shoot fast and offers tons of options for native lenses at more affordable prices on the used market. For example, Canon’s new 85mm f/1.2 RF for their R Mirrorless cost $2699 new. The 85mm f/1.2L in EOS mount versions I & II can be found on the used market from $1000-1500 respectively.

Ok, next up is mirrorless…

MIRRORLESS CAMERAS PROS & CONS

Mirrorless cameras have a lot of virtues and benefits but they also have their shortcomings. Here are some pros and cons for mirrorless:

MIRRORLESS PROS:

  1. Smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalent cameras.
  2. The easier it is to carry, the more likely you will take it with you and use it.
  3. Image Stabilization in body more common in mirrorless cameras than DSLRs.
  4. Lenses are also smaller and often lighter, but still of high quality.
  5. Very fast AF possible, but usually with higher end models.
  6. Focus peaking. Very useful with manual focus lenses
  7. Easier to focus at night or in low light due to LCD or EVF “gain” which makes for a brighter image in the viewfinder or on the LCD.
  8. The ability to use many more legacy lenses through the use of adapters. The absence of a reflex mirror in the light path makes this possible.
  9. Potentially less vibration at low shutter speeds due to no mirror slap.
  10. Superb video options available.
  11. Choice of APS-C or Full-Frame or even smaller 1″ sensors.
  12. Superb image quality possible.

Mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7r above are incredibly popular for use with adapted legacy glass.

“Autumn Leaves” 2014. Sony A7r, Canon 50mm f/0.95 Rangefinder “Dream” lens. Focus peaking and the EVF on the mirrorless A7r made it much easier to achieve sharp focus with fast lenses. In fact, I find it invaluable for this purpose.

MIRRORLESS CONS:

  1. May feel too light and flimsy, depending on model.
  2. EVF may still feel like looking at a computer screen vs the DSLR optical viewfinder.
  3. Lag time. I find both my Olympus OM-D EM-5 and Sony A7r to have slow startup times and sometimes a lag after a shot is taken. This might be due to the “refresh” of the screens but it could make a difference between getting the shot and losing the shot.
  4. Potentially shorter battery life as battery is needed for everything.
  5. Native lenses, while growing, is still limited compared to DSLR lenses thus less native options, but plenty of alternative options if you’re willing to use adapters.
  6. Does not balance as well with larger lenses.
  7. Because of the small size, controls can feel cramped and ergonomics can suffer.
  8. You look like a modern day camera geek with a mirrorless camera! πŸ™‚

CONCLUSION

Wow, that was a mouthful! And more than I ever wanted to write! I even missed on one of the main points I wanted to make and that is…

If we do not see a Canon 1DX Mark III or Nikon D6 for the Olympics or even in a couple of years, then it is very possible that the big badass PRO DSLR bodies will go extinct. But I still think the DSLR will survive in the from of the “little” cameras such as the Canon Rebel series, Nikon D35xx series, and maybe even the mid-tier 7D or D7000 bodies.

Personally I say, have one of each! Now you might say something like “That’s too rich for my blood,” to which I would say come on now, you know photography is an expensive hobby but with the options you have these days, especially on the used market, you could easily have a good quality DSLRΒ andΒ mirrorless for under $500. It doesn’t need to be the latest and greatest folks.

DSLR or Mirrorless? Life is short, have both! πŸ™‚

I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic so if you have one, feel free to leave a comment! Happy shooting folks! πŸ˜ŽπŸ‘πŸ»

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Flashback Friday: My Very First EOS Camera the EOS-10s 1995

Continuing on my “cheap cameras” theme for this week…

If some of your best photographic memories come from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, then you’ve probably followed the same photographic path that I have.

This is the story of the days when your host and author here used nothing more than one camera and two lenses. I know it’s hard to believe after all the cameras profiled here, but yes there was a time when that was all I needed πŸ™‚

Perhaps you too have gone through that period. Do you ever wish you could go back to a simpler set of gear and just focus on photography?

THE CANON EOS-10s

My original Canon EOS-10s in black with my consumer grade Sigma 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom lens. On the left is my most recent “60th Anniversary” EOS-10QD which I got for $17 dollars!

The camera for today’s subject is the Canon EOS-10s.

The EOS-10s is a 35mm autofocus SLR film camera introduced by Canon in 1990. It is also known as the EOS-10 or 10QD elsewhere around the world.

Quick specs include your standard P/S/A/M modes, flash synch at 1/125 and a shutter speed range from 1/30 to 1/4000 which puts it in the amateur/enthusiast category. It also had a unique and gimmicky bar code reader thing. Not worth mentioning, just Google it if you’re interested in that!

This story is NOT about the Canon 10D digital camera! If you came here by accident because of the 10D, I’m telling you now so you won’t waste your time. And yes, I’ve used the 10D too but it’s a topic for another day πŸ™‚

While a humble looking camera, the EOS-10s included a major innovation at that time which Canon called Multi-Basis AF which was a fancy way of saying that the camera had more than just one AF point 😊

It had three in fact! Apparently the three AF points could “pass off” the subject it tracked from one AF point to another. This was major back in 1990! And just one of the many things that made Canon so respected as an innovator in the camera world.

CANON EOS-10s IMPRESSIONS

I got this camera in 1994. I was a poor student and while waiting for friends at a college library, I spent an afternoon reading almost all Β of the library’s Popular Photography magazine! Big mistake because that’s how the second wave of my camera obsession came about πŸ™‚

I had just about given up on my Minolta X-700 which I had used since 1985. It had developed a battery drain problem and even though I sent it in for Minolta to repair, the problem came back within a few months.

I was basically without a camera, except for my crappy Vivitar PS-20 point and shoot. I came across a review about the Canon EOS-10s and was fascinated by the (then) new Multi-Basis AF.

My friends showed up hours later, but I was quite content to read all that photography stuff! I was also several hundred dollars poorer because I knew I had to have that EOS-10s that I did not yet have the money for πŸ™‚

Anyway, a few months and several paychecks later, the EOS-10s arrived and I held in my hands my very first Canon EOS camera. What a feeling it was back then!

Obviously a camera is useless without a lens, so I went around to several local camera shops (and there were more local shops around back then) and I came back with what today may be seen as a very cheap lens: the Sigma 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 UC. I think I spent around $70 for it. I also eventually got a telephoto, and I settled for a cheap Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 USM first version.

As you can see folks, I started out with a humble two lens kit like everyone else! I cut my teeth learning the craft on cheap lenses. I should’ve just learned from my X-700 days and gotten a 50mm f/1.8 lens from the start but I wanted something different.

The EOS-10s felt good in my hands. I knew nothing of pro bodies at the time. I mean I read about them but didn’t think of getting one, nor could I afford one till much later.

While this is not a full out review, I can tell you that I never had a problem with the autofocus. It almost always delivered the goods. The fact that they AF points lit up in RED was a revelation at that time! Exposures were almost always spot on.

Below are some photos from circa 1995. Most of the photos are from a trip to Thailand in 1995. It is a beautiful and fascinating place to photograph! If you have the opportunity, do so. You will never run out of photo ops! I was quite content with my cheap camera and two lenses. All I wanted to do then was to take photos!

PHOTOS

Here are some photos from the Canon EOS-10s and my two “cheap” lenses. Where ever possible, I will state in the captions what I observed and what I may have done differently now that I can look back 24 years later.

“Working Monkeys” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lens, film unrecorded. I’m an advocate for developing your eye for interesting sites, but this one was easy! I caught these working moneys riding the back of a Toyota in Thailand. The monkeys are used to climb coconut trees and have been taught to get the best picks.

“Ten Buddhas” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 UC lens, film unrecorded. Here’s an example of how I might have shot this different today. Looking back I probably should have used a large aperture lens, angle it differently and get one Buddha in focus while the rest are out of focus. Hmm, or is that perhaps too trite, to cliched a shot? πŸ™‚

“Sleeping Beauty” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens. Not sure who this “Pretty Boy” is but he sure loved a good nap πŸ™‚

“Float On” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Fujichrome Velvia. The joy of floral photography in upstate New York, and yes I do shoot flowers sometimes πŸ™‚

“Big Mouth” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Kodak Ektar 25. The hippo opens his big mouth at the Bangkok Zoo. At that time the now long discontinued Kodak Ektar 25 was touted as the “sharpest print film in the world” and my 13×19 prints confirmed this. What I learned is that even consumer grade lenses can be very sharp when stopped down, something we all know but kind of downplay today so we can keep buying expensive lenses right? Β πŸ™‚ Of course, the the Ektar 25 no doubt film helped the sharpness!

 

“Wat Phra Keo” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Kodak Ektachrome. One of the many magnificent structures at Wat Phra Keo in Bangkok, the most famous of Thailand’s many temples.

“Bangkok Traffic” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, Sigma 28-70mm UC lens, Kodak Ektar 25. The traffic in Bangkok was famous for being ridiculous and based on what I saw the last time I was there in 2016, it still is! But maybe not as bad as this:-)

“Koh Samui” 1995. Canon EOS-10s, EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6, film unrecorded. Just one of many beautiful views on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand. The trees and the hill may give a sense of scale. I used a telephoto because this was actually farther out than it looks.

It’s the 1990s again with my old Canon EOS-10s from 1994 and the “Fubu” shirt! πŸ™‚

BOTTOM LINE

The Canon EOS-10s doesn’t get a lot of love in today’s world. It seems to be viewed as an evolutionary camera, as far as Canon’s camera order goes, but it could and should also be considered revolutionary considering the advanced technology that was implemented into the camera.

The three MULTI-BASIS autofocus points that light up in red may seem like nothing today, but it was an amazing and useful feature that pushed forward the complexity and accuracy of autofocus cameras.

In today’s world of cameras with hundreds of tiny and precise AF points, using a camera like the EOS-10s with its three “large” AF points, right in the middle of the viewfinder , is a refreshing experience.

In fact, to this day, I’m so old school I still prefer using the center point AF in every autofocus camera I own!

The Canon EOS-10s may never be considered a true Camera Legend as it is overshadowed by so many other cameras, Canon and non Canon. However, when you consider how it helped push autofocus cameras forward, you can’t help but have a little respect for its place in camera history. That plus the fact that it was my first EOS camera! πŸ™‚

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

The Canon EOS-10s is dirt cheap and under-appreciated in today’s used camera market making it a great buy for the budding film photographer, or a seasoned pro wanting a cheap entry back into film.

Main problem or weak point might be the mode dial. They may wear out over time, but mine never did and I used it a lot back in the 1990s. The A2E that I also used later on has the same problem and I can attest that the dial on mine broke after a few years.

If seeking one of these, prices are trending at $10-40 USD. I wouldn’t pay more than $15-25 dollars. If it’s working you have a nice, if unassuming camera, that will deliver the goods!

The lenses, ah, probably not worth mentioning but you can find both of them anywhere from $5 to $35 or even better, FREE! Just keep looking! But any similar budget lenses will do, don’t knock yourself out over these lenses!

Happy shooting folks!

 

Film Beginner’s Guide To The Benefits Of A Cheap Camera Part I: Vivitar V3800N

Good morning you guys! A friend recently asked me to recommend him a good film camera but before I could give any recommendations, he asked me “Should I get a Leica? Contax? Nikon?”

That got me thinking. In all honestly, especially for the beginner in film photography, I really don’t think you need an expensive camera!

So that’s how today’s article came about! Keep in mind, this is a lighthearted article. Part humor and part reality 😊

THE VIVITAR V3800N

The Vivitar V3800N is a 35mm single lens reflex (SLR) film camera. The lens mount is Pentax K. The actual year of its release is uncertain, but based on my research it appears to have been introduced and marketed by Vivitar in 2009.

The camera itself was apparently made by Cosina of Japan. To me, Cosina is the Yashica of today in that they can produce cameras and lenses of any type for any budget. From the very high end modern Zeiss Ikon (not to be confused with the original Zeiss Ikon of Germany) cameras to the Vivitar V3800N!

I am unsure however if Cosina made the 50mm f/1.7 Vivitar lens or if it was produced by a Chinese manufacturer. Cosina makes some very high quality Voigtlander branded lenses which are popular with the Leica community.

BUT…

While the Vivitar V3800N is the star of today’s article, it is really NOT about the Vivitar specifically. It could be about any cheap camera!

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For you folks who prefer videos, here’s my YouTube video on the subject. It’s about 6 minutes, much easier to view and much better for my sanity!

I’m doing it today on my new happy place, a place I call the “Lazy Couch” πŸ™‚

Got tired of that old backdrop, so while waiting for a new backdrop I’m on the Lazy Couch! Somewhere in this video I accidentally dropped the F… Bomb πŸ˜‚ Sorry about that!

OK, THE BENEFITS OF A CHEAP CAMERA!

  1. It’s Cheap! The Vivitar V3800N cost me $30 for both camera and lens! But again, it doesn’t have to be a Vivitar
  2. It’s a good conversation starter! Let’s say at a photo meetup your friends pull out their Leicas, Contaxes, Nikons, etc, etc, and you pull this out? Conversation starter!
  3. You can say you’re a student! The Vivitar V3800N is a camera that was used by many photography students in high schools and colleges.
  4. The V3800N doesn’t rely on batteries, except for the meter.
  5. If you use a 50mm lens, which I heartily recommend, and you stop the lens down a couple of stops, you may be quite surprised with your results. And your friends might be surprised too!
  6. And if you lose or damage the camera/lens or get it stolen, you will be out a bit of change but your Leica, Contax, or Hasselblad shooting friends will be out thousands!

PRICE, AVAILABILITY & OPTIONS

As I mentioned, I got the Vivitar V3800N plus 50mm f/1.7 lens for $30. You could find it for that price if you’re lucky or patient. More likely it will cost you $50-60 for both, still not bad.

The “ultimate” cheap camera to me, used to be the Pentax K1000. It was the original 35mm students camera but now prices have gone up quite a bit. Still, if you want higher quality than the Vivitar and all the benefits of the Pentax K mount, try to find one for under $100 with lens.Β Old Chinon cameras that use the Pentax K mount are also a good option.

As a fan of the Olympus OM series, the Olympus OM-1 can still sometimes be found for under $60. Get the 50mm f/1.8 Zuiko and you’ll get excellent results! That was one of my my favorite carry around combos when I shot OM exclusively for a while in the mid 90s.

A Nikon EM with old Nikon lenses are also a good bet! You know, the more I write this, the more I realize I could write a whole book with the options I could recommend so to cut this short I’ll say this…

It doesn’t matter what manufacturer you choose. Just try to choose these factors: 1) Purely manual camera, no need for batteries 2) Get a 50mm f/1.7 f/1.8 or f/2 lens 3) Make sure all this will not cost over $100 USD! Often, it should be far lower than that!

I hope this helps, especially for beginners or those wanting to try film. You DO NOT need to spend a lot of money to get started with film photography!

Feel free to leave a comment should you have an opinion on this! Thanks for reading and happy shooting folks!

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