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F5/F100 Subjective Comparison


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f5fstop Awarded for his contributions to the Resources Basic Member
Tue 04-Jul-00 08:05 PM

LAST EDITED ON Jul-04-00 AT 10:22 PM (GMT)

Ok, here is my opinion of the F100 as it compares to the F5.

Size: The first thing you notice when picking up the camera is it feels like a feather compared to the F5. The F100, like the F5, has a great outer non-slip coating that appears to be as rugged as the F5. Only time can tell.

Viewfinder: Brighter on the F100 than the F5.

Controls: Jumping from an F5 to the F100 is a lot easier than going from an F5 to a N90s; however, there are some controls that are not the same.
* Shutter release button: The angle of the shutter release button is not as great on the F100 as on the F5. Since I am used to the F5, this to me, was not as natural of a feel. For someone who never extensively used an F5, this should not be a problem.
* Film rewind buttons: The film rewind buttons on the F100 are a heck of a lot easier. The F5 requires moving a guard to expose a rewind button on the bottom back of the camera. Pushing in this button, then pushing in a button and moving a lever at the top back of the camera. The F100 is definitely easier.
* Custom function button: I did not change any of the custom functions since the camera was a loaner from a friend. However, it definitely appears to be easier since you do not have to flip down a little door on the F100 to obtain access to the custom function button.
* ISO, AF zone lock, bracket, and flash buttons: Same as the Custom function button, hidden away behind a little door. Much easier to access on the F100.

Rewind speed: No comparison. The F5 is about twice as fast rewinding a 36-exposure roll of film. (However, overall time, counting the steps to rewind a roll of film is about the same.)

Noise level: The F100 is quieter, but not that much (in my opinion, of course I'm partially deaf in my right ear too ). I did not check this out with a dB meter, but I guess I could someday.

AF speed: I took both cameras over to and engineering test facility where I work and had the AF speed checked with instruments capable of measuring functions to the millisecond. This was not totally scientific (or ISO 9000 certified ),since I did not have the capabilities to connect an electro-mechanical arm to the cameras to push the shutter release button and to start the clock and precisely the same instant. What I did was install the same lenses, the first one the Nikkor 80-200 F/2.8 and move the focus to the closest range, and check the speed at both 80mm and 200mm, while aiming the camera/lens at the same subject. (Apertures and ISO were the same.)
The timer was started by another person the instant I pushed the shutter release button and stopped upon the movement of the lens finding focus. The F5 was about a second faster at the 200mm setting and about three-quarters of a second faster at the 80mm setting. Not that large of a separation to make a differernce for my type of shooting or 95% of the shooting anyone would do
However, for some reason when I ran the same tests using my Tokina ATX Pro 28-70mm F/2.6-2.8 at 28mm and 70mm the F5 was considerably faster at both ranges: 1.5 seconds at 28mm and 2.10 at 70mm. Why? The F100 hunted for the focus, while the F5 latched immediately onto the focus. Cannot explain other than it might be because this is a non-OEM lens, not that that should make a difference. Especially, since the Tokina focused as fast the Nikkor. Of course, it is a smaller lens, so less lens movement would be required. Both lenses are internal focus, so the barrels of the lenses do not rotate. When I did these tests I would have guessed that the zoom telephoto would have had a greater difference; however, the tests show what I know.

Comfort: This may be the most subjective statement in this comparison; however, in my opinion, the F5 was more comfortable. Albeit that it is large and heavy has never been a problem with me. I prefer the extra metal added to the bottom of the camera to help give me leverage when using a long telephoto. (This can be corrected with the addition of the MB-15 vertical grip.) The F5 also feels sturdier; of course it is, since it is made with die-case aluminum with a titanium viewfinder versus cast magnesium and pressed sheet metal as on the F100. Not to knock the F100 the cast magnesium and pressed sheet metal allow the camera to be lighter; however, not as sturdy as the F5, but a heck of a lot sturdier than camera bodies made with polypropylene.

AF zone indicators: The red zone indicators on the F100, are a lot better than the black zone indicators use on the F5. However, the F5 does have two arrows on the right side of the viewfinder and three arrows on the top of the viewfinder to assist with AF zone location when shooting in the dark. The F100 does not require this with the red indicators which seem to stand out under all shooting conditions except when shooting at a red Corvette.

Exposure: This will require a follow-up since I have not mailed the two rolls of slide film to the developer yet. However, from what I observed while shooting, there were some differences evident.
I took some photos where the top-half of the frame was bright blue sky, while the bottom half was green grass and brown hay rolls. Again, used the same lenses, set to the same aperture (I shoot aperture preferred) and composed the photo with the horizon in the same place. All pictures taken on a tripod, using the viewfinder shutter blind on the F5 and a piece of black electrical tape on the F100. (Caroline did not know where the little plastic thingy was to put over the viewfinder window. She did not realize how this could affect a photo with the camera mounted to a tripod and your eye not at the viewfinder. I demonstrated the difference with and without the shutter.)
Anyway, what I noticed was the exposure of the identical photos was different. Either the F5 overexposed the photos or the F100 underexposed the photos. Again, I will not know for a couple of weeks to a month. I will say that with my experience with the F5 in similar photos, the F5's computer is usually correct. I used to bracket two-thirds under/two thirds over and as determined by the F5's computer, and in just about all exposures, the computer was correct. These were with pro slide film, which does not have that great of latitude; so with print film, the differences would not be as noticeable. What I am guessing is that the F5 was overexposing due to the brightness from the sky at the top of the frame, and the darker grass/brown subjects at the bottom. If it was operating correctly, it was overexposing by one-half a stop to bring out details in the lower part of the frame, which is darker grass/hay. The F100 may have been fooled by the bright sky, or it might have been right on and the F5 is off. However, like I have said from previous experiences the F5's 1005 RBG metering system is almost impossible to confuse (it can be confused, but not very often), so I do not bracket 95% of the time when using one of my F5s. I did continue to bracket whenever using my N90s (which I sold yesterday). The N90s has the same type of exposure system as the F100; however, with eight-segments versus ten-segments on the F100.

Shutter lag time: Now I did not time the shutter lag time, I obtained the specifications from the Internet.
* In automatic mode, the F5 is 40 ms, the F100 is 51ms. (Canon EOS-1N RS is 191 ms)
* In manual mode the F5 is 20-21 ms (mirror locked up), the F100 51 ms. (Canon EOS-1N RS 6 ms which I believe is still the fastest lag time for 35mm cameras. Why? The mirror does not move. The camera uses a pellicle mirror that allows the image to pass through the mirror to the film.)

The F100 does not have:
* A shutter that was tested for up to 150,000 releases or can compensate due to temperatures as the F5 . However, knowing Nikon, this will be no problem. It will last as long as I will.
* The viewfinder shutter that I love . I will just make sure not to lose the little plastic thingy that comes with the camera.
* Mirror lock-up, which I have never used.
* The 1005 RGB color exposure system . This may be the most important feature of the F5 that is not available on the F100 (or any other camera). However, I will bet the ten-segment metering system is very accurate, and bracketing will only be required under certain circumstances, similar as on a N90s.

Weight: The F5 is a lot heavier; a 15-ounce difference without batteries in either camera. Add the batteries and the difference between a standard F100 (uses four batteries) and the F5 becomes greater. Attach the MB-15 vertical grip to the F100, which uses six batteries, and the difference is not as great. I would guess the large difference between the F100 and F5 without batteries is due to the extra metal at the bottom of the F5 (this metal is a frame work for the battery compartment and would not add that much more weight to the body), and the difference in body (die-cast aluminum/titanium versus cast magnesium/stamped steel).

F5 controls:
* I still prefer the location of the shutter release button on the F5 versus the F100.
* The AF zone indicator also feels a lot better on the F5 than on the F100.
* Most of the other controls on the F5 are harder to access.

Rewind knob: The F5 has a film rewind knob, which is a great feature for switching half-exposed film cassettes. You can rewind manually, and when you feel the film leader leaving the take up spool, stop and remove the cassette. Of course you can always purchase one of those film leader retrievers fun to use , or have either camera programmed at a Nikon service center to power rewind and leave the film leader out of the cartridge.

Will I purchase an F100? I will be ordering one the first of next week. I will admit that I was more impressed with this little "F5" than I thought I would be. To me it is the perfect camera to supplement my two F5s to carry into the woods or walk around in public. I will continue to use my F5s about 70 percent of the time, but I am looking forward to this new camera. Cannot wait to play with it in NY next month.

Editiorial: I still believe that the F5 is the best 35mm camera made today. It is rugged, high-tech, ergonomically designed and just a dang good looking camera. We can mention all the cute little functions (such as eye control and a 45-zone AF area that covers no more AF area than the F5, etc.), that other camera manufacturers incorporate into their cameras to sell them. However, not one of them has the quality, reliability, and durability records that a Nikon camera offers.

Again, let me stress these are my subjective observations and opinions between the two cameras and they are based on only one-day usage of the F100. I have used F5s for some time now, so in some cases (such as the shutter release button) some controls feel better to me, as well as the balance of the camera in my hand. This opinion of the balance could change when I purchase the F100 with the MB-15 vertical grip.

Oh yes, the cost difference is nice too. The F100 is:
$1169.95 at Adorama and this includes the Nikon two-year extended warranty
$164.95 for the MB-15 vertical grip
$1334.90 Total without shipping (about $25.);
however, no sales tax sorry Governor Sundquist...the meathead of Tennessee)

(I checked prices at KEH and B&H ; all USA Nikon bodies and grips.)
The F5 is $1995.95 with a three-year standard warranty, making the F100 approximately $661.00 less.)

Sorry for the long dissertation. I am done; my fingers need a rest.

}> DISCLAIMER (legal term for CYR (cover your rear): The majority of the information contained within this document is subjective and is the solely the opinion of the author and in no way reflects upon the Nikonian website. The reference to a certain politician is also the opinion of the author (and most people who live in TN).

"Take only photographs, leave only footprints"

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