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Camera Reviews

Nikon F6: First Look

Jeremy Bourassa (Balls007)

Keywords: nikon, f6, camera, bodies, film

Show pages (3 Pages)

I just got back from a show in Ottawa where Nikon representatives let me use the NIkon F6. This is the first wrap-up of the camera, updated with some energy consumption tests that i have done in different environments with different batteries.

 You may also be interested in the F6 review by bgs who bought one as the camera came out on the market and we discuss this SLR in the Nikon F6 forum.

Click for a large F4 image  

Click for enlargement of the Nikon F6 with motor drive

The Nikon F6 with motor drive


I've heard some mumbling about people thinking this is a digital based body and people wondering if it was worth it. Answer yes its digital based and yes it is worth it.

The body is virtually identical to that of a D2H or D2x, but with a built-in data back instead of an LCD and digital menu controls. Basically, Nikon has taken an amazing camera and given it a boost in some key areas that to a pro -unlike myself- would be pure unadulterated haven.

I'll list a couple of really cool things it does that make me drool -bearing in mind I know very little about cameras and have only owned a Nikon for 6 months.

  • First, it is very silent; like it doesn't make a sound at all. Continuous Silent mode, up to 1 fps is barely audible to the human ear. Mate it with any silent wave lens and you could be a foot away from the priest in a church and get the shot the second they say I do. Not to mention the impact it could have on nature photography.

© Alwin Heijmans

  • Accuracy. They have added a shutter monitoring system so that if it ever gets cold, hot, humid, damp or you find yourself in the ninth pit of hell, it automatically does an exposure compensation if it detects any deviation in the speed of the Kevlar shutter screen.

© Alwin Heijmans

  • Unbelievable balance. The motors and internal setup fell like half the weight of the power of the F5. How major balancing was done on all moving parts so that things could work together instead of against each other, is amazing.

© Alwin Heijmans

FIRST LOOK... continues

Anyway, having drooled over the D2x and the F6 was a great chance to see that Nikon has their act together once again. So I guess it is true what I hear: they always eventually do, showing everyone else how it is done right.

Click for larger view


Click to zoom in

The Nikon F6 without its MB-40 motor drive


They must be saving a fortune by using the same magnesium chassis for all pro models now, not to mention the shutters, pentaprism accessories and everything else.

Its absolutely the lord and master of Film Bodies Nikon has moved to cross platform.

Anyway, I am sure most of you have seen all the goods on it but for those like me that hadn't for god sakes look: it is pure heaven.

Someone asked if the body is shared with some digitals the answer is yes this camera as far as I can tell from eyeballing it is almost identical in layout to the D2h and D2x bodies. You could infer that Nikon has reduced R&D costs by making a common line in terms of the magnesium aluminum body, the control layouts and ergonomics. I can't say about the internals at all, because, well, no one is talking about that; but I would think the prism and the shutter and some of the internals are shared to a large extent.  

Click for enlargement


It is worth it! Well, that's simply my opinion, but I am convinced that -unlike some of the people posting- Nikon has upped the bar significantly in the pro film market.


This is not a "get an F6 instead of a digital" but, to those contemplating a D70 instead of an F6 because they have an F5 I have to disagree. Considering the 8 years in the making, they were well worth it. Silent mode, 8 fps; but the option to drop some weight and take off the grip and go into power save mode is cool, not a bad thing as some would say. The new layout is really clean and comfortable to hold and it is a true Nikon pro that dwarfs the F5 just to a large extent, like the F5 did to the F4.  

Click for a larger view


If I had the bucks for a D2x or D2h I would buy either in a second, but when contemplating an F6 versus a D70/D100 there is no contest; the F6 -all the way- is pure engineering beauty.

About the silence mode questions, I don't want to be misunderstood: it is no more silent than the D2h since it is "the same body, basically" as stated above; however, when in comparison to an F5 -or anything else that has film- it is super quiet.

Bottom line is that there are some who are slamming the F6 hard making painful statements like "I'd rather keep my F5 and buy a D70". I have to say to those out there that they would be missing a lot in the higher echelons of current technology of which the F6 has plenty to offer.

It is a tank, it is quiet, it is still wicked fast, and can now be packed down without the grip for easier shooting. Still has all the toys any F series pro model needs but they have basically tried to clean it up and say to the users out there that Film innovation may have slowed since the turn of the century but it is not done.

Anyway, I can't afford one, I am an amateur and lucky to have a F80 with some nice glass. For me it would be an absolute treat to own one F6, knowing it would take me years to fully learn and appreciate it. But to anyone out there with the dime to spare, this would be the last film body you would ever buy, just like so many have posted the F5 was in its time. To compare specifications check this chart.

If anyone needs a pool boy for the cost of an F6 I'll dance for it

It is beautiful. If you have the money, it is like cheating on your old cameras, it is so hot!

Now, you don't have to believe me, but make sure you pick one of this babies in your hands.

A Nikonian who has taken delivery of one, said: "Handling and response: This thing is a speed demon. It focuses very, very fast. It's viewfinder is brighter. It is brighter than my F5. For speed and control you can't beat the look and function of the 11 zone "red" focus indicators. Very positive and precise indeed.

Lastly, the ability to manipulate the custom settings thru the menu is super. It encourages you to set the camera to "your" style of shooting. It starts to feel very right in your hands much the same way that the early F models did. Once you know the controls you almost instictively begin manipulate the camera on feel.

If you apreciate the size and weight of the F100, the robustness of the F5 build and the speed and positive handling of the controls of a D2H you will simply love the F6."

Nikon beats them all!

More on the F6

To follow the latest discussions around this new baby, visit the Nikon F6 forum


I won't comment on the specs, just check them out.


F5 & F6 © Jerry Burnell

SIde by side, the Nikon F6 & F5

Nikon F6 Specifications

Type of camera Integral-motor autofocus 35mm single-lens reflex with electronically controlled focal-plane shutter
Exposure modes Programmed Auto (Flexible Program possible),
Shutter-Priority Auto, Aperture-Priority Auto and Manual
Picture format 24 x 36mm (standard 35mm film format)
Lens mount Nikon F mount (with AF coupling, AF contacts)
Lenses usable G- or D-type AF Nikkor (except for DX- and IX-Nikkor): All functions available.
PC-Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D: All functions except autofocus and exposure modes other than Manual available without shifting and/or tilting the lens.
AF Nikkor other than G-/D-type (except AF Nikkor for F3AF): All functions except 3D Color Matrix Metering and i-TTL flash control available.
AI-P Nikkor: All functions except 3D Color Matrix Metering, i-TTL flash control and autofocus available.
Non-CPU: Usable in Aperture-Priority Auto or Manual exposure mode, electronic rangefinder usable with lens having a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster; Color Matrix Metering, aperture value display, etc. usable with lens meeting specified criteria
Viewfinder Fixed eye-level pentaprism, built-in diopter adjustment (-2.0 to +1m-1), eyepiece shutter, eyepiece DK-17 (eyepiece lock available)
Eyepoint 18mm (at -1.0m-1)
Focusing screen B-type BriteView clear Matte screen II, interchangeable with six other optional focusing screens
Viewfinder frame coverage Approx. 100%
Finder magnification Approx. 0.74x with 50mm lens set to infinity and 1.0m-1
Viewfinder information Focus indications, metering system, AE lock, FV lock, exposure mode, shutter speed lock, sync speed, shutter speed, aperture stop, aperture lock, aperture, multiple exposure, battery level, frame counter/exposure compensation value, electronic analog exposure display, exposure compensation, bracketing, ready-light, 11 sets of focus brackets
Autofocus TTL phase detection, Nikon Multi-CAM2000 autofocus module
Autofocus detection range Approx. EV -1 to EV 19 (ISO 100, at normal temperature)
Focus modes Single Servo AF, Continuous Servo AF, Manual
Focus Tracking Automatically activated in Single Servo AF or Continuous Servo AF
Focus area One - or a group - of 11 focus areas can be selected
AF Area modes Single Area AF, Dynamic AF, Group Dynamic AF or Dynamic AF with Closest-Subject Priority
Focus lock Focus is locked by pressing AE/AF-L button or lightly pressing shutter release button in Single Servo AF
Exposure metering Three built-in exposure meters - 3D Color Matrix, Center-Weighted and Spot
Metering range (ISO 100, f/1.4 lens) EV 0 - 20 in 3D Color Matrix and Center-Weighted, EV 2 – 20 in Spot
Exposure compensation With exposure compensation button; ±5 EV range, in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 steps
Auto Exposure Bracketing Number of shots: 2-7; compensation steps: 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or 1 EV steps
Auto Exposure Lock Detected exposure value locked by pressing AE/AF-L button
Film speed setting DX or Manual selectable (manual setting has priority over DX detected film speed); DX: ISO 25-5000, Manual: ISO 6-6400 in 1/3 steps
Shutter Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter with built-in Shutter Monitor
Shutter speeds 30 to 1/8,000s (1/3 steps in S and M modes); Bulb setting available in M mode (Shutter speed can be prolonged to 30 minutes in M mode)
Accessory shoe ISO518 hot-shoe contact digital data communication (sync contact, ready-light contact, TTL auto flash contact, monitor contact, GND), safety lock provided
Sync contact X-contact only; flash synchronization up to 1/250s (up to 1/8,000s possible in AUTO FP High-Speed Sync
Flash control TTL flash control by combined five-segment TTL Multi Sensor with single-component IC and 1,005-pixel RGB sensor; i-TTL Balanced Fill-Flash with SB-800/600; Film speed range in TTL auto flash: ISO 25-1000
Flash sync modes Front-curtain sync (normal sync)
Red-Eye Reduction
Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync
Slow Sync
Rear-Curtain Sync
Flash ready-light Lights up when the compatible Nikon Speedlight attached is fully charged; Blinks (3 seconds after flash) for full output warning
Sync terminal ISO519 terminal, lock screw provided
Creative Lighting System Advanced Wireless Lighting, AUTO FP High-Speed Sync, Modeling flash, FV Lock and Wide Area AF-Assist Illuminator available with SB-800/600 Speedlights
Self-timer Electronically controlled; timer duration: 10 seconds
Depth-of-field preview button Press to stop-down lens aperture
Mirror lockup Set using film advance mode selector
Film loading Film automatically advances to first frame when camera back is closed
Film advance modes Automatic advance with built-in motor; three modes available (S: One-frame advance, CL: Continuous low-speed shooting, CH: Continuous high-speed shooting, CS: Continuous silent-low-speed shooting)
Film advance speed (With Continuous Servo AF (C), Manual exposure mode, shutter speed of 1/250s or faster, 36-exposure film, CR123A-type lithium batteries [AA-size alkaline-manganese or Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4 in Multi Power Battery Pack MB-40]).
CL: Approx. 2 fps [4 fps].
CH: Approx 5.5 fps [8 fps].
CS: Approx. 1 fps [2 fps].
Film rewind Choice of automatic or manual; automatically rewinds at the end of film roll or when two film rewind buttons are pressed; Rewind speed with 36-exposure film: Approx. 7 seconds (12 seconds in CS mode)
Multiple exposure Activated via shooting menu
Interval timer Activated via shooting menu
Top LCD panel information Shutter speed lock, sync speed, shutter speed, aperture stop, aperture lock, aperture, Auto Exposure Bracketing, exposure mode, Flexible Program, exposure compensation, electronic analog exposure display, battery power, exposure compensation value, Auto Exposure Bracketing status, frame counter
Rear LCD panel information Shooting display (Normal, detailed, full display); Shooting data display (film data, frame data); Menu display (Custom Setting menu, set up menu, shooting menu, Non-CPU lens, language)
Data imprint Activated via shooting menu; in-frame, between-frame and 0-frame imprint possible: film speed range: ISO 50 - 3200 (DX)
Internal clock Built-in clock; 24-hour; leap year adjustment until 2099
Camera back Hinged back; film confirmation window, AF area mode selector, multi-selector, MENU button, film speed (ISO) button, flash sync mode button, INFO button, rear LCD panel, built-in data imprint unit
Shooting data Recordable number of film rolls (36 exposures): Approx. 57 rolls in basic shooting data (13 items), Approx. 31 rolls in detailed shooting data (21 items)
10-pin remote terminal Equipped
Power source Battery holder MS-41 provided (two 3V lithium batteries); optional Multi Power Battery Pack MB-40 and AA-type battery holder MS-40 available (for eight alkaline-manganese, lithium or Ni-MH batteries, or one Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4 [with optional Battery Chamber Cover BL-3]); built-in backup battery for internal clock
Power switch Power ON, OFF and LCD panel illuminator
Exposure meter Auto meter shut-off 8 seconds after power turned on if no operations are performed; activated by lightly pressing shutter release button or pressing AF start button after power is turned on
Battery power confirmation for sufficient power; indicates batteries are beginning to lose power; indicates batteries are just about exhausted, prepare fresh batteries; blinking indicates replacement of batteries is necessary (shutter locks and rear LCD indications disappear)
Number of film rolls per set of fresh batteries (Approx.)

Usable number of 36-exposure film rolls per set of fresh batteries (Approx.):
The usable number of film rolls was tested under the following conditions by Nikon.

Test 1

Using an AF-S VR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED lens, Vibration Reduction function on, in Continuous Servo AF with film advance mode at S and shutter speed of 1/250 second. After lightly pressing the shutter release button for 8 seconds, autofocus operation covers the full range from infinity (∞) to the closest distance and back to infinity (∞) before each shot. After the exposure meter automatically turns off, the same operation follows for the next shot.

Battery/Temperature 20°C (68°F) -10°C (14°F)
CR123A 3V lithium 15 6
LR6/AA-size alkaline (with MB-40) 10 1
R6/AA-size Ni-MH (with MB-40) 30 30
FR6/AA-size lithium (with MB-40) 45 35
Rechargeable Li-ion EN-EL4 (with MB-40) 35 25



Test 2

Using an AF-S VR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens, Vibration Reduction function on, in Continuous Servo AF with film advance mode at CH and shutter speed of 1/250 second. After lightly pressing the shutter release button for 3 seconds, autofocus operation covers the full range from infinity (∞) to the closest distance and back to infinity (∞) three times before each shot. The same operation follows for the next shot.

Battery/Temperature 20°C (68°F) -10°C (14°F)
CR123A 3V lithium 35 15
LR6/AA-size alkaline (with MB-40) 55 4
R6/AA-size Ni-MH (with MB-40) 55 50
FR6/AA-size lithium (with MB-40) 95 70
Rechargeable Li-ion EN-EL4 (with MB-40) 65 50

Duration of Long Time (Bulb) exposure (Approx.)
Battery/Temperature 20°C (68°F) -10°C (14°F)
CR123A 3V lithium 5 hours 3 hours
LR6/AA-size alkaline (with MB-40) 6 hours 1.5 hours
R6/AA-size Ni-MH (with MB-40) 5 hours 4 hours
FR6/AA-size lithium (with MB-40) 8.5 hours 7 hours
Rechargeable Li-ion EN-EL4 (with MB-40) 7 hours 6 hours

Tripod socket 1/4 (ISO1222) Custom Settings 41 Custom Settings are available Two-Button Reset Pressing the MENU and INFO buttons simultaneously and holding them for more than 2 seconds resets various settings to their original default settings (with some exceptions) Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 157 x 119 x 78.5mm (6.2 x 4.7 x 3.1 in.) Weight (without batteries) Approx. 975g (34.4 oz.)
All specifications apply when fresh batteries are used at normal temperature (20°C/68°F) under test conditions established by Nikon.
Specifications and design are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer. ©2004 Nikon Corporation


(4 Votes )
Show pages (3 Pages)

Originally written on December 10, 2005

Last updated on January 25, 2021

Jeremy Bourassa Jeremy Bourassa (Balls007)

Awarded for his contributions to the Resources

Ottawa, Canada
Basic, 28 posts