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Camera Reviews

The Nikon F4 Review

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)

Keywords: nikon, f4, camera, bodies, film

Page 12/13 show all pages


This has been recurrently said about the F4 today: Looking for the top of the line camera body for manual focus lenses? Find a used F4s in good shape, get the MB-20 battery holder to reduce its size and weight and go into Manual Focus lenses haven. 

Click for enlargement

Nikon F4s with Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 AI-S


Outstanding professional photographers, like the late Galen Rowell, preferred the F4  -made light and compact with an MB-20 grip-  over the magnificent but heavier F5. If you then decide to use MF lenses, there will be little batteries use since the AF motor will not be active. To the F4 advantages over the F3HP, of matrix metering, spot metering, TTL flash support, higher flash sync and top shutter speeds, you add the possibility of using AF lenses at any time if you are not in the need of critical super fast AF action.  

Before the F5 (with its RGB 3D Matrix Meter), and now the F6, the F4 is IMO the best camera Nikon has ever made. A bargain now for under US$500, used, in like new to mint condition, in either F4s or F4e configurations.

Typical recommendations of superb optics, now Nikkor classics, are:

° 24mm f/2 AI-S Some buy the f/2.8 due to its lower price
° 35mm f/1.4 AI-S Some get the f/2 for the same price reason
° 50mm f/1.2 AI-S The f/1.4 and f/1.8 are more popular due to cost and the 55mm f/2.8 Micro for its specific macro use
° 85mm f/1.4 AI-S Same thing here -cost- for the f/1.8
° 105mm f/2.5 AI-S I like the 105mm f/1.8 slightly better but it is more difficult to find in EX+ condition or above, heavier and more expensive
° 135mm f/2.8 AI-S Same comment as above about the 135mm f/2.0, which I like better
° 180mm f/2.8 ED IF AI-S Darn good, slightly better than the AI version
° 200mm f/2 ED IF AI-S Others prefer the 200mm f/4 Micro and the AI versions
° 300mm f/2.8 ED IF AI-S Excellent, slightly better than the AI
° 400mm f/2.8 ED IF AI-S Here you may opt for the 400mm f/3.5 P for less money


Two very important features these lenses share:

  • Luminosity (wide aperture both for improved viewing and focusing; and the capability to shoot under almost any light conditions even if dim) plus
  • Legendary razor edge sharpness and excellent color rendition
  • Capability for extraordinary selective focus images.

Of course, to buy them all takes up a good chunk of money and a lot of guts and stamina to carry them all into the field; so choose from the list the ones you really think you must have.

I did select 5 out of the 10 above and had a wonderful time, rarely missing the chance to capture the image I wanted, the way I wanted. So, as some well known authors have claimed before, with these lenses and the F4 you'll be "in Nikon MF heaven". Just take a look at the gear of John Shaw in his books, like in "John Shaw's Landscape Photography: Professional Techniques for Shooting Spectacular Scenics". 

Nikon obviously recognized these preferences with the introduction of the splendid FM3A, "Where tradition and technology meet."

Nikon gave us all -with bodies backward compatibility- the opportunity to continue to use these MF lenses on our DSLRs.

At right, the 105mm f/2.5 AI-S shot @ f/2.5 on a Nikon D2X body at sunrise. Now, that's bokeh!


But with this my F4s I can also continue to use legendary MF optics on A (Aperture Priority) or M (Manual) modes, can mix them with AF and even with the newer AF-S lenses. With these lenses, the F4s' AF is so fast it screams.

"G" lenses also work on the F4, in both P and S modes. Talk about F4 forward compatibility!

(7 Votes )
Page 12/13 show all pages

Originally written on June 24, 2010

Last updated on December 31, 2020

J. Ramon Palacios J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

San Pedro Garza García, Mexico
Admin, 45770 posts


Keith Braine (kebra) on March 28, 2014

Here is link that I have found.

Juergen Cosfeld (Cosinus) on September 18, 2013

Hello dear Nikonians-User I'm using a F4 with Multi-Control-Back MF-23 and Battery Pack MB-21 since 1990. All components are still working. But I lost the User-Manual for the MF-23. Is there anybody who can help me in this case,to get a copy of it. Best regards Cosinus