It is only fitting to round out the first 100 reviews with the final single digit film camera from Nikon, the mighty F6. The F6 is the last film camera to be produced by Nikon. And while the Nikon FM10 is still produced, it is in fact, made by Cosina rather than Nikon itself. It is also worth a note that this particular F6 is the final one to be sold by Nikon Canada. While the F6 was produced in the age when most professional photographers were shooting digital on a regular basis, the F6 turned into a camera more aimed at the advanced amateur who wanted that professional level kit and had the coin to spare. A special thanks to James Lee for loaning out his kitted out F6 for the special 100th review.
Type: Single Lens Reflex
Format: 135 (35mm), 24x36mm
Lens: Interchangeable, Nikon F-Mount
Year of Manufacture: 2004-2018
Upon first picking up the F6 the first thing I noticed is how familiar it felt, and I’m not just talking about shooting my F5, but rather my D300. Suddenly everything made sense on the look, feel, and even the layout of the controls. Almost a perfect fusion between my F5 and D300. I’m glad Nikon made the choice to split the camera body and the battery grip, but I was also glad to have the grip. The additional shutter release and all important command dials gave the camera that extra balance needed. The beefy grip fits easily in the hand, and the control layout was perfect, everything was within reach. Everything responded exactly how I expected. Now I can see the weight being a bit of an issue over an extended period of time, but no more than my F5 or D300, and I never complained about the weight of either camera over multi-day trips.
As I mentioned earlier I am glad the F6 I borrowed has the optional MB-40 grip attached to it, I felt that it gave far better balance when shooting with the 85mm and 14-24mm lenses. While it would be fine with the short 35mm and 50mm primes I had along also, it was more for the additional vertical release and command dials. Metering wise the camera is dead on perfect, I shot using both the matrix and spot metering function and both times the images were dead on perfect. I did struggle a bit with the autofocus on the camera, often forgoing the multi-point AF for my own peace of mind. The one thing about the camera that stood out to me was the rewind function, yes, I know, but for me, it’s fairly important to my experience with the camera. And that’s the option to have the camera automatically rewind the film and leave the tail out, something I’ve only encountered on the Contax G2. It just makes life easier for home developing and returning empty canisters to the FPP or other folks who bulk load.
There’s no doubt of my support for Nikon optics, but the F6 has some amazing lens compatibility. In addition to having the AF lenses in both D and G optics, you can also use all your AI and AI-S (including series E) lenses. And with some modifications even Pre-AI glass. Not only that but even with these older lenses you have full matrix metering and focus assist. Over the course of my day with the F6 I did not have a chance to test the camera using a manual focus lens. But the camera operated perfectly with the two G-Type and two D-Type lenses without skipping a beat. I also rediscovered my enjoyment of the 85mm focal length and would buy another one again if the right priced lens came across my desk in either AF or AI(-S) formats.
To me, the Nikon F6 is the film camera for the digital age, it has all the perks of Nikon digital cameras, but the satisfaction of being a 35mm camera. It is also a dangerous camera for me. I usually limit myself to a single roll of film for these reviews, but in the case of the F6, and attending a Toronto Film Shooters Meetup, it was the only camera in my bag both during and after the walk. I do have to say it is incredibly satisfying to shoot with, not saying that I’m going to be switching my F5 for an F6 anytime soon because they still command a high-price as both new and used stock still exists at camera shops. But if I do get one, it’ll need to be as tricked out as this camera to be a satisfactory replacement for my F5. But if you are looking for a 35mm SLR to match your Nikon FX-format digital, then look no further than the F6.
All Photos Taken on the Toronto Islands, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Nikon F6 – AF-S Nikkor 85mm 1:1.4G – Kodak Tri-X 400 @ ASA-400
Kodak D-76 (1+1) 9:45 @ 20C