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The Nikon F4 has slow AF....or maybe not
Old 03-26-2019   #1
p.giannakis
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The Nikon F4 has slow AF....or maybe not

[Rant-mode ON]

"Basic", "Slow", "Primitive".
Some of the words used to describe the AF performance of the Nikon F4.

I really never got it - what made people think that the F4 has slow AF? It is "Slower than" -say- the F5. But it is not slow. (By the way I have them both plus an EOS 1n).

So i took the F4 to the local half-marathon a couple of weeks ago and decided to take some pictures of friends and acquaintances.

The lens used is the old and 'slow' 28-70 f3.5-4.5 and pictures are taken on the 70mm end of it.

Here are some quick scans (no adjustments).

Tracking No 744





That's a bloody good job if you ask me.

Now tracking No2982









Spot on. I got only one picture out of focus and this is only because i didn't place the runner on the center.




As you can see, the camera focused on the background.

So, I never found the F4 to be slow - with AF 50 f/1.8 the focusing speed is even better.

Plus, it gives matrix metering with all manual focus lenses. I used an old beaten-to-death AIS 28 f/2.8 (look at this mess) that can take pictures like these:






Bottom line is that the Nikon F4 is very usable. The AF is nothing to complain about. Yes there are other ones that are faster but it can't be called slow.

[Rant-Mode OFF]
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Old 03-26-2019   #2
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When I had an F4 (briefly as mine was defective - ebay purchase) I remember reading comments that the AF was so bad it should be considered a manual focus camera that could AF.

Absolute poppycock! (strong language I know!) I thought the single point AF was totally fine, and could focus waaaay quicker than I ever could manually.
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Old 03-26-2019   #3
szekiat
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When did the F4 have slow AF? When used with the old screwdriver lenses, it probably actually has the fastest AF of all the nikon bodies. In fact, it used to have so much torque it just destroyed the gearing of lesser lenses! I have the F4 and F5 and trust me the F4 is faster to lock focus in single shot AF
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Old 03-26-2019   #4
Steve M.
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The cameras have tons of power to twist big zoom lenses. I usually put an ED 2.8 70 200 on my f4s and you had to make sure you had a good grip on things because everything would twist when you focused.

I loved shooting that camera but hated hauling it around. It some ways it seemed primitive, but the fit and finish were very high. The controls felt much more robust and "pro" compared to an N8008s.
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Old 03-26-2019   #5
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While it is slow compared to modern cameras, it is still pretty fast. REALLY slow is older AF cameras like the Minolta 7000 (the first AF system SLR). I had an F4 for many years.
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I love mine
Old 03-26-2019   #6
Tim Murphy
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I love mine

Dear p. giannikis,

It focuses plenty fast for me and I kind of like the fact that it gives an audible cue that focusing is done! When the grinding noise stops, you can press the shutter!

Seriously, I think it works great and I also think the N8008S works nearly as well. I previously owned a Nikon 4004S, so I know what it is like to have sloooow AF.

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Tim Murphy

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Old 03-26-2019   #7
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I'm not a big fan of AF, especially plastic fantastic lenses.
However every autofocus camera I have owned - including the most primitive - could autofocus faster than I could focus manually.

The Nikon F4 is simply awesome.

Chris
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Old 03-26-2019   #8
Dave Jenkins
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Sometime around 1990, the photographer with whom I shared studio space brought in his new F4 with a normal lens to show off. I hefted it, then hefted the Pentax 6x7, also with a normal lens that was sitting on my desk. My UPS scales were also on my desk, so I weighed both cameras. They weighed within a few ounces of each other. I thought "It will be a very cold day in a very hot place before I carry that much weight just to make a 35mm negative." And I never did.
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Old 03-26-2019   #9
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I have also read the stuff on the Internet about the F4ís supposedly slow AF and I agree it is poppycock. The F4 to me is very quick as far as the AF is concerned.
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Old 03-26-2019   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Jenkins View Post
Sometime around 1990, the photographer with whom I shared studio space brought in his new F4 with a normal lens to show off. I hefted it, then hefted the Pentax 6x7, also with a normal lens that was sitting on my desk. My UPS scales were also on my desk, so I weighed both cameras. They weighed within a few ounces of each other. I thought "It will be a very cold day in a very hot place before I carry that much weight just to make a 35mm negative." And I never did.



I made the same comparison between my F4s and my Mamiya 645 Super. The F4 did offer somethings that made the weight worth carrying.

It was nearly indestructible. I once dropped mine on a concrete sidewalk from shoulder-level and it actually BOUNCED but it was undamaged aside from some scratches in the finish. I would take that camera out in driving rainstorms and it never failed thanks to some of the best weather-sealing that any camera ever had.
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Old 03-26-2019   #11
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Pentax is my main system; I own and use many Pentax 35mm manual focus cameras and lenses.
I also own a Nikon F4.
I will never own a Pentax 67.

Chris
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Old 03-26-2019   #12
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The F4 was slow or would hunt if the batteries were low...other than that it has a solid AF system, the F5 is better but that was years later...I have an F4s, F4e and F5...
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Old 03-27-2019   #13
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I've had zero problems with the AF on the F4 (and the F801), even at night it's been pretty good for grab shots on the street.

I even did a quick non-scientific test in focusing speed between the Canon EOS300x+ 40mm f2.8 STM (last film camera Canon brought out) and the F4 with 50mm f1.8 af-d and didn't see a noticeable difference that would impact me.
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Old 03-27-2019   #14
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Never had a problem with the F4s autofocus, even for fast action sports. My problem with it, as others have mentioned, was that it was way too heavy. Lugging around a couple of those all day was just painful!
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Old 03-27-2019   #15
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I had a 4 for many years but the days of heavy cameras are over for me. I don’t even want to carry my F2...

Don’t need a fast motor drive for film nowadays, either.
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Old 03-27-2019   #16
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I'm pretty sure my R9 w/ motordrive is bigger and heavier than the F4. And it doesn't have AF!
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Old 03-27-2019   #17
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When I was looking to make the switch from Olympus to Nikon specifically for the autofocus feature, I tried the F4 and found it was no better than manual focusing. I "upgraded" to a F100 with the MB-15 battery pack and was hooked. The F100, from what I was able to learn, employed the same AF package as the F5 making it much more suitable for my newspaper sports work.
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