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The best AF film SLRs
Old 10-11-2010   #1
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The best AF film SLRs

The most evil of all cameras, the film SLRs with auto focus, not only they look downright mean, but they function with growling, whizzing and all sorts of sounds.

My favorite and the one which I owned was a brand new Nikon F100 that I got for a bargain. This camera just looked like a high quality picture making machine, from the fantastic viewfinder to the almost perfect grip, it was a pleasure to work with. But the best part was the actual picture taking. From the moment you loaded the film, which it did with absolute authority as you closed the back. The sound of the shutter, the film moving forward and of course the sound of the AF as it violently brought the lens to focus, all in all it was pure unapologetic photography with an awesome machine in hand.

Rain or snow nothing to worry about for the perfect sealing, crazy lighting situation not a problem for the metering and even in dim lighting the AF was almost instant. You could set the ISO and never worry about exposure while your development was spot on, since the camera meter was so reliable.

Anyway, I did sell the F100, but I don't regret selling it because it would have got very little use with me. And if I wanted another one i could easily find one at the right price. But anyway, I just thought I share some thoughts about these ancient beasts that now seem to be forgotten. So, tell us which one was/is (if there was one) your favorite AF film SLR.


Last edited by ebino : 10-11-2010 at 11:57.
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Old 10-11-2010   #2
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Another vote for the F100. Love it! But you also have to include the Nikon F4s, probably the greatest of them all, with knobs for the primary controls.
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Old 10-11-2010   #3
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I came to this thread to suggest the above mentioned Nikon F100.

That was totally unnecessary, three out of three now!
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Old 10-11-2010   #4
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Nikon F-801s!
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Old 10-11-2010   #5
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Nikon F6 !!!
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Old 10-11-2010   #6
Andy Kibber
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Another vote for the Nikon F100 for all the reasons mentioned by ebino.
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Old 10-11-2010   #7
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Old 10-11-2010   #8
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And the best part is that barely used F100's have become silly cheap.
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Old 10-11-2010   #9
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For a while, I would have given the title to the Nikon F5, but the controls are so well "protected" (who knows from what) that it's a pain to push the buttons and turn the command wheels at the same time. With the F100, it's all a breeze. Want to add a stop to the exposure? Want to underexpose a bit? Just turn the subcommand wheel! Want to add power and cold tolerance? Add the battery pack! Want the same AF as the F5? It's right there!

Yep, features and everything make the F100 the best past Nikon film SLR.
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Old 10-11-2010   #10
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by far the minolta dynax7, i'd say :P:P
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Old 10-11-2010   #11
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Nikon F5
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Old 10-11-2010   #12
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I love my F-100 !
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Old 10-11-2010   #13
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All of the Nikon F's all incredible F4, F5, F6, F100. I own an F100, and its bullet proof. I've taken it around world and completely mistreated it. Works like a champ.

I've brought it in dust filled caves with no light and it flash meter perfectly. When I travel for work, I take two cameras. The F100 for caves/jungle work and the M6 for taking pictures of villagers as an attempt to be less intimidating even though I am a 6'2' white guy with boots on.

Literally, the F100 is idiot proof. The meter is not infallible, but its pretty close. The most important part is that you can get one for DIRT cheap. Like $150!!! That is insane for the tech in that camera. You get spot, center, and matrix metering. Fast flash sync, slow, rear, and red eye reduction. Continuous AF, Single AF and 5 points to choose from. DX coding. Program (with Vari Program at the turn of a wheel), Aperture Preferred, Shutter, Preferred, and Manual. Up to 5 FPS. Exposure Bracketing. A shutter that is accurate to a 1/3 of a stop and meters down to 30 seconds. I mean the list just goes on and on....

The most important thing to me though is the incredibly simple layout of the controls, and that the camera is built like a TANK. Its a big camera, but the tech stays out of your way.

Just my 2 cents for a camera that has never failed me.
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Old 10-11-2010   #14
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The only AF film SLR I ever had was a Canon EOS 3, and I still have it, although I don;t use it much now. Can't sell it for enough to make it worth not having it. It's an excellent camera though.
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Old 10-11-2010   #15
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Old 10-11-2010   #16
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+1 for Nikon F100. I've been really happy with it.
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Old 10-11-2010   #17
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Another vote for the MZ-S from me. I just wish I could get a second body. I only see them occasionally and then normally at silly prices.

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Old 10-11-2010   #18
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Of course, asking some of us about the best AF SLR is like asking about the best skin disease, or the best McDonalds.

But how many of us have actually tried very many AF SLRs? Both, let us say, Canon and Nikon? Because the truth is that actually, most of the half decent ones are pretty good, if you like that sort of thing. I had a Pentax that I tried to mistreat -- including soaking it in salt-water spray on the sea-front in a winter storm -- and it just went on working.

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Old 10-11-2010   #19
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The Nikon F5 (with the F4 a close second)...if and I mean if I were to buy another film SLR it would be a second F5...
The feel, the sounds, the controls...the look...how it works with the speedlights...
I haven't used a lot of other AF SLR's so maybe I'm the wrong person to ask...
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Old 10-11-2010   #20
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Old 10-11-2010   #21
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I think.. the best, with the latest AF electronics would be a Nikon F6. Price wise, and weight wise.. an F 100 would be my choice. If you get an F100, be sure to get one with the "later" rewind fork..
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Old 10-11-2010   #22
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Number one, F6, hands down, the most advanced 35mm film camera there will ever be. No Action Finder or 6x finder though.

F4, for its conventional control layout and versatility with all kinds of lenses.

F100, for all the reasons given above.

Then, the F5, rounding out this select group. Unbelievably capable body that can be used to split logs, but it's power hungry and as big as a medium format camera.
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Old 10-11-2010   #23
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If price is no object the F6 is absurdly good. The F100 is terrific for the money.

The F6 is the one SLR I won't be parting with, ever.

Someone mentioned the Contax Aria above, it's my favorite light SLR as well. Great glass too
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Old 10-11-2010   #24
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I guess F6 is the best , would like to have it .
I have and used an F5 a lot , very good .
I have an F4s also , nice controls but AF is a bit slow , maybe I'll use it with Zeiss primes in the future .

Canonwise it's the eos 1v , my guess 'cause I never had one .

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Old 10-11-2010   #25
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My N8008s is my favorite Af camera. "it just is".





And it puts real meaning into the phrase "Coming back from Digital".

You can find them for ~$25 these days.
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Old 10-11-2010   #26
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I use an F4s only with my manual focus primes. My one AF lens, a 50f1.8, lives on my 8008s/801s.
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Old 10-11-2010   #27
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Brian, why don't "they" make a back like that, full frame, for Leica M? It's what I want.
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Old 10-11-2010   #28
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Old 10-11-2010   #29
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Quote:
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Brian, why don't "they" make a back like that, full frame, for Leica M? It's what I want.
The DCS200ir as shown was $12,400 in 1993. It's just cheaper to buy a whole M9.
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Old 10-11-2010   #30
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I've always liked the Nikons. Canon AF cameras were too plasticey and didn't feel right in my hands, although the optics were excellent.

Nikon N6006. You can buy them for $15 now, and they have one of the all time great sounding shutter/motor advances ever. Ka Ching! I had one w/ a Leica R Summicron on it and it was by far the best R camera I ever shot with. Metering worked perfectly in aperture priority stop down mode.

Nikon N8008s. Excellent metering, quiet shutter, great viewfinder, shutter speed to 1/8000, and takes AA batteries. Usually go for $25 to $50. What's not to love?

Nikon N80. Small, light, quietest SLR shutter I ever heard (or not heard). Very well damped. Usual great Nikon metering. Only it's smallish viewfinder bothered me. $40 now.

Nikon F4 and F4s. What can I say? What a great camera! But reeeelly heavy and big. $100 and up now.
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Old 10-11-2010   #31
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Eos 1v just bought a couple as new for less than £150 each!
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Old 10-11-2010   #32
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An amazing SLR body, manual focus: Contax RX. Gorgeous, well-built. Integrated winder. Great lenses. Feels like a real camera.

AF: I love my F100. I had an F6 for a while, and it IS better. But, unless you have both in-hand at the same time, you'll likely not feel that the F100 is lacking in any way. I don't miss the F6 at all now. The F100 may even be 'better' in one important aspect. It's not nearly so precious. I'll stick it in a beach bag and not worry. The F6 i always wanted to keep pristine, and having that LCD on the back just made me need/want to handle it a bit more gingerly. Both are built 'tough,' of course.

I still have an EOS 3. It's still fantastic, although i don't love the way it looks. But, it still uses the best AF lenses. 35L, 50L or 1.4, 85L or 1.8, 135L —*all amazing.

All that said, the camera i am most in love with at the moment is the Nikon FE2. Feels more like 'photography' than the F100 or EOS. More like what a Leica M felt like, except with a viewfinder i actually LIKE. With a 50mm/1.8 Series E on it, it's as small as the M7 or Ikon i used to have, and i like that little $50 lens as much or more than any Leica lens i've owned.

I had an F4 for a while, too. Nice, but maybe a bit too big? I think i got one after having an F100, but only because i wanted to try the waistlevel finder. That experiment didn't prove to be as valuable as i had hoped, though.

[Oops — i got so involved in the reminiscing that i forgot this was supposed to be about AF cams.... Sorry.]

Last edited by CK Dexter Haven : 10-13-2010 at 07:37. Reason: Missed the point. Entirely.
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Old 10-11-2010   #33
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The F4 is a fine camera but I find the right-hand grip to be rather on the bulky side. Takes a little getting used to.
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Old 10-11-2010   #34
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I'd have to sit in the Minolta camp as that is where my EVIL GAS ended before I found RFF- though I went through early Nikon AF too.

I have..er..."several" Min AF lenses still. Such wonderful glass.

Choosing a favourite is difficult. Probably the 9xi, as some of my best photo experiences were had using it backpacking through South America for 5 months.

The 9xi was quite technical and not all the functions were stright to hand. I like it's potential for multi-spot metering a la the OM4 with the expansion card, the dust and weatherproofing off camera flash system etc.

I like the Dynax /Maxxum 9 for it's sheer ruggedness,100% VF and return to a more user friendly interface.Very solid camera.

I like the 7 for the smaller ligher weight and histogram display on the rear LCD.

And the original 9000 as an MF camera though my F4 is nicer to use with MF Nikkors.
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Old 10-11-2010   #35
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I'll vote for a few here. Canon EOS 3 and 5, Contax N1, Nikon F100, Pentax MZ-S.
The EOS 5 is very cheap nowadays and does everything you could want it to. The only real disadvantage is that the battery doesn't last so long. I got 2 of them (an EOS A2E and an A2) for 22 bucks plus shipping. The command dials were broken, which I fixed the day they arrived. They have worked perfectly since then.
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Old 10-11-2010   #36
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F4 - is the slowest of the bunch, but the build quality is off the scale.
Nice camera for people who like to shoot a mix of manual and AF lenses.

F100 - the biggest AF bargain around.

F5 - Great, but in many ways the F100 is the better cameras... But it does suck down batteries at an alarming rate...

F6 - Probably the best AF film camera ever. Blazing fast, good size, modern RGB matrix metering etc.


Canon 1-v
If you can life with the Canon ergonomics its pretty damn hard to beat.
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Old 10-11-2010   #37
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Quote:
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by far the minolta dynax7, i'd say :P:P
Y'know, I bought a Maxxum 7 + VG7 grip with two lenses locally once.

Just by selling one of the lenses, I already recouped half of my cost. I kept the body and the 24-100mm (? don't remember exactly) lens around and shot some nice photos.

I *really* like the controls and how the camera handles. More so than my spartan EOS 1n.

Eventually I sold it to get a Schneider large format lens. Kinda missed it.
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Old 10-11-2010   #38
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Quote:
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But how many of us have actually tried very many AF SLRs? Both, let us say, Canon and Nikon? Because the truth is that actually, most of the half decent ones are pretty good, if you like that sort of thing. I had a Pentax that I tried to mistreat -- including soaking it in salt-water spray on the sea-front in a winter storm -- and it just went on working
Between working as a news photographer in the dying days of film, reviewing cameras for magazines and periodically working in a store that sells a lot of used cameras I tried just about all the prosumer and professional AF film SLRs.

One thing I noticed was that autofocus made very few improvements in accuracy over the life of these film cameras; it wasn't until digital and instant feedback that issues like consistent mis-focusing, lack of ability to calibrate individual cameras, sample variation etc were even written about. Curvature of field and focus shift in lenses, too. The manufacturers got away for a long time with the processing delay covering up a multitude of sins. I tried to write about some of this at the time but the magazines didn't want to know.

My favourite is still the Nikon F100, but I wish it had the autofocus of the D3s.

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Last edited by Freakscene : 10-11-2010 at 17:24.
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Old 10-11-2010   #39
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I've used Nikons, most of the Fs, and all the FM/FEs. I see all kinds of Canon consumer cameras, but rarely pro models teaching Photo. F4S hands down wins in my opinion, for the combo of AF, manual rewind, VF info and compatibility with more Nikon glass.
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Old 10-11-2010   #40
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EOS 3 all the way for me. The eye control focus, fast continuous shooting, and the general ergonomics suit me perfectly.
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