Touted as the precursor of the Nikon DSLR, the Nikon F5 was Nikon’s fifth camera in its professional line.
First introduced in 1996, the Nikon F5 was a beast of a camera with tons of unique and improved features. At the time, the F5 was a technological breakthrough that instantly gained popularity among sports photographers, photojournalists, and action photographers.
But what made this camera so popular?
The Nikon F5 wasn’t your average SLR. It was a feature-rich camera that gave photographers a chance to be creative without the need for added accessories.
One of its most notable features was the fast autofocus. Unlike the F4, which had a slow and unreliable autofocus system (AF didn’t work in low light), the F5 came with a fast and near-perfect AF system.
Thanks to the powerful autofocus motor, the F5 achieved a record shooting speed of 8 frames per second (fastest at the time).
The AF system used five sensors to track rapidly moving targets. This fast AF feature made the Nikon F5 a favorite among many sport and action photographers.
Another feature that made the F5 a favorite among most photographers was its innovative color 3D matrix metering system.
This metering system considered several factors when calculating the best exposure. Some of these factors included scene contrast and brightness, as well as subject positioning.
The 3D color matrix made this camera ideal for landscape photographers. If you’re looking for an SLR that’ll give you spectacular landscape photos, this is the camera for you.
It’s however important to note that the 3D matrix metering only works with D-type viewfinders. When using other viewfinders, you’ll have to use either centered weighted or spot metering.
Speaking of viewfinders, what choice do you have?
Like other Nikon professional cameras, the F5 comes with an interchangeable viewfinder.
With this camera, you get the choice of four finders. These are:
- Standard DP-30 which has a 100% coverage and a 0.75X magnification
- DA-30 Action finder, which has a bigger eyepiece. (Excellent for people who wear glasses)
- DW-30 Waist level finder
- DW-31 6x magnifying finder
And that’s not all
The F5 was also the first camera to come with a self-diagnosing and self-adjusting shutter, which meant a more reliable performance.
The F5 shutter was also extraordinarily fast, with speeds ranging from 30 sec to 1/8000 sec.
What about optics?
The Nikon F5 is compatible with all Nikon AF lenses made since 1977. 3D metering however works with AF lenses made after 1993 but doesn’t work with pre-1993 AF lenses.
It also works with the more modern G type, and VR lenses.
Unlike its predecessor, the Nikon F5 doesn’t work with lenses made between 1959-1976. If you want to use these early lenses, add an aperture coupling system to your F5 to allow you to mount these legacy lenses.
Physical Appearance and Build
Like other cameras in the F series, the Nikon F5 was designed by Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. Meaning it was a well-built camera.
One of the first things you’ll notice with this camera is its large size. The Nikon F5 was made out of a solid block of steel, making it sturdy and bulletproof.
Despite the beastly exterior, the F5 is comfortable to handle.
The rubber exterior is grippy and smooth, which makes the camera feel natural on the hand. The F5 will fit perfectly on your palm and will feel like an extension of your arm.
The steel body and rubber coating make the F5 both rain and dust resistant.
The F5 was the first Nikon camera to lack knobs and dials. This camera came with buttons that are located at the tips of your fingers.
Shortcomings of the Camera
The Nikon F5 is the heaviest camera in the Nikon F series. It’s not a camera you’d carry on vacation or for day shooting.
Another disadvantage with this camera is its battery use. To use this camera, you need 8 AA batteries. And these may not be enough as it drains batteries extremely fast.
Another shortcoming with this camera, especially if you love matrix metering, is that you can only use center-weighted or spot metering when using manual lenses.
The Nikon F5 is an incredible camera.
Shooting with this camera is a fun and smooth experience. Not only is it a great conversation starter (people are always attracted to well-made film cameras), it’s also a smooth and quiet shooter.
With this camera, you’ll enjoy every bit of your shooting experience.
And that’s not all:
The camera is also readily available and quite affordable. If you couldn’t afford it when it came out, now’s the time to get it.