Nikon F4 Review / by Jake Horn

This child of the 80's ushered in the age of auto focus to professional photographers everywhere. Not only could the camera do the focusing for you, but it also introduced matrix metering and an integrated motor drive. These are luxuries taken for granted now a days, but for the time, these features were revolutionary.

KEY FEATURES:

  • Weight = 1177g (with batteries)
  • Size = 170mm x 117mm x 64mm
  • 4 FPS (5.7 Max)
  • 30sec - 1/8000
  The Analog Goodness

The Analog Goodness

I wish Nikon still made cameras with this type of fit and finish. The rubberized coating is uniquely comfortable to hold. It gives the body a futuristic look that matches the control knob execution. Controls on the F4 are beautiful. There are satisfying clicks for every setting adjustment. The highly tactile feel of this camera was lost with the introduction of control wheels seen on modern day DSLR's. Only now are cameras companies bring this superior control scheme back.

  Lock Button

Lock Button

One of the few features I do find frustrating during operation is the lock button. I use a soft release on the shutter button, but this increases the likelihood of triggering the shutter by accident. So I keep the shutter locked when not in use (marked by the red 'L'). In order to unlock the body with one hand, I depress the button with my thumb and rotate the switch with my index finger. This can be a very awkward movement.

  That Epic Racing Stripe

That Epic Racing Stripe

I just love the iconic red racing strip, designed by the great auto designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro.  I went with the MB-20 battery grip. This keeps the package shorter for stowing in a backpack. If I didn't already have a Nikon F5 with full integrated vertical grip, I would have got the MB-21 half grip (which makes the body an F4S). There is also the MB-23, which is a full battery grip (F4E). The MB-20 is lighter in size, as well as having two less batteries (4/MB-20, 6/MB-21, & 8/MB-23).

  Overflowing w/Pro Features

Overflowing w/Pro Features

All the usual pro features are here and still work great to this day. The viewfinder shutter is wonderful for keeping stray light out of the body while taking those long exposures. The viewfinder display is generous, with shooting data integrated masterfully. I enjoy how the aperture display is a physical sight window, carried over from the F3. 

  Tab Up - Ready for Non-Ai Lenses

Tab Up - Ready for Non-Ai Lenses

The lens compatibility of the F4 is unmatched. It accommodates F-mount lenses from the non-Ai type, all the way to G-Lenses. Obviously, there are some compromises with this, such as stop down metering with the non-Ai lenses. The one feature that does not work is vibration reduction (VR). 

It's amazing, seeing this is Nikon's first auto-focus offering, how well it focuses today. Using D-type lenses, focus is quick and precise. I'm not sure if it would be my first choice for shooting motor-sports, but for most users, it's more than adaquate.

  Last Truly Tactile Nikon SLR

Last Truly Tactile Nikon SLR

I've had a love-hate relationship with the F4 for quite some time now. It's not that the camera itself does anything wrong, but it has been superseded so brilliantly by its successors. The Nikon F6 is by far a superior camera. Adding insult to injury, the F6 does this in a lighter package (about 50g less). The fact that this camera feels so good in hand and operates flawlessly keeps me coming back. There is a lot to be said about a camera that inspires. Its departure from camera convention keeps this icon standing out after three decades.

***Check out my Nikkor 200mm f4 review HERE for example shots***

  The Way a Camera Back Should Look

The Way a Camera Back Should Look