For some reason I keep hanging heavier and heavier cameras around my neck! I went from a Pentax Spotmatic to the Nikon F to a few different compact cameras back to the F and then the F2, and now the F4. In actual use it’s really not that much heavier, and I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve used three lenses with it, the 28mm f/2.8 AI-s Nikkor, 35mm f/2 AI-s Nikkor, and 85mm f/2 AI Nikkor, the three most modern lenses I own, and I’ve been very happy with the matrix metering so far; there have only been a couple occasions in 5 rolls where the shot I wanted wasn’t exposed properly. This is one fully-electronic camera that you don’t have to worry about turning on every time you use it, I keep it set to S from the time I take it out in the morning to putting it away at night, and it’s always ready to take fantastic pictures, no drain on the batteries as far as I can tell.
Maybe it’s the updated multicoating of the lenses, maybe the lighting was just better in those few weeks, and maybe I wasn’t necessarily nailing the exposure before, but I’m in love with the look of all of these. Is this going to supplant my F2s? No. The only thing I really have against the Nikon F4 is its bulk and weight but the amount of features you’re getting for that definitely tip the balance in the F4’s favor. What I will use this camera for is:
-autoexposure-necessary shots: slide film, low-ASA, or any other speed besides 400 with which I’m really not that familiar
-fast-paced shoots where I need a motordrive
I’m happy it’s here and that it exists, because during the current color film drought Cinestill 800T has consistently been the one emulsion that was still readily available; 50D sold out every once in a while but at the time of this writing it’s back in stock, as is the new 400D. I put it to the test on a recent family event, my brother’s graduation from police academy:
But while Cinestill bills this as “400Dynamic,” I have yet to see that it behaves differently than any other daylight-balanced color film. If you believe the hype then it’s supposed to be kind of like the old Ektachrome 160 type G which was a super 8 emulsion that supposedly could be used indoors and outdoors with equally good results, but from what I read that was also more marketing hype than truth. I’m not a master of color film, I mostly shoot black & white, and there was quite a lot of playing around with the color balance to get something approaching what everything should have looked like (the last shot is the exception, being taken outside in direct sunlight; it required only a little effort to remove the green cast). I’m used to some measure of tweaking with the 800T, of course.
When we peel back Cinestill’s hype, what I can tell about the film is that it isn’t just a straight-up cinema stock that’s been repackaged, because the perforations are the standard we’re used to seeing in 35mm still film, not the Bell&Howell style that you get on motion picture film (like I’ve seen with 800T and 50D in the past, and also Double-X). I’m guessing this means that Cinestill is big enough that they’re buying a master roll from Kodak and that it’s slit and perforated to their specifications, and probably never had the remjet added so there’s no need to remove it (and their “anti-static lubricant” added). I don’t think that the emulsion is specifically formulated for them entirely from scratch, there are still characteristics that are unique to Cinestill as opposed to standard still photography emulsions, like the halation effect and the short shelf life. I’ve never shot Vision3 250D but wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it’s not too far removed from this film stock, whatever tweaking has been done to it. It ran through my auto-winding Nikon F4 just fine and I didn’t do anything to cover up the little window in the door; I didn’t try to push a heavy framerate at all.
Before the film was released to the general public I ran into a kind and generous Leica shooter who traded me a roll of his 400D for one of my rolls of Ferrania P30 that I’d been carrying around, so I could try it out. Most of those shots were at work outdoors and it’s readily apparent in the colors:
There was still some tweaking I had to do because it seems that when my Pakon F335 scans this film it has a green cast over everything (greenish-yellow indoors) and I was able to get rid of that much more easily when editing in post. I still wouldn’t say that they’re perfect but I like the colors much better than what I shot indoors. The problem however, is that I have no idea how this particular roll of film was stored and you might be able to see that it’s a bit grainier in the shadows. A good reminder that you want to buy this film fresh, keep it at least refrigerated, and use it promptly. Cinema stocks are not meant to be hoarded for years and years, they just don’t keep as well.
Hot off the press, this is a sneak-peek shot from my newly-developed first rolls of the brand-new Cinestill 400D.
Could also double as a fall fashion photo I suppose, but it’s hard when you have to do all the shot setup and be the model, don’t know if I’d do too many of these! Maybe if I get a pretty girl to take the pictures for me…
Or about as modern as I’m ever likely to get. Behold, the Nikon F4:
Of course perhaps you prefer the F4S?
I don’t but I do have both setups and it’s good to have the option if I ever need it. What I did want are the features on the spec sheet:
-full matrix metering with all AI/AI-s lenses (unlike newer professional bodies)
-easily-manipulable knobs and dials, no stupid menus to wheel through
–possibly weather-sealed (at least according to this) though I have my doubts reading further into it
-1/8000 second top shutter speed
-easy-to-find AA batteries instead of something esoteric and expensive
-a reasonable price
So far I’ve put 5 rolls of Tri-X through this camera using primarily the aperture-priority function and so far I’ve fooled it maybe a couple times. It just works and I don’t have to worry about it or overthink it. I picked up an AI-s Nikkor 35mm f/2 lens at the same time to make sure I had the most up-to-date manual focus lens I could use for the maximum feature set. Here are the results below:
A friend of mine just got a Contax G2 system and I’m sure it cost quite a lot. I spent much less but this is the G2 of the Nikon F manual focus world, and the F4 has one thing the G2 doesn’t have: a hefty weight. Though if I had to make a guess on which will still be working in 10-20 years…I think it will be mine. But back to that weight: everything is contained and compact so compared to an F2 or F3 with motordrive and batteries this is much smaller and lighter I’m sure. For everything you’re getting I don’t see the point of even owning an F3. Another thing that frustrates me with electronic cameras is the lag time when you turn it on, getting it to wake up, whatever. I’ve found with the F4 that I can leave it on all day and it’s always ready to go whenever I press the shutter button. For what it is and the purpose it serves I can’t think of anything being better.
And a little bit of Spring and Fall too. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s to not take the people you love for granted–every time could be the last you ever see them. I’m going to try to make more time in the future.
These are just some of my friends and I’m happy to have them in my life.
The easiest way to see a bear: just leave your trash out overnight and wait up for them. Of course this time it was my trash which is in a bear-proof dumpster, but whoever took out the trash last didn’t actually secure the thing properly.
I should have set for f/4 instead of f/5.6 I suppose as the AE didn’t give me a fast enough shutter speed most of the time, but live and learn. These shots were a little shaky for my preference but I was probably 6-8ft away from a mama bear and her cubs, so I wasn’t exactly taking my time to compose and focus. I’ve always heard that if you run into a black bear, you should puff yourself up, look as big as possible, make a lot of noise, yell/throw things at them, and they should take off; I’m still here so I’m happy to say it’s true.