Nikon F100 Camera Review

by Brad Pretzer

The Nikon $950 F100 is the first in a line of two professional level film cameras offered by Nikon. The $2000 Nikon F6 is the current step up. For many years the F100 was viewed as light F5. The vertical grip was not removable on the F5 as it is with the F100; though, this was remedied with the introduction of the F6 in early 2005. Also, the F5 and F6 sport 8 fps versus 5 fps on the F100.

If I hadn't begun photographing for the Somerville News and received many requests for environmental portraits I would have kept the Nikon F100 camera body. The titanium build makes this body extremely tough. I dropped it from chest-high onto asphalt while shooting wildlife on the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park with no damage whatsoever. I was completely amazed and genuinely pleased. There is no plastic feel to this body with a rubber skin covering the magnesium alloy body.

From the first day I owned the F100 I had it paired with a MB-15 battery grip. Supposedly, the F100 can be a bit of a power hog; however, with the battery grip, I never experienced exceptional battery drain. Furthermore, the MB-15 includes the most desirable vertical shutter release. There is also a sub-command dial included in the grip. I have found that over half of my photography is vertical and I absolutely adored the vertical release. The combination of the F100, MB-15 and some f/2.8 lens ended up being quite heavy at the end of some days, but I think well worth this slight inconvenience.

If you are concerned about the power consumption of the F100, Ken Rockwell has written a great article about this. I solved this problem with a charger from Maha Power and some of their Powerex NiMh batteries. Be sure to get a good charger so that you don't ruin your expensive rechargeable batteries quickly. With 6 of these batteries in the MB-15 and 4 more in an SB-28 flash, I never had a power issue.

The controls on the F100 are very solid and ergonomically placed. If you have ever used a Nikon N80 or better, you will instantly be familiar with this body. There is no pop-up flash as most are pretty useless anyway. There is no point-and-shoot mode either. This body is made for somebody with a bit of photography experience or a willingness to learn the craft. With the MB-15 battery grip the camera will fire at a rate of 5 fps. I don't shoot sports and never found this to be a limiting factor.

The combination of the F100 body and MB-15 vertical grip along with the durability of the unit have made this my favorite Nikon product to date. Film is a long way from dead and something I love. Now having moved entirely to digital I miss the ability to pick up Fuji Velvia, Fuji NPS, or Kodak Portra for example and get a look and feel I desire. You can read about my Nikon D70 if you think digital might be better for you.

Other's Opinions