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Vintage gear seems to be getting a bit of attention at the moment and I've been having a play with some old stuff from the back of my cupboard too.

 

I picked up a roll of film and loaded up my old Nikon F70.  I bought it around 1997 and it was my main camera for nearly a decade before going digital with a Nikon D50. I've had a few different lenses with it, some I still have, others were traded for some Fuji gear.

 

F70-306.jpg.2bfe4425d8d6a67fcb52ecf8617ab640.jpg

 

One of the interesting things about the F70 is that it was one of the early menu driven cameras.  It didn't have any functions that weren't available on other cameras of that era, the only difference was accessing those functions.  The other cameras relied on a lot of different buttons to drive all the features - you'd press a button for say "mode" and then spin the command dial.  On the F70, you controlled most things with one of two buttons and the command dial.


The menu on the F70 wasn't the long lines of text that we have in the digital era, it was more graphical and built into the top LCD.  

 

F70-307.jpg.e1b31af3e244819d054d9057b0daf47b.jpg

 

There were 8 main subject areas, which were selected by pressing the 'Function' button on the top left of the camera and spinning the command dial.  Once the subject, such as mode or focus area had been selected, pressing the 'select' button and spinning the command dial allowed selection of the particular value.  For Mode, that is would be the P,S,A,M that we are used to today.

 

 

F70-308.jpg.8f5e91abb71c60d2f2d6307d1455f558.jpg

 

There were a few extra buttons.  For some reason focus area setting got it's own button next to the power switch.  Next to the focus area button was the 'Ps' button that allowed selection of various scene pre-sets within the P mode.  It also had the ability to save some settings in quick recall mode, accessed using the 'In' and 'out' buttons next to the 'Function' button.

 

This control system was certainly polarising at the time, but compared to current menus, it was quite simple and straightforward.  I'm sure that most people nowadays would get the hang of it quite quickly.  In my current shooting, I haven't felt the need to play with the settings too deeply - I do just occasionally double check that I haven't inadvertently set something that is going to make me waste a roll of film.  

 

Shooting with it, it is pretty much what you would expect from a SLR/DSLR experience.  It is perhaps a bit lighter than a digital equivalent, but that will be due to the smaller batteries and circuit boards, etc.  Compared to the Fuji X-E3 that is my current main camera, there are only two things that are catching me out - the lens mounts in the opposite direction and the half press on the shutter release of the F70 is rather sensitive - there have been a few premature shots.

 

There are still a couple of frames left on the film, so the results of my experiments will have to wait a week or two.

 

Oh, and the lens on there - it's an 18-55 zoom.  This lens is about 10 years younger than the camera.  The full description is AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 G.  The F70 can handle both the AF-S focusing (it has the old screw driver focus drive too) and the G, although the absence of an aperture ring means problems with the A and M modes.  The other thing is that it is a DX lens.  I like it and am using it because it is small and light compared to the other Nikon lenses I still have lying around.  Obviously at 18mm, the lens barrel is visible in the corners.  By about 24mm, the barrel isn't visible in the viewfinder and I'll have to wait until I finish the film and get the negatives back to see if there is any darkening in the corners - my guess is that it is probably only good from about 28mm.  

 

Well, the sun is out.  I should head out and finish the film!

 

Edited by crowecg
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Wow, you know I don't think I have ever seen one of these models before. I do recall usenet conversations about it though - as you said it was quite polarising. 🙂 I look forward to seeing your results (I can't imagine shooting film again - actually found a roll of expired film in my fridge the other day, but no working 35mm camera to shoot it on, except maybe a FED-2 rangefinder I have, which I have never used). 

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Well, got the film finished,  but the first place I tried only does C-41 development.  I'll have to try somewhere else on my way home from work after the holiday weekend.

 

I'll also have to have a bit more of a play with the lighting I experimented wth for the shots above.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Got the film back now and copied it into my computer.

 

As noted above, a DX lens on a 35mm film camera has it's limitations, but other than the shots I deliberately set at 18mm, I didn't see any adverse effects at the longer focal lengths.

 

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B+W-3 

 

Also shot a few with a Tamron SP90 that is nearly as old as the F70

 

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B+W-5 

 

I'm unsure about how much more I'll play with this set up.  Aside from the expense of shooting film (this cost me around A$1.15 per frame after film costs and developing), there was one hiccup with the camera.  When I first dragged the F70 out of the cupboard a couple of years ago, put new batteries in and fired off a roll of film, I got a lot of double exposure frames where the camera hadn't wound on properly.  As the film I used for that first try had been sat in the back of the cupboard next to the camera for more than 10 years, I thought it might just be the fault of the film, perhaps it was a bit sticky and not winding out properly.  With the brand new film I used this time, I still got one double exposure, so it is probably the camera to blame.  So do I keep trying?  Perhaps if I look for some interesting films?  Maybe some Tmax3200 for some night-time film shooting? Or Velvia?  Or I've also seen Ilford SFX200, which has quite a spill over into IR, but without the other hassles of IR film?

 

Edited by crowecg
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