I remember I had a brochure of this camera when I was 14 years old. It was Nikon's top model and totally out of my league. That time it cost over €3.200 ($3.600). Nowadays you can pick one up for a few hundred euros.
In 2016 I ordered mine from eBay for $400 from a Japanese photographer. The day it arrived was the day I fell in love, what a beauty, 1.2kg heavy and extremely solid. The 50mm f1.4 from my broken F50 was now happily joined to its new companion, a perfect combination.
“It's a monster and a beauty“
The design fits me perfectly, every button is within reach although it takes some practice.
Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italian design firm Italdesign is responsible for the design of this beauty. It won many awards, not only for it's looks but also for being a great camera. Every lens since 1959 through today's G and AFS lenses work on this body, that's what make this camera still relevant today.
The F4 is the most innovative camera ever, it revolutionised the SLR market by being the first camera with auto-focus, motor-drive and matrix light metering. It was introduced in 1988 and was the top news and sports camera till 1996 when is was replaced by the F5, which was simply the F4 in a tougher body.
“The Nikon F4 is the most innovative camera ever introduced by Nikon, or probably anyone!”
The camera above is a F4s, its a F4 with a big 6-AA vertical Grip (MB-21). The F4 by itself if quite reasonable but the grip makes it a beast. The big difference is the battery life, frame-rate and most import, the vertical shutter release button. I use it all the time, as you might have seen in my port-folio.
There are so many functions on this camera and they all have their own button. 5 Programs, shutter speeds, exposure mode, exposure compen-sation index, Auto-focus modes, Metering modes, AE-L, AF-L and many more.
The batteries last ridiculously long, although the camera is entirely electronic. Normally I replace the batteries every year just to be save and cause I don't like to bring extra batteries with me on my adventurous trips.
The shutter button is quite sensitive, so you sometimes accidentally take a picture. When the camera is off/locked you need to push the small unlock button next to the ‘film advance mode’ selector. This can be pretty inconvenient as you need your middle and index finger to push and twist the selector.
The first time I had this camera in my hands it took me 5 minutes to turn the camera on because I didn't know you had to push and twist the selector. :(
The weight might be cumbersome for many people. The 1.2kg, without lens, can have a significant impact on your shoulder. Traveling with ‘hand luggage flights’ also makes you realise that you have to leave a lot at home to take this camera with you.
“The camera was originally introduced in 1988 with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-D”
I normally bring along three lenses on my trips, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-D, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AF-D and Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 AF-D, these are relatively small and light, not only to compensate for the camera weight but also because I love taking pictures with prime lenses. The camera was originally introduced in 1988 with the 50mm f/1.4 AF-D, this is also my favorite combination.
For business travel I prefer a lighter model like the Nikon FM2n, this would save me 740gr in weight and a lot of space. But otherwise the F4s is my companion. It feels very comfortable to me mainly because of the functionality, ergonomics and the vertical grip. It never let me down. Together with the 50mm over 80% of my pictures are shot with this camera.
“Together with the 50mm, this is my favorite combination”