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Interchangeable Film Backs for Nikon F4 - Part I/2

Other than the Nikkormat/Nikkorex series and the Nikon FM-10/FE-10, virtually all the film back of the camera can be interchanged with an optional databack and/or special film back. I cannot recall and not too sure whether the Nikon EM and FG20 can do that but I do remembered the Nikon FG takes MF-15 Data Back as an optional accessory. Naturally, the Nikon F4 can do the same and began from this model, the professional class F-series was truly amazing in its capabilities via features offer by a technical film back such as the Multi-Functions digital Film back such as a MF-23 and/or 250 exposures MF-24. Basically, Nikon shifted some of the unique features over to the film back to control the cameras or possibly intended to make the camera more reliable and less complex in its design. Naturally, there is some form of commercial essence in such a decision as it can help to boost the sales of film back if one requires such features which only offers via the film back.
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Whatever it is, there are a total of four versions of known film backs deigned specifically for the Nikon F4 thus far. The basic film back supplied with every Nikon F4 has a film roll confirmation window built-in and a contoured angled edge at the right hand side where the thumb of a photographer naturally rests. Internally, the film confirmation window has a black light-tight foam surrounding the the four edges and aided with a film roll positioning/stabilizing metal plate. The top right hand corner of all the film backs is slightly protruding outward - although it looks more like a cosmetic finish but this is very important feature as it allows the photographer to hold the camera steadily with the thumb naturally rest at this corner. Basically, the overall weight distribution of the basic Nikon F4 are leaning more towards the right - a result where its built-in power supply MB-20 locates at the hand grip, this has resulted the camera has longer extension/weight on the right. The design equalizes the negative weight distribution and adds a stabilizing factor in camera handling.

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There is an array of seven "gold-plated" electrical contacts locating at the rear section of the Nikon F4 ( to ensure best possible positive data communication with any of three highly sophisticated interchangeable Databack specifically designed for the Nikon F4. Both MF-23 and 250 exp. MF-24 Multi-Control Function Backs only utilize six of the signal contact pins with these electrical contacts on the camera section and I am not sure what is the function for the remaining one (But I suspect it is for the FRAME COUNTER RESET on the MF-23/MF-24 - see below for more illustrations (the pin is not available with the MF-22).

There are three springed film stabilizers/roller guide locate on the other side of side of the film back with a large pressure plate positioned at slightly off center (due to design of the F4 where the camera is longer at the right than the left section) to ensure the film stays absolutely flat - although less noticeable by users but it is one of the crucial factor of pin-sharp formation of image during exposure. The entire exterior of the film back is made up of metal but coated with the same layer of rubberized material, the same that used to threat on the camera body. The coating makes it smooth and nice to hold, although at first I have a little reservation over its sustainability over its long-life but it proves to be very durable and seldom I see the rubber coating of any film back of F4 came off.

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Features list: The contoured edged out thumb rest on the film back provides secured holding of the camera body and positive handling during shooting (Far left).

Removal: can be handle single-handedly. Use the center finger and the thumb hold the top and bottom edges of the film back and use the pointer finger to press the camera back hinge release and the film back will come off easily. Install: always position the installed camera back at the bottom first while pressing the hinge release pin (there are TWO of such pins - one at each end, the other was located just under R2 film rewind release lever) and at the time time, slot the pin to the top. Picture at far right shows the tiny all-metal frame counter release pin is still hidden inside the film back cover railing, some versions of the F4 has a fragile plastic pin instead. Strange, why does Nikon has to save cost in this manner >> ?

Nikon Databack MF-22

A compact, economical alternative to MF-23. Most of the data adjustments and control buttons are located outside. I would rather wish it was concealed like the MF-14 Databack of the Nikon F3. It is a very bare basic databack and only provides the most basic form of data imprinting onto film the bottom corner of the picture frame. The MF-22 databack looks and works similarly like the Databack MF-20 designed for the Nikon F-801. There are three buttons "MODE", "SELECT" and "ADJUST" and if you have a little knowledge handling a digital clock before will be able to master the data at will.

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The shape, texture and appearance of the very practical MF-22 "gels" with Nikon F4 camera very well and retains overall elegant look of the camera when mounted onto the camera's back. There is a "PRINT" locates at the side of the LCD display will has a bar indicating the data imprinting is on or off. It will either imprint the data desired - year/month/day, day/hour/minute (24-hour clock), month/day/year or day/month/year - or simply leave the film as it is, with no imprint.

Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Erjun Zhao® <erjun@vcu.org>. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.


Specifications for Data Back MF-22

Usable Camera:
Nikon F4 Series
Usable film speeds:
ISO 32-3200
Data imprint type:
7-segment,s 6-digits LCD
Data display:
7-segments, 6-digits LCD
Imprint data:
Year/Month/Day, Month/Day/Year, Day/Month/Year, Day/Hour/Minute or no imprint
Imprint signal: Via direct contacts on camera body
Quartz-controlled, 24-hour type; date and time are automatically programmed and adjusted for leap years
Power source:
One 3V lithium (CR2025) battery
(W x H x D): 160mm x 56mm x 22mm (6.3" x 2.2" x 0.9")
(w/o batteries): 100g (3.5 oz )

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Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Jochem Wijnands ®. Jochem is a professional photographer and has an excellent online portfolio on his own and you may also contact via his email. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Nikon Multi-Control Data Film Back MF-23

But the main 'star performer' among all available film back options for the Nikon F4 is the MF-23 Multi-Control Functions Data camera back. Remembered what a sensation it has caused when Nikon introduced the Multi-Control Back MF-21 for the AF-Nikon F-801 ? Similarly, Nikon has ensured its flagship SLR camera model can enjoy the sheer fun in basic technical data imprinting plus a host of various advance features to enhance the capabilities of the camera. The MF-23 has truly leapfrogged in terms of technologies and capabilities in a Nikon SLR camera never dreamed possible a generation ago during the era of Nikon F3 simply because - It is not just a databack merely using for imprinting/encoding data - it is also an Interval-Timer which can handle programmed Exposure Delay, Long Time Exposure; it is also can be a travel/shooting companion as a daily alarm, film alarm, auto-film stop, and more ... it has another great function in permitting Auto Bracketing of exposures, and even focuses and fires the shutter by itself in a Freeze Focus feature ! A great feat where it can be used for auto unmanned/remote photography with the shutter automatically released the moment the subject is in focus - a dream function for sports and wildlife photographers. Even as a bare basic Data Back for encoding data onto film, it can offer more - other than imprinting at corner of the print/slides - how about printing essential data in between frames ? great huh ? ... that is why I have quoted earlier a Nikon F4 without the MF-23 (MF-24) Multi-Control Function Back is only 90% - 10% short in capabilities of a of a true Nikon F4 !

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The only feature that the MF-23 cannot perform as compared to earlier technical film backs such as the 250 exp. Bulk Films Databack MF-17 (and/or the Nikon F2 Data camera two generations earlier) is the hand written notes feature. Anyway, what the techno-databack MF-23 (and/or its 250 exp. Bulk Film Back version, MF-24) can perform functions far exceeding one can possibly imagine during the F2 and F3 era and those enhanced features have indirectly open up many photographic possibilities for photographers.

Credit: Virtually all images of MF-23 appeared in this page courtesy of Mr. Georges C. Couchepin® <sunshine@mycable.ch> from Switzerland. He also operates a popular Ebay Store selling many used photo equipment. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

In a way, the MF-23 is a built-in remote control device that does much more. The Multi-Control Back MF-23 enables the imprinting of any of the following data: date, time, frame number, serial up-count number, fixed number; shutter speed or aperture and exposure compensation value. It does even more - Choice of imprint location - in the picture, or between frames, or combination of both.

NOTE: Instruction Manual ? It is not available here. But you can use the MF-24's User Manual as the operational template because except for bulk film loading sections which makes the differences between the two model, both film backs are essentially the same in relation to programming of functions and various operational features.

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The databack is a an extremely well made, high quality digital device. In addition, the awesome capabilities of the MF-23 Multi-Control data back enables the camera to function in more advanced ways -

  1. Interval-Timer - commencement time, interval time, number of shots taken and number of intervals can be input.
  2. Exposure Delay - remaining time before exposure and number of shots taken can be set
  3. Long Time Exposure - you can choose any duration from one second up to 999 hours, 999 minutes and 999 seconds
  4. Auto Bracketing - you can shoot up to 19 continuous frames, each with a different exposure.
  5. Freeze Focus - shutter is automatically released the moment the subject is in focus.
  6. Daily alarm, film alarm, Film stop, and more.

Note: The MF-23 offers the same data back and other various functions as the MF-24, except that the MF-24 can use other power sources as well as handling 250 exposures bulk film types. Some of these functions work in combination, thus enhancing the Nikon F4's wide scope of applications such as in remote photography. On the other hand, the F4's metering/autofocus system such as Matrix metering and AF can be easily ensure pictures by pictures can come out sharply focus and perfectly exposed - even operating remotely and in an unmanned situation.




CAUTION: Frankly, the MF-23 is not entirely a very easy databack to use and/or setup. It is advisable to ensure the user's manual is well kept for future reference. I will provide a MF-24's Manual instead - you can still refer here in case you have lost the copy.

Specifications for Multi-Control Back MF-23

Usable Camera Models
: Nikon F4 Series
Usable film speeds: ISO/ASA 25-3200
Data imprint type: 7-segments, 8-digit LEDs (between frames), 7-segments, 6-digit LEDs (in frame) Imprint data: Year/Month/Day, Month/Day/ Year, Day/Month/Year, Day/Hour/Minute, Hour/Minute/Second, frame count, sequence number, fixed number, shutter speed/aperture, exposure compensation value; date and time are automatically programmed and adjusted for leap years

Imprint location: In frame, between frames,or both
Other functions: Interval-timer, exposure delay, auto bracketing, long time exposure, freeze focus, daily alarm, film alarm, film stop
Max. No. of frames: in-camera/film capacity
Power source: MF-23: Two 1.55V silver-oxide (SR-44 type)
Dimensions (W x H x D): 160mm x 56mm x 30mm (6.3" x 2.2" x 1.2")
Weight (w/o batteries): 120g (4.2 oz.)

<<< --- Download a PDF file (445k) or a Jpeg file (197k) in a new browser window.


MF23main.jpgThe MF-23 is a superb piece of system accessory designed for the Nikon F4. It is neither exaggerating to quote a Nikon F4 without the MF-23 is only 80% of a Nikon F4 as other than the main functions of a comprehensive databack, some of the very unique Nikon technologies are encompasses and driven by the databack.
In particular, I am very impressed by the "FREEZE FOCUS", auto bracketing (AEB). It serves like a built-in Intervalometer MT-2 and remote control camera.

It adds some weight to the basic F4 but to those who needs some of the many features it offers, this is an indispensable dedicated accessory. The between frames imprinted of data is good but more confined to technical imprinting. Casual or serious enthusiasts may find these features offered handy enough but frankly, I think they fell short of providing operational convenience in setting up such task during shootings - so, I think these fine features serve more to technical usage such as for scientific, medical applications and other form of possible applications such as for surveillance, wildlife observation or astro photography etc. The MF-28 designed for the Nikon F5 (see picture above used inside the picture frame) adds a layer of practical usage of enabling imprinting of copyright info of photographer which is more practical for journalists and/or professionals. Well, don't try to be smart, I think what you may be thinking, but the Nikon F4's Databack MF-23 and MF-28 of the Nikon F5 are NOT compatible with one another.

| MF-22 Databack | MF-23 Multi-Control Function Databack | MF-24 250 Exposures Multi-Control Function Databack | NPC Polaroid Back

| Previous | NEXT | 1/2 The Next Section features the 250 Exposures Bulk Film Data back version of the MF-23 Multi-Control Databack and a third party film back maker with Polaroid Proofing usage. The Instruction Manual for MF-24 is included.

Relative: Prisms for Nikon F Series | Finders Group for Nikon F2 Series | Viewfinders for Nikon F3 Series | Nikon F3AF's DX-1 AF finder

The Camera Body - Features | Reliability | Focusing | Metering | Exposure Control | Lense Compatibility | Interchangeable Prisms | Data Film Backs | Various Power Sources | Focusing Screens | Flash Photography | Other system accessories | Cases for Nikon F4 Series | Remote Control |

| Specification | Main Reference Map | Nikon F4 Variants
Instruction Manual: PDF (4.5M) - External Link

| BACK | to Main Index Page of Various Film Backs designed for Nikon F4
| BACK | to Main Index Page Nikon F4 Series SLR camera Models

| Message Board | for Nikon F4 Series SLR model(s)
| Message Board | for your Nikon Optics in a shared environment
| Message Board | Specifically for Dispose or Looking for Nikon/Nikkor Photographic Equipment

weblibrary.gif   Nikon F | Nikon F2 | Nikon F3 | Nikon F4 | Nikon F5 | Nikon F6 | Nikkormat / Nikomat | Nikon FM | Nikon FE/ FA | Nikon EM/FG/FG20 | Nikon Digital SLRs | Nikon - Other models

Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Manual Focus Nikkor lenses:- Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm | Standard Lenses - 45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm | Super-Telephoto Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |

Nikkor Link.jpg

Index Page
Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst

W A R N I N G: The New G-SERIES Nikkor lenses have no aperture ring on the lense, they cannot adjust aperture(s)when operating in manual exposure control even with certain earlier AF Nikon SLR camera models. Similarly, not ALL features provide in a modern AF-S series AF-Nikkor lenses can be utilized fully with a Nikon F4. Please refer to your local distributor for compatibility issue(s).

PLEASE NOTE: Complimentary links are appreciative but it is not necessary, I have limited bandwidth here in this server... So, PLEASE don't distribute this URL to any bulk mailing list or unrelated user-groups, just be a little considerate, thank you. (The more you distribute, the slower this server will response to your requests...). I am NOT a Nikon nor Nikkor expert, so don't send me any mails, use the Message Board Instead. While the content prepared herein should be adequate for anyone to understand and evaluate whether you should invest into a used Nikon F4 pro-camera system for your kind of photography. Well, IF you like what you have seen so far, please help to perfect this site by reporting any broken links or any errors made.

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About this photographic site.

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Credit: Chuck Hester, US for his patience, encouragement and help to setup the various content in this site; Robert Johnson for some of his original images on the F2H-MD appeared in this site; my ex-staff, KiaSu for his superb 3-D logo appeared in this Nikon F2 site; Marc Vorgers from Holland who generously provide me with some of his images of F2AS; MCLau®, who has so much time with me to re-edit the content in this site and not to mention buying a Nikon Coolpix 990 just for this site; Paul Armstrong (pkared@ameritech.net) for his explantion of the FF2 Slidemagic and Nikon F2 Pin Camera Keat Photo, Kuala Lumpur for providing their Nikon F2A to take some images for this site; Mr Edward Ngoh the great camera collector who provides us his collection of F2AS with MD-2; hawkeye.photographic.com for their images on the Speed Magny film backs; Sean Cranor for his image on Nikon F2 25th Anniversary Model; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input on some of the early Nikon bodies; Genesis-Camera for granting permission to use an image of the SS-F2 camera; Mr Sover Wong, Australia for those great images of his rare F2 Gold;CYLeow ®, photo editor of the Star newspaper, Malaysia for some of his images used in this site. Ms Rissa Chan, Sales manager from Shriro Malaysia who has helped to provide some of the very useful input. HiuraShinsaku®, Nikomat ML, Japan for some of his images on various F2 models; my staff, Wati, Maisa, Mai and my nephew, EEWyn®, who volunteered and helping me did so many of the film scanning works; Hong-sien Kwee of Singapore for all the Nikon F2 Pin camera images appeared in this site; Luigi Crescenzi for many of his images on the Nikon F2 Titan; John for two of his images of the Nikon F2/T used in this site; Contributing photographers or resellers: Jen Siow, Foo KokKin, Arthur Teng, Mark Fallander, John Ishii, Ed Hassel, YoonKi Kim, Jean-Louis, M.Dugentas (Dell Corner.com.), Mr "Arsenall", Yang Zi Xiong and a few images mailed in from surfers with no appropriate reference to their origin. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their own work to publish in this site based on educational merits. The creator of this site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such possible dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. A site made with an Apple IMac.