The transition from the mechanical Nikon F2 era to the electronic F3 presents an interesting way for us to make a direct comparison between a few original proposed designs of the planned F3 crafted by Japanese designers and the eventual realized Nikon F3 by a western industrial design artist (renown Italian industrial design firm Giugiaro Design, Italy, headed by the master designer, Mr. Giorgetto Giugiaro). The comparison was also reflecting a conservative oriental approach from modern, dynamic looking western industrial design. The Nikon F3's exterior appearance was refreshing enough at the time of its introduction, it changes the corporate image of Nikon and at the same time, its beautifully crafted appearance successful mirrored applied electronic science into an industrial imaging product as well as projecting a more dynamic image for the Company's entry into the electronic age.
<<< ---- From 1959's Nikon F to a 1998's Nikon F5A, an array of five generations of the single-digit Nikon F bodies. Image from my copyright-free image collection. Malaysian Internet Resources
Indeed, the Nikon F3 is a simple electronic SLR but was designed to perform reliably rather than shining in features. A few years after its debut, with rivaling labels revealed their respective flagship models (such as Canon New F-1 and Olympus OM-3 & OM-4); Nikon surprised everyone with a quantum leap in metering technology by introducing the world's first Multi-Patterns metering with the Nikon FA (1983). During this era, another interesting development was centered around a new theme of autofocusing. When Pentax revealed their first AF-prototype body, the Pentax ME-F, others joined in the battlefields. In another rather surprising move, as opposed to prototype designs using entry level models to test the market, Nikon unveiled a working AF concept which chosen Nikon F3 as the backbone. The Nikon F3AF used a rather different concept from others because it came with a first series of AF-Nikkor which each has a micro-motor built-in help to drive AF (it was not adopted because eventually Nikon decided to revert back to camera driven AF system). However, market scenario changed when Minolta announced their AF-Maxxum 7000 in January, 1985, it was the world's first body integrated AF SLR camera system. The new system has a significant impact because the company abandoned all older Manual Focus D-lense mount with an entirely new AF lense mount for the AF system - the move was a tremendous success and catapulted them to the driver seat in the AF war.
Major camera manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon handled aggression/dominance of Minolta's AF Maxxum system differently. Canon first answered by introducing a FD-mount Canon T80 in April, 1984 and soon decided to drop idea because the world largest player in the market realized a fact where the AF platform based on old FD system does not post any advantages. They soon announced a painful process in dropping the entire line of FD mount system in favour of a new new concept of Electro Optical System (or commonly referred as "EOS"). Well, actually looking back to where how it started, it was quite interesting to observe how Nikon handled such aggression posted by the rivals. Strangely, despite with the huge success enjoyed by Minolta's new AF system, the Company announced future Nikon AF system will still be committing using old F-mount as the backbone by introducing the first working AF SLR body, Nikon F-501 (N2020 in US) in 1985. The major decision involving an array of first generation AF-Nikkor lenses which need the camera to drive the optics for autofocusing. This indeed has two implications: Firstly, the collective decision in Nikon to deploy a camera-drive AF coupling system also means there is no drive motor to assist the camera's AF system (the hugely successful EOS system has a far superior design because it has both, on the lense section, there is a killer application - USM (ultra-sonic-motor) which provides far superior efficiency and quietness of AF operation. On the other hand, a good news which enjoyed by ALL Nikon fans was its great compatibility as all Manual Focus Nikkor lenses (minimum Ai-spec) can be used freely with any Nikon AF SLRs introduced during this period (so do when using the AF-Nikkor lenses with MF Nikon Ai-camera bodies). These decision has a long term influence which affects both professional and general consumer AF SLR models at later stage. On the other hand, other remaining major Japanese manufacturers took differing stands reacting to the budding hyped AF evolution. Olympus preferred to stay aside and not reacted at all while Pentax followed Nikon's path in retaining their K-Mount for the new AF system.
Well, amidst all the confusing state in the market place, development of Nikon SLR never took a pause. From a useful contributing effort by Nikomat ML Japan, a picture of a F4 prototype may suggest development of a proposed AF-Nikon could have been already began in 1985. With the EXCEPTION of the location of the accessory shoe which is still rested on top of the film rewind knob - All other essential elements found in the eventual production Nikon F4 were already took shape in the prototype. The second prototype (see below) which has such a distinguishably different appearance from the 1985 model may suggest Nikon could have turned for external consultancy on the F4 design. Not convincing ? You can see the early prototype model has a strong oriental flavor with a heavy industrial design. The subsequent model carries some resemblance of the previous Nikon F3 and mirrors signature of Giorgetto Giugiaro in its form. Well, no one knows why there wasn't a chrome F4 like the one shown being marketed thus far (it was indeed quite cool with its greenish grenade coating....huh ? ). The two models differ greatly in feel and outlook. The later model has a smooth, stylish design with rounded outlines as well as using rubber-compound exterior coating in favour of the conventional artificial leatherette. Take note of the two different generations of the AF-Nikkor used on these prototypes which also reflects the changes on the cosmetic of the Nikkor lenses.
Credit: Information of the Nikon F4's prototype models above courtesy of Mr.. HIURA Shinsaku, Manager of Nikomat ML in Japan. The two respective images can be accessed A & B here.
Despite of what I have commented relating to some minor flaws in its design (entirely personal). It provides many advance features which are still comparable with many modern Nikon bodies. Overall, I would rate the F4 as a relatively friendly auto SLR to use and own. In fact, the eventual F4(s) that went into production can easily be regarded as the "best looking" Nikon SLR ever. It is not just a plain good looking SLR externally but equally it is a great piece of imaging tool for photographers. As most of its operating features are highly functional to aid users in order to be more responsive in their photography. It carries a distinctive shape, textures and with locations of many of its primary features sensibly balances its primary form and operating features. In particularly for any seasoned Nikon users who may have some experiences handling an motor driven auto-Nikon bodies before, the hands and your fingers will feel instantly at home.
Personally, I had my first F4 experience than many of you. As early as in 1988 shortly after Nikon announcement, the local Nikon distributor then, Shriro Malaysia was kind enough air-flown a pre-production unit for me to serve as a pre-launch preview organized by me. I took almost 5 days before the session just to get a accustomed with all its functions and controls (I don't remembered it supplied with a flash). Frankly, despite I had my admiration and love for such an advanced imaging tool I do have a little personal reservation as I felt the AF is still far from satisfaction.
<<< ---- Image from my copyright-free image collection. Malaysian Internet Resources
The original battery compartment was not as friendly as the eventual unit (in fact, I thought I have damaged the cover in many frustrating attempts just fight to close the cover back in place ! And actually throughout pre-launch gathering, I have observed many curious turn embarrassed faces because, many went through the same un assuring process fighting to fix the cover back in place as I did. Well, I don't mind to confess, the initial experience I had was not entire a comfortable one, as I realized AF still has a long way to go and hence, has decided to skip a generation of the single-digit F (eventually, bought a Nikon F5 in 1997). @##$%@^^ !! - Feeling betrayal reading these facts ? Err ...You don't have to because firstly, I am not a professional user and naturally everyone has a budget to work with. I am quite happy with my trusty F3 and I don't always have the time to catch up in development of camera's technologies. The Nikon F4 is a logical step up model for F3 users but during that time, I just don't find a logical justification for an autofocus SLR for my kind of photography, that is all.
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Part I - VII: Page 1| Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 |
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 Nikon F4 Series 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
| Back | to Pictorial History of Nikon SLR / rangefinders / Nikonos / digital cameras.
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
Nikon 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 |
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.
About this photographic site.
HOME - Photography in Malaysia
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 (email@example.com) 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. Dedicated to KU Yeo, just to express our mutual regrets over the outcome of a recent corporate event. Made with an Apple IMac.