One of the key highlights of the Nikon F4 is actually was centered around the shutter unit. The shutter unit is assembled at the Nikon Ohi plant in Tokyo where it was also the main production plant that produced all the previous Nikon F, F2 and Nikon F3 bodies. Where it relates to the shutter unit, the Nikon F4 was also the first single digit Nikon F body that employs with a vertical travel, electro-magnetically controlled focal-plane shutter.
The previous Nikon F3 was the first Nikon F-series that uses a electro-magnetically shutter but it runs horizontally. Although the entire emphasis during the era of F3 was concentrating to list reliability on its priority which resulted in such designing concept but the shutter traveling time (across 36mm instead of a shorter 24mm picture format) has resulted many restriction in other features, in particularly the maximum shutter speed as well as sync speed. Nikon successful bridged the 1/200 sec sync speed and 1/4000 sec. back in 1982 with the debut of a honey-comb-patterned Titanium shutter in the original Nikon FM2 (followed by a electro-magnetic shutter in the Nikon FE-2/FA 1/250 sec a year later in 1983). But with subsequent years of intense research and development, there was another breakthrough in 1987/8 with the Nikon F801 which started to offer a super high speed of 1/8800 sec in maximum shutter speed as well as retaining a fastest sync speed of 1/250 sec.. So, to cater and meeting demanding requirement in a next generation high tech professional grade SLR camera with same technical configuration, we saw realization of another classic shutter unit designed specifically for the Nikon F4.
It was a known general fact that classification of camera grade in a amateur and professional class Nikon SLR was, apart from many other features, is the performance and reliability of the shutter unit. While most previous MF generation of Nikon mid-range SLR bodies have a targeted performance of delivering 50,000 flawless exposure cycles, the pro-model triples that number to 150,000 exposure cycles. A selective midrange MF Nikons introduced after first quarter of the '80 have a more ambitious target of raising it to approx. 100,000 exposure cycles - it was almost comparable to a pro-grade SLR model by any other competing brands (Canon's first pro-EOS-1 with an almost similar basic technical spec of 1/8800 sec. and 1/250sec. sync speed has similar expectation in performance of 100,000 EC). In this case, the Nikon F4 delivers an amazing 50% higher in numbers than a comparing Canon EOS-1 in the EC. Although we generally use EC as a yardstick to judge performance and reliability in a performance test but Nikon elevated such self-set expectation with more refinements to aid what they already believed be able to deliver (but considered unrivaled) in the Nikon F4.
The vertical travel focal-plane shutter is made using multiple-blade assemblies (see an illustration above that scanned from a Nikon F4's repair manual). The high-speed shutters are made using strong, but thin material. With such shutters,, there is the possibility of light leaking past the edges of the shutter blades, if exposed to very strong light for very long periods of time. Because of this, cameras with this type of shutter do not usually have a mirror lock-up mechanism. To permit the Nikon F4 to have a mirror lock-up, and to ensure that there is virtually no chance of such light leaks, Nikon designed a unique shutter with a dual-curtain system. The dual multi-bladed curtains designed was used to ensure light does not slip past the curtain blades into film plane - an element especially critical during a mirror-lock-up during shooting.
1) Super-fast 1/8800 sec. and 1/250 sec. flash sync capability with confidence and reliability.
2) Four of eight shutter blades employ special epoxy plates with carbon fibers to maximize strength while reducing weight; others are made of tough aluminum alloy.
3) Special tungsten-alloy shutter balancer absorbs vibration due to the shutter curtain travel.
4) Shutter braking system protects against shutter bounce.
Reliability tested for up to 150,000 cycles.
HOW THE F4'S DUAL SHUTTER CURTAINS MOVE BEFORE, DURING & AFTER AN EXPOSURE
1. Normally, the film plane is covered by the dual multi-bladed shutter curtains-front and rear curtains. This unique dual-curtain system prevents the film plane from being exposed to light leaking past the blades.
2. The moment the shutter release button is fully depressed, the mirror moves up; at the same time, the rear curtain goes up.
3. The instant the mirror is completely at the up position, the front curtain starts traveling downward and the film plane is exposed to the light coming directly from the lens.
4. As the front curtain travels down,) the rear curtain follows the front curtain downward until the film plane is completely covered. When the shutter speed is very fast, e.g., 1/8800 sec-, the rear curtain starts traveling immediately after the front curtain.
5. As the film is automatically advanced to the next frarnel the shutter resumes its original dual-curtain formation.
Before Shutter Release
Just before an exposure
Immediately after an exposure
Incidentally, Nikon F4 was also the first pro-grade Nikon F series that did not use Titanium as the prime material for the shutter curtain anymore - instead, its shutter blades are made using two different materials. Four of the blades are made using a special epoxy material which has carbon fiber reinforcement. The four other blades are made with aluminum alloy. When operated, some blades must travel a longer distance than the other blades (for both curtain sets). With this in mind Nikon chose to use the carbon fiber material for the blades that travel the longer distance. The carbon fiber is extremely strong, yet lighter in weight than the aluminum alloy. They are 0.09mm thick and have a low specific gravity and a very small moment of inertia! This means they are able to travel a longer distance, compared to the heavier aluminum-alloy blades, without excessive stress-causing factors. The shutter curtains have achieved a very high traveling speed (F4's Shutter curtain moving time: 2.9 milli-sec. (24mm) without sacrificing durability, as a result of their special construction. The width of the slit, between the front and rear curtains is kept consistently accurate, and provides precise exposure accuracy, even with the top speed of 1/8800 second.
There was another interesting supplementary design with the shutter unit for the Nikon F4 - As when a camera is held securely on a tripod, vibration occurs because of shutter curtain travel; this becomes critical especially within the shutter speed range between 1/250 sec. and 1/15 sec. - speeds that most likely will affected by handheld shootings. However, with higher shutter speeds, the vibration may not affect the end result. And with slower shutter speeds, the vibration becomes almost negligible. To avoid the effects of shutter vibration, Nikon has incorporated a special tungsten-alloy shutter balancer in the Nikon F4's shutter. Why tungsten alloy? Because of its high specific gravity of approx. 18.5. The balancer rises slightly when the shutter curtains operate. The anti-directional movement of the balancer absorbs vibration due to the shutter curtain travel. The balancer is designed for high density and minimum drive, so it does not need much power to control. Additionally, an efficient shutter braking system protects against shutter bounce.
OFF TOPIC SUPPLEMENT: Well, the supporting features found in the design of the current F5 is even more interesting - it adds a layer of self-monitoring system with the deployment of a built-in self diagnostic Shutter Monitor which locates just next to the shutter blades to check the shutter every time it releases. If the speeds begin to shift from a calibrated shutter speed by factory's default standard, the camera will even automatically compensates to maintain an accurate exposure, great huh ? That is not all - Nikon also designed a Mirror Balancer in the F5 to minimize mirror bounce to reduce the time required to bring the mirror down to ensure a faster and more accurate AF operations.
SOME ADDITIONAL TECHNICAL INFO RELATING TO THE SHUTTER UNIT OF NIKON F4:
- Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter ( A Nikon original).
- Two-magnet controlled shutter curtain movement (attraction-retained when power is applied).
- Four-blade opening shutter curtain and four-blade closing shutter curtain construction. Shutter curtain moves from UP to DOWN.
- Two blades of both opening and closing shutter curtains are made of Layer-built- carbon fiber plate, and the rest are made of aluminum material.
- Double light baffling system when not in exposed. Closing shutter Curtain is returned by a shutter release Magnet.
- Sync contact employs semiconductor trigger system.
- Shutter curtain moving time: 2.9 milli-sec. (24mm)
- Built-in balancer for absorbing the shock due to the movement of the opening shutter curtain.
- Shutter speed control-range: S, M mode: T, B, X, and 4 to 1 /8800 sec. (in one step); A, P mode: 30 to 1/8800 sec. (in 1/12 steps)
- "T" (time) is controlled manually. Others are all controlled electronically.
- Flash synchronization: 1/250 sec. (actually 1/242). Sync contact is available but no FPM contact.
Closing shutter synchronization is possible when the SB-24, SB-25, SB-26, SB-28 or other capable Nikon speedlights which offer REAR CURTAIN SYNC FEATURE is mounted (except in the case on T mode). Why ? When the shutter speed dial is set to T (time), the armature of the closing shutter curtain Mg is mechanically held. When shutter is released, the opening shutter curtain closes, and the power is off in 32 seconds* (sync contact is also off). At this moment, LCD frame counter number advances +1. Reset the shutter speed dial and the closing shutter curtain closes (In not double light baffling) .
Credit: Image of this SB-26 courtesy of Mr. Sam "Oleg Kipnis" ® <firstname.lastname@example.org> Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
When the shutter is depressed fully, the mirror moves down and film is advanced. When shutter prerelease timer is not out (within 32 seconds after shutter is released), the mirror moves down and film is advanced immediately after resetting the shutter speed dial., So when shutter speed is set to "T" setting on the shutter speed ring. closing shutter curtain synchronization is automatically changed to opening shutter curtain synchronization. IF "T" setting is canceled before shutter pre-release timer turns OFF, immediately moves downward and film advances in 32 seconds after shutter is released. Rear curtain sync flash photography at "T" (time) setting is automatically switched to front curtain sync.(Rear-curtain sync is impossible at "T")
* "T" (time) setting is basically is mechanical control. The current flows to the Mg for 32 seconds after shutter is released at T setting. The power is ON for 32 seconds to activate the camera body for more than 20 seconds at. "T" setting, because current flows for maximum 20 seconds in repeating flash mode of the SB--24. Click sound may be heard in 32 seconds after preleasing the shutter at T setting, this means that the shutter curtain held by Mg is switched to that held by mechanically.
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| Index Page | Body Construction | Electronic inside | The Shutter Unit | an efficient Motors system |
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
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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.
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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 (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.