I was asked by a couple of friends which SLR film cameras I considered to be among the all time greats, and though I am not an historian or claim to be an expert the choices were fairly easy for me – I’ll begin with Nikon as one of them is a Nikon shooter.
Nikon has a history of being a player in the SLR world and now in my opinion having entered the mirrorless world somewhat lagging behind in that department.
There are a number of cameras viewed as iconic and while I understand there are those who may argue the point I believe the apex of Nikons’ cameras was reached with the release of the f5, an iconic hard-nosed no nonsense film camera that pretty much ruled during it’s day and may have been somewhat avant grade by incorporating a degree of titanium in it’s construction and technological advances.
A camera designed for everyday use by pros under a variety of conditions from photo journalists in combat zones to the challenges of hardcore landscape under difficult conditions in diverse settings.
Like the Timex watch advertisements of yesteryear it would take a licking and keep on ticking.
My particular bone to pick with Nikon are the notable instances where they quit supplying repair parts to camera shops forcing the camera owner to send them to Nikon – a profit strategy pure and simple that fails to reciprocate loyalty.
Top of the line and big bucks during it’s reign but can be had now for considerably less as film becomes something of a niche market.
The weight due to it’s tank like construction undoubtedly led to the f6 which was smaller and lighter, a move by Nikon to ride the coat tails of the f5 and offer something for everyone but also a camera that couldn’t hold a candle to the f5.
Film will never rule as it once did but for those who enjoy the know what you’re about or suffer poor photos and wasted film of film photography can’t go wrong if they adopt an orphaned f5.
I don’t believe this is a “collectors” camera to sit on a shelf, rather a camera to load and put through it’s paces – my personal approach is if I own something and don’t use it either sell, barter, or pass it on to someone who will.
It isn’t about who has the most stuff but who gets the most use out of what they have that defines possessions and ownership to me with obvious exceptions.
The f5 with it’s “menu”, options, and capabilities was thought of as complex and requiring a learning curve – maybe it was during those times but the same cannot be said now as similar complaints are leveled at the menus of dslr and mirrorless cameras.
No doubt at some point in the future modern cameras will become voice activated allowing the shooter to issue verbal commands related to aperture, ISO, and the like – personally I hope not as such will in effect make the shooter an appendage of the camera rather than the reverse, and there’s enough of that already.
There will always be “purists” who frown upon anything other than film with a subset of those who want every thing to be manual – some may consider that a form of romanticism and maybe it is, but there is an undeniable honesty about film that has earned it’s place.
The next step in my opinion should be the development of environmentally friendly chemicals used in developing negatives – that undoubtedly will be linked to profit margins and demand and as such may or may not occur.