I’m 40 this year and still a newbie in photography. The F6 has been my target since 2006. I got my first (used) F6 back in 2007 when I had to start my pro fashion course in Milan and traded no less than the 85/1.4 and the 105/2 DC to afford one. It was love at first sight. Every epoch has its icons, I think photographically the F6 is an Icon as well – a timeless masterpiece, crafted for photographers that really love taking pictures and not swapping cameras every time. Shooting film (mostly portra 160, since my pictures are mostly people related) has always been not only a fine pleasure rather also a “compulsive need” (hopefully without any negative implication in it) just because of the peculiar nature of film. While I’m not much into b/w (although I like Tri-X 400), I liked both the E100G slides for fashion (more than the Provia) and the Velvia for landscapes. For color negative film, aside from Kodak Portra 160 (which is fabulous) I use the Ektar 100, Portra 400 and at times Fuji 160 which is better suited for greens (see my “Giuseppe” shot) – Honestly, I could NOT stop shooting film even if I had the most super duper 100 MP camera.
Here follow 6 shots with a little background
At first I was surely interested by its possibility to record every shooting data for a huge number of rolls, although this was only the cherry on top of the cake. Everything with the F6 was somehow unique and better than any of the DSLRs I tried during these years (D70s, D200, D700 (two), D600..) I don’t know, maybe it was that futuristic look with the little LCD display on the back, maybe the very good grip and the feeling of sturdiness and reliability without being too heavy, maybe it was an unique look ( I am not repeating myself, yet the F6 has a distinct look, different from any film or subsequent digital body, especially in the top and front side, not to mention the equallyunique back).
My impression is that also the glass used for the viewfinder is somehow better and different than all the others I saw in the other cameras: bigger and better suited for manual focusing, but I admit I might be biased or even spoiled by the beauty of this camera to see it even more beautiful than actually it already is.
You know, although no one is able to give a meaningful and exhaustive/objective explanation for this phenomenon, I experienced as many other photographers that working with film sets you in a very particular mood, which truly has to do with the Nikon statement (“The value of unique pictures“). Not by chance it’s now a few years I use mostly manual focusing lenses to feel even more engaged with the whole process.
While the convenience of an autofocus zoom is undeniable and I have one, working with the FM3A (which has a split prism) or the F6 and my Zeiss lenses is every time a fine pleasure, comparable to tasting an exquisite wine or enjoying a musical masterpiece with the proper time, relax and equipment.
While it’s often given for “granted” that the F6 can work with almost any lens out there, actually I saw different and more recent DSLRs being less reliable in exposure even if the non cpu lenses were defined in their profiles. Basically, almost all of them tended to underexpose from 0.5 to 1 stop with certain lenses. This is one point where the F6 was better.
Besides, in an ideal lens set up kit for the F6, among those I had, I’d include:
1) AFS 17-35 F/2.8 – I think this is “THE” lens, a real “must have”, for the F6. While now it’s not easy nor cheap to get one brand new and I’m patiently waiting for a new 16-35 F/2.8 VR from Nikon or a 15-30 F/2.8 VC (already in the pipelines from Tamron), I can’t see the F6 paired with another lens, in expert hands, and this also includes the (equally necessary) tele lenses. I had a very good copy of the 17-35 and it worked very well with slides and old portra NC or VC both in exposure and color rendition. This is probably the only autofocus lens really necessary for this camera. All the others (Tamron 90 excluded) come from the mf side.
2) I am or was very satisfied with both the Zeiss ZF2 2/35, almost always on now, or the “older” and “tinier” CV 40/2 – chipped, which on one side was extremely pocketable, on the other one had a littler or less accurate focusing ability, so that it was harder to nail the focus when wide open. Not so with the 35 or the other Zeiss lenses I have.
3) Nikkor AIS 50/1.8. It’s unbelievable how crazily sharp this lens is despite being extremely cheap. I have also a 50/1.2 and undoubtedly you gain a lot in terms of light gathering, and they are different lenses, however I rate the 1.8 closer to my shooting style.
In the tele compartment, there are three lenses I can think of, and each one has its own pros and cons.
4) Tamron 90 – Excellent portrait lens and (for me) also ideal focal length to shoot. Bokeh and versatility counteracted the old plasticky and cheap finish of the lens. Focus was adequate the subject was undera good lighting. In dim light, the long macro barrel started to move back and forth to lock focus. Plus, it was f/2.8
5) Zeiss 100 – I have it now and probably is the best overall choice, if you can afford it. It’s even a TAD better than the 90 in image rendition, and it’s a stop faster, plus you have great control over the focus point.
6) Nikkor AI 105/2.5. I had also the AIS yet I prefer the older (with longer throw and more accurate focusing). I couldn’t believe my eyes how many beautiful portraits such old lens was capable of. The only “cons” (but it’s a subjective thing) was the fact the 105 was a bit too “long” for my shooting stile, I really preferred the 90 a a portraiture lens, to jump immediately to a 135 or a 180/200mm lens.
I think that’s all. While I’m not sure to have listed point by point the 6 F6 advantages, it’s clear I’m bound to it on a very personal and intimate level. Since I enjoy the peculiar rendition of film – so much “imperfect” and “alive” compared to all those super duper digital sensors which depict everything with clinical accuracy, I can’t think of a better camera of the Nikon F6 to continue enjoying shooting film.
My modest website is http://italy74.smugmug.com – a very amateurish one, sure, yet every shot there has behind it a story and I’m really proud to have been there to take it.