Nikon F100 – Closest to DSLR?

The Illustrious Nikon F100

While there are lots of awesome 35mm film cameras out there, one camera that has almost the cult following of a Leica, yet is probably closer to any modern DSLR offering,…is the Nikon F100.

In 1999 the F100 was considered a prosumer Nikon F5. However, whatever the F5 could do, this “baby F5” could do. And sometimes more! Plus, it was much lighter. And cheaper. In fact, it’s probably much closer to a Nikon F6 than an F5! While Canon made a directly competing model, (Canon EOS 3), it was really only the Nikon that has stood the test of time. And if you go back and forth between film and digital, I could not imagine a smoother transition camera.


Nikon F100


Bang for the Buck

One of the main considerations that elevate this camera is simple “bang for the buck”. The body is mostly magnesium.I doubt there is a digital camera out there that feels as solid. Well, the Nikon D3 and D4 are close,…but certainly not my Nikon D810. What’s cool about the controls is they’re almost an exact match to Nikon’s DSLR’s. Including grip dials and the PASM modes found on all high end Nikon DSLR’s. Almost like they could see into the future in 1999!


Nikon F100


When it comes to the nuts and bolts of any camera, (the lenses), it’s still compatible with most Nikkor lenses, including Nikon’s G lenses. You know,…those stupid lenses with no aperture rings. (my opinion) And the autofocus is spot on. Even in low light. While it doesn’t have a bajillion AF points, (it has 5), I know of no DSLR that is more accurate.

Loading Film – Piece of Cake

Loading film is a non-issue in this camera. (like it’s big brother,…the F5) And the meter is so accurate, even slide film exposure is easy. Even on full Auto! Much more so than most digitals. But, maybe that’s just a digital thing. After all, C-41 negative film has quite a lot of latitude. Either way, if you’re a full manual guy, (like me), exposures are accurate whether you use the on board meter or a separate light meter.


Nikon F100 Film DSLR


I have to be honest. I love the Nikon F6. But when I’m asked to choose between the F100 and F6, I’ll always choose the F100. The feature list is very close. So close that I have to question whether an after market price of almost 5x really makes sense. Is the F6 better? You bet your bippy it is. And while the autofocus is on par with the F5, the F6 autofocus is so good it’s almost scary. Also, the F5 has a removable viewfinder, neither the F100 or F6 does.




F100 or F5?

As far as the F100 vs the F5? Well, they really are two different beasts.
The F100 weighs only 27.7 ounces, compared to 42.7 for the F5. (Those are the weights sans batteries.)
The F100 only requires four AA batteries; the F5 uses eight. Although the F100 also has an optional battery pack.
The F100 has more flexible bracketing, allowing 1/2-stop adjustments in addition to 1/3- and full-stop settings.
The F100 has a user-selectable function called Closest Focus Priority, which defaults AF to the sensor that sees the closest subject.

But the biggest deal F100 owners always mention?
The AF sensors in the F100 briefly light in red when selected and are very easy to see, while the F5’s AF sensors are black LCD superimposed over the viewing screen, which can be difficult to see in some lighting and with some subjects.


Nikon F100 Battery Chamber
F100 Battery Chamber


Save Your Pennies,…Probably

This is NOT a cut down of the F6,… the 35mm king! So, as in all things in life,…”ya picks your poison” and go with it. Even though the F6 may have a built-in data imprinter and intervalometer,…for most photographers that’s just a “so what?”. The F100 was quite a camera in 1999,….and still is. 😍





This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I totally agree with your evaluation of the F100. One MAJOR flaw is the FRAGILE plastic film door. The plastic teeth snaps without notice leaving you with a paperweight… I don’t know whether the data back is sturdier but none is available as a spare.

  2. Hey Waldemir,
    Yeah, that latch can be problematic with extremely heavy use. Never seen plastic teeth break. Still better than one of my first cameras, Minolta X-370, where the door fell completely off! However, the doors seem readily available on Ebay; Nikon F100 Door


  3. The rear door latch snapped on my wonderful F80 which put me off buying another one. As I write this there are dozens of F100s on eBay for sale WITHOUT a rear door. Seems to be a real problem…

    Then again there are plenty of separate rear doors for sale. An incomplete F100 plus two spare doors is around $200, which is a median price for a complete working camera alone.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu