Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nikon F90X: Inital Impressions

Nikon F90X, 35mm Film SLR
Over the last week I've mentioned the F90X a few times and today I'm going to post my impressions of this older film camera.

Design and market placement:
The First thing that you'll notice about the the F90X is that the design is different from modern Nikon SLR cameras, and that is because the design dates back to 1992, when the original F90 was release. The F90X was a late 90's update to the camera, including changes to the AF system and the ability to support AF-S lenses, but not VR, which did not exist at the time. Nikon discontinued production in 2001, shortly after the release of the D1 series of digital SLR cameras. By that time the F90X had been replaced by the F100, which is the market space that the replacement D100, D200 and D300 can be traced back to. 

Build Quality:
The build quality of the F90X is very good, and is comparable to the build quality of cameras like the D300, considering that it has a number of seals to protect the camera from dust and moisture. It also features a tough metallic chassis, under the industrial strength plastic cover. 

The Viewfinder:
The viewfinder of this camera, as you can see from the large prism, is very large and bright, making the 100% viewfinder of the D300 look like a tunnel in comparison. Manual focusing is a breeze with the F90X, thanks to the viewfinders massive size compared to the best crop sensor viewfinders found in the the market today. The viewfinder on the F90X also has a built in curtain for when you taking long exposure shots. I love this feature and not having to worry about loosing the tiny piece of plastic that swaps out with the eye piece cover of modern DX bodies is nice. The viewfinder covers 92% of frame so you do have to be careful when framing your shots, since it is easy to loose yourself in the huge frame given.

On the front of the camera there are two buttons on the right side, the AF-L button and above that the depth of field preview, which is fully mechanical and works even when the camera is turned off. On the left side of the front there is a switch for manual focus, AF-Single and AF-Continuous, just as there is on the D100, D200 and D300. On the back of the camera there are two buttons, one for exposure lock on the right, and the other on the left by the viewfinder for turning on the backlight for the top LCD.

The top of the camera has a 4 button pad on the left to control the Mode (Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual), ISO (When DX coded film is loaded the camera automatically sets the ISO rating), flash (there is no built in flash), and the drive mode (continuous shooting up to 4.3FPS). The button on the top left side controls the program modes, and the button with the green dot is used in combination with the green button on the right to set the camera back to default settings. 
On the right there is a control dial, the sliding ON/OFF switch, exposure compensation (Second Green Dot button for reset), one of the film rewind buttons (the other being the ISO button), a button to control the AF zone (Wide or circle), and last but not least, on the top right side, the shutter release. The shutter on the F90X feels very smooth, not as smooth as the D300, but nicer than the consumer DSLRs that Nikon makes today. The top LCD on the right side of the body tells you all your shooting information, such as how many shots you have taken, shutter speed, aperture, metering mode, and flash settings.
Other thoughts:
So far I have been please with how the camera operates, but then again I wont really know how well it works until I get my film developed.