Among the things that somehow put off people in trying out film photography is the fact that each photo comes with a cost. You don’t only need a camera to shoot with; you need to buy film rolls or packs, too. It doesn’t help that film camera prices have gone up with the resurgence. Some models from iconic brands also remain as expensive as ever. A quick search online reveals that a Nikon F6 body, the last of Nikon’s F series still being made today, is priced at $2,499 (on a side note, the only items priced higher are the Leica cameras). But, is that really a bad thing? Is the Nikon F6 still worth the hefty price tag?
The truth is, the Nikon F6 is still one of the best SLR cameras that you can buy brand new and use for professional film photography. Design-wise, it comes in a great form factor; not too clunky and big, and just the right size for an ergonomic professional SLR camera. Many find it pleasant to shoot with for its Silent (S) mode, which allows for reduced noise and vibration. It’s also compatible with every Nikon lens made since 1977, and even those all the way from 1959 if they are AI converted. It can also log full EXIF data to CF cards through the accessory MV-1 card reader, making it an interesting mix of film and digital features.
The slew of advanced features, controls, and capabilities it was equipped with goes on and on. It’s more interesting to know why Nikon packed all these features to create “the world’s best 35mm film SLR camera.”
Introduced in 2004, the F6 came at a time when Nikon knew that digital photography essentially killed 35mm film for professional use. So, what better way is there to mark the end of an era for Nikon than to design the ultimate film SLR camera? Many believe that they succeeded in the F6, as it came with all the qualities that enthusiasts are looking for in a film SLR camera.
In a nutshell, Nikon put into consideration two things in designing the F6. First, the experience and motivations of shooting film greatly differs than with digital. Second, there would always be photographers who prefer the careful, rigorous, and slowed down approach of the former. Tomohisa Ikeno, who joined Nikon’s Development Division in 1980 and designed the F6, summed up the appeal of these two factors as “the value of unique pictures.”
Ikeno gave an insightful explanation to this in an interview:
“With a digital camera, the number of pictures you can take is infinite, in the sense that there is no limit in the number of shots to take, unlike shooting with film. You don’t have to hesitate when taking pictures. Just release the shutter, although later, you may find that you don’t want to keep the results.
“But, on the contrary, some photographers reject the prospect of such ease, as they desire a more careful, rigorous approach to taking pictures. They want to treasure each picture-taking opportunity by etching their vision on film.
So, with the F6, we made it our first priority to satisfy customers who want to apply a certain degree of respect to taking each great picture. To realize this, a camera that allows a user to take a good picture is not enough. There are many important factors involved, including comfort of use, functionality as a tool, shooting feel, etc. And we want to make the F6 the best camera in every aspect.”