Nikon F100

Nikon F100

Some time ago, I felt the urge to go beyond digital and try analogue photography. The only problem was I didn't have a suitable camera. I scoured online shopping platforms and after a while, I decided to get a Nikon F100. It was within my budget and I happened to already have some glass with the F mount.

The process of buying the camera on eBay is possibly a tale of its own and involved an undisclosed malfunction. I was lucky enough to have bought the camera from a helpful and honest seller who offered a refund for the repair. So despite an extra wait and, sadly, two wasted rolls of film, I finally ended up with a fully functional used camera with, hopefully, many more years of use ahead of it.

I need to confess: I've never really shot film. At least not consciously and deliberately. I've taken snapshots with simple point-and-shoots, but that's it. This puts me in a position of being somewhat untrustworthy when reviewing a film camera. After all, what do I even compare it to? Therefore, if you read this, be aware that my "serious" photographic experience comes from the past 14 years of shooting digital only. My most ancient point of reference is a 2009 DSLR. That being said, I can still describe some of my experiences with my first deliberate attempts to shoot film.

Some Specs

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. However, there are a couple of features that I consider relevant in this camera:

  • Autofocus
  • F bayonet mount accepting all AF-D and AF-S series lenses (not AF-P though)
  • Works on four AA batteries
  • Some weather sealing, though shooting in rain is still likely a bad idea
  • Familiar (to me) information display and layout in the viewfinder
  • Bright viewfinder with 96% coverage

The F100 has all the bells and whistles available in professional SLR cameras of the late 1990s and is often described as being right between the flagship models F5 and F6 with just a few details missing (full weather sealing among them) and at a fraction of the price of either. While I can't confirm the former, as I've never used the F5 or the F6, the price bit is correct.

Using the F100

The first thing I noticed about the camera was how easy it was to load the film. There are no slits or other contraptions where I'd need to insert the film leader. Instead, I only need to extend it a bit, just enough to reach the indicated point near the film advance roll. That's it. The camera takes care of everything else and after a single shutter release button press, I'm ready to take pictures.

The ergonomics are outstanding. The camera has a very deep grip, sitting firmly in the hand. This has been something of a trademark of Nikon's for well over two decades. The controls are comfortably placed and the top LCD lets me read all the settings without looking into the viewfinder. The overall design of the F100 resembles that of DSLR cameras manufactured to this day. It doesn't look vintage because of that, but that's not a flaw in my book. The familiar design extends to how the information is laid out on the top LCD and the display in the viewfinder, closely resembling my old D90, immediately making me feel at home.

The film advances automatically after every shot taken and the camera is always ready to take the next one. This is super comfortable, but it also has led me to accidentally waste a few frames by pressing the shutter release button too deep before composing the shot. This is why I switched to using back-button focus with this camera. Another cause for wasted shots is the self-timer. I notoriously forget to turn it off, attempt to take handheld shots and proceed to inspect the reason for the shutter not firing. That is on me though.

All in all, the technology packed in the F100 makes it easy to use even for someone accustomed to digital photography. The limitations of film are fun to work with and the added complexity of using an older technology is negligible. Overall, the camera is extremely comfortable and fun to use, especially for someone who has been previously exposed to newer Nikon cameras.


Here are some photos I shot with the F100. Not that they say anything about the camera body, but still, I thought I'd share them. They're from two rolls of film: Ilford HP5 Plus, shot in Poznań, and Kodak Gold 200, shot in Gdańsk.