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Nikon F75 Features at a glance
To ensure the body is small Nikon have shaved loads of the usual chunky handgrip but I found this makes the thin grip quite uncomfortable for larger hands, but fine for smaller ones. It does, however, offer a good grip if you carry the camera at your side without the strap.
|With the camera up to your eye all controls seem logically placed, I really like the position of the AEL button which can be thumb activated with ease. And the Exposure compensation can be depressed with your index finger while your thumb rotates the mode dial to adjust exposure to suit a particular scene.|
The omission of a front control wheel for shutter or aperture adjustment is disappointing, but I assume that's to keep the weight down and allow the thinner grip. It doesn't take you long to get used to using the back plate input wheel instead.
The large jog wheel on the back is just used for selecting the focus point which we'll cover later. You'll also see a diopter correction slider by the viewfinder. This allows minimal adjustment of -1.5 to +0.8 correction with nine optional lenses covering -5 to+3.
|The body is a plastic construction, but does have an all-important metal lens mount to ensure there's little wear. The budget bundled 28-100mm has a plastic mount which was already showing marks after taking off and on several times during the test.|
|The 28-100mm lens that comes bundled with the F75 offers a versatile range to take in all the surrounds at the 28mm wide-angle and home in on the detail at the 100mm telephoto setting.|
You have three options to keep the focus point fixed in the centre like most basic AF cameras, to let it automatically choose or to manually chose using the backplate jog wheel. The focus point that's being used glows red when the light level drops.
You'll find the conventional exposure mode dial on the top-plate. Nikon drifted away from this a few years ago so It's good to see it return. It's very easy to use and select from as indicated clockwise from M (manual), A (aperture-priority, (S) shutter-priority P (program) and full Auto along with subject based modes Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports and Night Portrait. Around the side of this is a dial to select single or continuous frame shooting which delivers a basic 1.5fps.
|The F75 has a sophisticated metering system that takes measurements from 25 points indicated in the illustration to the right. It will then evaluate the zones and set an appropriate exposure. In this example the meter would see that much of the main subject is the tree and would set the focus point to that and weight the exposure to ensure it didn't come out as a silhouette against the light background.|
I think Nikon have tried to simplify the options by placing them in logical places, but sometimes the more advanced user may find these as limitations, especially when it comes to focusing where you cannot preset single or continuous mode. Although both are available they are automated. Single AF is normally set and then continuous kicks in when the subject appears to move or when the Sports Program mode is selected.
On the subject of focusing the camera handled most test situations admirably. I occasionally had to question its choice of auto focus zone but it always zipped quickly into focus. The lens is a bit clunky at times when the focusing is taken from one extreme to another, and manual focus (selected by a switch on the lens throat) is as flimsy as they come. Gone are the days when you have a chunky barrel with a lovely rubberised grip to grasp, or even just a chunky barrel. On this 28-100mm lens you have the thinnest lip to hold onto. Good job the AF's good!
While you are in Auto or one of the subject based program modes the flash pops up out of the pentaprism when the shutter speed drops below a safe hand holding speed of 1/60sec or when the subject is backlit. The shutter speed is then automatically set to 1/60sec or 1/90sec. You have several flash modes to choose from including front or rear curtain sync, red eye reduction and slow sync. You can also cancel flash when in an auto mode
|In the creative exposure modes an indication appears in the viewfinder and you press the button on the side to manually pop the flash up. This button is also used with the input wheel to select the flash modes mention above. You'll also see the BKT button below the flash button. Here you can set the camera to do a three frame exposure bracket with a 1/2, 1, 11/2 or 2 stop range and, using one of the custom functions lets you choose the order of the bracket sequence. Its a really useful mode if you are shooting a subject where the lighting is tricky, especially on transparency film which doesn't have a very good exposure tolerance. The BKT button also doubles up as a forced film rewind option when pressed at the same time as the exposure compesnation button on the top plate.|
Many cameras have custom function option now that you can select to set up certain modes/functions to respond in a certain way. This option is usually found on the more expensive cameras though. The Nikon F75 has the following options:
|Beep sound||0: on||1: off|
|Viewfinder warnings||0: display||1: off|
|Bracketing order||0: meter value, under, over||1: under, meter value, over|
|Focus area illumination||0: Auto illumination in low light||1: off||2: always illuminated|
|AE lock on shutter release||0: disabled||1: active|
|AE Lock button||0: AE lock only||1: AE AF lock||2: AF activate|
|Metering with AE Lock||0: centre weighted||1: matrix||2: spot|
|Time delay for auto off||3: 3 sec||5: 5sec||10: 10 sec||20: 20sec|
|Self timer duration||2: 2 sec||5: 5sec||10: 10 sec||20: 20sec|
|Remote control standby||1: 1 sec||5: 5sec||10: 10 sec|
|LCD illumination||0: disabled||1: active|
|AF assist illumination||0: activated||1: disabled|
No the crunch does the camera perform as well as it handles? We always use slide film for tests. You don't have any loss in sharpness caused by poor printing and the film isn't exposure tolerant like print film so you're exposures have to be bang on.
|First thing that was clear from the two test rolls that I put through is that this camera has a highly sophisticated meter which delivers acceptable results in some real tricky situations and handles normal conditions with amazing accuracy.|
|A potentially tricky scene, looks great on the slide film, but it's fooled our scanner so the quality isn't as good as it really is. The sun was streaming through the window and display glass. Dark shadows and brilliant bleaching highlights, but detail is there.|
I was shocked by the lens quality. Having felt the flimsiness of this highly plastic construction lens I was expecting average sharpness, but these are razor sharp. Even inspecting under a 8x loupe I am still highly impressed. 16x12 photos would not be a problem for this camera and lens combination.
|This shot shows a typical statue in front of bronze lettered plaque. The yellow square is roughly where the magnified area on the right was taken from. The magnified area shows the quality of the camera if the print was made to a size of around 20x16in.|
|Flash was activated on the photo on the left to ensure the shutter reached the necessary speed of 1/60sec and avoid camera shake. The shot on the right has a bit of camera shake because it was a 1/8sec exposure, taken without using a tripod|
Nikon have, like Canon, Pentax and Minolta, have gone down the lightweight route, offering a versatile option for existing compact camera owners that delivers similar ease of use and weight but with added advantage of lens removal and through the lens viewing. An older SLR user who's buying their first AF model may think the camera feels plasticky and cheap, especially if your coming with the knowledge of the reputation Nikon has built over the years with their Nikkormat and F series. Look at the competition, such as the Canon EOS300v, Minolta Dynax 5 and Pentax MZ-6, though and they're all the same!
The results I got from this camera made me confident enough to be happy to own and use. It doesn't feel like a heavy duty model but it certainly delivers the results like one and you have the benefit of not breaking your back carrying it. If the F75 is in your price range buy it now...I guarantee you will not be disappointed!
In summary the main positive points of the Nikon F75 are:
Superb exposure system
Very easy to use
All the essential features
Negative points are:
Slightly flimsy feel
Poor manual focusing ring
Uncomfortable handgrip (subjective)
Sensitive shutter release