Nikon F75 Film SLR Review

Nikon F75 test

|  Nikon F75 in Film SLRs
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As the digital camera sector continues to grow faster than the speed of a bullet train the manufacturers still continue to invest in the 35mm film arena which either suggests they have their heads in the sand, that they are clasping at the last few sales of a dying market or that they still believe there's a healthy life in the old 'analog' format. The latest of these cameras is the Nikon F75 -a light weight but heavily specified model. Gone is the revival of shiny chrome which seemed to be back in fashion for a short while and we have a return to the whole black appearance that's been the look of SLR cameras since the late eighties.

Nikon F75 Features at a glance



  • Shutter speed range: 30-1/2000s
  • Focusing: Five point autofocus, single and servo
  • Exposure modes: Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture priority, Manual and 5 subject program modes
  • Metering modes: 25 segment Matrix, Centre weighted and Spot
  • Film advance 1.5fps
  • Depth-of-field preview
  • Film speeds: DX ISO25-5000
  • Built-in flash: Guide number 12 (ISO100)
  • Flash sync 1/90sec
  • Battery power: 2x CR2 3Volt
  • Weight: 380g
  • Dimensions: 131x92.5x65mm
  • Price: Around £299 with 28-100mm
Nikon F75

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.
Nikon F75
One point that was frustrating at times was the overly sensitive shutter release that I occasionally triggered by accident wasting a couple of frames within one roll of film.
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. Nikon F75

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.

Nikon F75
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. Nikon F75Nikon F75
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. Nikon F75

The F75's viewfinder indicates the shutter speed and aperture along the bottom with exposure compensation and flash indication. A battery warning appears on screen along with the film rewind status and the five zones focusing points.

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.

Nikon F75
Exposure modes
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.
Nikon F75
A small but valuable point is that you can continue to rotate this dial beyond 360 degrees so you don't have to go right back when switching from say manual to sports mode like you do on some cameras.
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. Nikon F75
You also have the option of changing to centre weighted, but disappointingly only when you are in manual mode. There's a spot mode that kicks in when you use the AE lock if you've set the correct custom function. Again it would be good to have the choice of using these without restrictions but at least you have some form of control.

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
Nikon F75
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. Nikon F75
I couldn't fault the handling, once I'd become used to not having a front input dial. The F75 has a well laid out set of controls that work really well. It's all logical and easy to follow if you've used an SLR before and newcomers will soon get to grips, especially when following the well illustrated instruction manual that's supplied. As improvements I would prefer the depth of field button around the side of the lens throat part as it's awkward to press on the front.

Custom functions
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    
The only extra function I would like here is the option to leave the leader out or draw it in once the film is finished.

Image quality
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. Nikon F75
Above is an example of a normal exposure that wouldn't really fool any camera but was taken to show the overall evenness of exposure. Some lenses would be a touch darker at the corners.
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. Nikon F75

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. Nikon F75
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 F75 Nikon F75




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:
Nikon F75Light weight
Nikon F75Compact body
Nikon F75Superb exposure system
Nikon F75Accurate focusing
Nikon F75Very easy to use
Nikon F75All the essential features

Negative points are:
Nikon F75Slightly flimsy feel
Nikon F75Poor manual focusing ring
Nikon F75Uncomfortable handgrip (subjective)
Nikon F75Sensitive shutter release

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Photographs taken using the Nikon F75

Spoon Bill HeronBird of Paradise Flower (strelitzia reginae) shot at Butterfly Park, BangaloreNative Flowers, OotyBird of Paradise Flower (strelitzia reginae) shot at CoonoorContemplation or Wonder?ValparaiA Reservoir in Valparai, Tamil Nadu, Indialight over fogFishermen at duskConsti at NightIce Rock

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Despite this review being issued 14 May 2003, I registered just to say your weak and condescending comments regarding film as a dying format were, and are, absolutely ignorant and uninformed. I'm currently studying a BA in Photography and one of the key differences between those who seem to know what they are doing and those who want a 'new instamatic' are their attitudes regarding film and digital, mainly those interested in quick uninteresting results favouring the latter and deriding the former. I respect both formats and use each to its own advantage and capabilities (like avoiding one click photoshop effects that cheaply imitates experimental film processes), but they are very different disciplines. How could anyone that has such an attitude and purports the following claim to have an alleged interest in photography:

"manufacturers still continue to invest in the 35mm film arena which either suggests they have their heads in the sand, that they are clasping at the last few sales of a dying market or that they still believe there's a healthy life in the old 'analog' format"

Regardless of the quality of the camera up for review, for a photographic journalist to basically imply that film as a medium should be forgotten about is utterly risible. Either you were pretentiously attempting to appear enlightened and ahead of the game back in 2003 or you just don't understand photography in general. The only person that had their head in the sand was you, but it sounds as though your muffled statements were from a person talking with their head up their arse.

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Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, I don't know who wrote the article so i can't comment on their expertise or knowledge. However, I was working in Jessops in 2003 and we had all but ended any stock of film cameras. I think we had a Nikon FM3 and a couple of compacts. It was a fast changing time then and even Sheffield University spent thousands upgrading to digital. I grew up on film and understand the importance and romance associated with it so i see where you're coming from. I wrote two reviews on the Zeiss Ikon and Voigtlander Bessa R4a just recently. We also covered how Ilford are doing recently and they've noticed a rise in film interest.
Going back to the university, a lot of them are buying back film gear because digital needs upgrading so often they can't keep up. So film is far from dead, but at that time it appeared that it was and releasing another film SLR seemed like a futile exercise. I think that's where they were coming from.

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