Nikon F5

F100 Big Brother!

July 2005



Finally, dream comes true! Though a bit film are slowly phasing out,

but still I am glad that I finally have the chance to own my most want film Nikon SLR, the Nikon F5!


Today, 13th July 2005, I went to my local shop to try collect some debts, but as expected, the boss didn't prepare any money though he has promised to. So, instead of trying to get back what he owes me, I might as well get some stuff from him to compensate my loss. To my surprise, he pull out a Nikon F5 that he just bought from a lady trading in for her husband, who needs money urgently thus selling the F5 cheap. How cheap? RM2000 he has to pay to the lady, and have yet paid. How much is he selling to me? I am not sure yet...but around RM2200 I guess. How's the condition of the F5? Hmm...I would say pretty dusty and some scratches on the sides and bottom, but no dent and overall pretty good. 80% new I would grade it (after spending few hours cleaning it up at home, definitely a more than 90% new F5 now :))


A camera that was more than RM7k new, now can be bought at only 1/3rd of the original price...that's really a steal! Digital SLR has really spoilt the film market...almost all film camera has "NO VALUE" that makes it worth selling now, but worth buying :))

Nikon F5 with the legendary

Nikkor Ais 50mm f/1.4 lens


So, what's so fancy about the F5? I don't is just a lust towards wanting to own the last best Nikon film that I have wanted since I started up photography in Year 2000. My first Nikon SLR was the F60D, and now I have the top range of F5 (though F6 is already in the market, but I don't like the design of F6 with sharp prism non-removeable, and most importantly ~ HIGH PRICE at RM7k+ new! 2nd hand? Hard to find as I those who bought are mostly collectors).


Nikon F5 has every features that you will want in a camera. Mirror Lock Up, 3D colour matrix metering, high speed fps, DOF preview...etc. You name it, F5 has it all and exceed what F4 or F90X owners have ever dreamed of!


The F5 is heavy...heavier than what I have expected. After using those plastic Nikons (F80 and D70) for some times, I kinda get used to the lightweight and small grip of the Nikons already. However, holding Nikon F5 in hand still feeling good.



The design of F5 is REVOLUTIONARY. Totally different from the previous Nikon cameras. The camera before the release of F5 was Nikon F90X, and you can see a totally different design between these two. F5 marks a new era of Nikon camera design ever since the first F. Most turning dials have now been replaced with buttons. Two command dials are incorporated into the F5 makes shutter speed and aperture control both possible on the camera body itself. In the previous generation of Nikon, aperture control is always through the lens aperture ring.


I just love the F5 prism smooth design! Nikon has made a vast improvement in the weakest part in a camera, the prism. Nikon F4 is said to be the toughest camera, which I don't really agree. Try drop the F4 with its prism touching the ground first, u will most probably get a cracked prism (fully plastic prism in Nikon F4). The F5 is now using TITANIUM ALLOY in its prism.


Clean base with no dent or any serious scratches

The good things about cleaning the camera yourself is knowing the entirely inside out the condition of your camera and cleaning it upto the cleanest and most careful way. I used brush, wet cloth, lens cleaner, cottons...etc. It is a long and tired process but I enjoy it :) I do notice that the hand grip is a little loose on the upper part, that's a common problem to Nikon F5. Replacing the grip will cost around RM200, but since mine is just a minor loose, so I am not going to waste that money. I figure that I can get some glue and glue it back myself :p


While in my friend's camera shop, I tested the F5 with a few lenses. First is the Nikkor AFD 24-120mm, then with a Nikkor AFD 80-200mm f2.8 push pull. I notice that both lenses didn't autofocus responsively to the F5. I throw this question to my friend and he told me is the fault of the two lenses. So, I took his words for it. After spending few hours cleaning up my F5, I tested it with some AF lenses that I have. To my dismay, the F5 can't AF responsively. I have always thought that F5 suppose to be the Nikon that has the fastest AF and most fierce and furious AF motor built in. What do I mean by not-responsive AF? When pointing to a contrasty subject, the F5 just can't start the AF. After pressing the shutter release button a few times or keeping holding it long enough, then only it will start AFing. This is crazy...the first thing that flip through my mind is "AM I GOING TO RETURN THE CAMERA?" Oh no...I have spent so much time cleaning it up, I am not going to waste that! 2nd though "SENDING TO NIKON TO CLA?" Hmm...that going to be costly...and if I have already paid RM2200 for it, adding another RM200 (guestimate) would make the camera costing me RM2400. That's quite some money and definitely not a as good deal for me as previously.  Then comes the 3rd though "THERE MUST BE SOME AF SENSORS IN THE CAMERA THAT GOT DIRTY. MAYBE I CAN CLEAN THEM UP MYSELF!" Ok, mind set, I am going to try cleaning the AF sensors myself. Open up the film back, and fire the shutter for 30s exposure (making sure that the shutter curtain lift up long enough), I can clearly see the few AF sensors in the camera. Using a torch light, I can see dirt or fungus/mold cover them. That should be the reason why the AF is not working properly.



Using cleaning cloth, cotton buds, cleaning fluid...etc...finally I manage to clean away the dirt on the sensors. Tested it again with my Sigma AF 400mm f/5.6 lens, now the camera is responsive. It will start the AutoFocus motor the time I press the shutter release half-way. Tested again with my Tokina ATX PRO 17mm f/3.5 lens, same responsive AF. Now I am relief. I save myself some RM200 :))


The rubber eyecup that Nikon F5 uses is Nikon DK-2 model, same eyecup that Nikon F3 uses. The original F5 that I bought has no eyecup or rubber surrounding the eyepiece, good that I have a spare of the DK2 eyecup that I can use for it.


I do notice that the information inside the viewfinder is hard to view fully with my spectacle on. Though F5 is having high-eyepoint viewfinder, but due to the vast information inside (top, botton and left), it is still hard to view all the info comfortably.

Nice serial number ~ 3030001


Nikon F5 is a very power hungry camera. In order to run at a ultra high speed continuous shooting mode (5~8 frames per second), the F5 requires 8 pieces of AA size batteries. Installing and removing the batteries is easy (just turn open the hatch and pull out the tray), but the weight of the 8 pieces of batteries really makes the F5 weight a ton...especially if you have to use it long hour. Still, I like the solidness of the camera :) the long grip and rubber coating improve the holding of the camera.


I tested F5 with its M, S and C shooting modes. This mode can be changed at the front lower left side of the camera, a button just below the lens release button.


In M mode, one have to manual focus the lens.


In S mode, the camera will first focus then stop. If you shake your camera or having the subject moving out from the original focus point, then you will get an out of focus subject.


In C mode, the camera will continuous focus at all time. If the subject moves, the camera will track the movement and adjust the focusing again to make sure that whatever in the focusing point is always in focus.

There is a vertical shutter release button built into the F5. This is handy when one want to shoot vertically. The vertical shutter release can be locked when not using. This is important as not to accidentally press the release, especially in CH mode (continuous high speed shooting).


14th July 2005: Today I emailed Nikon Malaysia regarding the cost of servicing my Nikon F5. The rough estimate is RM360 for Clean/Lubricate/Adjust (CLA). Too expensive for me to afford at the moment. Why I want to send for servicing? This morning I found some fungus growth inside the prism of my F5. Quite bad although it doesn't really affect the viewing, but I just don't feel good about it. I also enquired to Nikon Malaysia regarding the rubber grip of my Nikon F5, as expected, no free changing. They didn't quote me on the price of changing the grip, but as what I heard from a Singapore friend, it costs him S$70 (RM170) changing the rubber grip. As the rubber might have expanded over the time, thus re-glue the grip is not possible. Since mine still in useable condition and only minor part of the grip that has come off, thus I figure out that I can still glue it back myself. I have written an email to Nikon Japan expressing my unhappiness having to pay for a design flaw of a camera that was suppose to last long, let's see what will Nikon Japan do.


15th July 2005: I figure out that I could actually just send the DP-30 to Nikon for cleaning/servicing, without having to send the whole F5 in. Thus, today I wrote to Nikon Malaysia asking for quotation of cleaning the DP-30. Bingo! Only RM60! Cheap! I will definitely send to them for cleaning. Shame to say that I tried to open up the DP-30 myself last night, after removing all the visible screws, I still couldn't take the DP-30 apart, an unsuccessful attempt, I screwed back all the screws (now I am glad that I didn't do anything silly...). Will send to Nikon Malaysia next week!


25th August 2005: I have just sold my Nikon F5 to a member of my forum. Initially I thought of keeping the camera as my last and most wanted Nikon film SLR, but due to my plan to go to Japan in October 2005 for my Ph.D research study (for the duration of 3 years), I have to trim down my photographic equipment as I will not be able to bring all there.


Nikon F5 has made me want to shoot FILM again!  



F5 Serial Number vs Manufacture Year

(just a rough guestimate/compilation from the info I gather from the net, might not be 100% accurate)


Serial Number Manufacture Year
3033XXX late 1996
30329XX Jun 1997
30372XX May 1997
303XXXX Sep 1997
306XXXX late 1997
3102XXX late 1998
315XXXX Dec 1999
3134XXX Aug 2000
3167XXX Aug 2001
32111XX May 2002
321XXXX 2002
3212XXX Nov 2002
321XXXX Nov 2002
3221XXX Mar 2003