This week we’re featuring a guest post from Mike Williams, a film photographer from Hickory, North Carolina. While writing this, Mike confided in me that he was afraid his comments about the Nikon FE would be perceived as negative. Before you jump to that conclusion, read the entire post. I think at some point we’ve all owned a piece of gear that we wanted to love, but just couldn’t get beyond something that simply wasn’t working for us. I appreciate Mike’s honesty and I’m glad he found another Nikon that was a better fit for his photography.
So there I was, looking at the scans from my 5th or 6th roll of film through my Nikon FE. The FE is a super cool looking machine. It’s black and chrome and it just has that “look” of an awesome vintage camera. But as much as I wanted to love this camera and everything about it, I hated it.
Why you ask? Two reasons: First, about 1/3 (at least) of the shots I had taken with it were out of focus. I am still not sure if it was the camera’s focusing screen or maybe my 45 year old eyes, but focusing at f/1.4 just was not happening for me. The second reason was the shutter speeds maxed out at 1/1000. I like the look of Tri-X pushed up a couple of stops, so there was another reason I couldn’t shoot with the lens wide open.
So I decided to find a camera with auto focus and capable of higher shutter speeds. It was eBay time, of course. I didn’t have a specific camera in mind. It just needed to be a Nikon (only because I have a ton of Nikon glass) and I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of cash. I came across a Nikon N8008. I honestly had no clue about this model, so I turned to the expert, Google. I quickly learned that this late 1980’s SLR had the things I wanted; auto focus and shutter speeds up to 1/8000. I bid on it. Turned out I was the only bidder and got it for $10 plus $8 shipping. When I received the camera, it appeared to be in pretty good shape, actually a little better than I had expected. I put in the AA batteries, popped on a 50mm f/1.8 lens, grabbed a roll of Ilford Delta 100, and made my kids model for the test roll. I shot that roll in my favorite little alley downtown Hickory, North Carolina.
The very next day, that roll of Delta 100 was on its way to San Clemente, California, for the guys at TheDarkroom.com to process and scan. It was only a few days but it seemed like an eternity before I got the email that my scans were ready. I logged on, checked them out, and I was thrilled! The auto focus was perfect and the meter was dead on. The only bad images were the ones that I screwed up with poor composition.
Now my Nikon N8008 is one of my favorite cameras to shoot. And I was able to overcome wanting to shoot the “cool” camera and realize all that matters to me is the end product. I love the images I have been getting from the N8008. Images that I personally just wasn’t capable of getting from the FE.
Here are a few images from my first roll with the Nikon N8008.
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