Nikon F90x

Mark and I were having a chat the other day, we were discussing cameras (no surprise there!). ‘ So what is your favourite film camera’ asked Mark. That got me thinking for about 2 seconds. ‘The Nikon F90x coupled with a Nikkor 35-105mm lens.’ I replied.

It was suggested I should write an article about it, so here it is.

Camera Specifications

Manufactured from 1994 – 2001
Single Lens Reflex
Lens mount – Nikon F mount
Format – 35mm (24x36mm)
Shutter speeds – 1/8000th to 30 seconds plus Bulb
Auto focus – Continuous. Single CAM246 A/F sensor giving wide or spot A/F
Metering – TTL Centre weighted or spot plus 3D matrix metering with a D or G type Nikkor lenses
Metering modes – Shutter priority, aperture priority, program and manual, plus 7 Vari-Programs: Portrait, Portrait with Red-Eye Reduction, Hyperfocal, Landscape, Silhouette, Sports, Close-up
Flash sync – 1/250th sec
Flash metering – 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash capability (with Nikon Speed lights SB-800/80DX/28DX/28/27)
Power supply – 4 AA batteries
The top plate houses the usual controls. On the left control: Mode, Drive, Manual ISO control / 1st rewind button, Flash settings, Vari program selection, metering adjustment and 1st reset mode. Top right of camera has : LCD screen, on /off switch, 2nd rewind button, 2nd reset button, over / under expose button (+5 or -5 stops in 1/3rd stop increments), focus area selector, control dial and to the front of the body, the all important shutter release button

Lens Specifications

Focal length – 35 – 105mm
Aperture range – f3.5 / f4.5 to f22 / f32
Construction – 16 elements in 12 groups
Zoom action – rotate to zoom, plus button to switch to macro mode.
Manual focus – via ring on front of lens.


The camera in use

The first thing you notice is the weight, I use my Nikon f90x with the optional MB10 vertical grip although it does not add that much more weight due to the fact the batteries (4AA’s) are housed in the grip rather than the camera body.

I will be honest with you, I have never used the Vari programs, I generally use aperture, shutter priority or manual mode plus the usual over and under expose controls.

Being a high end specification Nikon body means that either manual or auto focus lenses can be used.

Auto focus is precise, single point focusing. I generally set the camera to single focus, meaning: half press the shutter button to focus and follow through to fire the shutter, if you take the pressure off the shutter button, the camera will refocus when partially pressed again.

Metering on the F90x is very good, only getting caught out in extreme circumstances, although using a later generation D or G type Nikkor lenses this is reduced due to the advanced 3D matrix metering coming into use.

Worth mentioning is that although it is possible to use Nikon G series lenses on the 90x to utilise aperture priority it is not straightforward. I had to look for the information on how to use G series lenses since all bar one of my Nikkor lenses have an aperture ring whilst G series lenses do not. (Thanks YouTube!)

To operate in aperture priority with a G series lens, with the camera switched on hold the ‘PS’ button down whilst rotating the command dial until ‘Po’ is displayed on the top panel. This mode is ‘portrait mode’. If you now rotate the command dial the aperture value will now change. If the camera is turned off or the exposure mode is changed then the process has to be repeated.

I took the Nikon 90x complete with a Nikkor 35-105mm FA lens and loaded with Ilford FP4+ film out around our local lake to obtain some test images. Bearing in mind that I have not used the camera in a good while, it still felt instantly familiar. The camera felt well balanced you do however need to take your eye away from the viewfinder to adjust some of the controls. Whilst the 35- 105mm lens is a first generation auto focus lens using a motor built into camera body to drive the focus mechanism, (AFS lenses use an in lens motor to focus and are a lot quieter in use) focus, never the less was precise and metering very good. The lens itself is very sharp from edge to edge with no fall off on in the corners.

I took a few images using the autofocus plus several in macro mode which entails using manual focus. If you are unaccustomed to using manual focus, this can prove interesting due to the fact the camera is only equipped with a plain focusing screen. Fortunately it is a bright screen so the image comes into focus with reasonable ease.

Since the AA batteries powering the camera do not have to process and store the captured image a set of batteries will last a very long time. I would install a fresh set prior to covering major assignments but never remember running out of power unlike some power hungry digital cameras.

One thing to note regarding the Nikon 90x, is that the rubberised coating on the back of the camera becomes sticky with age, alas other than cleaning it off completely it is a case of putting up with it!

Having thoroughly enjoyed reacquainting myself with the Nikon F90x I may well be tempted to use it some more, especially if I plan to take black and white photographs. That in turn may well produce an article on my favourite black and white film developers.

In the meantime here are a couple images from the Nikon F90x.

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