2001, the year Microsoft bought us Windows XP, Apple delivered us the iPod and Nikon reigned supreme by giving us the D1X.  Today, all three products could be considered dead, replaced by bigger and better things – time stands still for no one – yesterday’s news is today’s chip paper as my old gran used to say! Things move on whether we like it or not.

Nikon D1X

Although I love embracing new technology (when I can afford it) when it comes to cameras, particularly Nikon cameras, I love the old ones. The D1X is no exception. I waited long and hard to find the one that befitted my current collection.

Back in the day the D1X meant business, it was the workhorse of many professional photographers the world over. Like all other Nikon Pro bodies the D1X was built like a tank – the only chink in its armour was power – it had an insatiable appetite for batteries. Not so much of a problem today as you can now convert your old EN-4 batteries to take two UltraFire 18650 -3.7volt rechargeable batteries, which are readily available on eBay in their millions.

NIkon D1H

The other misconception surrounding the D1 series is their pixel count, minuscule by present day standards I grant you, but still very, very usable. In fact, I have a PAGB Gold Medal from the Cotswold Monochrome Exhibition to prove it!

Images from any of the D1 series have a familiar resemblance to that of film, which a lot of photographers try to emulate. Trying to get film-like quality out of your D4 just isn’t going to happen – period!

Nikon film cameras are currently under going a bit of a revival, prices for their mechanical bodies, Nikkormats included, are going through the roof. Theres even been rumours of Nikon patenting a digital back for their film cameras – cant see it happening myself – ever!

First and foremost, If you want film quality shoot film – simples!

Ropes D1X

If you want film quality from your digital SLR – grab yourself a camera from the D1 series and treat it as you would have done when shooting slide film – expose for the highlights and let the shadows take care of themselves. Don’t get bogged down by noise – use it to your advantage. In any case the D1X produces beautiful noise free images up to ISO 500. Just like Kodachrome the D1X produces beautiful reds and yellows. But than again, if you like your Ilford HP5 set the D1X to shoot monochrome and raise the ISO to 800 – 1600 and you’ll love it.

Finally, it should also be noted, if Nikon made it for film the chances are it will work with your D1X, after all they based it on the Nikon F5.

Well! I did it, it may have taken me 25 years, but I’ve finally got myself a Nikon F3.

Since I took up photography back in 1986 I had my sights set on owning an F3. Back then it was Nikon’s flagship model, state of the art – top of the range and way out of my price range. Besides, what was a poor novice photographer like me going to do with professional SLR? I needed to keep things in perspective and so I purchased a Nikon EM instead!

A bit of a come down maybe, but at least it was a start! And we all had to start somewhere.

The F3 was Nikons third generation of the professional classic. Introduced in 1980 it was the successor to the original F (1959) and the hugely popular; some might say, “Best Ever Mechanical Camera”, Nikon F2 (1973). Despite some early misgivings from the pro’s regarding the F3′s dependence on batteries it went on to sell 750,000 units over the 21 years it remained in production.

I purchased my F3 (two in fact) from my local camera fair. Well, more of a punt than a purchase! The first one I picked up was missing a few parts, but I was told it did work. I paid £30 for the body, DE-3 (standard finder), MF-6b back (quite rare) and a 43-86mm Nikkor lens. The main missing item was a simple battery cover.

My second purchase was for a dead F3, with AS-4 (flash coupler) and an MD-4 motor drive. I paid just £20! I figured the flash coupler was worth that.

Back at base I proceeded to dissect the dead F3, carefully removing all its body parts after which an autopsy was performed on the MD-4. Although the MD-4 appeared to be dead it was only pretending! I made a make-shift repair to a broken terminal pin and cleaned the battery contacts, the MD-4 was back in business. With two new LR44′s in the rejuvenated body, just like the man said it would, that too came to life. Over the next couple of days I replaced the light seals along with the wind-on and re-wind levers and the MD-4 received a new lick of paint. Job well done!

Here we see 3 out of the 6 “F” models produced. Missing (at the moment) is an F2, F5 and F6, all of which I hope to add to my collection in the future.