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The Nikon F100's Plastic
© 2004 Ken Rockwell.com

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Nikon F100

Nikon F100 and Nikon 24mm f/1.4. I'd get it here, and check here, too.

Many professionals use other toys like the all-plastic Holga and Diana cameras to create salable images. Likewise, the plastic-backed F100 has seen some use professionally. Plastic saves weight and sometimes can take a beating that would leave a metal back bent. Plastic is also colored all the way through, so it just gets shiny with use instead of showing brass below the paint as metal did. The whole point of 35mm cameras is to take them to dangerous places to photograph moving things, otherwise you'd use a larger format if you are a professional.

Just like the Diana and Holga, The Nikon F100 is not built to the same rugged mechanical standards as previous Nikon cameras. For instance, previous pro Nikon cameras had stainless steel lens mounts, while amateur cameras made do with only plated brass. Nikon made a point mentioning the stainless mounts in previous sales brochures for earlier cameras. The F100 only has a brass mount, easily seen as "brassing" on a used camera.

The camera's back is made of plastic. Because plastic cannot be made as thin as metal, Nikon cannot use the standard foam to help seal the back. This lack of foam means that the back no longer is sealed against dust. Dust always sneaks in around the light seal and can help scratch your film or jam your shutter.

The F100 also only has a dinky plastic rewind coupling fork (The prong inside the camera back that pokes inside the film cassette to rewind the film). When this breaks, you not only can't reload the camera, you can't even get the film out of the camera unless you have a darkroom or tent! The F5 has a metal fork, as does the FA, F2, FE, FM, EM and many earlier cameras.

The new top-end Canon EOS 1V, which is priced the same and competes directly against the Nikon F5 in the pro arena, only has a cheap plastic rewind fork, too. There's fodder for you Nikon vs. Canon creeps.

I'll also admit that the Canon direct competition to the F100 is the supurb EOS-3, and that the EOS-3 is a lot more plasticy than the F100.

I sent my F100 to Nikon in Torrance, CA in August 2000 for some other warrantee work. When it came back, they had changed my original dinky plastic rewind fork to the new dinky plastic version. I had not asked for this, apparently Nikon had made the original too weak and so this was a secret warranty repair. The older one had two triangularly-shaped prongs, instead of the new version's squareish ones. It's nice that Nikon US gave me the "upgrade" without having to ask, but it's too bad that Nikon Japan has to cut corners in an area that can leave you without a camera without any notice.


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