What was wrong with my F100? After two years of brilliant
service all over the world since 1999, it gave me nothing but muddy, incomplete
exposures. The Swiss Alps, plus much of the nuptials
of two good friends, were lost to film in 2002. (Thank God I did bring
backups to the wedding: my old N90, as well as the Contax T2
and the Canon G1.)
It happened after the batteries leaked at below-zero temperatures before dawn in
Utah. Yet the mess was confined to the battery
chamber within the vertical grip, which I did clean thoroughly afterwards.
I was just about to sell the camera when, fondly giving its dials and
switches one last go, I discovered the cause of my problem.
setting was kept at 1600 for some fast films I was trying out. Had I
reverted to the "DX" setting, the camera would have
automatically recognized the ISO 200 and 400 films I was subsequently
using. I then realized that I had made the same dumb mistake during my 12,000-mile tour of the American West in 1994, at the Arches National Park in Utah.
The surest way to catch
these mistakes before
it's too late is instant exposure review on a LCD screen. With the D100, my journey to the digital side is complete.
Imagine my distress when my $2K purchase broke down in
only one month. Everything "digital" about it -- the video
screen, memory card access -- failed while the auto focusing, metering and
shutter release appeared intact. The good people at Samy's Camera
in Los Angeles obligingly provided a replacement.
The D100 is just as automated as the F100 (let's
see if anyone makes a mechanical, manual-everything digital camera!),
albeit with a slower shutter speed and frame advance. Contrary to its
apparent designation, it is not built from the F100
at all, but a more affordable brethren, the N80 -- replete with the
latter's softer poly-carbonate body (instead of magnesium alloy),
focus-assist lamp and pop-up flash. The lamp can be a liability, since
it would make you look like you're doing "flash photography" even when the actual
flash is turned off.
Because the D100's 6.1-megapixel charged capacitance device (CCD) sensor is only two-thirds the size
of the exposure area for 35mm film, Nikon engineers concocted
a 1.5x magnification within a more vertically-constrained field of view.
This greatly reduces the coverage of wide-angle lenses, and slightly increases the
power of the telephotos.
While surveying landscapes or buildings, it thus makes sense to keep the low-distortion 20mm f/2.8 D on the camera most of the
time. Small objects like local flora deserve the attention of the 60mm f/2.8
D Micro, which
retains the subject's actual size (for 35mm film) and focuses at a nose's length away. For my calls to weddings and
commercial shoots, the fast, versatile 28-70mm f/2.8 ED is the
only lens I need. When a wildlife encounter is imminent, the Tamron
200-400mm f/5.4 telephoto is worth the extra burden.