The F4 Project

July 5th, 2012By Category: Photography

The Takoyaki Guy on Portra 800

Alfie was awesome enough to loan me his F4 so I could put it through it’s paces. I really started shooting digital, so my introduction to film, other than my parents’ AE-1, was a used F90 I picked up about a year ago. I was pretty eager to get my hands on the F4s, the Nikon flagship camera from 1988.

There were two big features that I wanted to test out on the F4. The extra trigger button was something I was really looking forward to. It’s a feature on my digital camera that I don’t think I could live without, and something that my F90 doesn’t have. Shooting with the F4, and aware that that was one of the things I wanted to use, I was surprised how little I actually used it. Not that I didn’t use it, but it didn’t seem to be the huge advantage I expected it to be. It’s made me rethink how often I use the battery grip on my D700… perhaps I’m a little more likely to leave the grip at home now.

The other big feature was the removable pentaprism. The F4 was the last Nikon to do this, and it was something I was looking forward to playing with it. I spend a lot of time wishing that I was shorter, and I’m not quite willing to shell out the ¥20,000 for the right-angle viewfinder just yet. It was just as fun as I thought it would be. Playing with this feature made me jealous that they do not include this option on the newer cameras.

I was a bit surprised to find how aware I was of it’s weight. I have shot enough big digitals to think that the f4 wouldn’t be that much different, but it was noticeable. I was also a bit frustrated that it, like my F90, is not compatible with my newer G lenses(with various exceptions for priority modes and whatnot). It was something I knew going in, but I was still sad I couldn’t throw my 105 on there and do some really fun macro work.

It was a productive experience, and I hope that I’m a stronger photographer for it. I want to say a big thanks to Alfie for enabling the whole experience. Here’s a few from the experience:

Author of this article

Timothy Buerger

Tim Buerger is a freelance photographer and photojournalist currently based in Tokyo. He's done work for the fabulous but now defunct Kansai Time Out, as well as for the Brussels Economic Mission, GE, and many other clients, including private portraiture and fashion clients. Tim often posts on, as well as his own page,

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