Nikon F75 Project – Part 2 – revelling in the 50mm point & shoot experience

The one feature I’ve always desired from a compact camera is a 50mm lens. I would estimate that around 75% of my photography is shot with a normal focal length. This is actually one of the main reasons I haven’t been shooting with compact cameras as much lately. If the alternative is to have to carry my Leica M on a strap rather than put a compact in my pocket, the Leica option wins more often than not simply for the fast 50mm it allows me to shoot.

The Nikon F75 isn’t that much bigger than my Leica with a 50mm mounted, and it’s definitely lighter – so it’s no issue to carry it around in the same way as I do the Leica. As daft as it sounds, this was actually a little bit of a revelation to me. I have such a strongly embedded mindset that rangefinders are smaller than SLRs – especially more modern ones – that I suppose it’s never really occurred to me that this could be the case. Whilst on the topic of size – as I mentioned in the part 1 of these posts – the other thing that really surprised me about this camera is how similar it is in size to the Sony A7Rii with its smallest lens – the 35mm f/2.8. If I can be happy with the size of that camera, I can surly find peace here… I shall no doubt come back to this point throughout these posts…

Auto and close focusing

Shooting a Leica rangefinder as my main camera I have long been accustomed to manual focus and the comparatively long close focus distance. I’ve spent enough time with a rangefinder to find focusing them quite instinctive, and have adopted the view that if I want tighter framing for a portrait I just need to use a longer lens than a 50mm. That being said, as I mention in part one of this little project, shooting an F90x did give me some autofocus kicks. What I’d forgotten was just how much closer I’d be able to frame with an SLR lens.

My girls

The above photo was one of the first I took with the F75, and so far, is also one of my favourites too. With a rangefinder and a 50mm lens you’re a little more toward the realms of contextual portraits, whereas with the ability to close focus with this 50mm I could frame a lot tighter and just focus on capturing her cheeky little character. The AF worked a treat too, it’s not as fast as some cameras I’ve used, but given the light level here, and closeness of subject, it did quite well.

Half a roll of joy

I’ve got back into my bad habit of mid-roll changing – as such the shots in this post are actually only from a half roll of HP5. I currently have loads of half rolls of film that I’ve extracted from a camera so I can load it with something else. Anyway, that’s a thought for another time, I only mention it here as it explains the relative few images alongside me stating that I had a really high hit rate.

My girls

My girls

My girls

My girls

My girls

My girls

I concentrated the shots I had left of this roll on shooting my kids, and was happy with almost all of the images I had back. It was this that it made me think I might have landed on my feet with this camera. These shots really sum up what I hoped I would get out of using the F75 as a point & shoot camera. This was exactly the success I’d been hoping to find… the next step would be to use the camera under more difficult circumstances…

All posts from this project can be found here

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10 thoughts on “Nikon F75 Project – Part 2 – revelling in the 50mm point & shoot experience”

  1. Great photos!

    Strange to see the attraction relatively simple cameras can have. I liked the Canon T50 a lot, and you can’t go simpler. Just no auto-focus. And for me the greatest advantage of an SLR is the close focus you can achieve compared to a rangefinder.

    Happy holidays to you and your family!

  2. Nice Images H. My favourite point and shoot camera is a Contax 645 & 80mm lens 🙂

    You make a good point about the different experience when shooting with an SLR

  3. These are among your best shots, in my opinion, Hamish. This combo seems to suit your family photography perfectly. The second is perfection.

  4. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you like shooting 50mm primarily then the size difference between rangefinder and SLR becomes negligible, or even favours the SLR if you’re using an OM-1, MX, ME (Super) etc.. That’s without considering collapsible lenses like the Elmar but then there’s an enormous decrease in aperture size. As soon as you throw in longer or shorter focal lengths than 50mm it gets hugely complicated however… There’s 40/45mm pancakes for SLRs, but then rangefinders with fixed ~40mm lenses are probably still smaller with better optics; 75mm+ lenses seem to be at least 60mm long regardless. From my experience 35mm is the focal length to shoot on a changeable lens rangefinder: the Takumar 35mm F3.5 must be the smallest 35mm lens you can get for an SLR but mounted to my tiny ME Super it’s still longer than a Leica with a small 35mm F1.4 or F2.

  5. Karl-Heinz Schroeder

    Thanks for posting your observations. For many years, before I became a little more well of, I had only a fifty and took some wonderful pictures of my children as well as other subjects. In the last twenty years with the arrival of digital everything and the universal appeal of zoom lenses the simplicity of photography has largely been lost. I have my fair share of the modern devices and do enjoy the convenience. I recently had a conversation with a Sony representative about my desire for a “modern” camera that would be bare bones – simple basic functions – without deep menus. I have set up my recently acquired (relatively inexpensive) RX1RII for simplified or minimalist shooting. I don’t need complicated raw files the JPEGs are more than adequate especially for B/W. My wonderful Olympus OM camera is still loaded and occasionally used. I very much enjoy reading your musings.

  6. Hamish, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that more than the size and the weight of the F75 you’re getting hooked on AF, something that no M camera can give. :D) And unless you set it to full manual, you also get AE thrown in. Plus, you still retain the film look that you like. M film cameras very much give you a more “hands on” experience, but this does come at some cost to cameras that have AF/AE.

    Since the mid-1980’s my film slr’s were a succession of Leicas from the first Leicaflex, through SL2, R3 and R7, all quite heavy. My first AF slr was added to my collection about two years ago purely on historical grounds, it being the very first Eos, the 650. I already had a couple of Canon lenses which I got when I bought my A7 when this was released, so the 650 was a no-brainer, especially at its £5.50 asking price. I was quite taken with the AF, so much so that I added the more advanced Eos 5.

    Last year, I saw an F75 on ebay for £28 including the battery pack. I didn’t know anything about it, but KR gave it a very favourable write-up. I went for it and was indeed surprised at how compact and lightweight it was compared to the Canon Eos 5. Minus the battery pack, the F75 is indeed small, but the much larger Eos 5 is definitely more ergonomic and a joy to hold.

    1. Hi Terry, there is definitely an element of enjoying the AF photographing the kids – but it’s not worked for me across all subject matter. Have a read of part 3.
      That said, i do think I am working toward an upgrade to either the f80, or biting the bullet and buying an f100 again – both, like you eos, handle nicer

  7. Dear Hamish,

    I came across your very informative project! I’m looking for a kind of point and shoot camera for my girlfriend, so she also can take pictures of our daughter. She is not into the technical part of photography and she just wants to turn on the camera and take a shot with autofocus, but also with an option to change lenses. Because of your project and your findings I am very interested in the Nikon F80. Will I be able to use the “P mode” with every lens? I read somewhere that a D lens (like the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D) can’t function in “P-mode” because of the aperture ring that has to be set in the minimum setting (f 22) and lock. Is this true? If yes, which portraiture lenses do you recommand? Thanks very much for your help.

    1. Hi Jos,
      Sorry for the slow reply.
      The AF-D lenses work fine in programme – yes you just set to the smallest aperture, but then they work fine.
      For traditional portraits, you can’t go far wrong with the 85mm 1.8 – great lens! The 50 is brilliant too though, and more versatile. That era of Nikon lenses are my favourite!

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