Now with the holidays out of the way, a New Year’s resolution is to publish more of what I have shot, and keep the blog more updated. Reading some of what is posted online, there are many excuses as to why a blog suddenly becomes dormant or orphaned. I have no excuses.
Nikon N55, Zoom Nikkor 28-105 Macro
I spent the fall shooting with, and loving, the Nikkormat FT3 that I purchased from KEH. The camera they originally shipped was the chrome model, which was missing the battery door for the light meter, as well as the clear viewfinder diopter. After receiving parts from KEH, the next issue was a film compartment door that stubbornly refused to stay closed. KEH then replaced the whole camera with the slightly rarer and more exotic black model. It is a stunning piece of true Nikon 1970’s technology, with an amazingly accurate meter.
Which brings me to this neat little N55 one of my managers at work gave me. It was an entry level SLR with a surprising group of features. Complete in the box with the factory strap, manuals, and kit 28-80 zoom, it really is a film version of the Nikon D40. With all of the limited Vari Program scenic modes, as well as the more useful Aperture Priority, Program, Shutter Priority, and Manual choices. I shot this roll in Aperture Priority. It features automatic DX coding and film rewind. Well, not quite a rewind, Upon loading film, like many Canon Rebels of the day, this camera, extracts all 24 or 36 frames right off the bat, and pulls them back into the cassette as you shoot. It sounds odd, but actually becomes kind of neat to use. Just remember, Frame 1 will actually be the last frame of the roll that you shot!
What doesn’t the N55 have? Depth of Field Preview (which I hardly ever use). Nor can it meter with N-AI, AI, or Ai-S manual focus lenses. Nor will it autofocus with AF-S or VR lenses. Have a lens like the 50mm f/1.8 D, the 28-105, or the 28-80, and you are good to go. I do believe that D-style Nikkors were in their heyday circa 2002, when the N55 was introduced. It is mostly plastic- so, be gentle. but it is undoubtedly a very sturdy polycarbonate that is used. The handgrip is a dream, and I have large hands.
As for the light meter, well, I love it. It is advanced matrix metering most of the time, switching to partial center weighted metering when using full manual exposure. It just nails exposure. Accurately and consistently. And makes shooting with a film SLR almost like shooting digitally. With its hard plastic modern-day construction and LCD panel display on the top, it even looks like a digital SLR, without the back panel.
I decided to use a different lens other than the 28-80 kit, and mount my beloved 28-105 Macro. A highly esteemed zoom known for its rounded aperture blades, sharpness, and beautiful out of focus areas (I no longer am going to call it bokeh), the lens seems to be a perfect companion for the N55. I shot this first roll with Ilford Delta 100 which I developed at home in Rodinal, using semi-stand development. Here are a few favorites-
Amazingly, the 28-105 has beautiful wide-angle performance, blowing away any of the DX digital zooms I have ever used. It’s OOFA (out of focus area), is also quite good, especially with the Macro switch on-
Cassette of a shot and developed roll of Tri-X.
The camera has a simple pop-up Speedlight that can be useful in a pinch. It syncs at 1/90th of a second. And came in real handy for the above shot, given the reduced aperture speed when using a zoom.
The above shot of a bus sign and traffic light helps to show the beautiful exposure accuracy of the camera. No blown out highlights. Digitally, there likely would be little to no detail in the sky. Maybe using 100 speed film helped. But It really does well in high contrast scenes.
The shadow detail was likely a benefit of semi-stand Rodinal development, but I’d like to think the light meter also helped.
Hopefully, winter will serve as a great opportunity to update the blog with the backlog of film I have shot over these last 6 months or so. No excuses!