Monday, February 4, 2013

Nikon N6006/ F-601 - plus a Comment on Film Photography in 2015

2015 Update:
This old article (for a very old film camera) was the most popular AmateurNikon article for the past 30 days, and its popularity seems to be consistent - at least for now. This might at first appear puzzling to some of you. Read my updated comments, below the 'Final Verdict

Another film camera review, with the Nikon N6006. Belonging to the second generation of AF Nikon cameras, it was a basic, quite simple to use film SLR camera. Like most cameras of its kind, it can be found used online for very low prices.

First produced in 1991, but the aesthetics are 80s

+ if you wanna try film and you want a cheap option, this one is just fine.
+ nice set of features, more than enough for most needs
+ very good viewfinder (for its class), much better than today's small viewfinders.

- autofocus a bit primitive, lacks the sophistication of modern systems
- ergonomics are not bad, but they're different than what you're used to today
- noisy in its operation, with loud mirror clunks

Intended Users

Great for:
- those wanting to try film without spending a fortune
- collectors; although it's by no means a special camera, it's nice to have
- selling it together with an old lens, increases the selling value of both

Not for:
- if you are serious about film (why would you I wonder*), this is certainly not a camera for you
* read below, so that you can see this into its proper context.
- those used to modern cameras; the N6006 ergonomics are different, require getting used to
- people who need small, discreet cameras. This isn't very small (it's not big either), and it's certainly not discreet (it's loud!)

Final Verdict

If this camera was a decade, it would've been the 80s. But oh, wait... This camera began production in 1991, but its designs are clearly 80s. Questionable aesthetics, questionable functionality, we're all glad technology advanced since then. Like with the Nikon F55, to the question, Does it do the job? we can answer: It does. It meters a scene, it focuses an AF lens, you take a picture. But at the same time, there are better cameras which can do the same thing, only better. The N6006 isn't old enough to be traditional, and it isn't modern enough to be practical. Then again, it's also very cheap, which means, if you're looking for a cheap film SLR to try film with, there's nothing wrong with it.

2015 Update

So, what makes this article a sudden hit? There is no simple answer, but one thing is for sure: Film is going through a Renaissance-of-sorts.
 - Some of you might disagree because you want to make the case that film is dead, digital is better than ever, and there is no going back (if that's you, you probably agree with me saying "why would you be serious about film", above).
- Some of you might disagree because you want to argue, instead, that film never died and therefore there is no Renaissance at all (if that's you, you probably reject my comment about being serious about film).

The truth is - and this is the crux of the matter - that digital photography has now reached a threshold: there are no more of what I would call "redefinition events". That means, we simply have numbers getting better, perhaps some things becoming available at lower prices, but that's about it. Once a less-than-$500 camera gives you 24MP of good, solid image quality even up to ISO 6400 (and superb at anything between 100-800), there's not much more to expect, photographically speaking.I suspect, therefore, that film will be going through this Renaissance because people will need to look elsewhere for two crucial things:
  • Actually understanding photography and what these new - possibly worth thousands of $$$ - toys do.
  • Taking a breath, slowing down, and enjoying.
Needless to say, these two are interconnected. One you slow down, you can learn. If you're caught in the endless cycle of thinking you need the latest and greatest, and lens A being sharper than lens B, and oh-my-maybe-I-need-FX, it's all over. You get stressed, your creativity is blocked, you take no photos worth a dime, and instead photography being your hobby, you just end up chasing after the newest camera, the newest lens. Or worse, you spend time arguing online about the flare issue of the D750, or whether the Sigma Art is sharper than the Nikkor.With film, none of these matter. As mentioned in this newer article,do not plan to abandon digital. All my professional assignments are still done using digital (hence the comment about "being serious about film", earlier; it relates to professional use). In terms of quality (but, which is more crucial, also in terms of workflow and speed), digital has the upper hand in 2015. But it is precisely this speed that has become a creativity deathtrap for many photographers (especially beginners and intermediate).

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4/22/2014

    The N6006 is a solid camera, only limited by the photographer who holds it.