Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Nikon FTN

What's wrong with this camera? Two things, It has a through the lens (TTL) metering system thats what the "TN" in FTN stand for and you can see it. It is the big fat box sitting on top of the camera. Second, the back that covers the film plane falls off in your hand instead of being on a hinge. That makes it easy to mount motor drives and bulk film backs but makes it a pain in the neck when you want to load a regular 35mm canister. You need a third hand to hold the back.

Through the lens metering systems are for hackers. I am back carring my Gossen Multi-Beam with me at all times. I leave my DSLR set on manual exposure and use the Gossen for incident readings were possible. The only case where this is a problem is extreamly long lenses with unreliable light transmission like my early Nikors 300mm f4.5 and 500mm Mirror. Whats the problem with TTL metering? It is dumb. No matter how smart the product literature tells you thier metering system is it will make dumb mistakes. I have never met a metering system that knew how to locate 18 percent reflectance or middle gray. The current meters can guess where the whites are and can tell you if the whites are blocked up (a nice feature) and they can guess where the shadows are and tell you were they are blocked up (another nice feature) but theyj cannot tell you when you should sacrifice the shadows to save the hightlights or when you might like to let the hightlights burn out. In other words the the best current TTL metering systems are still far inferiour to a handheld meter in the hands of a photographer who knows the zone sytem and how to use it.

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