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  6. Nikon F6

Nikon F6

Larger buttons make for better operating comfort.
An expanded viewfinder view makes every scene easier to see.

Is the operation button layout almost the same for the F6 as for the F5?

There are few changes in the layout of basic operation buttons. With an SLR camera, a user performs operations while looking into the viewfinder, so the buttons should be positioned where the user can easily identify them, even without looking for them. But a small change has been made in the layout of buttons for detailed settings. We wanted to increase the size of all the buttons, so to make as much space as possible available on the top panel, we moved buttons for detailed settings from the top panel to the back panel.

Does the F6 have larger buttons?

Yes, we decided to do that for the sake of easier operations. Operations can be performed using gloved hands, as we assumed that the F6 would be used in cold places, given the camera's supreme environment-proof performance.
We put the priority on ease of operation, and made the buttons large and lockless.

How about viewfinder and autofocus function?

An advanced high-precision 11-area AF system ensures sharp focus under all shooting conditions.

Frame coverage of the viewfinder should be 100%, of course. Our challenge was to make the viewfinder big enough to approach this full coverage. At any rate, we wanted the F6 to have a bright, big, easy-to-use viewfinder. Because many users of Nikon SLR cameras already have been using favorite lenses for a long time, we wanted to make an easy-to-see viewfinder allowing users to find focus points easily, even in manual focus operation using older lenses.
Specifically, we used a high-quality glass with high refractive index for the pentaprism and successfully increased the viewfinder magnification.
To assure excellent AF operations, we use a Multi-CAM 2000AF Sensor Module offering an 11-Area sensor. The Multi-CAM2000 AF Sensor Module is our latest AF system used in the D2H.

How have mechanics been improved?

The F5 successfully minimized shutter lag. We carried this superior characteristic over to the F6, and also tried to maximize the finesse of the shutter. Specifically, we succeeded in our efforts to reduce vibration and improve the quality of mechanical sounds, especially from the moment the shutter is pressed to the moment it is released. This was achieved by changing the way the shutter is fixed to the camera body. Normally, the shutter is fixed to the body using screws. But with the F6, we use a floating mechanism, in which the shutter is hung with rubber. This rubber absorbs vibration when the shutter is released.

What is the advantage of less vibration?

Minimizing vibration effectively prevents the camera from shaking. Camera shaking has less influence than hand shaking on picture taking, so users seem not to care about it much. But on occasion, as little vibration as possible should occur during shutter release - when you use a slow shutter speed, for example.

"Listen carefully to the sound of the F6 in operation."

Not only did we minimize vibration, we spared no effort to keep operation quiet. To let users concentrate on shooting, we wanted to eradicate any unnecessary sounds as much as possible, as well as minimize vibration. We were determined to follow a principle of keeping operating sound, even those heard only by the photographer, to an absolute minimum.
Among camera sounds, the loudest is from the motor, but actually, there are many sounds from a camera's inner mechanisms that reach a user's ears.

Oh, are there? How can you get rid of such sounds?

It depends on the types of parts making the sound. For certain types of parts, we thoroughly enclosed them with insulation and for others, we used buffers to reduce the sound, and so on. Overall, we've taken action to suppress the sound and vibration of every part.

I would imagine that insulation would pose problems for you in terms of minimizing the camera body size.

That's true. We restudied not mechanisms themselves, but the many materials used for the F6. Specifically, we selected materials which maintain their strength and could function in thinner designs. We tested quite a lot of highly reputable materials, including materials which are not normally used in cameras. For sounds we couldn't get rid of, no matter what we did, we reformed their qualities to make them sound comfortable and reassuring.
Please try to listen carefully to the operating sounds of F6. They are subtle, so you have to concentrate, but the sounds you hear are different from the sounds of other cameras.

That's great. Is there anything else particularly special about the F6?

I must say that all F single-digit series models, not only the F6, have shutter-release buttons which have been carefully made and designed using theoretical measurements as well as adjustments for "hand feel." We have standards of measurements for the points at which the shutter-release button is pressed halfway and pressed all the way down, respectively. But we tend to feel at a touch the difference between a button made only using these measurements and the actual button used in the F5. In those cases, through a very precise measuring process, we modified our standard measurements by a mere few dozen microns to achieve optimal "feel".

It's amazing how designers can have such an intricate sensitivity toward a camera.

A rigorously designed shutter unit contributes to the superior performance of the F6.

Of course, adjustment for a difference of a few dozen microns should be exactly accounted for in the standard sizes. Basically, the shutter-release buttons of F single-digit series cameras have a characteristically shallow design, and adjustments for this characteristic are always made very carefully and thoroughly.
Intense concentration is required in shooting, especially at the moment the shutter is released. So we must never neglect a photographer's great sensitivity to the fine, subtle feeling of his fingertips releasing the shutter.
Materials used for the F6 shutter-release button have been newly developed. The shutter film material has also been changed for enhanced durability. The strictest Nikon standards have been applied to make the F6 a most reliable and durable camera.

You cannot discover the essence of the F6 simply in its specifications.

The design of F6 looks as if it is a definitive "standard," compared with the F5.

I am confident that we have developed it carefully and conscientiously, making practicality the first priority, while maintaining and even improving upon the high performance of the F5.
Originally, we had a few different ideas on ways to make the F6 even better than the F5. For example, since up to 8fps of continuous shooting had been achieved with the F5, we discussed the possibility of enabling the F6 to shoot up to 10fps.

So you did consider making the F6 faster than the F5?

Mr. Ikeno strongly recommends trying the F6 for yourself.

Yes. But I concluded that this was not a good approach. Is it necessarily reasonable to upgrade from a shooting speed of 8fps to 10fps in order to expand the range of a film-based camera's capability? I don't think so. We should remember that a camera should be a practical device. A consumer may buy a camera of excellent performance, but if it is also big and complicated to use, he will just put it away and not use it.
So we wanted the high performance and high speed to be eminently practical. We thought it very important to introduce "a camera of great substance".
Actually, since more and more news photographers have come to use digital cameras, some were of the opinion that the F6 would not require 8fps speed. But we decided to enable 8fps continuous shooting optional rather than standard as with the F5.

Would you like to offer a closing comment?

I ask customers to try holding the F6, look into the viewfinder, and release the shutter. I am confident that the F6 has achieved a new peak in its mechanics. But you cannot fully appreciate what the F6 can actually do, or how you can use it to greatest advantage, just by looking at its specifications table.