After the heartache of having my lithium batteries fail me on the AF camera during a crucial shoot, I had serious thoughts as to the direction of my preferences for AF or the trusty MF systems. (I have both the latest AF cameras and the 70's Nikons, Pentaxes, and Yashicas) and I like them ALL. (Bias on Nikon).
I thought I would share to the growing number of those who have wonderfully discovered the excitement of photography the way to go IF and when your batteries fail you.

If you don't want the dread of battery failure on an important event and cant or don't want to lug those lithium pellets on your pocket, (they do cost heaps and are equivalent of 10 to 12 rolls of film each!), then get into a camera than can function or trip the shutter even without batteries, and then practice on aperture bracketing. Simple as that. Not without being biased on any model or brand of camera, find a camera that can trip the shutter regardless of battery power. All manual cameras can perform this function. Modern cameras with AE functions and electronic shutters (needs batteries) miss out on this. There are exceptions, like the Nikon F3 or the Pentax ME Super and other cameras with this function of an X-speed that is fully manual. Having that kind of camera, when the batteries fail, the whole thing just grinds to a halt. Not really. Several things can still function: film advance, aperture opening, focus, and the ever important shutter trip button.


To get the shot, you should have a general idea of the aperture and shutter speed of a particular lighting condition, if not, the film carton would have it printed on the inside cover, stating the average recommended settings. Since you are stuck with just one shutter speed, the x-speed (varies between camera models and brands and can be 1/60, 1/80, 1/100, or 1/125 of sec.) then you have just the aperture to adjust the settings. Starting on the recommended settings for apertures, bracket two stops down and two stops up by using the aperture opening. So that would mean shooting five frames in succession. (Three frames if very confident, i.e. one stop up and down).

You may have wasted two or three frames but it is still cheaper than to run to the store and buy a new battery and thoroughly miss the event. And you may be pleasantly surprised at the depth of field variations!

Raoul Isidro
Sydney Australia

P.S. This article does not take into account flash provision which require even more batteries.

leofoo: On a recent leisure outing to a nearby reservoir around my house; my mightily heavy Nikon F5 fails. LCD shown but dim away once press the shutter release button - It is just flat out like that - I have a USD2,500-00 precision camera that cannot take pictures.... and that is not very funny and what a stupid feeling it gave you. This episode inspired me with many many related issues to think about more - WHY would a year 2000 camera cannot perform a basic task of tripping the shutter and always keep you busy wondering each trip WILL my F5 run flat with power AGAIN ? I'd rather bring along my old trusty Nikon F3T or a lighter Nikon FM2T and enjoy my trip. Just a power cell issue blues.. When I shared this first hand experience in my private site, there were some negative reaction from the many Nikon die-hards who thought I am down rating the Nikon, eventually users group started to acknowledge similar experiences with many co-users. solution ? Yes. Nikon adjust and shorten the auto power-OFF duration and seemed help a great deal to extend the battery life.

But the main problem remains: Nikon F5 is not designed to use easily available Alkaline cells ! As a user sent in his comment ".... the new generation high-tech top of the line Nikon F5 is not designed to use with battery technology that was made twenty years ago...and it is like a Ferrari " I replied, NiMH cell is - IF it is only can be prized as the Alkaline, easily available in any 24 hours 7-11 outlets and provided a shop assistant in a mini market out in nowhere understand how to pronounce the name... that certainly look like a good solution. But I overheard Nikon F5 has the better power efficiencies than the like of Canon EO1n and that looks like it is NOT a proprietary problem for Nikon !

I bought a Nikon F5 because I thought it is supposedly to serve me and give me comfort that it will always be there ready to fire away.. just as all those good oldies of Nikon F3, F2, F or even the Nikkormat and the Nikon FM2. I don't need a Ferrari but I do appreciate that speedo monster can bring me through rocky and bumpy roads and built with a tough Rally chassis, IF not, I might as well suggest it be put back to the show room...

<<<<<--- Naturally, not all Ferrari cars look and feel like a Formula 1 Ferrari, but BOTH are not designed as a tough Rally vehicles either. Anyway, I don't think a F5 should be related to a Ferrari Formula 1 car, well, the Team Ferrari last won a world championship back in 1979 !

Race day... my 1st experience at Sepang F-1 Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


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