This review will be also be a comparison of the F5 against the F100, F4 and the F6, I still own and use all of these.
Google-ing around will give you LOTS of good in-detail reviews.
F5 is still the fastest film body to me: it feels kind of brutal the way it handles screw driven AF lenses; I can almost feel the camera momentum twitching as it spins and stops the AF motor!
The F6 is much more smooth, gentleman like in that respect. The F4 is just slower.
And 8 frames per second for the F5 with auto focusing in-between is no slouch either!
Yes, it weighs A LOT; even with aluminium-alloy housing with the detachable viewer in titanium; 1240g …. But; compare that to an F100 + motor and you're talking approx. the same weight.
If you need smaller in size; F100 is the body you need, since it comes with about 80% of the F5 features (the F6 is heavier than an F100).
It’s big in the electronics department as well; 5 CPU's (3x16bit, 1x8bit and 1x4 bit), 4 coreless motors, a memory (ROM), a self-diagnostic shutter designed for at least 150.000 operations…
8 AA batteries is a lot, and the camera is very power hungry with these strong motors inside (AF, film rewind,…)
There are only five available auto focus points, fine for me; few people need 30 view finding cluttering AF points… The Multi-Cam 1300 used on the F5 and F100 has three cross sensors (left, centre, and right) so the F5 does very well at off-centre low-light focusing.
What very few people know; you can turn off the two non-cross-hatched sensors in the F5 via Photo Secretary.
— (MINUS department) —
Sadly NO matrix metering with manual focus lenses, you will need the F4 or F6 for that.
My F4, uses red for the two out of focus arrows and green for the centre dot, I find this much more intuitive.
Loading a film gives me trouble sometimes, F4/F6 is better.
Buttons are OK, but I somehow wish they would be at least a bit bigger. You have to like the failsafe double locking on many buttons, it tends to hold me back a bit when wanting to operate the camera fast.
The F4 uses this sytem but I find it easier to cope with and the F6 finally did away with that.
It’s the only pro F series where the motor is not detachable so you can have a useable smaller size camera.
— (PLUS department) —
The F5 is quieter than the D3 or the F4 (not the F6; as mentioned this is a “refined gentleman’s” camera)
F5 easily can make timed manual exposures out to 30 minutes.
The F5 is really the perfect action photography tool, better than the F4 or F6.
A used F5 sells for roughly the same price as an F100 make your choice. In 2012 around $200 to $500. There is a F5 50th anniversary edition (3000 units made), this tends to sell for +$1000. Nice if you want a new camera; sadly no one tends to use this collector’s item for taking pictures.
—WOULD I USE ONE?—
· Doing fast action photography – YESx2
· Doing portrait or street photography – NO (too big/obvious)
· Any studio/tripod work – YES
· Going on a 2 week trip – YES (if someone else carries the camera equipment in between shots J otherwise F100; don’t forget we will not only take this plastic 50mm 1.8 lens!)
· Going on a 1 year trip – NO (size/power consumption/8 batteries)
· Going on a 5 year trip – YES (indestructible camera)
· Using manual focus lenses – NO (use the F4, maybe F6)
thanks for reading!