The Nikon F-501 is heavy on 80’s technology and what do you know, mine is still working fine! Its a clunky beast to carry around with you but this baby really knows how to satisfy.
This is I suppose really a double review. First we have the dynamic hulk of late 1980s technology, the Nikon F-501 and then the with the svelte elegance of the Nikkor AF 50mm 1:1.4D lens. The lens cost about 4 times more than the camera itself but it was all money very well spent. God bless ebay.
So, first the camera, the Nikon F-501 or N2020 as it is known in the USA. This is a weighty brick of analogue technology, capable of all the usual SLR tricks, but with a reassuring weight in your hands and an incredibly noisy clack and auto wind system, meaning subtlety is at a minimum. Once i was using it to take stills on a film set and got a thorough dressing down from the sound guy for clacking away during a take. That said, the results are fantastic, crisp precision with a really natty auto metering which tells you what you really should be doing whilst you go up and down the f-stops trying to get more detail in pics of clouds (see photos) or over exposing for added dreaminess…
Then we move to the lens, the Nikkor AF 50mm 1:1.4D. This baby is a supreme piece of glassware that makes all the difference. Having a maximum aperture of 1.4 means that you can laugh in the face of low-light conditions. Everything is captured majestically with no underexposed grain. Perhaps the greatest touch is the really narrow depth of field you can achieve (see the pics of my baby niece). The face in pin sharp focus whilst the rest remains totally blurred, makes for great stuff when you get up close and personal. This is the advantage you get with prime lenses, that is, lenses that are fixed, that you can’t zoom in with….
Anyway, the final verdict is this. Nikon F-501 weighs ton and makes a lot of noise and is therefore slightly impractical, but, does the job with gusto. Nikkor AF 1:1.4D, the missing jewel in your collection which can take your pics to a new level and makes taking pictures in any situation so much fun and so rewarding, a really sound investment.