Nikon F90 / N90

 The world´s first fully computerized camera!

 

 

When I was planning a tour across Alaska (highways only!) some years ago I felt I needed a "real" camera. A "really good" camera. The truth is I never needed a better camera than the one I already had. The Nikon F50 (N50 in the US) I already had for years would have gotten me all the beautiful pictures I brought back from Alaska as well. But I didn´t think that far at that time, so I really needed a "real" camera. (I brought the Mamiya C33 as well which certainly yielded the better quality images, but that´s another story.)

My choice was a used Nikon F90 because this was the model I longed for back in the 90s when I wasn´t able to pay the top dollars Nikon wanted for their pro gear. By 2006, prices for analog cameras were already crashing because everyone went digital. I wouldn´t, or so I thought. Digital was still too expensive for a father of two who had only recently bought a house for his young family.

But digital cameras had one or two big advantages. Instant feedback was something I did not miss, but the other advantage was the Exif data stored together with each digital image. I would have loved something like that for a film camera because I always was too lazy to take notes of every exposure I made. The Nikon F90 promised to solve that problem for me.

 

 

I had read somewhere that Nikon had offered a few magic extension devices that would turn my F90 into some kind of film camera computer. 

 

 

With a chip card called the Nikon AC-1E Card and a special cable called the Nikon Electronic Organizer Connecting Cord MC-27...

 

 

...the Nikon F90 could communicate with an external brain called the Sharp IQ-8500M Multilingual Electronic Organizer! This combo would not only be able to record exposure data but to control quite a few functions of the Nikon MF-26 Data Back I already had equipped my F90 with. Sophisticated things like endless time exposures or "remote" shutter releases (with the Sharp organizer connected to the camera!) were promised.

It took quite a while to collect all this magical mystery wizardry at the auction site, and I ended up with a lot of Euros less but reasonably proud of my advanced equipment.

The end of the game... do you really think I ever used this bizarre computerized outfit? I never needed to. The F90 does all I ever wanted it to do without the aid of a stone-age laptop chained to it. And guess what? The Nikon F50 I already owned for years would have done it just as well!

Nevertheless the Nikon F90, as well as its bigger sister, the Nikon F90x (N90s in The US), is a great analog camera that´s thrown at you for next to nothing today! And you would never have to worry about repairs or spare parts because there are millions and millions of them out there! Beat your F90 to death in the field and get your next one in as new condition tomorrow almost for free! It´s hard to believe but true. All pros and a lot of rich amateurs of the late 80s and 90s had this machine in their bags because it was even more advanced than the Nikon flagship of those days, the mighty F4.

 

 

A little harder to find today and even harder to watch unless you still have got your old VCR connected to your flatscreen TV is this nice promotional Nikon N90 video.