DIGITAL NIKON D100 VS. FILM N80-SO SIMILAR, BUT SO DIFFERENT: Body construction, mechanical controls, pop-up flash, and optical systems are nearly identical, but using memory cards instead of film-with their respective image-quality choices-makes using the D100 a different ballgame.
I'm sitting here with a strange (at least to me) SLR. It's a Nikon D100 digital camera (tested in September 2002, page 88). It's not mine. It's Nikon's, on loan to me for six months. I didn't ask for it. Nikon suggested I try it, and I bowed to the inevitable. (I intend to keep you up-to-date on all SLRs, both 35mm and digital.) If any other manufacturer of interchangeable-lens AF SLRs had been first to offer me the use of such a camera, I would probably have gone with that brand. But no matter the make, I have no plans to switch from or add to my beloved 35mm SLRs and lenses unless I find that the picture-taking convenience and practicality of a camera such as the D100 is superior.
In POP's offices, digital cameras are used for getting functional equipment pictures for technical stories to the printer swiftly and economically. Practically all the equipment that appears on POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY & IMAGING's covers is shot digitally.
If I worked for a newspaper or a news magazine requiring high-speed transmission of images to make deadlines, I'd unquestionably use a digital camera. But, like many of you, I do the bulk of my shooting with a film SLR. Even though I usually only have 4x6- inch prints made, I'm hooked on producing the most creative images of the best possible quality. And if I do take an outstanding shot, I want to be able to produce a critically sharp enlargement of it-up to a 16x20-inch print.
While I admit I sometimes play with my cameras for the sheer joy of focusing, zooming, and clicking the shutter, my main concern is capturing images. I hope that now, and in articles to follow, we'll see just how well digital cameras and digital photography, in general, fit my needs-and, I hope, yours.
Since I had no AF Nikkors of my own, Nikon lent me the very practical 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G Nikkor. In 35mm camera terms, it's the equivalent of a 36-127.5mm focal-length zoom, since Nikon's smaller-than-35mm-frame CCD digital sensor adds, in effect, 1.5X magnification to the Nikkor's marked focal lengths when attached to Nikon's digital cameras. The street price of a D100 with this lens is about $2,325, very reasonable today for a professional digital SLR and in the range of a number of professional 35mm cameras, but scandalously high when compared to comparable 35mm amateur SLR gear such as the Nikon N80.
Users of tele lenses and tele-zooms will be delighted to find that the 1.5X magnification works in their favor, lengthening focal lengths by 50 percent. For instance, an 80-200mm lens produces images equal in magnification to a 120-300mm zoom on a 35mm SLR. However, wide-angle enthusiasts may be dismayed that their lenses suffer the same focal-length increase compared to 35mm SLR lenses. To get something close to the focal-length equivalent of a 20mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens on a 35mm SLR ($500, street price), D100 enthusiasts would have to purchase a 14mm f/2.8 Nikkor ($1,450, street price), or a less costly independently made 14mm for their cameras. Such lenses are far larger and heavier than 20mm lenses and are still only the equivalent of a 21mm lens in terms of angular coverage.