Launched in 1998, the Pronea S is Nikon’s second and last APS SLR. Nikon rapidly lost interest in the APS format, and refocused its R&D (and sales) efforts on the more promising Coolpix digital cameras. With its smaller image format and lenses, the Pronea can be considered a remote ancestor of the vastly more successful Nikon D40.
Apart from the fact it’s using APS film instead of more conventional 135 (24x36mm) film, there is nothing really remarkable about the Pronea S. Its characteristics are aligned on the other mid-level amateur cameras of its time.
It benefits from the advantages brought by the APS format (smaller size than 24×36 cameras, choice of three aspect ratios for the prints) but it also suffers from all the limitations that ultimately caused the demise of the APS format.
In a typical Nikon fashion, the Pronea S preserves some form of compatibility with the large family of Nikkor F lenses: in fact, modern AF and AF-S lenses work perfectly on a Pronea. However the IX-Nikkor lenses, designed specifically for the Pronea and its smaller APS format are absolutely incompatible with the rest of the Nikon bodies: the back of the IX lenses protrudes so far in the reflex chamber that it would be on the trajectory of the reflex mirror of a 24×36 SLR.
The resale value of the Nikon Pronea S is very limited. Mint (if not new) cameras and lenses can still be found, and they generally sell for a few dozens of dollars. They can be collected as curiosities, but their usage value is limited: Kodak and Fuji may cease manufacturing APS film rapidly, and the IX-Nikkor lenses are absolutely incompatible with any “normal” Nikon body.
- APS SLR cameras are smaller than a comparable 24×36 autofocus SLR with a built-in flash, but the Pronea S is larger than an older SLR such as the Olympus OM-1
- The choice of films was already very limited when the format was supposed to be the next big thing: practically, color print film from Kodak and Fuji in 100, 200 and 400 ISO declinations was the only thing you could get. Now that the format is near extinct, only 200 ISO film is available.
- Compared to a 24×36 image, an APS image is 56% smaller. APS requires higher enlargement ratios, which makes film grain more visible.
- The film loading mechanism of APS cameras is fragile. The film can stay trapped in the camera if one of the little plastic parts holding the cartridge in place breaks.
For more about the Pronea S
Another point of view about the Pronea S, courtesy of Ken Rockwell.