Correlli, you noted that I might focus manually and still utilize AF. Do I take that to mean that I might start in AF and then double check the camera's focus--and, if I choose, make further adjustments? That is, if I establish AF I can override AF fairly easily--true? Please clarify.
That depends a lot on the type of lens you use. For AF Nikon has got two types of lenses AF-D and AF-S.
The F100 has got a build in motor that will drive the focus of AF-D lenses (you can see that little screw driver like thing sticking out from the lens mount). If you try to manually override that type of lens you can break things inside the camera. You either use AF or you put the camera on the M focus mode and focus manually.
With AF-S lenses the motor is inside the lens and these lenses offer a mode where you can manually override the focus without breaking everything.
Then there are Ai or AiS lenses. These are the older series that do not offer AF at all and you have to manually focus.
What I really meant was, that in case you want to use manual focus (for whatever reason) you can still use the AF areas to tell you if you are in focus.
The important thing is, that the camera cannot know on what part of the image you want to focus on. It has got a number of areas where it can measure the image sharpness and a few modes that tell the camera how to use these areas (e.g. single point etc). Have a look into the manual. It should tell you how these modes work and when they are used best. Your camera does offer AF so I would suggest you learn how to use it and where the limitations are.
There is both an 'M' for manual focus, as well as an 'M' for manual exposure--true? Niz, you suggested trusting the camera. What are your thoughts on the subject, Correlli?
I agree 100%. Those cameras are pretty smart computers and their light meter is quite advanced. I would trust the camera and learn about the limitations and when not to trust it. Also negative film is pretty forgiving, so even if you or the camera does not meter 100$ spot on you will most likely not see any difference. Slide film is a different story. I already said use AF and learn how to use it.
As for the exposure mode. P is some kind of fire-and-forget mode. Very handy for taking pictures of your kids, friends etc.
In A you pre-select the aperture (f-stop) to control the depth of field and the camera selects the correct exposure time. I use that mode a lot.
With S you select the exposure time and the camera will find the correct f-stop. This is good if you need control over e.g. how motion is captured (e.g. freeze or blur motion) and depth of field is not your primary concern.
With M you select both, f-stop and exposure time. My tip: learn how to use A and S first.
Regarding setting the ISO--I can 'push' or 'pull' process the negative if I choose a higher or lower ISO initially--the Exposure Index--true?
Yes, but you need to do that yourself. Push means that you expose the film on a higher ISO setting (you basically underexpose the film) and during development you try to compensate this by a longer development time. Pull is the opposite. I only did this with black and white film and you have to either develop it yourself or you need a very good lab that does not send the film into a bigger lab. I never heard of this being done with color film.
So if you are just starting with photography I have to agree with Tao: this is way ahead. You can get nice effects with push/pull processes but master the basics first.
My own position is that I got into this for full participation--when practical, i.e., I would like to take creative control if and when possible. Also, other pros suggested either getting an electronic meter or using a digital camera to check exposure. Can I not just 'trust' the F100's own system to take care of metering (as Niz remarked)?
Taking creative control is a very good goal. But do one step at a time. If you do too many things at the same time (e.g. M exposure mode, hand-held meter, push process the film) and something goes wrong you most likely end up not knowing where you made the mistake.
I would suggest you start taking pictures in P, A and S mode using your AF. Play around with the different modes (both exposure and AF). Take notes so you can later see what you did. Have a look into books about the basics of photography (metering/exposure, image composition etc). Have a look at other photos (the Photo a Day thread here is an excellent start!).
I'm sure other questions will come up but I'll pause here...
Please do so...
Hope this helps