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Nikon N80

Nikon N80

I first saw a Nikon N80 in 2000 I think, and I was smitten with jealousy. At that time I had a Minolta SLR, which wasn’t a bad camera, but the N80 was so much cooler, being a Nikon. I purchased the camera on Ebay in 2009 as it would work with all of my AF-S lenses unlike my FM2. 

Denver, CO 2009. An unknown slide film type (slides are in the US right now) shot with my Nikon F80. I hope to shoot some more slide film in the future as I like the deep rich colors it produces. This was shot at the Denver Botanical Gardens.

Overall the N80/F80 is a great camera. It has a lot of bang for the buck, more today of course since you can get these pretty inexpensively on Ebay. It is extremely lightweight being built out of some sort of solid feeling plastic and the size is pretty small. It is also extremely quiet when taking pictures.  It has lots of custom settings as well so I can set the camera up pretty nicely.

One thing that is really well done on this camera is the exposure bracketing function. Unlike my D300 and D700, the F80 uses the front wheel to scroll through the different exposure values, and the rear control dial turns bracketing on or off. This is great as I can set the camera to what I will almost always use, and that setting stays there. Then a quick click on the rear dial turns the bracketing on or off. With my D700 I have to roll the dial through many clicks to turn the desired bracketing setting (and I only use one option) and then I have to scroll through many clicks to turn off bracketing.  Can’t say I use bracketing too often with my film cameras but I wish there was a way to set up my D700 and 300 to operate like the F80.

LEFT: China 2010. A man looks up as he bends wire into a more manageable size for taking elsewhere. Unkown film type. RIGHT: Cambodia 2010. A woman throws water on a road to keep dust down. Unknown film type.

There are a few things I don’t like about the F80. One is that I can’t tell the camera to leave the leader out. This would be really nice if one could do this as part of the CSM settings. I shoot mostly black and white film right now and I’d prefer the leaders to be left out. I believe that I can have Nikon program the camera to leave the leader out, but if it is just some software changes, why couldn’t they have let me change it myself?

Siem Reap, Cambodia. While I don't know the film type, I really like it anyway.

Another thing is the CSM requires a cheat sheet to remember all of the functions. I would have thought that maybe some letters could have been used to help set the camera up, but instead you have to scroll through 18 functions. Some have multiple settings. Very confusing.

LEFT: Tim, a teacher at our school shot with Kodak Tmax 400. I have only shot 1 box of this film just to try it out. It is a bit pricey here in China compared to other films. RIGHT: Shot with Kodak Tmax 100, Susan and Katherine pose in front of a statue in a nearby park.

Also, for whatever reason, Nikon uses CR123 batteries in this camera. It would have been great if the camera used AA batteries. That being said, the CR123 batteries do last a long time and are pretty lightweight.

China 2010. A butcher in a local market cuts up meat for a customer.

Cambodia 2010. Dusk approaches in Siem Reap Cambodia. The F80 meter works great with just one attempt at this shot.


Hard to complain about a camera that is so “obsolete”  but there you go, that’s about all I can think of that is wrong with it.

There aren’t a lot of accessories to go with the F80, except for a battery pack (MB-16) but I actually have little interest in this item.  I will try to have the camera programed to leave the film leader out.

Guangzhou, China. Haiyin bridge shines brightly prior to the Asian games. One benefit of the F80 and generally all of Nikon's cameras is the amazing forwards and backwards capabilities. This shot was taken with the Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VR. Aside from the vibration reduction feature, the len works perfectly on the F80 (and fairly well on the F4 as well.)

Initially the camera was used only to shoot slide film and I left it behind when I went to Thailand in 2009. But I started to miss film so I had it brought over and shot a few rolls. When I went to Cambodia I thought about shooting the entire trip with film, but that idea gradually fell apart; film rapidly looses its appeal at night when every shot becomes blurred due to long shutter speeds. Also, it is a bit expensive to have it developed. Cambodia is really cheap but the scans were terrible in general.

Cambodia 2010. Two men appear to be reparing or otherwise occupied with locks in Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat.

Here in China I use it with black and white film mostly along with my F4.  I heartily reccommend the F80 to anyone who needs a good film camera. One day I intend to get an F100, and it will be interesting to compare to similar cameras to each other but for now I think the F80 is darned good.


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