Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Nikon N80- Big Taste, Less Filling

Posted in photography by Jason Gray on March 13, 2010

The Nikon N80 (called the F80 outside the U.S.) is my favorite of the film bodies that I currently own. As a photographer, it gives me great versatility with few trade-offs, and for this reason, it is the third body that I generally take with me when shooting for clients (and the only film body). When the N80 was introduced, it was meant to fill a niche between the pro-sumer F100, and the entry-level N60 (sort of similar to the D90’s role today), and it was sort of an update to the N90s as well. In any case, the N80 is a modern-era film camera that definitely gets the job done, and can be had used for less than $100 (remarkable!!).

FRONT.

BACK

Here’s the skinny.

Against the F100, the N80 differences are that it:

1. Has a programmable grid feature.

2. Has a built-in flash.

3. Has the screw-in cable shutter option.

4. Does not have confidence-building weather sealing.

5. Does not meter with manual focus lenses (like its digital cousin, the D90).

6. Has a lower flash sync (1/125 vs. 1/250)

7. Features exposure compensation in half stops vs. thirds.

8. Uses CR123A batteries vs. AA (an asset I think; yes the AA’s are more common, but you can still get the CR123A’s at Walgreen’s, and I have yet to change my first set in almost two years…)

9. Has a plastic body vs. a metal one (this is a bit of a misnomer; yes, it is plastic, but a harder, denser plastic than that of the earlier n6006 or n8008s or of the later D50, D90 et al.  The N80’s body feels like metal and it inspires confidence in the camera’s durability)

10. Has a viewfinder with a narrower view, something like 92% vs. 96 or 97%.

11. Has a slower maximum shutter speed, 1/4000 vs. 1/8000.

RIGHT SIDE.

LEFT SIDE.

Nikon knew how right they got this right away; the camera was a huge success, and many of the compliments that it received had to do with its ergonomics (the D40-90 series currently still utilizes much of the N80’s layout).  As a result, Nikon and Fuji both produced versions of the N80 body directly as digital bodies (Nikon D100 and the Fuji S2 Pro), a precipitated move geared to open up huge consumer avenues for both camera makers.  In my opinion, it is a camera that just feels right, from layout to handling to weight to look.  The N80 kicks a lot of ass for being a “consumer” camera.

FLASH.

As you can see, I switched out the Nikon strap for a Quantaray (a Wolf/Ritz Camera-owned generic), and it works really well on this little body.  However, if the camera were heavier, or I was using it more often, I would go with something else because I have seen this type of material tear apart from my days in the luggage industry.

All photos shot with Nikon D300 and Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G lens.

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4 Responses

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  1. […] waned immediately).  Nonetheless, it is important for this review (and as a reference point to my N80 review) to note that, although the body of this camera is made of a cheaper grade of plastic than the N80, […]

  2. […] Nikon N80 […]

  3. […] of my all-time favorite cameras was the Nikon N80. This camera was introduced as a buffer between the entry-level N60 and the prosumer F100. In my […]

  4. […] old film cameras and give them a workout.  For Downtown part 2, I brought along a Bronica ETRSi, a Nikon N80, and my iPhone.  Needless to say, this was a really fun outing, which continued at home in […]


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