Nikon F80

Nikon F80 (three-quarter view, with 50mm f1.8)

The Nikon F80 is at a great place in the semi-professional SLR line up. It’s not as cheap and plasticy as the F75 but not as workhorse as the F100. This camera can take a beating and has some of Nikons best features packing into a lightweight yet durable frame.

The F80 doesn’t have the bulk, weight or weather proofing of the F100 or F5 so it makes for a perfect portable or backup camera, or even as a main shooter. This camera mounts all Nikon F mount lenses back to AI (AI with No meter). Has front and rear command dials and most controls in very convenient places. Nikon are top of the game for laying out camera’s so they just work. You may not notice it right away but when you are shooting all day with the same camera it makes a huge difference.

Amelia at Wedding

Amelia at Wedding, I was waiting for the bride to arrive and grabbed this shot of my little girl.

First up you need to get accustomed to the 19 odd custom functions, ranging in such things as Auto film loading, auto rewind, focus options, DX options and oh so many more. They are accessable from the main command dial. Select CSM and use the thumb and index finder scroll switches to select. The default options are fine but you may want to look into the options for; High Speed film rewind (CSM 13) handy if you need to change rolls quickly, Exposure meter switch-off delay (CSM 15) and AE-Lock from Shutter release (CSM 7).

The biggest benefit I find shooting with this camera is that it just works, it has 5 autofocus sensors that work very well (depending on lens) most of the time. The exposure meter uses Nikons famous 3d matrix metering which is flawless in almost any situation, even strongly backlit. Set it on Programmed auto mode and shoot away! as usual you can select between aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes as well.

The camera takes two small CR123 type batteries which can be a pain to come across and depending where you live aren’t particularly cheap. Here in Townsville, North Queensland I can get them for about $10 each which is insanely expensive. I opted instead to purchase an MB-16 battery pack for my F80. Relatively inexpensive (as far as battery packs go) and allows my camera to now take 4 AA type batteries and last well into the next millenium on a charge.

Ok I got a bit carried away, but I’m still on my first set since purchasing the battery pack and I’ve shot a wedding and a good deal of rolls in between.

That being said the battery pack adds some bulk to the camera and a little extra weight. As long as you don’t mind toting the extra, you’ll be fine. Personally this camera isn’t one I carry around the streets with me. I use it more for paying jobs and some situations where a zoom lens may be necessary.

Path of the Ghost Gums

Path of the Ghost Gums; A scoping shot for some further work here I done in black and white.

On that note there is a slew of lenses for this camera. Slew is really an understated word in this example. Nikon has a plethora of awesome lenses you can use with it. The Nikon F80 comes with a standard cheap zoom lens (the 28-80 G) which is a little slow but very capable none the less. If you are looking to purchase some good quality nikkor lenses for it then I recommend you look into the fast prime lenses and possibly the Nikkor 24-70 2.8. But lets not get bogged down in lenses, afterall a skilled photographer can make great photos with any lens. Remember it’s not the camera that does the work, IT’S YOU!

If you like to shoot IR (Infrared) film then there’s a caveat. the F80 uses an IR beam to measure frame spacing so you’re out of luck, You can use IR film with the F100 though so opt for one of those instead.

As a solid cheap autofocus come auto-everything film camera I find the F80 to be excellent value for money. Whack a good Nikkor lens on the front and you have a killer combination. Cheap fast and sure the F80 will have a place in my camera collection for a long time to come.

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