An update from early February with more on accessories. Since last December, buying a 35mm camera has been on the list. So, now seems like a good time with the summer coming up. I’ve narrowed it down to a Nikon N80 (a.k.a. F80 outside the US). The price structure is interesting. To quote “Phillip Greenspun”:, it is the camera that is good for 99% of the people 99% of the time.
Here are the reviews
* “”: Good overall review with pictures taken. Somewhat old, it is from 2001, but 35mm cameras don’t change that much. Get the F80s if you can. It is the overseas brand and puts the date stamp between the frames. Otherwise get a basic US N80 but not the one with the date that goes in the frame.
* “Photography Review”: F80 comes at a very reasonable price which has allowed me to get some nice glass: AF 28mm f2.8 D and AF 50mm f1.8. Lenses determine image quality far more than the body, so forget the fancy body and invest in some decent primes. They’re surprisingly cheap second hand.
* “”: Great pictures of the camera. Also says The N80’s compact body when used with front-heavy zoom or telephoto lenses requires a “white knuckle” grip that can result in camera shake. The optional MB-16 enlarges the grip area and alters the center of balance to offset heavy optics. Then add a real flash that is bounce capable and designed for use with the N80’s system. Then we add a flash diffuser like the Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer (~$24.95.). Use a higher pivoting head flash like the SB-28 and the SB-50DX to reduce red eye. The built-in flash is for daylight fill-in.
* “Ken Rockwell”: Really good reviews of all the Nikons. Also compares the new N75/F75 to the N80/F80. Says that if are serious, N80/F80 is still the better choice. Main drawback is the slow sync speed which means you can’t use fill-in well for daylight portraits. Great review of “lenses”: says the 50mm f/1.4 is now made in China and the f/1.8 is a great bargain. Also says the SB-22 is a good flash particularly used with a diffuser and in slow sync mode.
* “Thom Hogan”:
* “Nikonians N80/F80 User Forum”: Their official forum.
In terms of buying the camera and lenses, there are a couple of sources:
* “Adorama”: $419 body less a $50 rebate and $99 “lenses”: Also have $339 “demo”: bodies.
* “B&H”: $419 body or $370 with rebate and “UV filter”: and “lense”: Used “bodies”: are $349.
* “KEH”: $419 new, and $339-$349 used, so not much discount for used and lenses are $109 for f/1.8 and $199 for used f/1.4
* “ebay”: Can get used body for about $320 and 1.8 lense for $80. But caveat emptor
* “Pricegrabber”: Pricegrabber is a good source for the lowest price. has the lowest prices right now at $359 for the N80 body and $109 for the 55mm f/1.8 lenses new.

6 responses to “Buying a camera: Nikon N80”

  1. tom Avatar


  2. Steve Bush Avatar

    The best place for film development in Seattle is Ivey Imaging ( This is where Art Wolfe and other professional photographers take their stuff. Ivey is right next to Glazers. A cheaper eastside alternative is Overlake Photo in Bellevue (

  3. Rich Tong Avatar

    Thanks Steve. Very helpful. It is really great to hear from someone who has been using their stuff. The advice on the lenses is great and B&H is truly a great store.
    Only other thing I would have added is that great developing is key as well. We’ve been bouncing around, but have now found that A&I over in LA has really great developing. Makes even instamatic stuff look great. Expensive at $12 a pop, but the pictures are eyepopping.

  4. Rich Tong Avatar

    Great point, Gary. Probably should wait as you point out. For instance, Nikon is shipping a new N75 camera that’s been pre-announced. I’m sure there will be many more developments on the digital side. I’m going to get a great digital camera, but want to wait till the technology stabilizes a little. In the mean time, it is amazing how inexpensive really great 35mm cameras are.

  5. Gary Burd Avatar

    With the PMA just around the corner, you might want to wait to see if any new camera models are announced. This is less of an issue for film cameras because the models don’t change very often.

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