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I had been looking for a decent SLR camera for a while before I finally decided on the Nikon F80. It is slightly more expensive than your average SLR (single lens reflex) camera, but with all the extra features, I think it is worth splashing out. Here are some of them.
When you first pick up the F80 you think it’s quite weighty, but when you consider how heavy SLR’s used to be it really is quite light at only 515g. It feels good to hold, some of the newer SLR’s in the same price bracket feel a bit like toys, for example the Canon EOS300 or the Pentax MZ-3. It is very ergonomically designed, you can really get a good grip, and because it has a bit more weight to it than others in it’s class, it feels like a traditional camera. It comes in two colourways, just black or black and silver (like mine!) the latter looks much more like a traditional SLR, very retro. The F80 comes in three different models, the F80, F80D and F80s. The only difference between them is if they imprint data on your photos. The F80 doesn’t, whereas the F80D will print time information (day, date etc) and the F80S will print the shooting information (exposure etc) very handy for those trying to perfect their camera skills. Most retailers, whether on the web or the high-street, stock the basic F80, so check before you buy. The picture quality of the F80 is excellent. I was so excited when I collected my first set of prints and I was not let down, the photos where in sharp focus.
There are several ways to focus the F80, automatic, programmed or manual (for the more adventurous). There are three autofocus area modes: 1. Dynamic AF - basic focusing for the whole picture 2. Single area AF – for focusing on a specific subject. 3. Closest-subject-priority Dynamic AF – the subject closest to the lens will be in focus. There is also a focus lock facility, available on most modern cameras, whereby you can choose which area of the picture you would like in focus, then half-press the shutter release button and then move the camera to the angle you want to take the picture. The F80 will even let you know if what you want to take is in focus before you take the picture by using the ‘vari-brite’ focus area display. This gives you an at-a-glance AF-area confirmation. The focusing is controlled by Nikon’s exclusive crossed-ranged, five area autofocus sensor, which basically takes five points of the viewing area and decides what will be in focus (unless you over-ride this by using the different modes specified earlier). You can even choose which one of the five areas you would like to be in focus. You also have a built-in on-demand grid that covers the view of the photo you are taking, which is handy for arcitectural photography as you can make sure you picture is straight.
The F80 uses a very sophisticated metering system. It is a 3D Matrix metering system using a 10-segment Matrix sensor. There are three metering modes selectable:
1. 3D Matrix metering – multi-pattern metering. 2. Centre-weighed metering – slightly larger area than spot metering 3. Spot metering – allows you to accurately read the intensity of reflected light from a small or distant area.
There are four exposure modes on the F80. These are: 1. P - Auto-multi program (for the very lazy) 2. S – Shutter-priority auto 3. A – Aperture-priority auto 4. M – Manual (for the more adventurous/experienced)
There is an auto exposure lock for detecting the exposure value and locking it by pressing the button. Also, you can use auto exposure bracketing. This is a useful function if you are not sure of the exposure setting. The camera will take three consecutive exposures one or two stops above or below the meter’s reading to ensure accurate results. This is very handy in tricky lighting conditions or using transparency film.
The shutter is an electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter that is very fast – 30-1/4000 +b (seconds)
The F80 has a built-in flash, but also has a hotshoe for an additional flash if, for example, you wanted to use a bouncing flash. The flash sync speed is 1/125 seconds. This is the maximum speed at which a focal plane shutter can work with flash. At speeds faster than the sync speed, only part of the film shot with flash will be lit. The F80 also has a built-in Speedlight, activated by pressing the Speedlight lock-release button. The F80 has five flash sync modes:
1. Front-curtain sync (normal sync) 2. Red-eye reduction (avoids that vampire look) 3. Red-eye reduction with slow sync 4. Slow sync (A flash burst combined with a slower than usual shutter speed) 5. Rear –curtain sync (the flash is fired just before the shutter closes. This is advantageous when photographing moving objects with flash and a relatively long shutter speed because it creates the impression of movement).
The F80 uses an F type lens mount, so you do not have to buy genuine Nikon lens, which can be quite costly (but excellent quality). The camera comes with a 28-80mm Nikkor lens (unless you buy just the camera body or a different package).
Dimensions (W x H x D): 141.5 x 98.5 x 71 mm or 5.6 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches. The F80 weighs 515g without batteries. It takes two 3V CR123A lithium batteries, but you can get a battery pack for it – MB16. The camera displays how much power is left in the batteries so you know when to buy more before they run out. The camera has a tripod socket and also has a self-timer, both of which are pretty standard on cameras nowadays. The camera has to be manually loaded with film, it is not an APS camera, but it does automatically advance to the film frame when you close the back.
Conclusion The F80 is an excellent camera for those who don’t mind spending that little bit extra for quality. It has sophisticated technology for today’s photographer but the option to get back to basics with manual settings.
The standard package with the 28-80mm lens costs around £400, but buying as a package with an additional 70-300mm lens works out cheaper in the long run and costs around £450. There are some good deals on the web.
Just love the way you have gone into so much detail about this camera. I myself own the Nikon F65 and love it to bits,, but I am thinking abotu upgrading in the near futre.. And want to stay with the Nikon range if at all possible.. Lynn-Marie
MHam 28.09.2003 10:36
We bought one of these to upgrade our 401, and whilst the photo 'focus' quality is excellent we haven't quite sussed the exposure on it and most outdoor shots end up over exposed, regardless of which film we use. enjoyed the op M xx