Nikon F80 – Serious Autofocus For The Masses

Hello, I’m Back …

It’s been a while since I had a chance to sit down and write blog post, and it’s primarily because of a number of very happy life events: a) I got married 😍💕, b) myself and my wife had a wonderfully romantic mini-moon & honeymoon ðŸĨ°, and c) I changed job roles, and had to skill-up on a new technology stack ðŸ’ŧ, which was both intense & exciting.

So apologies for the quiet spell, but hopefully you can appreciate where I’m coming from 😇

Excited about this blog post !

I’ve been looking forward to writing this particular blog, because having made the decision to stick with the Nikon F mount, I have been able to seamlessly jump back-n-forth between their film & digital cameras, leveraging the same lenses in part.

To that end, the Nikon F80 / N80 has been a big part of my 35mm film photography the last 1.5 years straight, with it being the power-house behind so many of my favourite images, after I hung-up my trusted Nikon FE2 due to it’s two-handed exposure compensation quirks & right-eye dominance becoming a nuisance 😕

The Nikon F80 / N80 with a 50mm f1.8 AF-S G lens …

Nikon F80 /N80 context

This film camera from Nikon was released in early 2000, and represents the very last high-end film SLR released by Nikon (the mid-range F75 followed in 2003 with less F80 features, but improved 25 segment metering vs 10 segment), before the company stopped making high-end film cameras and focused singularly on digital cameras, and its final two professional film cameras (Nikon F5 & F6).

It’s known as the F80 in the USA & Asia, and the N80 in Europe. It has often been referred to as “the poor mans Nikon F100” … having a lot of the same features & specs, without the F100’s weight (515g vs 878g), slower max shutter speed (1/4000 vs 1/8000) and slower flash sync speed (1/125 vs 1/250).

Best of all, in 2022 you can pick up these advanced film cameras, secondhand, for the ridiculously cheap price of ₮45-₮65 ! I often scratch my my head in wonder, and can only assume that it’s because the F80 isn’t trendy ðŸĪŠðŸ§

As you can see below, this 35mm film camera, as plenty of great ‘modern’ features and specifications:

Focus ModesSingle, Continuous and Manual (with helpful range-finder focus indication)
Auto-focus points5
MeteringMatrix (10 segment)
Spot Metering (linked to autofocus points)
Centered Weighted
Max shutter speed1/4000
Lowest shutter speed30 sec (and then bulb)
Flash sync speed1/125 (pop-up flash available)
Flash Exposure compensationYes, dedicated control
Exposure CompensationYes, dedicated control of -3 to +3 (in half steps)
Multi-exposure & BracketingYes, with varied options of exposure levels
Lens CompatibilityAF-D, AF-S, G and VR lenses all work perfectly on this film camera
:: Important Note :: manual focus AI & AI-S lens will NOT work on the F80
DX / Manual film speed encodingYes, and the film speed can also be set manually
Custom SettingsYes, 10+ settings ranging from back-button focus, to bracketing order, to self-timer duration, etc.
DiopterYes, great for those that wear glasses
Batteries2 x CR123 (do NOT use rechargeable CR123’s, as they’re not the same voltage !)
Great ‘modern’ features on this film camera …

A joy to use …

The F80 proved to be an absolute pleasure to use from day #1 … it allowed me to spend more time being creative and concentrate on composing my film photographs, instead of struggling with the quirky exposure compensation mechanism and tough non-diopter focus screen of my older Nikon FE2.

Being able to single-handedly adjust the exposure by -0.5 on fast changing light, while keeping the focus on a swaying tree branch is something that would have been impossible on my FE2 ðŸĪĐ

The bigger picture here is that the F80 can use all the modern glass that my Nikon digital D750 & D610 bodies use, in particular leveraging the advantages of VR (vibration reduction) and in a lot of cases far superior chromatic aberration control & close-focus advantages.

Needless to say, the Nikon F80 was so successful, I immediately bought another one, having two of them ! I would run them in tandem when on road-trips, in the following variations:

  • Variation 1: F80 #1 – Black & White film, F80 #2 – Colour film
  • Variation 2: F80 #1 – ISO 200 Colour, F80 #2 – ISO 400 Colour
  • Variation 3: F80 #1 – ISO 50 Colour, F80 #2 – ISO 200 Colour

1.5 years later …

The F80 film camera as been so good, that it’s been my go-to 35mm film camera for almost 1.5 years, having travelled all around Ireland, getting views of Paris and the Canadian Rockies.

I’ve genuinely had no complaints with this camera whatsoever, except that the 00’s 10-segment matrix metering can get a little confused in challenging light:

  • shooting directly into the setting sun
  • very dark objects / very high-contrast light

In these situations, you MUST use the exposure compensation, even while using it’s advanced matrix metering offering 🧐

In fact, as I write this blog, one thing I can say is that the F80 uses “slide film friendly” exposure calculations, with it erring on the side of under- rather than over-exposure.

The F80 viewfinder, with gridlines activated …

So when you’re facing something bright (think bright skies, bright-pale colours, or bright light amongst strong dark shadows, etc.) always add +0.5 exposure compensation, and you’ll be a happy-camper.

Being very honest, I will say that over the last 6 months, I looked at my collection of manual focus AI-S lens and wished my F80 was able to use them …

So, after a little research, I discovered the prior, single auto-focus point Nikon F70 was a film camera that offered compatibility with both manual focus AI-S lenses and auto-focus AF-D, AF-S & G lenses.

So I snagged a F70 on eBay for ₮15 … hmmm … all the online reviews were true … the F70 is without a doubt the worst camera Nikon ever made ! OMG, the N70 hair-trigger shutter button and the quirky interface are genuinely unbearable ðŸ˜Ŧ So, I put it behind me, moved forward, stuck with my trusted F80, and the modern lens advantages it offered.


As you’ve probably guessed – I’ve nothing but glowing things to say about the Nikon F80. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a do-it-all 35mm film camera and you’ve got some modern F mount Nikon lenses !

Until my next blog post, keep shooting film ! 🎞


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