Nikon F80

Nikon F80 (by StarbuckGuy)

I developed three rolls of B&W film today, from three different cameras. I’ve not been keeping track, but I think it was only the second time I’ve developed film since my operation last spring.

I totally embrace digital photography and love it, but there’s still a part of me that is drawn to B&W film. Partly it’s the process of using chemicals to bring forth images on a strip of plastic, partly the aesthetics of B&W film itself, and partly because I like using film cameras.

By that, I don’t mean classic cameras only, though I’ve owned my share of them. I tend to like modern-era film cameras with built-in metering and other conveniences. As I age, I appreciate the autofocus capabilities of my DSLRs, and doubly appreciate AF in a film camera.

When I heard that my friend Peter Cameron was thinking of selling his Nikon F80, I let him know I was interested. The F80 has a lightweight body — an increasingly important feature for me — plus bunches of goodies built in. Excellent built-in metering (AF lenses only, alas), and mount compatibility with any AI or AIS lens.  For an automated camera, including auto wind to the next frame, it’s very quiet.

As it worked out, I’m starting to thin my collection of AIS manual-focus lenses and had Peter try out the Voigtlander F-mount Ultron 40mm f/2 I’d picked up a couple of years ago. He enjoyed using it and when I proposed a swap, F80 for Ultron, he agreed, but fearing he was getting too good a bargain, is throwing in a pre-AI Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 with hood into the swap. That’s lovely, because I can use that classic glass on my Nikon D40 DSLR.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay interested in film — it’s not a philosophical obsession for me — but while I still like it and can manage to develop it, I’ll continue to use it. I enjoy the way it connects me to photography’s past, especially its remarkable history of 35mm cameras,  lenses, films, and photographers.

4 thoughts on “Nikon F80

  1. Good post Gene. There is most definitely that something about film. I agree with all the comments you make. Your link to the photography’s past is insightful. Yet there remains an illusive additional chimerical lusciousness to it that is difficult to describe but most satisfying to experience.

    Regards, Adam

  2. I feel you on this one, my minolta XD7 have really reconnected me to photography through film photography, and thought me more than my d300, where in film, every shot counts. There’s truly something different right from pressing the shutter button, to slowly taking your time to compose, down to developing your own bw, and holding the finished print in your hand. A satisfying feeling, i’m sure you’ll agree.

    Recently, I’ve acquired a F3HP, a beauty, solid and feels so good in hand. And looking forward to acquiring more AI/AIS lenses, these lenses focus so smoothly, they put my “modern plastics” lenses to shame. They really don’t make em like they used to.

    Thanks for sharing your story, we share the same sentiments. Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery from your operation. 🙂


  3. Shawn, thanks kindly for your comments. The F3HP is a great camera. Don’t overlook the pre-AI lenses — they work on it too and some of them have a unique signature. Have fun with the manual-focus Nikkors. Satisfying is exactly the right word!

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