I bought my first Nikon N80 35mm film camera (also known as the Nikon f80) in 2017 as a cheap, lightweight film camera to throw in my backpack and take anywhere with me.
By that time my Nikon F100 was a staple in my rotation, and I wanted to find a model with similar features to add to my collection.
The Nikon N80 is significantly lighter than the Nikon F100 and comes with almost just as many features. I ended up loving my N80 so much that I bought a backup a year later.
At the time I paid around $25 for each of my copies, and although prices have risen, you can easily get one for under $100 at KEH Camera or eBay, making this camera a great one if you want to dabble in film for the first time and already have Nikon AF-S lenses.
Because when I purchased the N80 I had already fallen in love with my Nikon F100 and was looking for a similar 35mm SLR film camera to it, I base my thoughts in this article around their similarities and differences.
If you’re a Nikon shooter and want a more “modern” SLR, the Nikon F100 is a no-brainer. Everything else I purchase just ends up being compared to it.
I’ll go over more of my thoughts in this article, but here’s the info you probably came here for: I highly recommend any Nikon shooter run out and get one to add to your collection.
The Nikon N80 has a lot of similarities to the Nikon F100, including 5 focus points, great matrix metering, ability to change ISO, P, A, S, and M settings if you like the options of having more auto-exposure abilities, single image, burst, hot shoe, multiple exposure, self-timer, front and rear dials, and fits AF-S lenses.
The N80 also gets a sticky back, just like the F100.
As a note: The meter on my Nikons is so good that I don’t travel with a light meter, I just use a zone system with the meter as a jumping off point. I only use a handheld when I’m using these cameras with a strobe.
For me, the above similarities were more than enough for me to be sold on this camera.
The features I was looking for was ability to fit my AF-S lenses, multiple exposure, and 5 focus points for the ability to quickly focus when need-be.
Differences Between the Nikon N80 and the Nikon F100
Now, that I’ve talked about many of the similarities between the Nikon N80 and Nikon F100, let’s talk about some differences.
The main difference is that the Nikon N80 comes with a focus-assist light that will illuminate in low-light conditions to help the camera find focus.
That could be seen as a plus over the Nikon F100, which doesn’t have this light, but it’s really just a compensation for the fact that the N80 struggles a bit to find focus and definitely has a slower auto-focus system than its F100 counterpart.
The lag time in difficult lighting conditions (low light, backlight) is slightly annoying and sometimes if the backlight is strong enough, the Nikon N80 can’t find focus at all, whereas my F100 would nail it even in those lighting conditions.
Flash and Shutter Speed Differences
For those who use flash, note that the sync speed of the Nikon N80 is 1/125, whereas the Nikon F100 is 1/250.
This has never bothered me, because when I use a strobe, I often go 1/60 or slower, but it is a difference to keep in mind if you need a faster sync speed.
Similarly, the top shutter speed of the N80 is 1/4000, which is half that of the Nikon F100’s top at 1/8000.
Do I notice this difference? No. I cannot think of a single moment I have ever been bummed that I couldn’t go faster than 1/4000 of a second. I don’t even think I recognized it had a slower top speed than the F100 until I started writing this article and intentionally looked. 😂
But I also know my messy, inexact style of photography finds these differences a non-issue, whereas someone who likes to meter exactly could lament the slower top shutter speed.
The Nikon N80 takes two CR123A batteries, which is not as cheap and easy to come by as the 4 AA batteries the Nikon F100 takes, but I also find the batteries in the N80 last quite a bit longer, which is a huge plus.
Unfortunately, just like my F100, when the battery indicator reads half-empty, you know you’re only a few shots away from a fully drained battery. For that reason, I always enter client sessions with backup batteries at hand.
Threaded Cable Release
One difference between the two cameras that could be seen as a plus or minus is that the Nikon N80 has a threaded cable release. The F100 doesn’t.
You read that right: the F100 doesn’t have a threaded cable release. How did that get missed on a professional camera? Unsure.
But the Nikon F100 does have a 10-pin connector, making it capable of accepting remote triggers, whereas the N80 does not.
If you’re a long exposure photographer, the threaded cable release is a huge bonus. If you’re a self-portrait photographer, the remote capabilities are where it’s at.
At the end of the day, I love having two Nikon N80s in my collection.
The lightweight body makes it easy to throw in a bag and not feel like I’m giving up on features. I even take a Nikon N80 to client sessions; I keep a Nikon F100 on one hip and an N80 on the other.