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How-to's Camera Reviews

FAQ - What Camera to Buy?

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)

Keywords: nikon, camera, bodies, faq, film

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The world of autofocus cameras began with the grand appearance of the Nikon F3AF, (too soon to be understood and maybe a bit slow even then) and later on with that of the N2020. The evolution has been impressive into the incredible machines of today.


The F501, N2020 in the US
 The Nikon F501 (N2020 in the US), introduced in 1986.


Check it\'s current price at B&H Photo and Video
Nikon N55/F55
Nikon N65/F65
The Nikon N55 is one of the newest user friendly and affordable entry level into the world of auto focus 35mm SLR. The lightest and smallest in Nikon's SLR AF line. It has Auto mode; Vari-Program  (for Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports Continuous and Night Portrait modes); Auto-Multi Program and Flexible Program (P), Shutter-Priority (S), Aperture-Priority (A) and Manual (M). 5 segment, 3D Matrix Metering. A 28mm built-in speedlight provides for Matrix Balanced Fill Flash, Red-Eye Reduction and Slow Sync for flash pictures under low light conditions. however, like with all built-in flash cameras you should get an external flash. Built-in AF Assist Illuminator for when ambient light is insufficient for auto focusing. Focus Tracking for moving subjects and allows for long time exposures up to 30 seconds.
The N65 is another fun camera, another integral motor autofocus 35mm single lens reflex. Focus Modes are: Autofocus and Manual with Electronic Rangefinder.  Autofocus Modes: Single Servo AF and Continuous Servo AF. Focus Tracking is automatically activated when subject moves. Two built-in exposure meter modes: 6-segment Matrix and Center Weighted. Five Variprograms, four exposure modes and five segment multi sensor TTL auto flash control. Its built-in TTL Speedlight has a Guide number of 39 (for ISO 100, in ft.); with flash coverage for 28mm or longer lenses; Red-Eye Reduction, TTL flash control for Matrix Balanced Fill Flash. Its film advance has a shooting speed of approximately 2.5 fps. DX: ISO 25-5000, automatically set to ISO 100 with non-DX coded film.
B&H has a good price
Nikon N75/F75

 Nikon N90s/F90x

The newest Nikon SLR, the N/F75, comes in all black or black & silver versions. Perfect for those looking for an affordable, easy-to-use and convenient SLR camera. A step above the F55 and F65. Light and small, nevertheless contains most of the latest technology. Filled with many auto features that can be overridden for creative photography. All settings can be viewed at a glance on its big high-visibility LCD. Auto, Vari-program, P, S, A, M. It boasts a built-in auto pop-up Speedlight with 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash capability for more naturally balanced lighting in your picture. Easy operation using dedicated dials and selectors, new viewfinder display system, and a range of automatic features. Five-Area Dynamic Autofocus System with three Dynamic AF modes New 25-segment 3D Matrix Metering. With Nikon AF system compatibility.


The Nikon N90s (F90x outside the US) offers fast autofocus, fast focus tracking and accurate autofocus or manual focusing with electronic rangefinder. Plus Wide Area Focus Sensor, which has no dead spots. It has three metering modes: narrow angle Spot for selective measurements, versatile Center Weighted for general work, and Nikon's unequaled 3D Matrix Meter. It has a comprehensive exposure control system with versatile exposure compensation, Flexible Program operation, 1/3 increment shutter speed settings and TTL controlled flash system. A vertical grip MB-10 offers superb handling, a new AF Speedlight with wireless multi flash capability, expanded Data Link capability, and more, make the N90s a heck of a camera that continues to be used by many pros, as -for its price- Nikon engineers really went overboard with this one.


Price? Check it at B&H   The N80/F80 is one of the latest Nikon and has not only received great reviews from consumers, but become a great seller as it has been dubbed "the affordable F100".  It has great features, like the illuminated grid in the viewfinder, rightly called the "On Demand Composition Assist Focusing Screen". With a 10 segment 3D Matrix Metering supported by Nikon's on board database of over 30,000 stored images plus classic 75/25 center weighted and five spot meters corresponding to its AF sensors.
Nikon N80/F80
Its innovative Autofocus system features five separate AF detection sensors that cover the top, bottom, center, left, and right for fluid and instinctual composition. AF sensors automatically change color and intensity from black to red in low light. A great buy. I got one for my daughter and used it myself before turning it over to her. She is as pleased as I was.
35mm Auto Focus Recommendation:
  • Do not let anyone annoy you with the "you are bypassing the manual experience", if it is your choice, dive straight into auto focus and concentrate on framing and composition. It is like saying "... don't use video conference, first get to know the telegraph and then step up to the phone or you will never learn the principles of telecommunications ...". Learn the basics and go. You have any question? That's why we do have the forums.
  • If you are really serious about photography, you should get an Auto Focus 35mm Single Lens Reflex like those shown above and, again, try to get the best you can afford
  • Maybe even a high end 35mm SLR
  • If you don't have the budget, look into good choices for used 35mm SLR's
  • Now, if you want superior negative's quality at all times, or are considering becoming a pro and/or have no serious budget constraints, go for the ...... Medium Format
(3 Votes )
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Originally written on May 21, 2002

Last updated on October 28, 2016

J. Ramon Palacios J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico
Admin, 41275 posts


Larry Jones (Larry443) on May 4, 2014

Outstanding! Thanks so much for the overview and the recommendations. I enjoyed reading about each class or group you presented. I especially liked your closing comment as that's what it's all about for me. Thanks again! Larry

Zita Kemeny (zkemeny) on March 5, 2013

Very good points which we may check when we want to buy a new camera. Thanks.