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Camera Reviews

The Nikon F80/N80 Review

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell)

Keywords: nikon, f80, n80, camera, bodies, film

Show pages (9 Pages)


Carry it with you everywhere! That seems to be the philosophy behind the Nikon® N80 camera. It is a well made, small bodied camera that is light and strong enough to carry with you on a daily basis. Slide it into your purse or briefcase, or do like I do and carry a small camera bag with a couple of lenses.

Nikon N80 with Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6G zoom lens

When you combine the N80 with Nikon's 2.5 inch long 28-80mm f3.5-5.6G zoom lens, it is a very powerful and flexible camera system, but it remains light in weight.

Please realize that the USA N80 and non-USA F80 are identical cameras. In the USA, Nikon chose to segregate their "professional" cameras such as the F2, F3, F4s, F5, and F100, from the "consumer" cameras such as the N60, N65, N80, and N90. Around the rest of our planet there is no special "consumer" rating, and virtually all the Nikons have the "F" designation. As you read this article remember that all of this information applies to both the N80 and F80.



The N80/F80, is very similar in look and feel to the F100 and F5, although it is considerably smaller in size and weight. It now seems that Nikon intends the camera controls to stay comfortable and familiar as one moves up the Nikon line. Starting with the N80, you are using a camera that has most of the same features and controls as the top-of-the-line professional models. If you are an average camera user, and have no professional photography intentions then the N80 is probably all the camera you will ever need. If you are a professional, the N80 is an excellent second or back-up body for your F100 or F5, since the control layout is very similar. 

The N80 is by no means a cheaply made camera. If you pick up this little camera, you will be surprised by its solid feel. It certainly doesn't feel like the other brand's "plastic-fantastic" cameras that cost about the same. When you hold this camera, you realize that it is very substantial in build, and will take more abuse than other cameras will. It isn't a tank like the Nikon F4 or F5, but it certainly can take being carried around everywhere, and used frequently. Just think of the sunsets you've been missing by not having your camera with you always. Your excuse is now gone! For about $500.00 you can carry a fine automatic Nikon® multi-mode camera and superb Nikkor® lens.


The body of the N80 feels reassuringly robust.  The top and bottom of the camera are made of a hard substance, probably polycarbonate, with a textured coating that makes it fairly difficult to scratch. 

Click for enlarged view

Nikon N80 body

The front and back, or grip area, is covered with a thin textured rubbery coating. The 
coating, grip on the front, and a thumb protrusion on the back of the camera allows your right hand to comfortably and securely hold the camera. Most users will hold the camera naturally with their thumb on the back, trigger finger on the shutter release, and the second and third fingers wrapped around the grip. The little finger hangs below the camera body, except for people with small hands.




You have access to virtually all the fine auto-focus (AF) Nikkor® lenses that Nikon® makes, plus a plethora of other AF lenses made by Tokina®, Tamron®, Sigma® and others. 

The N80 will even use the Nikkor® AF-S (Silent Wave) and VR (Vibration Reduced) professional lenses. It also supports the older AF lenses made since the early-nineties. 

The newer AF lenses have a "D" or "G" designation at the end of their name. These lenses have the new Distance measuring capability, and so will provide more accurate flash metering since the camera can better determine how far away the subject of the photo is.


Click for enlargement

Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6G


The N80 also supports the "G" series lenses made for the "consumer." These lenses have no "aperture" ring, so all aperture functions are controlled by the N80 automatically or by one of the "command dial" controls. The G series lenses are also D (distance measuring) lenses.

The N80 does not technically support the older manual-focus (MF) Nikkor lenses. They will mount on the camera, and will work normally, except that the N80's light metering system is turned off. You could use the N80 with the older lenses if you use a hand-held light meter. The AF lenses have a small computer brain (CPU) in them that helps the camera know how and where to focus. Since the older MF lenses do not have this CPU, they cannot communicate with the N80. Also, it is preferable to use the newer "D" AF lenses, since they provide more accurate flash metering with their built-in Distance measuring capability.

Technically the N80 is designed to work with the following lenses styles: AF, AF-D, AF-G, and AI-P.


One of the cool things about this little camera is the built-in flash- called a "Speedlight" by Nikon. Neither the Nikon F100 or F5 have the built-in Speedlight. This little flash unit is tucked into the body until needed.

Click for enlargement

Nikon N80 built-in flash

Simply push the little button on the side of the prism finder, and the flash pops up, fully charged and ready to go. The flash has a guide number of 39 with ISO 100 film, which means it will cover your subjects well out to 10-12 feet or so. It is not as powerful as an external flash unit, but it is always with the camera. You can always pop it up for a snapshot or fill flash.

There is also a "hot-shoe" on top, so that you can use a more powerful external flash unit for greater distances. The built-in flash has a beam width that will cover the view of a 28mm wide-angle lens, and any longer lens. A new technology that Nikon includes in this camera is "3D Multi-sensor Balanced fill flash." This is a technical name for a new technology that helps your flash pictures come out very well, even in bad photography conditions. 



As an example, you have probably seen flash pictures where the subject is "burned-out" or faded due to too much light. This is because the camera is trying to average out the flash coverage in the picture. With most other cameras, if there is a dark background then the subject will usually be burned out. The N80 will rarely give you a picture with burned out subjects. What makes it different is how it looks at the scene to be lit by the flash. When you press the shutter release button a rapid series of events occur. First, the mirror inside the camera moves up out of the way. Then the N80 fires five quick flashes (called monitor pre-flashes) that allow the camera to examine the potential picture area. As each of the pre-flashes occur the camera meter looks at a different section of the scene. If one or more sections reflect almost no light, or too much light, they are ignored. Then the shutter opens and the main flash fires, fully exposing the scene, but balanced for the subject. After that the mirror returns to its down position. It is impossible for most people to see the five pre-flashes, since all this is happening so quickly. To the user and subject it just looks like a single burst of light from the flash.

If a "D" or "G" lens is used, this system is even more accurate since it can more easily determine exactly where the subject is in the photograph. Also, if a more powerful external flash unit is used, such as the Nikon SB-50, and SB-28, the five monitor pre-flashes are fired by the external unit, just like the built-in flash unit.

The built-in flash unit uses this same technology to provide very accurate "fill" flash. As an example, let's say that you are taking a picture of some friends standing in directly overhead sunlight. Their noses and chins will cast long weird looking shadows. Or, if a hat is worn, the brim blocks the light so much that the face can disappear. If you pop open your N80's little flash unit, it will sense that there is a lot of available light, and will attempt to let that light provide the main exposure. It will only provide "fill" flash that tends to remove the weird shadows, and provides "pop" to the image. It does this without making the image appear unnatural or unbalanced. In most cases, an average person will not be able to tell that fill flash was used. The photographs just look really good, since there are no heavy shadows, or overexposure of the subject. The light from the flash is "balanced" with the light from the surroundings.

This new "3D Multi-sensor Balanced fill flash" with "5-segment TTL flash sensors" is a very powerful technology, and gives Nikon users a distinctly better flash system. It can provide Slow Sync, Rear Sync, Red-Eye Reduction, and Flash Compensation from +1 to 3 EV in ½ steps.


It used to be that you pointed your AF camera at the subject, lining it up in the little frame lines in the viewfinder, waited for the auto-focus to kick in and focus, then snapped the picture.

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Nikon N80 thumb rocker switch

On older cameras this could take a while, and could become frustrating when the subject was moving or in poor light. The older auto-focus systems were prone to "searching," or racking the lens focus in-and-out. With moving subjects it could be hard to keep focused.

With the N80, this is no longer much of a problem. The auto-focus (AF) on the N80 is best described as snappy. Instead of the single sensor as on most older AF cameras, the N80 has an array of five sensors that cover left-right, top-bottom, and center. 

You have multiple choices on how the AF system is used. If you are shooting a still subject like a flower or landscape, then you most likely will leave the AF system set to use just the center AF sensor. Just like the older cameras, the N80 will then focus on what the center sensor sees. But, let's say you are shooting a scene with two of your friends standing a few feet apart. In this case, you would normally have to point the center sensor at one of the people, lock the focus, then swing the camera back to your original composure. Otherwise, the center sensor would focus the camera on the background behind the two people, and you would have a lousy unfocused picture of your friends.



The N80 allows you to simply change the sensor being used by pushing the thumb rocker switch in the direction of the person you want to focus on. The left or right sensor then provides focus instead, and you don't have to move the camera. This works very well, and is easy to use. 

As you change focus sensors with the thumb rocker switch the sensor receiving control briefly lights up in red, and then becomes a much bolder black color. When you look at the viewfinder screen, it is easy to see which of the five focus sensors have control. You can select them at will, instead of swinging your camera around, locking the focus, and recomposing to shoot.

An alternate way of using the focus sensors is to simply set the camera on "dynamic" focus. This mode uses all five sensors at once in a wide array that allows the camera to notice the subject, and switch to that sensor. The camera generally will choose the brightest and closest object in the viewfinder in dynamic focus mode. That works fine as long as this is the subject you are taking a picture of, which is generally the case.

If you are shooting action, or a subject that is moving in any way, you can use the dynamic focus to your advantage. The AF system will lock-on to the subject as it moves across the viewfinder, and will actually follow the subject as it crosses the various focus sensors, keeping it in focus. This is very useful for sports, bird, and action photographers.


In the old days, we were limited to an averaging meter that averaged the exposure, and hopefully gave a nice average picture. Most photography courses and books were designed around how to know when the camera's metering system would provide an inaccurate exposure, and how to compensate accordingly.

If we were shooting pictures in abnormal light conditions, such as snow, or darkness, or backlighting, and if we didn't learn to compensate, our cameras would happily under or overexpose our pictures.

Nikon N80 three metering modes with adjustment ring set to Matrix

How many of us have an old shoe box with pictures that we couldn't bear to throw away, but were exposed so badly that we were embarrassed to show them to others? With the N80, those days are over. It is, in fact, hard to make a bad exposure with this little jewel of a camera. You can do it, but you have to work at it, not the other way around. The N80 actually has three light metering systems built into it. These are: a "3D Matrix" meter, an "Averaging Center-weighted" meter, and a "spot" meter.

The "3D Matrix" meter mode in today's Nikon cameras is world renowned for its accuracy and flexibility. In fact, Nikon worked with some of the world's best photographers in designing the matrix metering system. In the N80, through complex mathematical formulas, there are characteristics for over 30,000 professional images stored in the camera. These images are used, along with proprietary Nikon software and complex evaluative computations, to analyze the image appearing in your viewfinder. The meter is then set to provide very accurate exposure for the greatest majority of your images. A simple example of this might be a picture where the horizon runs through the middle of the image. The sky above is bright, and the earth below is much dimmer. By evaluating this image, and comparing it to hundreds of like images in the camera's database, an accurate meter setting is automatically input for you. It is incredibly accurate! 

In extremely bright situations, such as sunlit snow, it may be necessary to add a little bit of extra exposure time, since the meter does not take into account the color of the snow, like the Nikon F5 does with it's RGB meter. It will slightly underexpose extremely bright scenes with a lot of white. In my experience, it is good to add an additional 1/2 stop of exposure. In 98% of the images though, it performs better than any other camera brand. Test your N80 well, and learn where you need to help it a bit, and you'll have excellent pictures virtually all the time!



The "Averaging Center-weighted" meter mode is there for those who want to work with the older style of an averaging meter. In this type of metering, the entire image area is measured. 75% of the sensitivity of the meter is concentrated inside the 12mm circle in the middle of the focusing screen. The other 25% is layered out toward the edges of the focusing screen. Since this is an averaging meter setting, you must be aware of the consequences of paying no attention to the subject's color and brightness level. In this mode the meter will attempt to average all images to 18% gray. That means that close-up whites will not be quite white, and blacks will not be quite black. 

It is not recommended that this mode be used by point and shooters, since some human thought must be put into the brightness, contrast, and color of the image. Many of us cut our teeth on this type of metering system, so it is second nature. It will perform well with average scenes such as a landscape or group picture of people. But, when you start shooting snow scenes, if you don't add one or two stops of extra exposure, you will have 18% gray snow. And, if you are shooting that big black steam train up close, it will be a big 18% gray steam train instead. Don't be discouraged, though, about this meter mode. The flexibility inherent in the N80 allows photographers with different experience levels to use the camera effectively. 

The "Spot" meter mode of the N80 is similar to the Averaging Center-weighted mode. Instead of a 12mm circle providing 75% of the metering, a smaller 4mm area in the center of the focusing screen provides 100% of the metering. This "1%" spot meter allows the photographer to selectively meter very specific areas of the subject, such as a particular face in the crowd, or a group of trees in the forest. This metering mode is still an averaging mode, so it requires thought as to the brightness, contrast and color of the subject within the 4mm spot. 

This mode is best left to experienced photographers that want to manually meter areas of the scene, while figuring ranges of light values and film capability. This is useful for the famous "Zone System" created by world-renowned photographer Ansel Adams. There is no actual 4mm circle on the N80's focusing screen. The "1%" spot meter actually reads its values from the same area as the autofocus sensor in use. So, you can move the spot meter around on the focus screen by using the thumb rocker switch to move between autofocus sensors. In effect, you have five separate spot meters available according to where your subject is in on the focusing screen. Neat, huh?


Happy, happy, joy, joy…the N80 has a DEPTH-OF-FIELD preview button! In the last few years Nikon deliberately left this very valuable feature off of its consumer cameras. I suppose they did so to push the more advanced photographers into the professional line of cameras. Depth of field is a very important consideration in photography, since it allows you to control just what the range of sharp focus is in your image. 

Click for enlarged image

Nikon N80 Depth-of-Field preview button

Due to consumer demand, the depth-of-field button is back! Nikon listened to the regular photographer for a change.

Maybe they were losing too many buyers to the competition, who wisely left a depth of field preview on even their basic cameras.

In any case, we now have a very powerful tool to view our focus range. This is an electronic depth-of-field system. When you press and hold the button it snaps the aperture ring closed to the current aperture setting. (It "stops down") You can then view the range of focus provided by that aperture setting.



One neat thing I use the depth-of-field button for, is to fool someone into thinking I just took a picture of them. Invariably, when I shoot a wedding a number of children will come up requesting that I take a picture of them. If I do not want that particular picture, I simply press and release the depth-of-field preview button. The subject will see the aperture ring stop down, and will hear a satisfying click that sounds amazingly like a normal picture being taken. Usually, it placates the children for upwards of five minutes at a time, allowing you to take the pictures you really want. (chuckle, chuckle).

You will use the two "Command Dial" wheels along with other buttons, to set many functions. These two wheels are also used to adjust apertures & shutter speeds in when the N80 is in manual exposure mode.

Note in the picture at right that there is a wheel on the front and back of the camera. The front Command Dial is conveniently just below the chrome Shutter Release button, while the rear Command Dial is located right above where your thumb supports the camera on the back.


Click for enlargement

The "Mode Select Dial" knob has only six settings. The P is for Program Mode, S is for Shutter Priority, A is for Aperture Priority, and M is for Manual Mode. 

There is also the CSM or Custom Functions (later discussed), and the ISO, which allows you to set the film speed (ISO number) manually instead of using the default DX film setting. Mode Select Dial in picture is set to P - Program Mode.


Click for larger image

All of these are accessed with the Mode Select Dial knob as seen in the picture at right. Notice just below the knob is a small thumb operated ring, with a small release button. 


By holding down the small button to the front left of the mode select dial, you can rotate the ring to select:

1. Single-Frame film advance (current setting on picture above), 
2. Continuous film advance (2.5 frames per second), 
3. Self-timer (defaults to 10 seconds), and 
4. Multiple Exposure (which allows any number of shots on one frame of film.)

The "Auto-Exposure Bracketing" button as shown above the green dot in the picture to the right, allows you to shoot your images at a selected over or under exposure value (+/- EV).

To adjust, the BKT button is held in, and the command dials rotated to turn bracketing on, set the bracketing value, and select the number of frames to bracket, up to three. The changing values appear in the external LCD panel.


Click for larger image

If the film advance is set to Continuous, the N80 will only fire the selected number of shots in rapid succession. Then the film will stop advancing.


Just to the right of the Auto Exposure Bracketing button is the "Flash-Sync Mode" button. (See picture above) This is used to set the way the built-in flash synchronizes itself with the shutter. If the flash-sync mode button is held down, and the rear command dial is rotated, the LCD panel will show a series of flash sync modes in succession. These are the available flash sync modes: Front-Curtain Sync, Slow Sync, Rear-Curtain Sync, Red-Eye Reduction, Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync.

Nikon N80 Bracketing (BKT) button


Normally the N80 defaults to rewinding film at the end of the roll automatically, unless, of course, custom setting # 1 has been changed. But, what if you need to rewind in the middle of a roll? Or, what if custom setting # 1 has been set so that the camera does not automatically rewind the film at the end, but waits on the photographer to start a rewind? The N80 does not have the old style manual crank rewind wheel, so it must be done with the built-in motor drive. To make it a little harder to accidentally start a rewind at an inappropriate moment, you are required to hold down two buttons for several seconds. 

The buttons that are used to cause a rewind are shown in the two pictures on the right. The Flash-Sync Mode button that we discussed above has a red rewind symbol beneath it. 

Also, the LCD Backlight button next to the external LCD has a rewind symbol above it. When both of those buttons are held down for a few seconds, a rewind starts.


click for enlargement

If the LCD Illumination button to the right of the LCD is pressed by itself, it turns on the LCD backlight. This is handy at night or in a darker area.

Between the Off/On switch and the LCD you will note two additional buttons. (See picture above) The button just below the green dot is the "Exposure Compensation" button, and the one to the right of it is the "Flash Exposure Compensation" button.


Click for larger image

The Exposure Compensation button is held in with your right index finger, while your right thumb sets the compensation value by rotating the rear Command Dial. You have +/- 3 EV of compensation in 1/2 step increments.

The Flash Exposure Compensation button works exactly the same way. Index finger and thumb work together to set flash compensation in 1/2 steps for up to +/- 3 EV.

Facing the front of the camera, and looking to the lower right, the "Focus-Mode Selector" switch is evident. This is used to select whether the camera stays in Continuous or Single Servo Autofocus, or in manual focus. (See picture at right)

"S" or Single Servo auto-focus mode lets you focus only when you decide to, by pressing the shutter-release button down partially. It will not refocus on another subject until you release and repress the shutter-release button partially again.


Click for enlargement


"C" or Continuous Servo auto-focus mode is made for subjects in motion. When you initiate auto-focus by partially depressing the shutter-release, it latches onto your subject and "follows" them with accurate, sharp focus. If your subject is moving, then the complex computer inside the N80 automatically compensates the focus as the subject moves, amazingly staying right with them. This is a very powerful feature for those shooting sports, action, or wildlife images.

To the left of the "S" there is an "M" selection. Nikon colored this selection the same color as the camera body. I'm not sure if they did this so that amatuers would not notice it and accidentally set it there, or not, but setting the switch to M allows you to manually focus your camera. This completely disengages the focus motors in the camera body. In fact, and this is an important point...DO NOT MANUALLY FOCUS any AF lens while it is in "S" or "C" modes, since it is possible to strip out the small lens to body gears that cause the lens elements to move. If you do this, the lens or body can be damaged. Let me repeat this! Only manually focus an AF lens AFTER the Focus-Mode selector switch is set to "M" or Manual Mode. Don't ask me why I am warning you about this. It is too painful to relate! 



Some AF lenses have special provisions for manual focusing, even while in "S" or "C" modes. They have a special M/A switch on the lens itself that allows you to disengage the lens gears from the body focus motors. Most true macro lenses, such as the AF Micro Nikkor 60mm f2.8 lens has this feature.

The N80 also has the means to lock both the exposure and auto-focus, so that you can meter, focus, and shoot without worrying about the camera changing its settings. Notice in the piciture to the right that there is a button in the middle of the Metering System Selector (remember Matrix, Averaging, Spot). This button is labeled AE-L and AF-L.  This is called the "Auto Exposure / Autofocus Lock" button, and is used to lock both exposure and focus.  

Click for larger view


Custom Setting # 11 is used to turn off the Auto-focus lock, so that only the exposure is locked when you depress the button. (AE-Lock) This is the way I use this feature, and many others do to. If you prefer to lock both focus and exposure at the same time, that is fine, as long as you have a subject that will not move. If that is not the case, it is better to not lock the focus, since it can change quickly, while exposure usually stays close to the same, even with some movement of the subject. You will have to judge the way you want to use this button.

Also, notice in the picture above, that to the right of the eyepiece is a small knurled slider bar. This is a "Diopter Adjustment" for those who like to shoot without their glasses on. It allows you to adjust the view of the subject until it is sharp, even if you are not wearing glasses. This has nothing to do with the auto-focus system. It is merely there to make the viewscreen appear more or less sharp for those with eye difficulties.

IMHO, the Nikon N80 camera is an all-around winner. Few cameras on the market today have such a rich feature set, quality build, and reasonable price. As a primary or backup camera, the N80 has a distinct place. It fills the need as an advanced amateur's primary camera, and the professional's primary or backup camera. Why not get an N80 for yourself, and start bringing in more spectacular shots. My "good shot" ratio improved dramatically when I started using my N80. Yours will too! Take it with you everywhere, and you'll see what I mean.


There are a total of 18 custom settings for the F80, 19 for the F80s.

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Nikon N80 Mode Select dial

To set the custom settings on your N80, you must rotate the Mode Select Dial to the CSM position. Then look at the LCD display on the top right of the camera. The display will show two distinct numbers, 1. the selected Custom Setting Number in the top left. There will be a dash next to it, and then, 2. the Custom Setting Value

To change the Custom Setting Number, rotate the Command Dial on the rear of the N80, just above your thumb position. To change the Custom Setting Value, rotate the Command Dial on the front of the camera just below the shutter release button.



Below is a list of the custom setting numbers and values. (** = Factory Default)

 Custom Setting # 1

 Film Rewind

  0: Automatic film rewind at the end of the roll. **

1: No auto film rewind. You must rewind the film using the two film rewind buttons pressed at the same time.

 Custom Setting # 2

 DX Auto or ISO 
 Manual Film speed

  0: If a new roll of film is inserted with a different ISO number than the previous roll, the camera reverts to DX mode and automatically sets the film speed. **

1: The film speed must be set manually by setting the Mode Select Dial to ISO and selecting the proper ISO value.

 Custom Setting # 3

 Bracketing Exposure

  0: While bracketing, the first frame is exposed at the metered value, the second is underexposed, the third is overexposed. (=, -, +) **

1: While bracketing, the first frame is underexposed, the second uses the metered value, and the third is overexposed. (-, =, +)

 Custom Setting # 4

 Grid Lines in Viewing

  0: Viewing screen grid lines disabled. **

1: Viewing screen grid lines enabled

 Custom Setting # 5

 Focus Area Illumination

  0: Focus area sensors briefly illuminated in red when shutter button is partially depressed, in low-light conditions only. **

1: Focus area sensors never illuminated.

2: Focus area sensors briefly illuminated in red when shutter button is partially depressed, in all light conditions.

 Custom Setting # 6

 Focus Area Selection

  0: Focus area sensor is selected by moving the thumb rocker switch, on the back of the N80, in the direction of the sensor you would like to use. **

1: Focus area sensor is selected by pressing and holding the thumb rocker switch in any direction. The sensor selection will scroll between the five sensors until the thumb rocker switch is released.

 Custom Setting # 7

 AE Lock Use from
 shutter release

  0: AE Lock does not occur when the shutter release is partially depressed; the AE-L/AF-L button is required for AE Lock. **

1: AE Lock does occur as long as slight pressure is maintained on the shutter release button.

 Custom Setting # 8

 Auto Film Loading

  0: Auto film loading is enabled. When you insert the film and close the back, the camera automatically advances the film to frame one.**

1: Auto film loading is disabled. The film does not advance to frame one until the shutter release button is pressed.

 Custom Setting # 9

 Closest Subject Priority
 in Dynamic/Single Servo

  0: The camera selects which AF Sensor (of the five) to use. It decides based on the closest and brightest object it can sense in the viewfinder.**

1: The camera uses the last selected AF Sensor, according to the position selected previously by the thumb rocker switch. The sensor in use will be highlighted in darker black. 

 Custom Setting # 10

 Closest Subject Priority
 in Dynamic/Continuous
 Servo Autofocus

  0: The camera uses the last selected AF Sensor, according to the position selected previously by the thumb rocker switch. The sensor in use will be highlighted in darker black. ** 

1: The camera selects which AF Sensor (of the five) to use. It decides based on the closest and brightest object it can sense in the viewfinder.

 Custom Setting # 11

 AE-L / AF-L 
 Button Function

 AE = Autoexposure
 AF = Autofocus

  0: Both AE and AF are locked when AE-L/AF-L button is held down. (AE and AF Lock) **

1: AE Lock only when AE-L/AF-L button is held down. AF is not locked. (AE Lock, no AF Lock)

2: AF Lock only when AE-L/AF-L button is held down. AE is not locked. (AF Lock, no AE Lock)

3: AE-L/AF-L button toggels AE Lock. If the AE-L/AF-L button is pressed once, the AE stays locked until it is pressed again. (Works like a light switch, on/off)

4: AF is only activated when the AE-L/AF-L button is held down. Partially depressing the shutter release does not cause AF to activate when this mode is selected.

 Custom Setting # 12

 Command Dial Functions

  0: Main-command dial (rear) controls shutter speed. Sub-command dial (front) controls aperture. **

1: Main-command dial (rear) controls aperture speed. Sub-command dial (front) controls shutter speed.

 Custom Setting # 13

 Film Rewind Speed

  0: High-speed film rewind. (Takes about 15 seconds to rewind a 36 exposure roll) **

1: Quiet film rewind. (Takes about 23 seconds to rewind a 36 exposure roll)

 Custom Setting # 14

 Multiple-Exposure Film 
 Advance Rate

  0: Shutter is released once for each shutter-release button press.(Single exposure) **

1: Shutter is released continuously until shutter-release button is released. (Multiple exposure)

 Custom Setting # 15

 Auto-Meter Switchoff
 Time Delay

  4: Four-second time delay before meter shuts off.

6: Six-second time delay before meter shuts off. **

8: Eight-second time delay before meter shuts off.

16: Sixteen-second time delay before meter shuts off.

 Custom Setting # 16

 Self-Timer Duration

  2: Two-second delay before shutter fires.

5: Five-second delay before shutter fires.

10: Ten-second delay before shutter fires. **

20: Twenty-second delay before shutter fires.

 Custom Setting # 17

 External LCD Panel

  0: Must use LCD Illumination button to light up the top LCD Panel.**

1: Pressing any button lights up the top LCD Panel.

 Custom Setting # 18

 Auto-focus Assist 
 Illuminator Settings

  0: AF Assist light comes on when it is too dark to autofocus efficiently. This is the little light on the front of the N80. **

1: AF Assist light does not come on in low-light conditions.

 Custom Setting # 19 
 (Non-USA F80S ONLY)

 Data Imprint ISO Speed
 Brightness. (Data imprint
 between frames)

  0: Automatically set based on the DX Code on film canister. **

1: Can be manually set for film speeds under 25 ISO.

2: Can be manually set for film speeds of 32-80 ISO.

3: Can be manually set for film speeds of 100 ISO.

4: Can be manually set for film speeds of 125-200 ISO.

5: Can be manually set for film speeds over 200 ISO.


Darrell R. Young

Editors note:
Nikon didn't provide N80/F80 users with a Custom Settings Pocket Card, so Nikonian BJ Nicholls did. Click here, to download yours!


Here are some images.

Nikkor 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5D zoom, the popular N80/F80 companion lens




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Originally written on May 30, 2010

Last updated on June 12, 2016

1 comment

jay yutzey (jyutzey) on June 24, 2013

Although I have largely converted to digital, I still do film, and the N80 with the last Tamron 28-200 for film (the A03) is what I typically use, although I have several other Nikon film lenses (50, 28-80, and 75-300). I typically use Fuji Superia X-tra 400 film, and have it scanned at 5000 dpi after processing. I duck the film to digital comparisons, since they are different media with different looks. Whether I use film or digital depands on what I'm shooting and the look I want. The Fuji can also be converted to B/W in PhotoShop with surprisingly pleasing results. So I applaud your review of the N80 which in my view is also a quite capable "digital" camera with hybrid processing. Yet another tool in the photographic toolkit.