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A History of my Photography - The New Millennium 2000 - 2006

Later Years and the Digital Era Part 1


    By the year 2000 I had been using my N2000 about 15 years. A lot of new technology had happened and I wanted to try it out. Autofocus had matured, cameras had matrix metering and spot metering added to the old center weighted metering. The N2000 had pioneered built in motor drives, now most cameras had built in motor drive and power rewind. I took a vacation in the fall of 2001 and bought the N80 a little before the vacation.

Nikon N80

Nikon N80 with Tokina 24-200mm Lens - the ultimate tourist film camera.

    I bought this camera in 2001. The F5 was too expensive, I didn't like the N90s and digital cameras were way too expensive and too limited in resolution. It was a choice between the N80 and the F100. The N80 seemed to have about 90% of the features of the F100 at well less than half the price. This was my first auto-focus camera and I had no auto-focus lenses. I was torn between the Nikon 24-120, the Nikon 28-200, The Tamron 24-135, the Tamron 28-200 and the Tamron 28-300. I liked the short end of 24mm, the 28-300 didn't focus close enough and the high end of 200mm was desirable. Then Tokina came out with their 24-200 and the dilemma was solved.

N80 with the 24-200 lens set to 200mm

The Tokina lens has one main disadvantage, it uses more metal and glass than the other wide range zooms from other manufacturers, so it is quite heavy. One camera body and one lens covered a wide range of use. I disliked the standard lithium batteries (2 x CR123) that the camera uses. because they are too expensive and hard to find in remote places, so I bought the holder that uses four AA batteries and fits under the camera. It adds very little weight but lengthens the right side grip which seemed a bit short before. Perfect combo. The built-in flash is rather weak so I bought a Quantaray PZ-1 unit (only because I had a gift certificate that covered a third of the cost.)

    The N80 with the 240200 lens is a great tourist camera. You can carry the camera around all day without problems and the built in flash lets you get away without carrying a separate flash. I have better cameras now but I have this camera with me whenever I am not carrying another camera.


Nikon N8008

Nikon N8008s camera with 50mm f1.8 autofocus lens. I'm showing the N8008s instead of the N8008 because it is the same externally.

    On a cold winter day while shooting pictures on Mt. Laguna in the snow, the CPU failed in my Tokina 24-120 zoom lens. My N80 would not meter with it, it only works with CPU lenses. No linkage is provided to couple with AI or AIS lenses. If I had bought the N90s or the F100 that would not have been a problem. Well with my ancient Minolta Autometer handheld light meter I could still take exposure reading and set them into the camera, so all was not lost. When I got back I decided I needed a backup camera body that had a mechanical coupling. The N90s and F100 were still too expensive,  I didn't like the N70 control layout so I bought a N8008.

Top view of the N8008s

    The N8008 has a faster shutter then the N80, syncs flash faster at 1/250 sec, and fits my hands as comfortably as the N80. I can remember years ago when the N8008 was in it's prime seeing it on display and thinking how great it would be to have one. As I used it I began to appreciate the high eye-point finder and the control layout. I don't do multiple exposures in the camera so the ability to punch in a large number of exposures for a single frame was not of much use. But I quickly got used to operating the camera and in many ways liked it better than my N80. All in all I was very happy with my purchase.

Rear view showing the MF21 Multifunction back.

    I added an MF21 multi control back. this allows imprinting data on the image, also provides an intervalometer, long time exposures, exposure bracketing and focus priority firing. I purchased this on EBay along with a Beattie Intense screen focusing screen with a central split image rangefinder. An MC12a remote cord rounded out the accessories. I could now mount the camera on top of my telescope and I would set it up to take 5 minute exposures using a variety of lenses from 15mm up to 500mm. With some telescopes there would be star trails but with my Losmandy G11 mount I found I could readily take 5 minute exposures without a problem.

    I used this camera for about 4 years. I found an N8008s on EBay for a very good price so I gave the 8008 to my daughter to replace her N2020. I did however move the focusing screen and MF-21 to the N8008s.


Nikon 2020

Nikon N2020 with 50mm f1.8 Lens

    When the N2000 and N2020 came out I opted for the N2000 because I didn't trust auto focus which was still in it's infancy. Now 20 years later I picked up an N2020 for a very reasonable price and tried it out with my auto focus lenses. Compared to my N80 and N8008 the auto focus was pathetically slow. It worked though, and so did everything else. I took some very good pictures in La Jolla Cove with this camera. I purchased a 28-210 Tokina lens for it and gave the pair to my daughter whose Pentax had died.

Top view of the N2020

I think this camera and the N2000 were very underrated cameras. Nikon did make and sell a lot of them though so the general public must have liked them. The current prices for used N2000 and N2020 are ridiculously low for these excellent cameras.

Rear view showing the MF19 back.


Nikon FA

Nikon FA with a Vivitar Series 1 28-105mm Lens

    I found a Nikon FA with an MD-15 motor drive  and a 80-200mm Tokina zoom lens in a local pawnshop. The camera was fully functional but the foam was starting to deteriorate. I tested out the camera and found everything was working fine and then had it re-foamed.

Top view showing the size of the lens

    Nikon introduced the FA in 1983. The FA was the first camera to have what was later called Matrix metering. It will measure exposure for each of five zones in the picture and calculates the correct exposure. It allows you to switch to center weighted metering if you prefer. It allows aperture priority automation, shutter priority automation, program mode automation as well as fully manual operation. It has TTL flash operation and can sync at 1/250 sec. The shutter provides speed of 1 to 1/4000 second and uses LCD displays in the viewfinder. The use of microprocessors in the metering system made it a truly revolutionary camera. All these feature and it was only a little larger than an FE.

Top view of the FA showing the controls.

    I used this camera quite a few times and was always pleased by it's results. I added a Vivitar 28-105 lens and a teleconverter and it could cover a wide range of uses. I gave this camera to my son Lawrence on his graduation from junior high school.

Front view of the FA with the MD-15 Motor Drive attached