Monday, March 9, 2015

Nikon F70/N70 - The Film Bodies' King of Value

Now that I'm on a roll with film (no pun intended), I thought to offer you what, in my opinion, might be the best value of all film bodies out there. Ladies, gentlemen, and people of other genders, I present you the N70 (or F70, as it is known outside the USA; exactly the same thing). Pity I didn't use that during my film adventure series, it would have been an interesting experience. But, oh well, I'm using it now. And here are my findings.

+ rich in features, including memory banks for storing settings. DOF preview is about the only thing missing.
+ meters with AI lenses, yeah!
+ superb value, used bodies go for as little as $10

- as with the F80/N80 instead of something like AA, you need CR123A batteries. Then again, one set should last you plenty of film rolls (realistically, how many you plan to try anyway?)
- Ergonomics are bit peculiar. You do get used to it quickly, though.
- In Aperture and Manual mode, aperture is controlled on the lens, not from the body. This also means that G lenses can realistically be used only in S and P mode (VR is also inoperable)

Intended Users
Great for:
  • although it depends on your needs (you might prefer to give up AI lens metering to get modern ergonomics), I think this is actually better value than the N80/F80. 
  • Wanna try film both with manual focus and AF lenses? This is your camera, period.
  • It might look cheap and plasticky, but it can take a beating. There is no protruding button or dial. Don't expose it to water, though.
Not for:
  • if you don't plan to use it (also) with AI lenses, the N80 makes more sense, as it supports VR and full functionality for G lenses.
  • the weight-conscious. I think it's slightly heavier than one would expect.
  • not a great action camera. The fps is very good, but the autofocus is, by modern standards, rather primitive.

Final Verdict
A very competent camera, let down only by its bit peculiar ergonomics (which, I repeat myself, take maybe 10 minutes to get used to). The reason I purchased this was to have an AF camera that can also meter AI lenses. Your only other choices in this price tag for such a purpose are the N6006/F601 and the N8008/F801. After that, you have to go up to the F100 (which is a much better camera by a long mile, but also up to 10 times more expensive than the N70).

For $10-$20, you get a film camera that gets the job done, offering compatibility with a wide selection of lenses - including AF-S, although note that some of my motorized lenses did not autofocus (the Tamron 90mm f/2.8, to be specific). Honestly, this is quite unbeatable in terms of value.

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