The road to nirvana

My journey into Photography, Horology, and Audiophilia

My Nikon N65

This camera was a gift from a friend whom I helped sell his lenses. Together with the body, he gave me 4 rolls of Fuji 400 and 1 roll of B&W film. Superb! Thank you Dan Sim!

My first camera was the point-and-shoot Olympus mju 85 film, back in the 90's so I am excited to be using a film camera again, and an entry-level SLR to boot.

This is the silver version without the data imprinting, which is model N65QD. My previous Olympus has date imprinting, but I wouldn't mind the N65 lacking the feature.

The only downside for me is that it uses unconventional batteries, the CR2 and I need two of those.

AF Module

The auto focus module of the N65 is based on Multi-CAM900 that provides 5 auto focus points, one of which (the center) is cross-hair.

I am extremely pleased how well my AF-S and VR lenses worked with the N65. Focusing is fast and VR does work. I was playing around with some low-light conditions and focus hunting is not to the point that it's irritating.

The N65 also supports Dynamic Auto Focus and Closest-subject-priority Dynamic Auto Focus. That's a mouthful for an entry-level SLR. It also offers focus tracking with Lock On, but there's no option to select. That means you let the camera decide to focus on a moving subject or lock on a still subject. This is like the AF-A mode of the digital brethrens such as my previous D40 and current D90.

Exposure and Metering

The available exposure modes include P, A, S, and M and there are five Vari-Program settings, including an Auto mode for fully automatic operation. The Vari-Program modes include:

  • Portrait mode (85mm to 200mm large aperture lenses are recommended)
  • Landscape mode (Use of speedlights are not recommended and it is suggested that the flash sync mode set to Flash Cancel)
  • Close-up mode (Dynamic AF mode and center focus area are automatically selected)
  • Sports mode (Use of ISO 400 or faster film is recommended. The continuous shooting is automatically used in this mode, when the built-in Speedlight is down)
  • Night scene mode (Use of speedlights are not recommended and it is suggested that the flash sync mode set to Flash Cancel. ISO 400 or faster film recommended.)

3D matrix metering is available with G and D type lenses and won't meter at all with AI and AI-S lenses. Center-weighted metering is only available in Manual mode. It has a 6-segment sensor to determine the conditions of the scene and make the necessary adjustments.

It has exposure compensation and bracketing (3 shots). It provides only 1/2 stop increments, no 1/3.

I was pleased to see that the metering is good based on the photos I had developed.

Other features

It has a built-in flash and a hot shoe, but can only sync at maximum of 1/90. I am using my SB-28 now because the built-in flash is weak with a guide number of 12m/39ft at ISO 100. In addition, the coverage of the built-in flash is only 28mm.

I find the 1/90 sync unusual and at one time during a studio shoot, I mistakenly set the N65 to 1/125 which caused a black band on my photos. Grrr, wasted film!

The flash supports TTL with Slow- and Rear-sync modes, as well as Matrix Balanced Fill-Flash. The SB-28 features seems to be fully supported.

ISO is auto according to the DX coding of loaded film. There is no option to override it.

There's a depth-of-field preview button, and diopter adjustment.

Another useful feature is the Self-timer.

Use and handling

With the Nikon D40 as my first Nikon camera, I was expecting the feel to be "Nikon-like" but old-school. However, I've never handled any Nikon SLR before, so my comparison might be off. The N65 is a very light camera, but I like mounting my AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G lens on it.

Here is my N65 setup with the SB-28 also mounted on the hot shoe. It looks pretty nice!

With only one Command Dial, similar to the D40, you have to press another button for a different function. For example, the Exposure Compensation button together with the Command Dial, will allow you to change the Aperture when in Manual mode.

Because of the lack of a Directional Pad, selecting the AF point can be a challenge as I have to press Focus Mode Selector button (below the Lens Release button) on the left side of the camera then rotate the Command Dial to select an AF point.

Over all, with the combination of features and modes, I think that this is a SLR camera for a point-and-shoot user.

The great thing about the N65 is that it takes very nice photos.