Nikon N8008, Fantastic and Unremarkable

Nikon N8008
Nikon N8008 with AF Nikkor 35mm 1:2 D

I’ve owned a few other Nikon cameras, including a Nikon F3HP. and before that a Nikon FG. A few years back, a friend sent me a Nikon N70, and I have an N60 in the camera cabinet, I gave my brother an N65 last year and he loves it. My daily driver these days is a NIkon FM2n. It’s a spectacular camera. There are no auto-features. The meter is simple, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very accurate. This N8008 fills a want for me, auto exposure. auto advance, and works with my old Nikkor glass.

I wasn’t going to write about the N8008, A.K.A. F801, but the more I shoot with it, the more I like it. I bought the camera at my local camera shop, Dot Dotson’s for $25. I was on my way out of the shop and I saw it in the glass case and picked it up and I immediately liked it.

This camera, was released in November 1988 and made until 1991. There are some negatives, and a lot of positives with this camera for me.

What I like about it.

First, I bought this camera simply because of price. It was $25, but I would not have bought it if it didn’t have the exposure tab. A lot of the newer AF Nikon film cameras don’t have this tab, like the N50, N60, N65, or N80. Oddly the N70 has the exposure tab. This allows me to mount most of my manual focus AI, AIs, and AI’d Nikkor lenses. Although, I have an Ai’d Nikkor-S Auto 1:2.8 35mm that doesn’t engage the metering tab, this is the only Pre-AI AI’d lens that does not engage that tab..

Power is provided by 4 AA batteries. It runs fine on rechargeable batteries, but AA batteries are common enough to get anywhere. How can you go wrong with that.

The menu system is simple and logical. Hold the menu button and spin the dial on the right side.

There is a very usable manual focus assist dot through through the viewfinder. There are arrows that tell you which way to turn to get focus

It’s comfortable in the hands. The camera feels great in the hands, there is a nice contour for your thumb too.

This camera is heavy. When loaded with batteries, film, and no lens it weighs in at 1.7lbs/775g. A lot of cameras were still heavy in that era. The Canon EOS 650 is 1.56lbs/707g with film and battery. And the Nikon N60 (1998) weighs in at 1.4lbs/644g.

The metering is very accurate too. It has Matrix metering that is compatible with AF-D lenses.

What I am not so thrilled about.

The autofocus is horrible. It’s loud and slow and clunky. This is not a deal breaker for me. I don’t really mind. I bought this camera so I could mount my manual focus lenses.

Film rewind is slow and loud. This is not a church wedding camera.

While G series autofocus lenses will mount, and shoot there is no autofocus and no way to adjust aperture. You’re stuck shooting wide open.

As much as I like this camera.

This is not a perfect camera, for my uses it’s just fine most of the time. I also love my FM2n, but sometimes I need fast and reliable autofocus. This is why I still have a stockpile of EOS cameras which I will eventually abandon. My goal is to cut down to a single system. Turns out I like Nikon glass more than EOS – EF glass. It took me a long time to figure that out.

While I don’t plan to upgrade to the N8008s which is supposed to have improved AF, I am considering picking up an F5 to handle my AF needs. Sure, I could shoot digital, but where’s the fun in that.


  • rj says:

    “What I am not so thrilled about. While G series autofocus lenses will mount, and shoot there is no autofocus and no way to adjust aperture. You’re stuck shooting wide open.”

    This is also true for your beloved FM2n. Most photogs I know who shoot the FM2n and N8008 aren’t missing G lenses and this doesn’t bother them a hitch. Like you, I treasure my FM2n and it is my main shooter. But my N8008/s cameras are probably my second-most used body, tied with the F2, believe it or not. Who doesn’t want a big, bright viewfinder and a 1/8000 of a second top shutter speed for limiting depth-of-field outdoors with higher speed emulsions? In my opinion, the N8008 is a highly advanced, highly capable camera that costs peanuts. Best value in a film camera ever.

    • It’s a bargain.. I recently acquired an N8008s, and I love that camera too. It adds spot metering and slightly faster and quieter autofocus.

  • John MacLean says:

    I rented this in 1988 because it was first 35mm SLR camera that had rear curtain sync, with the SB-24 flash. At the time I owned an F3HP and FE2, along with lots of lovely Nikkor lenses, until they got stolen in 1991.

    I got a couple of friends that had fancy Suzuki motorcycles and we drove down Hollywood Blvd at night. I was along side of them in the back of my pickup truck that a friend driving. I guessed at the amount of blur, from our speed, that I wanted the background neon lights and slowed the shutter (dragging the shutter) down to probably somewhere between 1/4-1 sec. Don’t recall. Without the rear (2nd) curtain sync the streaking background would be in front of them, instead of trailing behind them. It was a revolutionary advancement, which now seems so commonplace.

    Got a few nice frames on Kodachrome Pro 64. Here’s one from my second website in 1998.

    • I have the SB-24 as well. I keep the flash sync on 2nd curtain by default. I think it works for 98% of situations. It definitely worked in that motorcycle shot.

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