The Nikon N65 is a forgotten camera. A 35 mm film SLR for the masses, it was introduced in 2001. Two years before, Nikon issued the the first viable digital SLR, the D1; within a few years, the DSLR would reign. The N65 never had a chance.
This SLR is point-and-shoot simple. Press the shutter button halfway and the camera sets both exposure and focus, zip-zap. If flash is needed, one pops up atop the camera and fires. Film winds and rewinds automatically.
A versatile 28-80 mm f/3.3-5.6 AF Nikkor zoom lens came with the N65, but you can attach a huge collection of good Nikon glass to this camera.
The N65 has all the modes you’d expect, and they work just like the ones on your digital camera. (Or is it more accurate to say that your digital camera’s modes work just like the ones on the later film SLRs?) Turn the dial atop the camera to A for aperture priority, S for shutter priority, P for program, and M for manual, plus several special modes. Of course, fiddling with those settings is so annoying that nobody ever used them.
Given that this was Nikon’s entry-level SLR, at about $300, it is made almost entirely of plastic. It weighs just 14 ounces! But Nikon didn’t skimp on features, giving this camera a shutter that fires from 1/2000 to 30 sec., and the ability to handle film of up to a whopping ISO 5,000. The N65 needs two pricey CR2 batteries to power everything.
If you like fully automatic SLRs like this one, also see my reviews of the Nikon N60 (here); the Canon EOS 630 (here), EOS 650 (here), Rebel (here), Rebel S (here), and A2e (here), and the Minolta Maxxum 9xi (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
My road-trip loving buddy Pat (check out his blog) placed this camera on permanent loan in the Jim Grey Home for Wayward Cameras. When a camera lands in my hands, I shoot with it. Why not? I keep lots of Fujicolor 200 in the fridge for just such an eventuality.
I don’t remember taking this photograph. But there it is, the one that pleased me most on my test roll.
A soccer-goal farm consumes a field near my home. This crop looks ready for harvest.
I wanted to see how the N65 did in available light, but I couldn’t keep the flash from firing. If I were controlling focus and exposure, I would have gotten the fake flower fully in focus.
When I did want the flash, it did a terrible job.
Shot outside, the N65 got good exposure time after time, in all conditions I threw at it. I shot in Program mode, letting the camera make all the decisions. It was both freeing, because I didn’t have to fuss with the camera, and boring, because I didn’t have to fuss with the camera.
The 28-80 zoom was a surprisingly good performer. My chief complaint is barrel distortion at the wide end, but you can correct that in a second in Photoshop.
To see more from this camera, check out my Nikon N65 gallery.
Under routine circumstances, the N65 is a perfectly adequate SLR. There were times I wanted more control, but that is not the N65’s mission.
Because this camera does so much for you, it’s too easy to mindlessly frame and press the button. I fell prey to this, which led to many poor compositions. Also, a few shots were ruined by a sensitive shutter button that fired before I was quite ready.
I’ll always prefer my metal, mechanical 1970s SLRs. But a camera like the N65 has its charms, and is plenty good for a day of easy shooting.
If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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