Camera Reviews

Nikon N60

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When a buddy of mine said I could have his Nikon N60 for $20 (and if I met him for lunch and paid), I said yes. It wasn’t because I’ve always dreamed of owning an N60 – I’m more into old-style, all-metal, all-manual film SLRs, and the N60 is a modern, plastic, auto-everything SLR. No, it’s because I can’t resist a stray camera. Heck, I even have a camera very much like this one already – the Nikon N65, which was the N60’s successor. The N60 was made from 1998 to 2001, and the N65 picked up from there.

Nikon N60

I’m going to skip my usual rundown of this camera’s features because, really, just go read my writeup of the N65. The N60 is slightly less camera than the N65, with less sophisticated autoexposure and autofocus systems, no depth-of field preview, and no way to fire the shutter remotely.

But who cares? This camera is tricked out just fine for the easy automatic shooting it’s meant for. Set the dial atop the camera to Auto and the N60 is a giant point-and-shoot that makes you feel like you’re a real photographer.

My N60 came with a couple of Quantaray lenses, one at 28-80mm and another at 100-300mm. I took only a few photos with the Quantaray lenses, not expecting much from them. I also loaded a roll of expired Kodak Gold 200 I found at the bottom of the bag the camera came in. I did have to get the two 123 batteries out of my N65 to power the N60; without them, the camera is inert. As so often happens, I started shooting in my front yard. My tiger lilies were in bloom.

Tiger Lily

The photos from the Quantaray lenses show a fair amount of noise and some barrel distortion. This is the best shot from the Quantaray lenses. The black areas were pretty noisy, but I fixed that in Photoshop.

Carnations

I used the AF Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6 off my N65 for the rest of my photos with the N60. Noise disappeared and sharpness and color rendition improved. You’d never guess this shot of the main drag in Morgantown, IN, was shot on expired film.

Downtown Morgantown

This is the entrance to the Methodist church in Morgantown.

Morgantown United Methodist

When I finished the expired film, I dropped in some fresh Fujicolor 200 and kept shooting. This is the Story Inn, a little restaurant and bed-and-breakfast in Brown County, just off State Road 135.

Story Inn

Here’s the inside of the renovated Medora Covered Bridge. The N60 handled this challenging lighting situation pretty well.

Medora Covered Bridge

On the other hand, the N60 struggled with the blazing sunlight contrasting with deep shadows from overhanging trees on State Road 45. It favored the shadows; lit areas were a little blown out. This spent thistle bloom stood along the roadside there.

Roadside flowers

I wasn’t very enthusiastic about my N65 when I shot it last year, but I rather enjoyed shooting this N60. When I shot the N65, I farted around with it in old familiar places. But I took this N60 along on a road trip as my primary camera. As such, I used it as a tool, and it handled easily. Except for the challenging light on State Road 45, it performed well, especially after I ditched the Quantaray lens for a Nikon lens. I’ve shown you photos from this N60 in several recent posts, and will for a couple more to come. But if you’d like to see more photos now, check out my Nikon N60 gallery.

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26 thoughts on “Nikon N60

  1. These are rather lovely. Regarding the noises in the shadows, I would assume that’s either the fact that the shot was underexposed, or far more likely, the auto software on the labs scanner assumed the shadows meant that the shot was underexposed and lightened the shadows, revealing noise. Or I could be totally wrong, which statistically is the most probable. In any case, lovely shots.

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    • Thanks Gerald! The camera may have struggled with the lighting on the carnation shot; it was a challenging situation. And you’re right; it could have been a processing or scanning foible as well. Whatever; Photoshop can overcome.

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    • It’s very light. You almost don’t know it’s hanging around your neck. I’m still partial to Pentax glass, but this camera really worked for me on my road trip.

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  2. I think Nikon is about the only brand of SLR that I have never used. I guess I used Canon for so long that it would feel odd to use a Nikon. Although it is tempting to get on like your N60, I think that bridge shot shows well an advantage of negative film. I don’t think digital could have handled that exposure so well unless there were some kind of hdr thing going on.

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    • I have my sights on some ’70s Nikon SLRs, but they go for big dough compared to what I’m used to paying. I’m thinking Nikon FE.

      I did shoot the inside of the bridge with my iPhone; here it is. The iPhone’s lens is essentially wide angle, which explains the weird foreshortening compared to the shot from the N60. But point is, the iPhone handled the light okay, for a less moody shot.

      Medora Covered Bridge

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  3. Ron says:

    I bought my wife a Minolta Maxxum 5 in 2003, and everything you said about the N60 applies to the later Maxxums. I now have over a dozen different models, from the beginning to end of the series. The bonus is I can buy a new Sony dslr and still use all my lenses. Except, maybe not the Quantaray.

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  4. Tracynda says:

    I myself own a N60 i got mine last summer as a birthday gift it came with b&w film and it was a lil beat up i took care of it and developed my film…not to impressed but only because im used to digital lol and im a beginner photographer i enjoyed seeing your photos it gave me more hope for both…me XD and the camera and i hope the next roll comes out better than my first

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  5. Darimondé says:

    I realize that my comment is years late but I’ve only just discovered your post and thought I would comment anyway. I hope you don’t mind.
    I bought my Nikon N60 new back in 1998 for $300 when they first came out. It was my first 35mm camera and had the most bang for the buck at the time. While I have gotten several other cameras over the years, I continue to use my my N60 because it is so small and light compared to my Nikon F4 (although my Canon AE-1 is smaller and lighter) but still provides me with very powerful choices from from fully automatic to fully manual exposure and focus control. In addition, the preset exposure settings really pay off when I’m in a hurry or just feeling lazy but still want a beautiful photo.
    As your camera came with a Quantaray lens, mine came with a Tameron, which met it’s end when I dropped my N60 onto an uncarpeted floor and the plastic mounting ring of the Tameron lens broke into several pieces. Thankfully, the metal lens mount of the N60 was unfazed by this and continued to operate normally. I have used metal mount Nikkor lenses since then (and avoided dropping my camera).
    One of the other things that I have always loved about film photography is that, the quality of your photos has little to do with the quality or expense of your camera. A used $15 Nikon N60 can make photos that are just as beautiful as a brand new $2000 Nikon f6 if you use the same lenses and film with each and you understand how your camera works. This is one of the reasons I hadn’t jumped into digital as many others had. A $300 digital camera’s photos looked nothing like those of $2000-$5000 high-end digital cameras. Also, as the technology matured, early top of the line digital cameras began to pale in comparison to newer cameras. With digital the camera IS your film and is not variable in the way film cameras are. Add in the insane prices of newer digital camera prices versus the then falling prices of used film cameras that were still in mint condition, film cameras are a steal and I put my money into cameras I could never afford when they new, i.e., the aforementioned Nikon F4 at $2000 when sold new from 1988 to 1996 which I bought three years ago for the price of my N60 new twenty years ago . Even older lenses are cheaper, though not by the same margine.
    One of the critiques I’ve read about this camera in a couple of reviews is the lack of a deph-of-field preview button. When I first bought this camera, I was new to photography and didn’t even know what that was. Since then I find it is still meaningless as even when I have such a control, I rarely ever use it because knowing how and why it occurs (apeture, focal length and, film or sensor size) is much more useful to me than a button to tell what it looks like.
    Well, it looks my comment has turned into a comment has turned into an additional review. Obviously, I like my N60 very much and still use it on a regular basis. It has never failed me and continues to work like a champ to this day. For people just getting into film photography, I think the N60 is a great camera to start with as it is inexpensive, lightweight, small, but still with a full line up of exposure controls and able to use all of Nikons autofocus lenses up to the very newest, albiet with certain limitations such as using vibration reduction on lenses that have it. Thank you for your review of the N60.

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    • You are right on all counts here! It’s great to be able to shoot all the formerly expensive film gear for reasonable prices today — and to pick up something like an N60 for 20 bucks on eBay and make wonderful images out of the box.

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  6. hwbarclay@gmail.com says:

    Found a used but like new Nikon N60 in my garage when cleaning out stuff recently. After mentally saying to myself “What’s this ???” in a cardboard box along with a stash of other stuff, I remembered it was an almost new N60 but which I had never used, (too lazy and/or busy then to get new batteries it needed), and I most probably bought it just before we moved to Ireland in 1985, or on a trip back some subsequent year) and had nonetheless left it behind in the USA upon my return. We were there for 17 years, and my regret is that I saw many things truly old there, but all I have now are mental images, and no photographs.

    From what I have seen of Jim’s images taken with a Nikon N60, I am aghast at my loss of the opportunity I had to record images I witnessed, but which are now seemingly have faded into the mists of the Irish time warp; perhaps unseen in that warp, but still there for in Irish hearts, that time there really contains no past and no future; just a living, vibrant and pulsating ever nowness. And I have not the vaguest idea even now, how anyone , or I could ever capture “THAT” on film.

    At almost 81 now, I may stay well enough for a few more years yet to be able to go back, and try to capture perhaps just THAT in wonderfully silent images with my Nikon N60 resonating the pulsating truth of just THAT for I at least know now where to look, and may thereby be able to leave clues for others who wish to follow me into that uncanny, living NOWness. Then again, perhaps not as my words alone may be the best clue of all.

    Ahem, ahem.

    Hartley Barclay
    926 Hamilton Way
    Warwick, PA. 18974-6169

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