I’d been casually looking at prime Nikkor lenses for my Nikon SLRs, hoping to find a bargain on a 50mm f/1.4. Along the way I found a 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E lens. It probably doesn’t let in enough extra light over my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor to matter, but it was only $30 — and it came attached to this Nikon N2000 body. So I bought the kit.

Nikon N2000

I favor all-metal, all-mechanical SLRs from the 1960s and 1970s, but this SLR from 19850 appealed to me anyway. The 80s were years of transition among SLRs — to plastic parts, to auto-everything, to electronic control. The N2000 shows that transition, with its plastic body, automatic winder, and program modes — but old-school dials (rather than menus), manual focus, and no built-in flash.

Nikon N2000

This camera ushered in a number of Nikon firsts: first plastic body, first automatic winder, first DX film decoding. It features a metal focal-plane shutter that operates from 1/2000 to 1 sec., single-shot or continuous (at about 3 frames per second) shooting modes, aperture-priority autoexposure and two program modes (regular and “high” to freeze moving subjects), and a hot shoe. Its DX decoder recognizes films from ISO 25 to 4000, or you can manually dial in ISO from 12 to 3200. (I wonder why the ranges are different.) The N2000 runs on four AAA batteries, and is useless without them.

When new, the N2000 came with the 50mm f/1.8 Series E lens. These lenses were apparently looked down upon for being made with plastic components. Indeed, this lens doesn’t feel as high quality under use as my all-metal f/2 AI Nikkor. But it’s thin and light, making it a great companion for this light body. And optically, it’s outstanding.

By the way, if you’re into Nikon SLRs please check out my reviews of the N90s (here), the N65 (here), and the N8008 (here). I’ve also reviewed the F2 (here) and F3 (here), as well as the FA (here). You can check out all the cameras I’ve ever reviewed here.

I started with a roll of Fujicolor 200 and took some of my typical test shots. I liked how the N2000 handled — light and easy, yet entirely familiar to the general Nikon SLR idiom. Controls all fell right to hand. I tried program mode for a couple shots, but didn’t usually like its exposure choices. I switched to aperture-priority mode and never went back.

Just look at that Series E lens’s ability to resolve detail.


The N2000’s autoexposure system handled challenging situations well enough, such as resolving the light vs. the shadows on this scene of the 14th fairway behind my house.

Golf course trees

Even when the light wasn’t very dynamic, that Series E lens returned good contrast. I daresay I like it better than my 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor. The N2000 can take that lens or any other AI or AI-S Nikkor.


I took the N2000 along when Margaret and I walked through Garfield Park a few days before Halloween. Autumn colors were near their peak.

Autumn color

Garfield Park features a 10,000-square-foot conservatory and a sunken garden, which we toured. I love the sharpness and color this lens delivers.

Haunted Conservatory

Our day continued in Crown Hill Cemetery. By this time, I’d finished the roll of Fujicolor and had loaded some Ektar 100. You know I’m really enjoying a new-to-me camera when I load more film immediately after finishing the test roll.


The sun finally came out that afternoon, warming the colors up considerably. Even on a cloudy day, though, the Ektar outclasses the Fujicolor.

Cemetery shade

This view is from the tallest hill in the city.

Top of the city

See more photos in my Nikon N2000 gallery.

The N2000 is a good camera, especially coupled with that Series E lens. It handled easily, read exposure sensitively, and returned one great shot after another.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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27 responses to “Nikon N2000”

  1. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    Some Nice shots there Jim. I have one of these but in the UK it’s known as the F-301 Not used it yet but
    I have just put a roll of Ilford HP5 plus in it I hope my photos come out half as good as your and I will be
    happy. Looks like a capable camera. I have the rest of the series the F401, F401s, F501, F601, F801 and F801s

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Christopher, I love the “completism” of your Nikon collection! Let me know how your HP5+ shots come out with your F301.

  2. Mike Avatar

    You make a good case for the Nikons. Nice that they have maintained compatibility of the lenses with many of the older models. I likely won’t go after a lens for my one Nikon slr as it is not one of their better efforts. I still regret giving up my Nikon S rangefinder, but I probably won’t go after another as the prices are astronomical.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The champion of lens compatibility is, of course, Pentax with its K mount. But yes, Nikon lens compatibility is pretty good from the original F to today.

      I just shot that Series E lens on b/w film in my Nikon F2. I’ll share photos when they’re back from the processor.

  3. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    It is the talent of the photographer here more than the plastic Nikon I think.

    Maybe I should send you a pinhole camera Jim…you’ll probably coax an award-winner out of it!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Oh, thank you, yes, I’ve learned a few things about making a pleasing image. But that Series E lens is very nice, and the N2000 handled easily. What more can you want?

  4. pesoto74 Avatar

    I think this is the model of Nikon and lens that I picked up this summer. Seeing your pictures gets me more motivated to try it out. Its too bad that photographers often look down on cameras like this. I too prefer the more mechanical classics, however I can concede that cameras like the N2000 are capable of some fine work.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The N2000 is a nice camera. Just skip program mode and use the aperture-priority mode.

      I’ve gotten good work out of even my Nikon N60, an auto-everything plastic fantastic wonder. But yeah, I prefer the all metal, all mechanical cameras. But truth be told, I could shoot this N2000 the rest of my life and keep getting satisfying shots.

  5. dehk Avatar

    I had two of its brother N2020 before. They are nice, but I love my film advance crank and hated any noise from a motor drive. So I gave them away. However they are nice cameras with a nice focusing screen.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, and this camera has an early extra-noisy motor drive, too. I forgot to mention that in the review, as I didn’t like hearing that noise.

  6. dehk Avatar

    And yes those 50 E 1.8 are optically outstanding, I use them regularly, even for jobs.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m glad to hear your confirmation that this is a fine lens.

  7. pesoto74 Avatar

    I once was on the Canon side of the Canon vs. Nikon rivalry back when people probably took such things more seriously. Still I have to admit that a Nikon can do some good photography.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I try to avoid the holy wars. I’m sure I’d enjoy a Canon F-1!

  8. Daniel Cutter Avatar
    Daniel Cutter

    I bought the F-301 in 1987 and decommissioned it in 2005 when I bought a D70. But it was brought back out and used with b/w film every now and then. So I figure it still works fine, even thought I’ve been using a F3 for film the last few years. I bought mine back then with a Nikkor 50/1.8 lens. The Series E 50mm performed so well that they started making them with the Nikkor logo on them. I still have both.

    According to this Photography in Malaysia site my lens is a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8s Mark III.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I didn’t know that Nikon rebadged the 50/1.8 Series E as a Nikkor! It truly is a solid performer.

    2. Don Avatar

      I think worth mentioning is the outstandingly bright viewfinder screen. Far more bright that the the F3‘s and probably the most bright one on any Nikon manual focus camera (maybe FM3a also with it‘s K3?).
      This alone makes the F301 an outstanding camera in Nikon‘s line up and an absolute joy to use. Highly underrated.
      Also a analog camera is ultimately just a light tight box, image quality is purely relying on lens and film. So why wouldn’t this camera be able to take outstanding pictures?

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        Great points Don!

  9. Andrew Avatar

    Thank you for your review of the F301. I have finally got a working copy after three fails. It came with a MF-19 data back that works! Like you I have both 50mm lenses and preferred the f2 Ai lens until I got the E1.8 and have found it to be sharper certainly on my Nikon D500. Your article has inspired to get out and try the F 301

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s awesome! I’m surprised you got three bad ones before you got a good one; my experience with these is that they’re robust. I agree: the 50/1.8 Series E is a crackerjack lens.

  10. R. Nevarez Avatar
    R. Nevarez

    Jim, I found a N2000 with a Standard Nikon lens at my local antique shop, it had no $$ amount on it! It’s in good condition, lens and view finder are clean, opened the film compartment & it looks good / clean! Snapped the shutter button a couple of times and that worked well! I would like to put down an asking price, so my question for you is, how much do you think it’s worth? How much should I pay? Looking forward to hearing from you, Ray from Buda Texas!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Best bet is to go to eBay and search for Nikon N2000 and then find the “Sold Listings” checkbox and check it. Voila, you will see what this camera has sold for recently, which is about as good as it gets in terms of valuation. This is a case where the lens is worth more than the body so do run a search on the lens too, and also look for a situation where someone sold the same body/lens combo recently.

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  12. Molly Avatar

    I used one of these back in the day as a little league press packer. I had a pair of Nikon Fs for work as well but I loved the F301. It was small, light, compact and a great carry camera. The built in motor drive made it pretty agile for press pack situations but what most endeared me to it was its Program mode almost always called it right and got a good exposure and the viewfinder was one of the best I ever used. I had a mix of lenses for it and never owned the E Series back in the day. As a carry around it was great – so good I owned a pair of them as backups mostly but they very often were front line use especially if it looked like it might get hairy in with the pack.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s still a great everyday camera, which is why I keep it. I’ve owned a lot of F-mount bodies but this is in the select few I’ve kept. And if it ever dies they’re everywhere on eBay for chicken feed.

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