Nikon N65 Camera Review

by Brad Pretzer

The Nikon N65 camera body (F65 outside the US) was my first purchase in the manufacturer's line. Previously, I owned a Cannon Rebel Xs and two third-party consumer zoom lenses; however, that setup was stolen offering me an opportunity to make the move to Nikon. Incidentally, it was an ex-girlfriend that made off with my Cannon equipment. See, they are good for something. I made the switch with the perceived notion that the Nikon glass was superior to that of Cannon. In reality I am sure that Cannon glass is as good as Nikon's; though, when compared to the stuff in the third-party consumer zooms anything is better.

There isn't much to say about the Nikon N65 camera body. At the time I made my purchase it was the most basic 35mm SLR in Nikon's lineup, but that position now belongs to the N55. It has performed flawlessly for me in excess of a year and through many rolls of film. Canada's cold winters and Florida's hot and muggy summers have had no ill effects on this body. Nikon's technical specifications pretty much detail the camera perfectly.

Depth-of-field preview and the price are the features that finally sold me on the N65. I compared this body to the Nikon N90s and F100 but neither one of those had a built-in flash (Nikon calls them speedlights) and would have left me with no funding for a lens. I purchased the N65 with a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens, albeit against the recommendation of the salesman. Don't fall for the lousy zoom that they will try to package with the deal. Actually, the N65 is still the most basic Nikon SLR that you can purchase as a body only and then choose your lens. You cannot even buy the N55 as a body only. You must accept that camera packaged with some 28-80 zoom.

My approach was, and still is, that the camera body is merely a light-tight box and my money would be better spent on quality lenses. More experienced photographers would recommend that somebody new to Nikon's SLR line purchase the N80 with the two wheel interface; however, at the time I didn't feel that it had any features useful to me that the N65 didn't.

At least 90% of the film that I shoot is slide film; consequently, I wanted a body that would bracket exposures for me which is something that my previous Cannon Rebel Xs lacked. The N65 has the option to bracket the metered value and plus / minus 0.5, 1.0, 1.5, or 2.0 stops in both directions. I have used this feature enough to consider buying stock in Fuji Film and it has surely helped out in some difficultly lit situations such as on the Athabasca Glacier or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The down side to the auto bracketing feature is that the shutter release button must be pressed 3 times, once for each exposure. I would have liked the ability to press the button once and have all three shots fire off.

Harvard Square Bell Ringer

The need to bracket exposures is not to say that the metering of the N65 is lackluster, because it simply isn't. Granted, it is not the RGB system found the F5, but it is amazingly accurate. I found that even though I was bracketing many exposures, the slide that I ended up keeping was the one for which the camera had recommended the exposure. Although I did not find it to be a limit or even a desire ever, there is no spot metering function on the N65. Also, when in the manual focus mode, the camera only meters in center weighted mode and not matrix.

Another drawback to the N65 is the lack of ability to manually select the film speed. All film must be DX coded, or the body will revert to ISO 100. The inability to select the film speed wasn't a real problem in that if I wanted to push film, all I had to do was set the exposure compensation -1.0 or whatever amount I wanted to push by and shoot the entire roll that way. No problem, but at times it would have been nice for me to see what the N65 thought the film speed was. I never had a problem with it misreading any film canister though.

Buckingham Fountain Continuous film advance is only minimally supported by the N65. The N65 will motor the film (2.5 frames-per-second) as long as the shutter release is held down only in Sports mode. I do nearly all of my shooting in aperture priority mode where the continuous advance feature is not enabled. In the sports mode, the camera reverts to an automatic, nearly point-and-shoot, body eliminating my ability to control exposure.

I enjoy nighttime photography and thus my N65 spent much time on a tripod in the dark. There is a wireless cable release available for the N65, but I didn't own one. As a result to avoid camera shake, any time I did a long exposure I had to set the self-timer, the duration of which is also not adjustable. In hindsight, I should have just purchased the cable release. The meter functioned very well in countless dimly lit situations.

The flaws of the N65 are very minor to me and it has been a tremendous camera in a variety of weather and environmental situations. This is an easy camera to enjoy and produce fantastic images with.

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