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Nikon F-801s


Nikon F- 801s (N8008S in USA)

What is wrong with this camera? It is reliable, easy to handle and it is full of modern features.How good pictures you can get with it depends on you. It is capable of almost anything, you only have to give a command.
F-801s helps you automatically in many ways. It can focus automatically and you don't need to set the exposure parameters, just leave those to Nikon F-801s. Push a button and you get a sustained fire exposer and this, like many other features can be set to work in a many variable ways. This camera even is, if not beautiful but to say the least it looks nice. Then, what is wrong?

First comment gives a hint. How can anything be proved reliable? It takes time and that's it. This camera is old, according to the modern standards it's a relick. Can you imagine it is introduced in the year 1990. A real wrinkly or senior citizen, whatever you like and despite the camera's complexity (900 parts, two micro computers, and eight ICs) the F801s (N8008s) an undisputed reputation for extremely reliable performance and durability its focusing is several milliseconds too slow and sometimes the focusing likes to hunt. Hunting is for those who lived during the stone age ?? Things has to happen today although we like to wobble in the airport security check longer than the whole flight took time a couple of years ago.

The most important reason why this camera is highly usable but not used within several years is, that it is not digital. It is also quite bulky and heavy. Nevertheless it belongs to the gallant group of the forerunners of the photography technology, specially in the complicated field of auto focusing and matrix metering. It works fine with the older manual focus (AI,AIS) Nikkor lenses. This compatibility has virtually been a tradition on Nikon F mount lenses. Then why this is here ? ...
The owner bought Nikon D -200 and said, that the kit lenses are for the kids.

Its predecessor the plain 801 without the S which was introduced in 1988 was the first successful nikon AF-SLR. The improved model 801s got a new AF module TO 200 and a new and improved matrix exposure measurement features where the computer decides the proper exposure value by checking the circumstantial factors in lighting. A standard method today, but a high tech feature in 1990. A noteworthy improvement was also the new faster and silent coreless autofocus stepping motor.

The huge leaps in the development of electronics has caused the a dramatic shortening in the service life of allmost any consumer good. It is common, that a "life" of a camera, a cellphone or any product, which functions are highly dependable about the selenium chips inside is shorter than one year. In spite of that the Nikon F-801/801s is rightfully a remarkable trailblazer in the history of the last cameras with a peculiar plastic strips inside.

Nikon F-401s


The Nikon F- 401s (/N4004S) introduced in 1989 is the first Nikon camera that was equipped with a built-in TTL speedlight. Nikon F - 401s has very solid, not plastic feel and it is heavy compared to later models like F-80. It was aimed more like to the beginners than an advanced amateurs.

On the list of weaknesses are mentioned a rather slow focusing, thus faster than most people could do it manually at that time. Today some people are not familiar even with the meaning of word "manually". Another weakness is said to be the lack or insufficiency of the information in the viewfinder and lack of vertical grip. True but for most of the users these were not in extreme importance.
In the strengths category belongs the adjusting of the parameters with knobs and wheels, built in TTL flash, usefull program and full manual exposures, the power source which is arranged by four AA batteries, a well-known Nikon reliability and the possibility of using most of the earlier Nikkor lenses.


Spesifications (more relevant differences in F-401s marked as red)

Type of camera : Integral-motor autofocus 35mm single-lens reflex
Picture format
: 24mm x 36mm (standard 35mm film format)
Lens mount
: Nikon F mount
: AF Nikkor lenses, and other Nikon lenses with Nikon F mount (with limitation) available
Focus modes
: Autofocus, and manual focus with electronic rangefinder
Autofocus detection system
:TTL phase detection system using Nikon advanced AM200 autofocus module
Autofocus detection range
: Approx. EV minus I to EV 19 (at ISO100)
Autofocus actuation method
: Single servo and continuous servo
Focus Tracking: Focus tracking is automatically activated when the camera is set to Continuous Servo Autofocus and CL film advance mode.
Autofocus lock : Possible by lightly pressing shutter release button in Single Servo AF mode or by using AF Lock button
Electronic rangefinder
: Available in manual focus mode with an AF Nikkor and other Ai-type Nikkor lenses with a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster
Exposure metering
: Three types of exposure metering systems - Matrix Metering, Center-Weighted and Spot
Exposure meter switch: Activated by lightly pressing shutter release button; stays on for approx. 8 sec. after lifting finger from button
Metering range
: EV 0 to EV 21 (EV 19 401s) (at ISO 100 with f/1.4 lens) for Matrix and Center-Weighted metering; EV 4 to EV 21 (at ISO 100) for Spot metering
Exposure modes
: Programmed auto (PD, P, PH), shutter-priority auto (S), aperture-priority auto (A) and manual (M) modes
Programmed auto exposure control
: Both shutter speed and aperture are set automatically; flexible program in one EV step possible
Shutter-priority auto exposure control:
Aperture automatically selected to match manually set shutter speed
Aperture-priority auto exposure control:
Shutter speed automatically selected to match manually set aperture
Manual exposure control
: Both aperture and shutter speed are set manually
Shutter: Electro magnetically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter
Shutter speeds: Oscillator-controlled speeds from 1/8000 to 30 sec (F- 401s, 1/2000-30sec) ,B.; electro-magnetically controlled long exposure at B setting
: Fixed eye level pentaprism High-eyepoint type; 0.75X magnification with 50mm lens set at infinity; 94% (F- 401s, 92%) frame coverage
Eye point: Approx. 19mm
Eyepiece cover: Model DK-8 prevents stray light from entering viewfinder
Viewfinder information: The following LCD indications appear: focus indicators, exposure modes, shutter speeds/film speeds, aperture/ exposure compensation value, electronic analogue display, exposure compensation mark; ready-light LED; viewfinder display is illuminated automatically or by pressing the viewfinder illumination button
LCD information: The following indications appear: exposure modes, metering types, exposure compensation, electronic analogue display, shutter speeds/film speeds, aperture/exposure compensation value, film speed setting, DX-coded film speed setting, film advance mode, film installation, film advance and rewind, self-timer, multiple exposure, frame counter/ self-timer duration/number of multiple exposure
Electronic beeper: With power switch at iiii)), beeper sounds in the following cases: operation signals; (1) at end of film roll: (2) when film rewinding is complete; (3) during self-timer operation; alert signals; (1) for over- or underexposure and possible picture blur in PD, P, PH or A mode; (2) when lens is not set to the smallest aperture setting in PD, P, PH or S mode; (3) when non-DX-coded film, damaged film or film with an unacceptable DX code is loaded; (4) such as torn or damaged film during film advance
Auto exposure lock: Available via sliding the AE Lock lever while the meter in on
Film speed range: ISO 25 to 5000 for DX-coded film; ISO 6 to 6400 for manual setting
Film speed setting: At DX position, automatically set to ISO speed of DX-coded film used; with non-DX-coded film, ISO speed is set manually
Film loading: Film automatically advances to first frame when shutter release button is depressed once
Film advance: In S (Single-frame) shooting mode, film automatically advances one frame when shutter is released; in CH (Continuous High) or CL (Continuous Low) shooting mode, shots are taken as long as shutter release button is depressed; in CH mode, shooting speed is approx. 3.3fps, and in CL, approx., 2.0 fps (in Continuous Servo Autofocus or manual focus mode, with new batteries at normal temperatures, and a shutter speed faster than 1/125 sec. in manual exposure mode).
Frame counter;- Accumulative type: counts back while film is rewinding
Film rewind
;- Automatically rewinds by pressing film rewind button and multiple exposure film rewind button; approx. 10 sec. per 24-exposure roll; stops automatically when film is rewound
: Electronically controlled; timer duration can be selected between 2 to 30 sec. in one sec. increments; blinking LED indicates self-timer operation; two-shot self-timer is possible; cancelable
Exposure compensation
: Possible using exposure compensation button within ±5 EV range in 1/3 EV steps
Multiple exposure
: Up to 9 exposures can be set
Depth of Field preview button
;- Provides visual verification of depth of field; can be previewed in A or M mode
Reflex mirror
: Automatic, instant-return type
Camera back
: Hinged back; exchangeable with Nikon Multi-Control Back MF-21 or Data Back MF-20
Accessory shoe
: Standard ISO-type hot-shoe contact; ready-light contact, TTL flash contact, monitor contact
Flash synchronization
: 1/60 to 1/250 sec. (1/125sec in F- 401s) in PD, P, PH or A mode; in S or M mode, shutter fires at speed set, and when set from /250 to 1/8000 sec., shutter is automatically set to 1/250 sec.; down to 30 sec. shutter is available by using SB-24 in rear-curtain sync
Flash ready-light
: Viewfinder LED lights up when Nikon dedicated speedlight is ready to fire; links to warn of poor camera/speedlight connection or insufficient light for correct exposure
Autofocus flash photography
;- Possible with Nikon Autofocus speedlights SB-24, SB-23, SB-22 or SB-20
Power source
: Four AA-type batteries
Checking battery power: Battery power is sufficient if shutter speed and aperture indications appear in the LCD panel and view-finder by lightly pressing shutter release button and remain on for approx. eight seconds after the finger is removed from the button ; insufficient if these indications turn of immediately after finger is removed from the button; if LCD blinks and shutter locks batteries are exhausted; if no data appears and shutter does not operate batteries are exhausted or not properly loaded.
Body dimensions : (W x H x D) 6,1 x 4,1 x 2,6in or 154 x 103 x 67mm
Body weight : 695g (F- 401s : 650g)

©2007 Reijo Lauro