Should the Nikon N65 be your next camera? It represents the tail end of 35mm film before the transition to digital. That's an advantage if you're looking for a camera with all the bells and whistles.
If you haven't used a film camera before, the controls on the N65 are similar to what you would find on a DSLR. It is a great choice if you want a camera with a full range of exposure modes, not just manual mode.
Pricing & Where to Buy
A Nikon N65 plus a third party zoom lens can be found online for rock bottom prices.
If you don't have an F-mount lens to use with the camera, I suggest looking for one bundled with the 50mm f/1.8 D series autofocus lens.
The Nikon N65 was released in 2001 as an entry-level camera. Outside of North America, the camera was known as the Nikon F65 or Nikon U in Japan.
It came with a 28-80mm kit lens. There was also the N65QD version that has a quartz date back.
After 2 years, the N65 was replaced by the Nikon N75 (F75 and U2).
Battery - 2x CR2 & CR2025*
Two CR2 batteries are needed to power the camera. These batteries can be easily found in most stores. However, they are expensive.
Buying online will allow you to get more batteries for less. Multiply the savings by 2, because you'll want to carry around a spare set of batteries.
A CR2025 is used to power the clock on the N65QD models with the date back.
Shutter Speed + Shooting Modes
Shutter speeds range from 30 seconds to 1/2000 of a second. The flash sync speed is 1/90 of a second. The flash modes available include:
- Front curtain sync
- Slow sync
- Rear-curtain sync
- Red-eye reduction
- Red-eye reduction with slow sync
There is a bulb mode. The shutter button does not need to be held down during the duration of the exposure. Pressing the button once starts the exposure, and then pressing it again ends the exposure.
P: Auto-Multi Program - Camera chooses the aperture and shutter speed. Flexible program and exposure compensation are possible.
S: Shutter-Priority Auto - Choose the shutter speed, the camera chooses the aperture.
A: Aperture-Priority Auto - Set the aperture, the camera chooses the shutter speed.
M: Manual - Full control over aperture and shutter speed.
Auto: Auto mode - Camera controls the exposure settings.
Programmed Shooting Modes
These are auto modes where the camera will favor settings that are appropriate to the scene.
Portrait mode - The camera will use a wide aperture so there will be bokeh and subject separation from the background.
Landscape mode - A small aperture will be used to get a large depth of field. Everything in the image should be in focus. A tripod will be needed as the shutter speed will likely be slow.
Close-up mode - Used for taking pictures at the minimum focus distance of a lens.
Sports Continuous mode - Continuous servo AF will be used along with a fast shutter speed to freeze action. It is recommended to use 400 ISO or faster film with this mode.
Night scene mode - Uses a slow shutter speed to capture as much light as possible. Canceling the flash can be a good idea.
Settings ASA, ISO
Film speed is set automatically from ISO 25 to ISO 5000. This is done by the camera reading the DX-code on film cassettes.
Film that is not DX-coded will be set to ISO 100.
What kind of film for Nikon N65?
The camera uses 35mm film. I would suggest starting with a 400 ISO film as it will allow fast shutter speeds. The faster the shutter speed will reduce the chance of camera shake causing blurry images.
Loading film is easy. There is no need to thread the film leader into a sprocket. Instead, two rollers will hold it in place.
Infrared film cannot be used with the camera. An infrared sensor is used to detect the film frame position.
Black & White 35mm Film
- Ilford HP5 Plus ISO 400
- Kodak T-Max ISO 100 or ISO 400
- Ilford Delta ISO 100
Color 35mm Film
- Kodak Gold ISO 200
- Fujifilm Superia X-TRA ISO 400
- Kodak Porta ISO 400
Pressing the two film rewind buttons simultaneously for 1 second will rewind the film. Film is completely rewound when there is a blinking E shown on the top LCD.
If the film does not rewind, turn the camera off, put in fresh batteries, and try again. You're more likely to experience this problem in cold weather.
Viewfinder & Metering
There are 5 focus points, which can be seen in the viewfinder. Focus points are changed by pressing the focus area button and rotating the command dial. The focus points being used are displayed at the bottom and of viewfinder and on the LCD screen.
The camera does not include a split prism or other manual focusing aid. Focus can be confirmed by the focus indicator at the bottom left of the viewfinder.
A dot will be displayed when the subject is in focus. Arrows will be displayed when the focus needs to be further away or closer.
This is the same system that is on Nikon DSLRs. I don't like it for manual focusing, and would not recommend using this camera with manual lenses.
The camera uses center-weighted metering. The advantage of this is that the metering will be accurate.
Care should be taken if the subject is not placed in the center of the image. Or the subject is lighter/darker than the rest of the scene.
The drawbacks of center-weighted metering can be worked around by using exposure compensation or manual mode.
Lens Mount - Nikon F
The camera uses Nikon F mount lenses. However, the camera does not have a meter coupling ridge. This means metering will not work with Ai & Ai-S manual focus lenses.
AF and D series lenses will autofocus. The camera has a built-in motor that is needed to drive the autofocus systems on these lenses.
With AF lenses that have an aperture rings, they will need to be set to the smallest aperture. If this is not done the camera will show an fEE error on the LCD and in the viewfinder.
- AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D
- AF Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 D
- AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8
- AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 D
- AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8
- AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8
- AF Zoom Nikkor 70-210mm f/4
There is a built in pop up flash. The flash is opened by pressing a small button with a flash icon. It is located in front of the timer button.
Continuous shooting can be done at 2.5fps.
It is possible to do multiple exposures. The option is selected by holding the bracket button and turning the command dial.
Nikon provides a digital version of the Nikon N65 camera manual [PDF]. The manual is quite helpful for using advanced features or for finding camera specs.
There is a huge number of accessories available for the F-mount. They'll work with the N65, but that doesn't mean the camera would be the best choice. Here are some that can make sense to use:
Nikon MB-17 Grip
The grip is powered by 4 AA batteries. It provides increased battery life and makes taking pictures in portrait orientation easier.
Nikon ML-L3 Remote Control
The Nikon ML-L3 is an infrared wireless trigger. Great for taking selfies or if you need to trigger the camera from a distance. In order to work, the remote will need to be pointed towards the front of the camera.
No way to set the ISO of the film you're using. The camera relies on the DX encoding on film canisters. This is a problem if you want to push film or do bulk loading.
One way to get around that would be to use exposure compensation, but that isn't a perfect fix. You cannot use exposure compensation in auto or manual modes. It will only work in P, S, or A modes. Exposure compensation is also limited to -2 to +2 in 1/2 stop steps.
There is no PC sync port. This isn't going to be an issue for most people, but it is worth noting.
Hard to go wrong with a working camera that is this cheap. If you already own Nikon lenses, the camera is ridiculously cheap.
I wish that the ISO of film could be manually set. This would make pushing film easier when in manual mode. In aperture or shutter priority this could be taken care of through exposure compensation.
The N65 is not a good choice for manual focusing. The lack of a prism to help with manual focusing ruins the experience. If you want to use manual focus lenses, get a camera designed for those lenses.
The Nikon N75 is a mid-range camera introduced a couple of years after the N65. It is very similar to the N65, with a few added features. It can be found for $30-$40 on eBay.
The Nikon FG is a manual focus camera that is electronically controlled. You'll have aperture priority, program auto, and manual modes. If you're lucky you can pick one up for around $50.
The high-end counterpart to the N65 and N75. Has a superior build quality and advanced features. Goes for over $200 on eBay.