Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

Nikon N55 F55
© 2007 KenRockwell.com
Please help KenRockwell..com

Nikon N55

I'd get it here.

INTRODUCTION

Ritz Camera

adorama

I personally buy from Ritz, Adorama and Amazon. I can't vouch for any other ads.

 

August 2007: I bought one of these for my mom, and it's everything I thought it would be. It's super lightweight, far less than you'd imagine, and works fast and great. For $200 including lens brand new, it's the film camera bargain of the digital age. It sells for much less used - I paid about $140.

If you want digital, it's easy! I buy print film at Costco for $1 a roll (Fuji 400 with a coupon) and have it developed with 5x7" prints and the images burns as JPGs on a CD for about $9 a roll. You can shoot this way for years, not pay as much as you would for a digital camera, and have the files on gold archival CD, prints, negatives, and presuming you copy the files to your computer, your computer, too!

September 2005: Nikon discovers a flaw where the autofocus system may stop working. They'll fix this for free. See here.

January 2002: Nikon first announced the N55. It's called the N55 in the USA and the F55 elsewhere.They are the same camera. I've seen and played with it but not shot with it. People ask, so here are my impressions.

This is easy to write. This is a simple camera ideal for people who want great photos with a simple, lightweight camera. Yes, it should take photos just as good as any $1,000 camera, and as of December 2004 it sold for only $169, complete with a lens!

Not only that, but this film camera can give better color, wider dynamic range in highlights and sharper enlargements than my $4,000 digital Nikon D1H.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

See the press release here from 2002 and see the factory data here

Batteries: two CR2 3V lithium.

 

PERFORMANCE

It has all the features important to making great images, and skips few of the advanced features few people know how to use anyway. Unlike 20 - 40 years ago when cameras were mechanical and it was very expensive to incorporate any feature, with modern electronics it costs nothing to add or retain features.

Therefore, the important features like Matrix Metering, vari-program and exposure compensation are in this camera. I prefer the Nikon matrix meter above all others, so images made in the full auto mode of the $169 N55 ought to be better than those made with expensive Canon cameras like the EOS-1V ($1,500) and it's inferior metering system that requires constant manual compensation.

The images should be IDENTICAL to those produced with the $2,300 F6 and better than those from Canon. Of course the AF will be slower than the F6 if you are shooting sports.

The niceties you give up by saving over two thousand dollars and a few pounds of weight are minor: the viewfinder is tiny, it only has 3 AF sensors and trying to track fast action may not work too well (for this you'd want a lens that costs more than this camera anyway), no depth-of-field preview (again, almost no one even knows what this does), no manual ISO setting (not needed anyway), no rear sync (too bad, but almost no one knows how to use this anyway and you do have the very important SLOW sync most people don't know how to use but should.)

The biggest things it skips are that it does not work with AFS lenses unless you focus them manually, and the N55 does not provide TTL flash metering with external flash units. It does have full TTL control for the built-in flash. The N55 also has a plastic lens mount, not likely to be a problem for the people who will buy this camera. The plastic mount could be a problem if you had many lenses and you changed them all the time.

There's an odd yin/yang about the N55 and D40: the D40 only focuses AFS lenses, and the N55 only focuses the traditional AF lenses. Use the other kind of lens on either and you have to focus manually.

Even though all the features are inside, unlike fancier cameras you lose some of the ability to tweak these settings. For the people for whom this camera is intended that's good, but for advanced workers looking for a back up camera the N75 or N80 are better because they allow direct twiddling with the advanced adjustments, like AF dynamic modes, that confuse beginners.

The film winds in reverse, deliberate stupid-proofing in case you open the camera before the film rewinds, or if the camera breaks (you won't be stranded like you can with the $1,000 F100), or if your camera is opened by the Religious Police for moral violations in a public market in Yemen. Unfortunately the camera is ugly silver, and not professional black, so the Religious Police are more likely to spot you.

The N55 provides multiple exposures, a feature I never use and a feature that my $3,000 Mamiya 7 lacks. See, even the N55 has features no one needs.

The only issue in addition to shooting fast motion that might make you want a fancier camera is that flash sync is only 1/90. This is very limiting for use in daylight for the fill flash I find very important. On the other hand, external flashes DO NOT provide TTL exposure control. If you plan to use an external flash get the N65 instead.

The self-timer cancels itself after each shot, thank goodness.

What the N55 has that the N65 lacks:

Strap and battery included (check me on that)
Lighter weight

What the the N55 lacks that the N65 and other cameras have:

You have to focus manually with AFS lenses
No metal lens mount
No ability to use external flash in TTL mode (extremely important if you use a separate flash)
I see no cable release socket and am unsure if there is some sort of screwy remote control

SUGGESTED LENSES

SUMMARY

All in all, unless you really care about how many knobs your camera has, if you think you want this camera and just want great pictures without having to screw with anything, by all means go get one.

The very few limitations it has to an advanced photographer like myself are completely meaningless for the person for whom this camera is intended. Indeed, this camera will probably give most people BETTER photos than more exotic cameras simply because it is designed to make the best use of all the extremely advanced technology inside it AUTOMATICALLY and spares you from having too many meaningless buttons you can set the wrong way.

Go for the N65 instead for just a little bit more money if you intend to use an external flash or intend to use it with current and future AFS and AFI lenses.

Of course if you're an involved photographer you'll find this camera limiting since you won't be able to screw with the settings. You want an N80 or fancier.

Home     <<Back     Gallery     How-To     Links    Workshops     About     Contact