I’ve been using an F80 for nearly three years now and have been very impressed with both the quality and handling. I bought it with a 28 – 105mm lens to replace an old (mainly 25+ years old) Minolta SLR system that had finally worn out.
The F80 has just about all the features I was after – an accurate meter, range of exposure modes including manual, fast and accurate autofocus (one of the reasons for changing was that as well as the cameras, my eyes were also more than 25 years older than when I started with the Minolta and I was starting to have difficulty focussing accurately with a manual system), and a depth of field preview button. The only thing really missing was a mirror lock-up facility.
The autofocus system is usually very good ; the only time it’s not coped very well has been in extreme low light conditions, then it’s back to manual focus mode and trusting the old eyes. The metering is also excellent; usually I just leave it in matrix mode but I have used the spot mode from time to time.
The built-in flash is reasonable for adding a bit of fill-in but for any “serious” flash work I use either an old hammerhead model with a guide number of 40 (m) or, more recently, a Metz 54MZ-3 which gives a high degree of control and automation. The Metz is more or less equivalent to a Nikon SB28 with just about the same range of features. Flash sync speed for the F80 is 1/125 sec which is not wonderful but quite adequate for most purposes. There are several flash modes, front and rear curtain sync, red-eye reduction, slow sync etc.
The camera can be used in continuous mode at 2.5 frames per second; there have been times when I would prefer something a bit faster but this is very low down on my list of priorities.
A big plus point for me is the focussing screen which has the option of switching on a grid. This is an enormous aid in getting your verticals and horizontals correct if you don’t want the “leaning building” effect or sloping horizons on sea views etc. I just keep the grid displayed all the time.
I usually use a cable release when the camera is on a tripod. The F80 takes the screw-in mechanical type; this does limit the possibilities of making your own remote triggering mechanisms but it does mean that you can use relatively cheap releases rather than having to buy a dedicated Nikon electronic type.
The eye-piece has the usual dioptre adjustment; this is achieved by removing the rubber surround from the eye-piece and moving a small slider, then replacing the rubber surround. You do have to be careful not to poke your eye while adjusting this and I have found that it’s very easy to lose the rubber surround, which I haven’t bothered to replace. A small plastic piece is supplied for fitting over the eye-piece if you want to keep extraneous light out of the view finder; this is made to clip on the neck strap when it is not in use.
All in all I’ve been very pleased with the camera. I’m not familiar with the features of the F55 but the F80 certainly provides just about all the controls and features needed to carry out photography well beyond the point-and–shoot level
Wow what a through reply! I think the F80 has all the little features that are missing from the F55 like a backlit display, a traditional cable release and the freedowm to choose the film ISO. I think I may be buying one really soon!