Nikon F-801

The Nikon F-801 (N8008 in North America) is Nikon’s third auto-focus SLR with in-body focus motor (F3AF uses in-lens focus motors).  It is also Nikon’s first semi-pro AF body and the first SLR camera with a 1/8000 seconds shutter in the world. Moreover, the F-801 also has a sync speed of 1/250 seconds which is considered to be fast even for today’s DSLRs. Exposure controls includes triple modes (high-speed, normal, depth-of-field) programmed auto, shutter-priority, aperture-priority and full manual. When mounted with a CPU lens, F-801 offers both matrix and centre-weighted metering. For non-CPU lens, only centre-weighted metering is available. It is worth mentioned that the centre-weighted metering of F-801 is a 75/25  pattern instead of more common 60/40. Beside the advanced features above, the F-801 also offers up to 9 shots/frame of multiple exposures, a 3.3 fps high speed motor-drive and a high eye-point viewfinder which later employed by the pro-level F4.

F-801 also has an optional multi-functions data back MF-21 which is considered very high-tech at the time of its introduction. The MF-21 add the following functions to the F-801: data imprinting (including shutter and aperture besides the usual date and time), freeze focus, automatic exposure bracketing up to 19 frames and long exposure! To enable the F-801 to communicate with the MF-21, a row of electronic contacts are placed under the shutter (see photo above).

F-801 also offers automatic film speed setting for DX-coded film canisters from ISO25-5000. Manual settings is also available at a even wider range, ISO6-6400!. Being a semi-pro body, F-801 offers a “security feature” to prevent the back from being accidentally openned. You need to simultaneously slide two buttons towards each other (thus in opposite direction) to open the back.

The F-801 is powered by a set of 4 AA batteries which are readily available basically everywhere in the world. This feature is highly desired by many professionals. However, due to the complex and high power needs of today’s DSLRs, the use of AA batteries had been replaced by custom lithium-ion rechargeables. Beside native capability in using AA batteries, the battery compartment of the F-801 is also more strongly and securely built (as shown in photo above) than many of the semi-pro DSLRs today.

F-801 Lens Compatibility:

The F-801 is fully functional (including AF and matrix metering)  with AF and AF-D Nikkors. When AF-I and AF-S Nikkors with aperture ring are used, everything is functional except no auto-focus will be provided because the F-801 pre-dates lenses with built-in focus motor. The latest G type Nikkors which have aperture rings omitted will also mount but the camera will only be functional in program and shutter-priority modes because the F-801 relies on the AI coupler to read the aperture settings in aperture-priority and manual modes. Also, lenses with VR will have this feature disabled when mounted on the F-801. For backward compatibility, F-801 will operate in aperture-priority and manual modes without AF and matrix metering with AI, AI-S, AI-converted and Series E (which themselves are AI-S type) lenses. Non-AI lenses is not compatible and mounting one on the body will damage the AI-coupler. Lenses that are designed to cover a smaller than 35mm format image circle (IX-Nikkors, DX-Nikkors) should not be used not just of vignetting on images but some of them will cause extensive damage to the camera body!

Well, below is a photo taken with the F-801 with a Nikon Series-E 50mm f1.8 using Ilford Delta 100:


The Story behind my F-801…

Like the EM, this F-801 was bought because it was offered as a package with a lens that I had been looking for, the Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.8. The seller sold both to me at a price which if bought from a dealer, I can only buy the lens without the mount. The seller is a nature photographer and thus, the F-801 I got is in no way mint. The eyepiece diopter lens is missing with the thread on the body damaged. The edge of rubber hand grip is separating from the body in which I found a dead bug inside the gap! However, beside that, the camera is fully functional and it comes with a set of AA batteries too.

Status: In Collection

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14 Responses to Nikon F-801

  1. Bella Johnson says:

    Hi I own one of these myself, its flawless and I own the original box, I’m curious to see what it’s worth, would you know? Also do you have any recommendations as to quality film I should use with it?

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  3. thanks for your review. I didn’t know using DX lenses will damage it. honestly a few time I did mounted my nikor 18-55mm to it. I hope it hasn’t damaged my f801 body.
    I got my F 801 also and not yet started to use it. from next month I’ll gonna start shooting my first shots with it. actually I’m waiting to buy a wide nikkor 20mm AI lens. I’m curious to see my first shot with it. what I love mostly is try multiple exposure and also to could find a Nikon MF 21 data back too to get brackets with it.

    • Don’t worry, by “…some of them will cause extensive damage to the camera body”, I meant NOT ALL will do damages. My 18-55mm II non-VR mounts fine onto my F-801 (no AF of course and only in P and S modes). It also seems that (at least from the viewfinder) that the lens covers full-frame from 24mm onward so I would be interesting to try it out.

      Majority of those that will cause body damages are the IX-Nikkors which were designed for the APS-film bodies. These lenses have rear elements extend too far back that touch the mirror.

  4. by the way this is my first test shot with my Nikon F65 analog. taken in Rotterdam at tripod and bracket it.

  5. by the way this is my first test shot with my Nikon F65 analog. taken in Rotterdam at tripod and bracket it.

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