When I was in my late teens I discovered photography through the lens of a Pentax Spotmatic, with the help of my friend Bob and his Pentax K1000. I was always hanging with Bob back then. He rode a skateboard, had a sweet mullet and a tattoo, and knew everything about photography. One day Bob and I visited the camera shop in the mall, “Man you need to check this out” he assured me. The guy in the shop took out two different Nikon cameras, the N2020 and the newly-released N8008. They were black and plasticky and way more cool and 80’sy than my Pentax. “Okay, now hold it up and push halfway down on the button.” I pointed it at some spot in the shop and pressed down, the lens snapped into focus. All by itself!! “Get the fuck outa here” I said incredulously, because I had a sweet mohawk, no tattoo and a potty mouth. “It automatically meters, too” Bob told me. “Meters too? GET the fuck OUTA here!” It was a piece of plastic 80’s magic. What a glorious era! “How much is it?” Without a lens, somewhere around 800 bucks. Since I earned 4 bucks an hour at my bookstore job this was a pipe dream I could never achieve. 800 dollars, you could probably get a house for that in upstate NY in the 80’s! Never gonna happen.
Fast forward 30 years. I’m a grown-up with 800 bucks to spare, but lucky me, I can get a Nikon N6006 on Ebay for a mere 20 bucks. Dope! I thought for sure this was the N8008 camera I lusted for in 1988, but I got the numbers wrong. No matter, this 1990 camera was essentially a consumer model of that 1988 prosumer N8008 camera.
I inserted the weird battery that you can only find online these days and pressed the shutter button down part way. “Zoop!” Focus snapped into place. Mind you, by “snapped” I mean it noisily whirred into place over the course of half a second or more. A bit less responsive than the autofocus DSLR I had already been using for some time. Doesn’t matter, it’s about nostalgia, not the spec sheet.
Speaking of a spec sheet, this not-exactly-in-demand plastic antique that you can find on Ebay for 10 bucks is no slouch. I mean if you’re comparing it to modern DSLRs or even late-90’s AF cameras then sure, it’s an underwhelming exhibit. But if you compare it to one of those shiny metal-bodied classics that people are buying for 300 bucks and up? It’s a modern marvel that knocks out a reasonably good photo every time. Not even a little bit as cool-looking as a mid-70’s Minolta or Olympus, you won’t get any street cred walking around with one of these around your neck, but it’s a tool, not a trophy on your shelf.
Much like the Canon Elan I reviewed previously, this is a quality starter camera for someone dipping their feet into the medium of film on a budget. It will probably cost more to develop your first roll of film than it will to buy this camera.