Point and Shoot Pity Party Part 7 - Nikon Lite Touch Zoom 80

This is Part 7 of a recurring series on basic point and shoot consumer cameras, the details of which can be found here.

It was in the midst of my point and shoot hysteria that I paid a visit to a favorite Goodwill one afternoon, determined to get my hands on nearly anything cheap to try.  The selection today was both good and not so good.  A little over half a dozen point and shoot cameras, most offering autofocus, awaited me, but nothing really jumped out as a unique addition. Not wanting to leave empty-handed, I picked what seemed to be the neatest, and most compact of the lot, and thought I'd give it a try. . 

Name: Nikon Lite Touch Zoom 80
Format: 35mm
Type: Autofocus Compact Camera
Year: 1998
Features: Infinity Focus Mode, Auto Slow Speed Flash Mode, Force Flash on and Off, Red Eye Reduction, Self Timer, Early Rewind Button, Panorama Mode.
Lens: 38-80mm asperhical Macro Zoom, f/5.0-9.6, 5 elements in 5 groups.  
Battery: 1 x CR-123 cell.
Manual: http://cdn-10.nikon-cdn.com/pdf/manuals/archive/LiteTouch%20Zoom%2080%20-%20LiteTouchZoom%2080%20QD.pdf

Cost: $5.29 after tax 
Cost When New (and adjusted): $129.00 ($195.00)
Where I found it: Goodwill at Ellicott City.
Why I got it: I was feeling like shooting something new and portable, and this seemed to be the most pocketable.  Besides, with a name like Nikon, it has to be good!

Top view - pretty straight forward.  The Tele and Wide button markings are almost invisibly lost.  

Most settings were cycled through with a two button control setup near the power button. 

Viewfinder image - yes, it's that fuzzy.

What film: Imation (Ferrania) HP100  

What I liked: 
  • Compact size and only minimal bulge when retracted.
  • Data back prints in a unique "ticker tape" style.
  • Fast "boot up" of under 2 seconds. 
What I didn't like: 

  • Viewfinder is small, and on this model, seems stuck at the far end of the zoom range.
  • No indicators of focus confirmation or flash need or readiness in actual viewfinder.
  • Not that I'd use it but the panorama switch has no markings.
  • Battery compartment is very tight, with a tiny connector for the positive terminal.

Well, right out of the gate, we're not off to the greatest start.  Not sure what it thought it was focusing on here.  The lack of any focus confirmation sign is a challenge. 

Better results from this one, though highlights tended to wash out. 

When zoomed out to the widest focal length, the Lite Touch Zoom gave some good images.  The problem came in framing these images on the viewfinder that was stuck at or near the furthest part of the zoom range. 

In less bright light, the camera actually did an impressive job of capturing details and shadows.  This sunset was the kind that would often foul many simpler autoexposure systems. 

Another "out the window" shot came out well also.  The light weight of the camera made holding steady pretty easy on longer shutter speeds like this. 

Strong back light from this scene and the Nikon took it in stride delivering a good image on slower speed film in diminishing light. 

As this was marked as a MACRO zoom lens, I tried to get a macro shot of these rain soaked roses.  More like I tried in vain. 

For all of its unexpected mastery in dim light, the more normal light could throw this camera and its AF sensors.  The scene here is all over a bit mushy.

This one is not much better.  Note the lack of definition on the railings to the aqueduct. 

When exposure was good, color rendition was also quite favorable.  

Documentation on the Lite Touch doesn't seem to provide a stated "longest shutter" speed for any mode, so I was pretty surprised to get this much from the camera in the wee hours of the morning.

Thoughts: I had a bit of buyers remorse with this one, not just with the viewfinder being stuck out, but again with the battery compartment that took a while to get right.  I thought I'd actually bought a dead camera at first. Figuring out the data back took a while, and then figuring out how to turn it off was a task as well.  

Working around these hurdles though, this proved it could be a somewhat likable, if somewhat cheaply made Nikon that doesn't live up to the reputation of its maker. For the most part, the camera did well with basic scenes and could handle low light and backlight better than many others in its class.  I'd be hard pressed to see a need to feed it another roll any time soon given its flaws, however.