i'd second bogdan's recommendation of the N80 over the N90 as you get more AF points and can use VR lenses. if you have around $300 to spend, you can get an F100, which gives you better AF and a better build over the N80.
have you considered a manual focus body? there's good bargains to be had with the old MF bodies, and their build and reliability are a big plus.
Don, I agree with the others: N80 or F100 depending if you prefer "versatility" of a grid-on demand and built-in flash OR sheer performance (F100 af is much faster than F80)
F80 has a little advantage in low light because of the focusing sensors changing colour (black/red) under different light (which F100 doesn't do, leaving a moment lost when passing from light to shadow)
If you want AF and can afford it, get an F6. It totally rocks, it's like a film D3. Otherwise, if AF is NOT important, get a good used FM2n with an MD12. Or, go real retro and look for an F or F2 with a plain prism finder or a photomic head if you need a meter.
well, I have an F6 and of course it's the best camera I've ever had... but I got it for a very good deal.. not everyone can get one this way.. if you shoot film only now and then (not like me) F80 or F100 is the best choice you can have
N80 (same as F80) would be my recommendation. The F# cameras are nice, but the 'sensor' in any film camera can be changed out at will, so it's only the bells and whistles that you get for going with a better camera. And as far as I can tell, the N80 has everything needed, and it's all in familiar places if you shoot with a mid-level (D70 through D300) DSLR. Plus it works with all the modern lenses. I don't know, but I think the F100 is also compatible with manual focus lenses like the D200 and up are.
The F5 is also a nice camera, I have one as well, but as pointed out above, it weighs a TON! I keep mine bolted to a copy stand!
F5 if you want good AF. F100 might be an alternative, but besides the lower price, I don't see any real benefit.
F3HP+MD4 if you don't mind manual focus only. Best of the old mf bodies, IMHO.
FM2n if you want something really small&nice (mf only).
F4s if you want an mf body with gimmicks (like rudimentary AF, matrix meter, exposure modes,...). I've considered one on and off, but probably will stick to F5+F3, as the F4 is really somewhat in between of those two.
Wouldn't care about the N90/80/other models. I've got an F90X (sold as N90s in the USA), haven't used it in years. AF on that is only rudimentary compared to the F5 (or current D series models).
I used to shoot slides (mostly Velvia) in the F5 for years. Almost always in Matrix metered aperture priority mode. At least in my memory, it practically always used to nail exposure pretty good. If I compare that to how I need to fiddle around with adjusting exposure after looking at the historgram on my D200 nowadays in only slightly difficult situations, I don't know what to think of that...
I find that the N80 autofocuses just fine. It's no speed demon, but it does as well as my D100. The F5 autofocus is incredible, but I rarely need that except for shooting the kids. It's so fas that small AF lenses (like the 35, 50 or 85mm) focus faster than AF-S lenses.
But the F5 weighs nearly three times what the N80 does. And still costs about three times as much. And it takes the same lenses and film as does the lighter, cheaper camera. If you are going to be sport shooting on a tripod, or wild animal shooting on safari, or copying documents in a high speed environment, then the F5 is a better choice. For a carry around camera, I find the N80 with either a small prime, or my 24-120vr lens to be ideal.
PS, I have no complaints about exposure of B&W film on the N80. The F5 just nails slide exposure in Matrix mode. It's scary!
I had an N80,it didn't hold up to the rugged use I put my cameras through (dust,snow,rain,fourwheelers,snowmobiles and mountain roads).I have two F100's and I wouldn't have anything else.It dose cost more but it will last a long time.