Nikon D80 Review
The Nikon D80 is a perennial favorite camera here in DailySnap, even though it's been out for quite awhile. The D80, an upgrade from the D70 offers many new features such as a new 10.2 megapixel sensor, a bigger LCD display, an 11-area autofocus systems, and a boatload of customizable functions. With the D80, this camera is sure to satisfy the feature-craved beginner and the enthusiast.
The design of the D80 is pretty similar to older models, and a tad smaller. It's sort of a hybrid between the D70 and the D200. Holding it in our hands, it feels rugged, but not heavy. We used it for an entire day, and really liked the comfortable grip. It's clear that Nikon really focused a lot on creating a comfortable, ergonomic camera here in the D80.
If you've used old Nikon cameras before, you'll get used to the layout and location of buttons quickly. There are dedicated buttons for the most common functions. Next to the shutter is a set of buttons that lets you tweak the metering mode, exposure compensation, autofocus mode, and drive mode. To the left are buttons that let you tweak ISO, image size, and white balance. No need to dive into the menu here.
There are 3 dials in the body. The main mode dials lets you choose among program, aperture, shutter priority, manual, auto, or any 1 of 6 preset modes. There's another dial in the back for tweaking aperture, and another dial for changing the shutter speed.
Overall, you might be a bit overwhelmed at first by the sheer number of buttons/dials in the D80. We were at first too. But after a day of shooting, and getting familiar with everything, there's no question the design is laid out intuitively. You just need time to work with it. After that, manual shooting should be a breeze. Great job in the design/interface department, Nikon.
The menu system is just as good. Nikon added something called the retouch menu in the D80. This menu basically allows you to edit all your images in camera. Options include resizing, reducing red eye, cropping and applying several filters. You can also use an overlay. This enables you to superimpose an image on top of another image. Pretty cool, and worth trying out. You're still going to need Photoshop, but cool nonetheless.
The LCD screen is solid. Of course the D80 doesn't support live view, which is no surprise since it was made many years ago. It offers playback functionality, and contains a histogram. For the most part, it does everything most LCD displays does, besides live view.
Nikon really tried to make the D80 a cool, fun, and hip camera to use. When you buy the D80, they also include the Camera Control Pro software, which lets you create your own tone curves. There's the multiple exposure mode which enables you to shoot 3 frames, and combine them together to make 1 image.
The D80 also has SD-HC support, which is nice. You can now use SD cards with more than 2 gigs. Almost every camera supports this these days.
One note about batteries, you can only use Nikon's official EN-EL3e batteries with this camera. So if you have spare batteries from older Nikon models, you might be frustrated you won't be able to use those. That said, the battery life is pretty solid and better than the D200.
Let's dig into the performance. It's excellent, and among the best in its class. Power up to first shot takes just .1 seconds. Focus to shoot took .3 seconds without the flash enabled, and 1 seconds with the flash. Shot to shot takes took .3 seconds. Shutter lag is .45 seconds and .9 seconds with low contrast. Continuous shooting speeds are solid, yielding 3.3 frames per second. The Nikon D200 does beat this camera in all areas of performance, but it is a few hundred dollars more expensive.
The image quality is equally impressive. The D80 has incredibly accurate color accuracy, and exposure. In our tests, we noticed very little noise. If you use low ISO levels from 100 - 400, practically no noise is present; maybe a little graininess in ISO 400. When you go up to ISO 800, you still won't notice much noise. Only when you go to ISO 1600, do you notice it, but the noise profile is still better than other cameras in this class.
At an ISO of 3200, the noise level is fairly obvious, and you can easily see some graininess. Details start to soften, and we recommend staying at a medium to low print size.
We do recommend the 18mm to 135mm kit lens they offer with this camera. It offers a pretty long zoom range. We noticed no color fringing, and thought the overall sharpness was good. There is some shading in the corners at wide angle, though.
The kit lens actually feels quite solid, compared to many kit lenses we've seen out there. But the D80 does support a wide array of Nikon lenses out there. You can pretty much use any F Mount Nikkor lenses. Just read up on the D80 manual if you're unsure whether a specific lens will be compatible with the D80.
- 10.2 megapixels
- Supports ISO 100 to 1600
- Pop-up flash
- Optical viewfinder
- 2.5 inch LCD with 230,000 pixels
- Supports just Nikon EN-EL3e batteries
- Very accurate colors
- Handles noise excellently
- Many features
- Very customizable
- Excellent performance
- Viewfinder is big and bright
- The max shutter speed is 1/400.
- Kit lens is sharp, but has more chromatic aberration than usual.
- Not much to be honest
The Nikon D80 is an incredibly fast camera with superb image quality, with excellent color accuracy. Its noise profile is among the best in class. If you're a beginner, or mid-range enthusiast who is looking for a DSLR that delivers in performance, and image quality, as well as having a boatload of customizable features, the D80 is the perfect camera for you.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Where to Buy It:
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Prices last updated on: Sat, 25 May 2013 02:48:06 PDT