Nikon D80 Nikonians Expert Review
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Nikon D80 Nikonians experts opinion
Nikonians, the worldwide home for Nikon photographers was founded in the year 2000. After the foundation Nikonians became the major Nikon community where over 50,000 members from 140 countries and over a million unique visitors per month are discussing and learning everything about Nikon and its products. The new Nikon D80 digital SLR is already a hot topic since Nikon launched their online teaser and according to Nikonians will be an absolute 'wannahave' for both beginners and enthusiastic photographers, and there is even talk of a second body next to the Nikon D200. Tom Boné, Chief Editor of Nikonians, took a dive into the Nikon D80 specs and features and made up his mind about the new Nikon D80 DSLR camera. Tom, you're on!
Nikonians reaction "wish lists were filled"

Nikonians - Worldwide Home for Nikon Photographers, have been discussing this new Nikon camera for weeks, and have already formed a Nikon D80 Users Group. The discussions began immediately after Nikon's Internet marketing "teaser" featuring a daily countdown was unveiled. Details were scarce and rumors were plentiful, and as the countdown ticked away, the community began itemizing their lists of preferred features and functions. Now that we've had a look at this new camera, it appears most "wishes" will be realized and there are a few surprises. At first glance, this new digital single lens reflex looks like it will not only be an eventual successor to a few of the older models in the stable, but also a pre-cursor of things to come.
The back of the D80 will cause jaws to drop from photographers raised on the D100 postage size 1.8 inch screen, and warm smiles from the D50 and D70 crowd (maxxed out at 2"). Nikon found some way to squeeze their largest DSLR LCD monitor (2.5") on this camera, complete with image previews at up to 25 times magnification and auto rotation as a bonus. The D80's viewfinder comes through with the same specs as the D200, which is sure to make our D50 and D70 owners a bit envious. The D80's 0.94x magnification is a definite improvement over the 0.75x magnification they have been using. The D200 locker was definitely raided when Nikon designed this camera. They even added the low 100 ISO preferred by some of our nature and wildlife shooters.

Of course the best parts of this camera are deep inside, where an all-star line-up of metering and autofocus features from the D200 and D2X stables merge forces to collect images on a 10.2 effective megapixel Nikon DX Format CCD sensor. The reaction from one of our Nikonians who owns a D200 on news of this sensor was he now had a candidate for a back-up camera because after a day's worth of shooting he could combine his work and "be comparing apples to apples."

Those apples should be in brilliant color and crisp focus with the help of the D80's 3D Color Matrix Metering II automatic exposure control and new 11-area AF system. Technically, you could say that this 11-area Multi-CAM 1000 AF Sensor Module, pulled straight from the D200 series, has a 12th area, thanks to a switchable center sensor that can be adjusted for wider coverage.

If shooting in dark environments has been your biggest headache, Nikon's answer comes in a multi-layered package. First, you have the instant advantage of the 10.2 megapixel image sensor to help reduce noise - second, you have compatibility with Nikon's Creative Lighting System which lets you marry up with SB-800, SB-600 and SB-R200 Speedlights - and third, just as with the D70, two of your seven programmed exposure modes include Night Portrait and Night Landscape).

Every new release finds a few complaints, and the D80 is bound to disappoint someone sooner or later. The top of the list will probably be the issue of SD vs. CF cards, and as the years go by, technology will probably make that a moot point. It doesn't have the magnesium alloy build or long laundry list of compatible older lenses like the D200 (nor its price and weight).

The highest flash sync speed is 1/200. That's less when compared to the 1/500 on the D50 and D70, but close to the 1/250 on the D200 and the D2X, and an improvement over the D100's 1/180th sec. The 3-frames per second continuous burst may scare away some heavy sports oriented shooters, but it's an improvement on the D50's 2.5 FPS and matches D70's 3 FPS. And, the new 100-deep JPEG buffer should be the envy of all mid-range competitors.

In summary, the Nikon D80 looks great on paper, certainly feels good in the hand, and will more than satisfy the needs of serious photographers looking to either enter the DSLR world, or upgrade from the older D100 and possibly the D70's. It appears to be a solid back-up camera for D200 owners who will want most of their current functionality available in the D80.

The big question on everyone's mind will likely shift from "what is it?" to "how soon can I get one?" From past experience with new product releases, sometimes Nikon underestimates the successful launch and has a hard time keeping up with the demand.
Tom Boné - Chief Editor - Nikonians, Worldwide Home for Nikon Photographers
The break-through digital SLR for Nikon was the D100, which four years ago made quality professional digital imaging affordable in a market dominated by cameras costing twice as much. Ironically, that was the camera that should have carried the name "D80" according to most photo industry pundits. After all, they argued, it was primarily a digital version of the successful 35mm film body known as the F80 (and the N80 in the U.S.)

Once Nikon and its competitors brought digital SLR's into affordable price ranges, succeeding models began relying less and less on revamped film body parts. The production lines were now amply stocked with the latest advances in digital photo technology. The Nikon DSLR line-up soon offered choices ranging from the budget D50 to the flagship D2X.

While for some the D80 is clearly the successor to the D100, in any event it is an inviting upgrade option for D50 and D70 shooters and a promising backup for those who chose the D200. It is also pre-cursor of the increasing popularity of the SD format memory storage cards found in the D50. Most of our members who have an expensive collection of the larger Compact Flash (CF) cards will now have to factor in the cost of switching to the smaller format, but many have said current bargains available in memory media are a plus.

The new camera follows Nikon's previous success in assembling the most popular features and technology from across the board of their current digital cameras. This time they even rolled their grocery cart through the Coolpix line, picking up goodies like Pictmotion and Redeye Removal. Professionals may publicly scoff at such consumer-oriented features but you can bet they’ll try them out.

In the DSLR category, Nikon reaches deep into the D200 and D2X inventory, and along the way takes the time to fine tune a few items before nestling them into this new body. It's a tightly packed body indeed, weighing in at just two ounces more than the D50, with virtually identical dimensions separated by mere millimeters. Designed with a matching MB-D80 Multi-Power Battery Pack option it will quickly satisfy the tactile needs of those who prefer tiny bodies and those who want a better grip. The battery pack runs off one or two EN-EL3e batteries and provides an extra command dial and vertical shutter release button. When the D70 debuted it was quickly hailed by our members as technically better than the D100, but the lack of a matching battery pack from Nikon earned a few thumbs down. It appears that Nikon remembered that disappointment.
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