Nikon D80 SLR Review

By Movable Type Admin



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Nikon D70


Review posted 10/27/06

Click to take a QuickTime tour of the Nikon D80 SLR
Click to take a QuickTime tour of the D80


Building on the success of the D70 and D70s, the new D80 digital SLR is the latest addition to this high performance camera line, and incorporates Nikon's latest digital and photographic technologies. With a new 10.2 effective megapixel DX Format CCD image sensor and an exclusive high-resolution color processing engine inherited from Nikon's latest professional digital SLR cameras, the D80 can render images with incredible resolution, sharp detail and vibrant color that is unmatched in this class of cameras. And it can shoot these images fast - at speeds of up to 3 frames per second, for up to 100 consecutive shots (in JPEG Normal mode.)

The D80 includes a larger 2.5-inch 230,000-dot high-resolution LCD, that provides an ultra-wide 170-degree viewing angle. Navigating the spacious preview of your images is easy with a new dedicated Zoom button, magnifying images on screen up to 25 times their original size. A new RGB histogram display aids in evaluating exposures with greater precision. Other playback options include single frame, 4 or 9-image thumbnail display, an improved histogram display and highlight point display. A new menu interface featuring refinements to the carefully chosen color scheme and increased font size makes navigation easier on the eye, easier to understand and easier to use. Menus can be customized to display only selected items using the new "My Menu" set.

The all new Retouch menu offers exclusive in-camera editing functions that will help reduce time spent post processing images on your PC or MAC. These options include:

  • D-Lighting: Automatically balances underexposed portions of an image to enhance detail in these areas, without affecting the highlights of the picture

  • In-camera Red-eye Correction: Automatically removes the annoying red-eye effect sometimes caused by flash.

  • Trim: Images can be trimmed within the camera to produce smaller files with reduced display sizes for easy sharing or greater efficiency for specific end purposes.

  • Image Overlay: Merges a pair of selected RAW files taken with the D80 to create a composite image within the camera as a RAW or JPEG file. This feature is especially useful when trying to create a soft-focus effect with two similar images

  • Monochrome settings: Monochrome settings can be applied to any color image in the camera, to convert it to a pleasing monochromatic picture, either in black-and-white, sepia or cyanotype

  • Filter Effects: Can be used to emulate and apply the effects of a Skylight filter or a Warming filter to any image stored on the inserted SD card. A Customized Color menu within filter effects can also be used to make subtle shifts in color to any image in the camera.

For anyone just beginning to enjoy the added performance and versatility of a digital SLR, creative shooting is as simple as rotating the Digital Vari-Program mode dial on the camera. The D80 has seven pre-configured exposure modes to optimize the camera for specific shooting conditions and greatly increase the chances of taking a great photograph. In "Portrait" Mode, for example, the camera automatically optimizes the color, hue, and saturation levels to capture the most flattering skin tones, softens the focus of the background to emphasize the face and applies a milder form of in-camera sharpening. Users can choose from Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports, Night Landscape or Night Portrait.

A new 11-area auto-focus system detects focus with superb precision and can even track a moving subject across the frame, shifting focus instantly and automatically to any of the 11 auto-focus points. The D80's large, bright 0.94x viewfinder affords a remarkable view, making critical composition easier. The camera's rechargeable battery can last up to 2700 shots on a single charge, while also providing a real-time "Fuel Gauge" of the percentage of charge remaining in the battery at all times. The D80 is also compatible with Nikon's AF Nikkor lenses as well as the new DX Nikkor lenses, which are designed exclusively for use with Nikon DX format digital SLRs.

One of the key advances developed for the D80 is Nikon's own high-resolution image processing engine that inherits best-of-breed technologies from Nikon's latest professional digital SLR cameras, including color independent analog pre-conditioning and high-precision 12-bit digital image processing algorithms, which combine to produce natural-looking images that benefit from faithful color and tone reproduction. This new dedicated high-performance processing chip greatly accelerates performance on all levels, while also achieving lower power consumption, assuring more pictures per battery charge.

The D80 also benefits from Nikon's exclusive 3D Color Matrix Metering II, to ensure accurate exposures, even in the most challenging lighting conditions. Evaluating, rather than merely measuring or averaging the true content of each scene, input from the system's frame-wide 420-pixel sensor is automatically referenced against an onboard database of over 30,000 scenes from actual photography to calculate final exposure value. Variable Center-Weighted metering and Spot metering centered on the active focus area are also available, as are exposure compensation and auto exposure bracketing.

The optional MB-D80 battery pack helps extend the shooting capabilities of the D80 with an ergonomic design that adds shooting stability. Able to run on either one or two EN-EL3e rechargeable batteries or six AA-size batteries, the pack also features an additional command dial and alternative buttons for shutter release and AE-Lock/AF-Lock that make vertical shooting more comfortable.


Nikon D80 Features:

  • 10.2-Megapixel CCD imager yielding 3872 x 2592 pixel images
  • Slimmer and more compact body than its predecessors
  • Accepts Nikon F-mount lenses (with 1.5x FOV multiplier)
  • Digital Vari-Program, Program w/shift, Shutter priority, Aperture priority and Manual
  • Exclusive Nikon 3D-Color Matrix II metering
  • Compressed RAW and JPEG formats in three quality levels and sizes
  • TTL auto white balance, presets and custom set
  • Shutter speeds from 1/4000 to 30 seconds, flash sync to 1/200
  • Continuous drive at 3fps with dynamic buffer (up to 100 frames)
  • 11 area AF with normal to wide-frame center focus area
  • 2.5-inch color LCD with 230,000 pixels with 170-degree viewing angle
  • Onscreen menu for Playback, Shooting, Custom functions and Setup
  • New Retouch menu for in-camera editing of stored photos
  • Review with zoomed-playback & pan, RGB histogram and highlights
  • ISO sensitivity from 100 to 1600 in 1/3 steps
  • Noise Reduction circuitry for long exposures
  • High ISO Noise Reduction with three settings (Normal, High, Low)
  • Secure Digital memory card storage
  • Selectable video output with NTSC or PAL format
  • USB data and control interface
  • High-capacity EN-EL3e battery and compact MH-18a Quick Charger
  • Optional MB-D80 Multi-Power Battery pack

The D80 is available now for US$999.95 for body only and US$1299.95 for body and lens outfit, including the new 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S IF-ED DX Nikkor Lens.

Physical Views



Nikon D80 SLR

Nikon D80 SLR

Nikon D80 SLR Nikon D80 SLR

Nikon D80 SLR

Nikon D80 SLR





Compare the Nikon D80 and Canon Digital Rebel XTi

Nikon D80 SLR

Nikon D80 SLR




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Nikon D80 Specifications

Type of Camera Single-lens reflex, interchangeable lens digital camera
Effective pixels 10.2 million
Image Sensor RGB CCD, 23.6 x 15.8 mm; total pixels: 10.75 million
Nikon DX format
Image size (pixels) 3,872 x 2,592 [L], 2,896 x 1,944 [M], 1,936 x 1,296 [S]
Sensitivity 100 to 1600 (ISO equivalent) in steps of 1/3 EV, plus HI-0.3, HI-0.7 and HI-1
Storage Media SD memory card
Storage System Compressed NEF (RAW): 12-bit compression,
JPEG: JPEG baseline-compliant
File System Exif 2.21, Compliant DCF 2.0 and DPOF
White Balance
Auto (TTL white-balance with 420-pixel RGB sensor),
six manual modes with fine-tuning, color temperature setting (Kelvin), preset white balance,
white balance bracketing possible
LCD Monitor 2.5-in., 230,000-dot, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with brightness adjustment
allows up to 170-degree viewing angle
Playback Function 1) Full frame; 2) Thumbnail (4 or 9 segments); 3) Zoom; 4) Slideshow (Standard or Pictmotion); 5) RGB histogram indication; 6) Shooting data; 7) Highlight point display; 8) Auto image rotation
Delete Function Card format, All frames delete, Selected frames delete
Video Output NTSC or PAL
Interface USB 2.0 (Hi-speed) (mini-B connector); SD card slot: supports firmware updates via SD cards
Text Input Up to 36 characters of alphanumeric text input available with LCD monitor and multi-selector; stored in Exif header
Compatible Lenses Nikon F mount (with AF coupling and AF contacts)
Picture Angle Equivalent in 35 mm [135] format is approx. 1.5 times lens focal length
Viewfinder Fixed eye-level pentaprism; built-in diopter adjustment (-2.0 to +1.0m-1)
Eyepoint 19.5 mm (-1.0m-1)
Focusing Screen Type B BriteView Clear Matte screen Mark II with superimposed focus brackets and on-demand grid lines
Viewfinder Frame Coverage Approx. 95%
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.94x with 50mm lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1
Viewfinder Information Focus indications, Metering system, AE/FV lock indicator, Flash sync indicator, Shutter speed, Aperture value, Exposure/Exposure compensation indicator, ISO sensitivity, Exposure mode, Flash output level compensation, Exposure compensation, Number of remaining exposures
Autofocus TTL phase detection by Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus module with AF-assist illuminator (approx. 0.5m to 3.0m); Detection range: EV -1 to +19 (ISO 100 equivalent, at normal temperature: 20�°C/68�°F)
Lens Servo 1) Instant single-servo (AF-S); continuous-servo (AF-C); auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A); manual (M); predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status in continuous-servo AF
Focus Area 11 areas; any single area can be selected; center focus area can be switched from normal to wide-frame
AF Area Mode 1) Single Area AF, 2) Dynamic Area AF, 3) Auto Area AF
Focus Lock Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
Exposure Metering System Three-mode through-the-lens (TTL) exposure metering; 1) 3D Color Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses); metering performed by 420-segment RGB sensor; 2) Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 6, 8, or 10mm diameter circle in center of frame; 3) Spot: Meters 3.5mm diameter circle (about 2.5% of frame) centered on active focus area (on center focus area when non-CPU lens is used, or if Auto-area AF is selected)
Exposure Metering Range (ISO 100, f/1.4 lens, 20�°C/68�°F): 1) EV 0 to 20 (3D Color Matrix or center-weighted metering); 2) EV 2 to 20 (spot metering)
Exposure Meter Coupling CPU coupling
Exposure Mode Digital Vari-Program (Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Macro Close up, Sports, Night Landscape, Night Portrait); Programmed Auto [P] with flexible program; Shutter-Priority Auto [S]; Aperture Priority Auto [A]; Manual [M]
Exposure Compensation ±5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV
Exposure Lock Luminosity locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button
Auto Exposure Bracketing 2 to 3 exposures in increments between 1/3 to 2.0 EV
Shooting Modes 1) Single frame shooting mode
2) Continuous shooting mode: approx. 3 frames per second
3) Self-timer mode
4) Delayed remote mode
5) Quick-response remote mode
Shutter Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal plane shutter, 30 to 1/4000 sec. in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, bulb
Sync Contact X-contact only; flash synchronization at up to 1/200 sec.
Flash Control TTL: TTL flash control by 420-pixel RGB sensor Built-in Flash, SB-800, SB-600:
i-TTL balanced fill-flash (except when using spot metering exposure mode), Built-in Flash, SB-800, SB-600:standard i-TTL flash (when using spot metering);
2) Auto aperture: Available with SB-800 with CPU lens;
3) Non-TTL Auto: Available with Speedlights such as SB-800, 80DX, 28DX, 28, 27, and 22s;
4) Range-priority manual; available with SB-800
Flash Sync Mode 1) Auto; 2) Fill-in flash; 3) Red-eye Reduction; 4) Red-eye Reduction with Slow Sync; 5) SlowSync; 6) Rear-curtain Sync; 7) Off
Built-in Speedlight (Auto, Portrait, Macro Close up, Night Portrait) auto flash with auto pop-up; Manual pop-up with button releaseGuide number (ISO 100, m/ft.): approx. 13/42
Flash compensation -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2EV
Accessory Shoe Standard ISO hot-shoe contact with safety lock provided
Self-timer Electronically controlled timer with duration of 2 to 20 seconds (2, 5, 10, and 20 second selectable)
Depth of Field Preview When CPU lens is attached, lens aperture can be stopped down to value selected by user (A and M modes) or value selected by camera (P and S modes)
Remote Control Via MC-DC1 Remote Cord (optional) or ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control (optional)
Power Source One EN-EL3e Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, MB-D80 battery pack (optional) with one or two rechargeable Nikon EN-EL3e Li-ion batteries or six AA alkaline (LR6), Ni-MH (HR6), lithium (FR6) batteries, or nickel-manganese (ZR6) AA batteries, EH-5 AC Adapter (optional)
Tripod Socket 1/4 In. (ISO1222)
Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in. (132 x 103 x 77mm)
Weight Approx. 1 lb 5 oz (585g) without battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover
Supplied Accessories* EN-EL3e Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, MH-18a Quick Charger, EG-D2Audio Video Cable, UC-E4 USB Cable, Strap, Body cap, DK-5Eyepiece Cap, DK-21 Rubber Eyecup, BM-7 LCD monitor cover, Accessory shoe cover, PictureProject CD-ROM* Supplied accessories may differ in each country or area.
Optional Accessories MB-D80 Multi-Power Battery Pack, DK-21M Magnifying Eyepiece, EH-5 AC Adapter, ML-L3 Wireless MC-DC1 Remote Control, Remote Cord, SB-800/SB-600/SB-R200 Speedlights, Capture NX, Camera Control Pro

Specifications are as represented by the manufacturer.


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