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The Nikon D80 Digital SLR camera is aimed at aspiring photographers

Nikon D80 Digital SLRThe typical Nikon D80 customer would be one who already owns a Nikon D50 or D70 (or maybe even a low end Canon DSLR) and is starting to get serious about his photography. He wants to buy into some expensive lenses (I don't like the new term glass) but feels funny about putting thousands of dollars worth of lenses on a "low end" camera. He also wants his photographer friends to know that he is getting serious, so he has to buy up to make the next step. The question is, should he spend roughly a thousand dollars on a Nikon D80, or roughly one and a half thousand dollars on a Nikon D200.

Since he is not totally committed yet, Nikon is betting that he will go for the Nikon D80 next and use the roughly five hundred dollars he has left over to buy another Nikkor lens or Nikon Speedlight flash equipment. Nikon is probably right and in another year or so, when he can no longer stand to look at the
automated Digital Vari-Program settings (Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close Up, Sports, Night Landscape and Night Portrait), on his one thousand dollar (almost professional level) camera, will be able to sell him the Nikon D200.

I am actually surprised at how well Nikon is now playing the psychological mindsets of photographers, as they graduate them from complete novice level, to amateur, to enthusiast, to semi-pro and knowledgeable enthusiast, and even to the high end enthusiast and professional levels.

When you know nothing, anything will work. As you start to gain knowledge you become embarrassed by your equipment and buy up. When you start to know a lot more, you buy up again because you can now purchase more intelligently. And when you know everything there is to know about cameras, you realize that a lot of it is just smoke and mirrors, so you are then able to use everything and anything to produce good images.

But sometimes you use only the most advanced and most expensive equipment available because, 1. you have the equipment, so why not, 2. you have an assistant to carry it for you, so why not, or 3. your clients require you to use the highest end equipment (sadly this is often the case for professionals), so you have to.

There are of course special circumstances that require special equipment (high speed, high sensitivity, high resolution, etc.) but in most instances a great image is the product of experience, preparation, luck, the right lens (and correct lens settings), the right sensor (which used to be the right film and filters), and the correct exposure (for the image you are trying to create).

One thing that is indisputable though, is that a good photographer can create a better image with a camera that he is comfortable with, than a camera he does not like or trust. Aside from that it would probably be hard to distinguish (quality wise) between a picture taken with any current Nikon Digital SLR, when using the same lens (and lens settings). The images would of course look slightly different (because of the different sensors used) and have to be processed differently, but within certain resolution limits, the images would be equally useful in both a professional and/or aesthetic sense.

So what am I trying to say? Do I think the Nikon D80 is a good camera to buy?

Yes I do, if you want both the high resolution (10.2 megapixels) and the ease of use that the Nikon D80 offers.

If you are ready for a "more manual" (and slightly heavier) type of camera and don't mind spending the extra bucks, I would recommend the Nikon D200. Everyone will think you're a pro though, so forget about sneaking those bikini pictures on the beach.




Main Features of the Nikon D80 Digital SLR




  • 10.2 effective megapixel Nikon DX Format CCD image sensor
  • High-speed continuous shooting: 3 frames per second (fps) in bursts of up to 100 consecutive JPEG (FINE M-size or smaller) or 6 RAW (NEF) images
  • Advanced high-precision, high-performance imaging processing engine with color-independent pre-conditioning
  • 3D-Color Matrix Metering II with 420-pixel RGB sensor delivers consistent and dependable automatic exposure for ideal results in most lighting conditions
  • Refined 11-area AF system with new Auto-area AF mode and center sensor that can be switched to wide-frame operation for broader coverage
  • ISO AUTO mode automatically adjusts sensitivity between ISO 100 to 1600, maximizing available light to help achieve optimal exposure
  • Seven automated Digital Vari-Programs (Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close Up, Sports, Night Landscape and Night Portrait) optimize white balance, sharpening, tone, color, saturation and hue to match the scene.
  • User-selectable choice of Normal, Softer, Vivid, More vivid, Portrait, Custom and Black-and-white image optimization options
  • Near-instant response with 0.18 sec. power-up and approx. 80-millisecond shutter release time lag promotes fast handling
  • Top shutter speed of 1/4,000 second and flash sync speeds up to 1/200 second
  • Fast image transfer via USB 2.0 Hi-Speed interface and SD memory card
  • Creative in-camera effects and editing functions consolidated under the new Retouch menu, including D-Lighting, Red-eye correction, Trim, Image Overlay, Monochrome settings (Black-and-white, Sepia, Cyanotype) and Filter Effects (Skylight, Warm filter, Color balance)
  • Multiple Exposure shooting option automatically produces an effect that resembles multiple exposure techniques used with film
  • Large 2.5-inch LCD monitor with ultra-wide 170-degree viewing angle for clear image preview and easy access to settings and information, including RGB Histograms
  • Selectable Slideshow function (Standard or Pictmotion)
  • SD memory card storage, SDHC compatible
  • Lightweight, compact body
  • High-energy EN-EL3e rechargeable lithium-ion battery delivers the power to shoot up to 2,700 pictures on a single charge and provides detailed battery status information. (Battery life figure determined by in-house test parameters)
  • Built-in Flash with i-TTL flash control and full support for Nikon's Creative Lighting System
  • The D80 supports more than 43 AF Nikkor lenses in addition to the growing family of DX Nikkor lenses
  • Includes Nikon’s PictureProject software for easy control over image adjustment and management
  • Support for Nikon's new Capture NX software, which provides easier access to powerful and visually intuitive enhancement tools that help tap the full potential of NEF images

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Specifications of the Nikon D80 Digital SLR






Effective pixels

10.2 million

Image sensor

RGB CCD, 23.6 x 15.8 mm, 10.75 million total pixels

Image size

L (3,872 x 2,592) / M (2,896 x 1,944) / S (1,936 x 1,296)

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, SDHC compatible

LCD monitor

2.5-in., 230,000-dot, low-temp. polysilicon TFT LCD with brightness adjustment

Exposure metering

3D Color Matrix Metering II, Center-Weighted and Spot Metering

Exposure modes

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]

Interface

USB 2.0 (Hi-speed) (mini-B connector); SD card slot

Power sources

Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, MB-D80 battery pack (optional), AC Adapter EH-5 (optional)

Dimensions (W x H x D)

Approx. 132 x 103 x 77mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.)

Weight

Approx. 585g (1lb 5oz) without battery, memory card, or body cap or monitor cover

Specifications are subject to change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer. August 2006





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