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Nikon D Review

The Nikon D80 DSLR camera is aimed squarely at the enthusiast user. This new 10 megapixel model replaces the highly rated Nikon D70s and D70 and fits into the lower end of Nikon's DSLR product hierarchy, above the D50 and below the D200 and other professional camera bodies like the D2Xs. The DSLR market has undergone a radical transformation in 2006.

These detachable lens cameras are no longer regarded mainly as a tool for the serious amateur or professional photographer. An increasing number of models are being released that target a much more varied customer base in the constant battle for sales and revenue. Currently Nikon and Canon dominate this product sector, and the release of every new DSLR from either manufacturer is anticipated and then scrutinized in equal measure. Along with the D80 we get another new "kit" lens, the 18-135mm f/4-5.6G AF-S ED DX, and a new vertical grip, the MB-D80. As you'll soon see, those are about the only "new" things we got: the D80 is an interesting amalgamation of existing Nikon parts and features.

That's a good thing, actually, as Nikon seems to have chosen well when it consulted its part bin. Some of the new features on the D80 versus its predecessors include: A new 10.2 effective Megapixel CCD (versus 6.1MP on the D70's) A much larger and sharper 2.5" LCD display (versus 2.

0") Now uses Secure Digital and SDHC memory cards (versus CompactFlash) Faster performance in all areas New autofocus sensor offers better performance and more focus points (11 vs. 5) Support for wireless flashes Improved battery life; new battery meter menu option shows vital stats New Image Retouch menu offers D-Lighting, redeye removal, cropping, image overlay, and other features that have been on Nikon's Coolpix cameras for years Refined menu system (just like the D200 now) USB 2.0 High Speed support The D80 slots nicely between the entry-level D50 and the semi-professional / professional D200, clearly based on the D70 design but also different enough to be seen as a completely new model. It features a ten megapixel DX format CCD (the same we presume as used by Sony in the DSLR-A100), the metering sensor from the D50 and numerous other items taken or modified from the D200. The D80 is a refresh of the D50 body design with some transplants from the D200.

Specifically, the body size, shape, and build is very much that of the D50, right down to the door for a Secure Digital card on the right side. As such, the D80 is slightly smaller and lighter than the D70s and definitely lighter and smaller than the D200. Yet Nikon has chosen to use the D200's viewfinder in the D80, and many of the controls that are missing on the D50 but present on the D200 have returned (the FUNC button, for example).

We'll get back to what all that means in a bit. While it is very similar to its predecessor, the Nikon D70s, and sports the higher 10.2 megapixel resolution of the D200, the Nikon D80 is replete with new features and advances in overall quality that make it a great upgrade for D50 and D70 owners, plus a compelling "other choice" for those who've been looking at (or waiting for) a Nikon D200.

Finally, because its controls are so similar to the D2X and D200, pro photographers may want to pick up a D80 as a second or third body to take along instead of their heavier pro cameras. The new 2.5" LCD, sized like that in the pro bodies, will be welcomed by all - featuring the 170 degree angle and the much more useful RGB histogram versus luminance histories on legacy cameras. Also, the ability to set custom color schemes and font sizes in the menus is new and will be a very popular ergonomic feature.

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