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Nikon D80 DSLR + 18-135mm Nikkor lens

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22.06.2008 (09.07.2008)

Advantages:
perfect grip, large prismatic viewfinder

Disadvantages:
doesn't have internal memory

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Picture Quality

Range & Quality of Features

Ease of Use

Durability

Value for Money

ReliabilityExcellent

SizeBig

WeightAverage

Overall Look & DesignExcellent

Instruction ManualExcellent

13 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (30%):
  1. tajo_dre
  2. AndrewPo
  3. yassarikhan786
and 4 other members
very helpful by (70%):
  1. denella
  2. Expired-Account
  3. poeta73
and 13 other members

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Nikon D80

My first real DSLR camera, which I have become addict to even if it requires me to learn a lot and keep challenging myself into operating it better and better ammoed with knowledge.
It had been my dream to own a SLR camera, I've always had a passion for the big cameras and I was jealous of the pro photographers and the pictures they got.
When I was little, my parents had an old Czech-made camera including all the stuff you need to develop the pictures yourself at home and so we were always full of photographs of me and my brother, that's where I started to love the stuff. Unfortunately the old equipment doesn't work anymore and my first camera was a simple automatic one and even if I liked to take pictures, I soon found out how expensive it was to have them developed and to buy new and new films. Now, in the age of digital photography, the time has come for me to finally enter the world of SLR cameras.

Nikon D80 was introduced by Nikon Corporation, a Japanese company, in the end of 2006 and now quite soon its new sister D90 is expected. However, eventhough the camera's not the newest hot stuff on the market, it's a piece of quality product, which was proven by the two years it's been with us.
I'm not really gonna list all the technical facts, that you can find anywhere on the internet and it's not my point anyway.

I considered both Canon and Nikon and in the end I have gone for Nikon because:
- it has a real pentagon prism viewfinder instead of a pentamirror set
- it fits almost perfectly into my hand
- there's a second display on the top of the body which allows you to change settings and exposure without needing to turn the cam to get to the big display
- the controls are intuitive and important functions have their own button, you can adjust the main menu to your liking


Size and looks
The body alone is pretty heavy and definitely both bigger and heavier than any camera I held in my hands before, but I found this fact helpful, because the grip is perfect. The body weighs 668grams including the battery, it's complete black with white "Nikon" inscription below the flash and a small "D80" metalic
Pictures of Nikon D80
Nikon D80 Nikon D80 + 18-135mm DX G ED
front view
plate on the left.
The body's made mostly of plastic and has some metal parts, however it's not as durable as really profi cameras, it still should bear with you in most places where you decide to take it, if you take good care and clean it well.


Buttons and controls
The regime wheel is on the left because the small display takes most of space on the right top side. Power lever has a shape of a small circle around the release button, which makes it vera fast to turn the camera on, focus and shoot.
There are two scroll wheels on the back side and beneath the release, those control shutter speed and aperture value settings. You can feel the click or one-jag turn clearly, working with the camera is pure pleasure because it does what you want it to. You can add external flash and Nikon provides you with a solid plastic cover for the big LCD, so you won't need to fumble with foils and the cover's easy to remove, clean and replace.
The camera supports both manual focus and autofocus, so it only depends on the lens if you can use manual focus.

There are all the regimes you could want such as Full Manual, Full Automatic, 3 semi-automatic: Aperture value, Shutter speed and Program; Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sport, Night landscape and Night portrait. Even when using the non-changeable regime the small display shows the exposure values, which I find really handy, because like that you know how does the camera handle a particular scene. The handbook supplied by Nikon is pretty explanative and besides just describing the camera they also give you shooting tips and explain the relation ISO-shutter speed-aperture as basics, so I found the book quite helpful but still, for a beginner, a good book about DSLR is an important source of knowledge.

Nikon claims D80 starts in 0.18 sec and I can confirm that when you turn the lever to on position, it's on right away, so you're always ready to shoot.
It's a 10.2 Megapixel camera with a CCD APS-C chip which Nikon marks as DX format, meaning it's designed for digital cameras and its crop factor is 1.5x.
The 2.5 inch TFT LCD allows you to browse the pictures, shows information about used exposure settings, shows RGB histogram and other info about the pictures. It also allows you to go through the menu to change general settings.
A small monochrome display on the top right side shows exposition settings, thanks to which you don't need to use the big LCD, which saves battery power. I also find it very comfy to see the settings just looking down at the camera without needing to turn it to look at the big display as the camera is kind of heavy and this saves a lot of wrist exercise.
Viewfinder uses a prism that magnifies by 0.94, is very clear and bright. Besides exposure settings (excluding ISO value and also live histogram doesn't show, unfortunately) it shows how many pictures can you still take, exposure correction and flash level. You can also view focus points and grid for better picture composition. There are 11 focus dots and you can select which one will be the main focus area, this setting can be easily changed anytime and the position locked - very useful when the object of your interest is not in the middle of the screen or you don't wanna put it there. It's possible to make a serie of up to 100 .jpeg photos using the 3 shots per sec speed. You can shoot in .jpeg and/or .nef (.raw) format.

The camera uses SD or SDHC memory cards, there is no internal memory and the memory card isn't included either, which is not very handy when you wanna test the camera before buying it. Beware while buying the memory card - always ask if the card you're about to purchase is compatible with D80, as not all memory cards are!
Nikon officially approves only Toshiba, Panasonic and SanDisc memory cards of specified capacities, others are not guaranteed to work.
The camera can be connected with an USB cable to a PC or a printer and pictures can be printed straight from the camera, or you can connect it to TV screen. Further, it can be controlled by and infrared remote control, which however isn't included in the package.
The battery's pretty bulky but is charged in 2-3 hours and lasts for approx. 600 pictures or more, depending how much you use the LCD, flash and how frequently you change the settings, browse the pictures or retouch them in the camera. I have to say I was really satisfied and even nicely surprised by how long the battery lasts, it wasn't a problem to be out whole day and shoot, but still it's handy to have two batteries, just in case.

There is no cleaning set included in the package, but Nikon offers first 10 chip cleaning services for free, which is quite a generous offer if you think about the service prices.

Software supplied by Nikon is Nikon PictureProject, which allows you to copy, transfer, organize and keep your pictures as well as edit them, correct exposure and more. There's also a trial version of Capture NX, a professional edit and retouch software.

I have got the D80 in a kit with AF-S Nikkor 18-135mm 3.5-5.6G ED DX lens which was a way better deal than buying it with standard kit 18-55mm lens, however, for macro and landscape shoots I'll need to expand my lens arsenal.
This lens doesn't have a stabilizer (Nikon marks stabilizer as "VR"), it's a zoom lens enabling both manual and automatic focus, it doesn't have its own aperture. It's a CPU-controlled lens, which makes the autofocus quick, precize and silent. Its minimal aperture value is 3.5 while using the shortest focal distance, which means if you want to use it as a zoom lens, you will need rather long exposure times because by increasing the focal distance the aperture value rises remarkably depraving the lens of light. However, for "normal" shooting the lens is pretty sufficient and can be a valued mid-distance zoom lens, bu you have to give up on long distance and advanced sport shooting unless you get yourself a real telezoom lens.

So far I've been very happy with this camera, I consider it a huge step forward from my old Sony DSC H9 (I've also written a review on that one) into creativity and actually working on taking photos which I enjoy.

The camera came in a kit with the mentioned lens, caps for both lens and body, lens bag, neck strap, LCD protective cover - a very nice thing, way better than sticking a foil on the LCD!, sun shield, viewfinder "blind", charger, 1 battery, USB cable, A/V cable, handbook, CD with software, chip cleaning voucher.

There's plenty of other accessories to the camera, such as cases or bags, cleaning tools, body armour, lenses, filters, a tiny air level, tripods, monopods, external flashes, battery pack and more, not only from Nikon but also from companies like Sigma and Tamron that specialize in lenses and usually have bargain prices on quality lenses compared to original Nikon stuff, so there's something for everyone to choose.

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Comments about this review »

Expired-Account 14.09.2008 22:25

My boyfriend's dad is after a digital SLR, this one sounds right up his street, nice review

poeta73 16.07.2008 16:07

i took a used D100 and i am still studing it... very exciting. I love making photos.... M.

RICHADA 12.07.2008 00:07

This exact camera / lens combination is what I'm aiming to replace my superb Nikon D50 with - actually I love the D50 so much that I will keep it as a second camera - and yes, isn't digital (SLR) photography addictive! These Nikons as you point out, although heavier and larger than a Canon are just so good to handle. Richard.

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

One of the key advances developed for the D80 is its high-resolution image-processing engine. At its heart is a ded...

General

MPN VBA140AB, D80BODY, 9405, SLR1145, VBA140K004, VBA140AE, VBA 140 K002, VBA140KU01, Nikon D80, D80 KIT 1, VBA140XB, D80 KIT 2, VBA140K003, D801870, 25412, 9425
Product Type Digital camera - SLR
Lens Included Body only, AF-S DX 18-135mm lens, G AF 28-80mm lens, AF-S DX 18-200mm lens, AF-S DX 18-70mm lens, AF-S DX 18-55mm lens

Exposure & white balance

Light Sensitivity ISO 100-1600, ISO 100-3200
Exposure Metering Centre-weighted, spot, 3D colour matrix II
Exposure Modes Programme, automatic, manual, aperture-priority, shutter-priority

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Review Ratings »

This review of Nikon D80 has been rated:

"exceptional" by (30%):

  1. tajo_dre
  2. AndrewPo
  3. yassarikhan786

and 4 other members

"very helpful" by (70%):

  1. denella
  2. Expired-Account
  3. poeta73

and 13 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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