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If you are familiar with my reviews you will be aware that a few weeks ago I discussed one of our two cameras, namely Fujifilm Finepix AV200, which perfectly meets our requirements for simple snap and shoot photography. The review briefly mentioned our main camera, the Nikon D80, which I can vividly remember purchasing brand new 5 years ago within days of its’ launch, as I almost passed out when I entered those four digits for my debit card to authorise the £999.99 payment! I would point out that this price was inclusive of the 18 – 135 mm lens.
WHAT WERE OUR SPECIFICATIONS AND REASONS FOR PURCHASE?
Both my husband and I are keen photographers and whilst I would never consider myself to be technically minded, I have gained a wealth of valuable knowledge since meeting him. As we enjoy the great outdoors and regularly visit new places we required a high quality, durable and professional camera. During our travels we regularly witness a vast amount of wild life such as birds of prey, so we needed something that offered superb picture quality and in addition, give us the freedom of interchangeable lenses, which would offer a powerful zoom to capture close up images of our subjects. We carried out considerable research to ascertain the most suitable brand that could provide us with a DSLR camera, which for the non-technical minded stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. Our extensive research provided us with two choices, namely Olympus and Nikon with us jointly agreeing on the latter due to the brand being an innovative world leader in digital imaging. It was during our research that we learned that the Japanese brand was initially launched in 1917, so clearly they are experts in the field of photography and have gone from strength to strength. We were aware that the weight of the camera would have to be a consideration that we would need to forfeit, particularly as all DSLRs are fairly heavy, so our purchase of the Nikon D80 with its’ 10 megapixels was made.
USING THE CAMERA AND ITS' FEATURES
The camera, which is manufactured from a robust black plastic is considerably appealing to the eye as is fairly heavy with its’ weight of 585g excluding the lens and battery, hence our further purchase of the Fujifilm, as carrying the D80 on a regular basis proves somewhat of a challenge, particularly when laden with the two interchangeable lenses that we own. I would describe it as an average size for a DSLR with its’ measurements of 13 cm in length, 6½ cm in depth (without a lens) and 10 cm at its’ highest point. I will be totally honest and admit that when I first looked at the camera I thought we had made a huge mistake, as I was of the opinion that I would never be able to understand how to use it. Whilst I cannot deny that this isn’t a complicated camera, it is extremely well made and very durable and five years after purchase its’ condition is as good as it was back then. The camera was accompanied by a 148 page booklet where my initial reaction was
Pictures of Nikon D80
Front view of the Nikon D80
that I might as well sit down and read the dictionary, as I never believed I would master this high technical piece of equipment. However, as with everything, patience and dedication is needed and through time I learned the majority of what I needed to know, although I will admit there is much more for me to grasp. Whilst I normally disregard user manuals and jump straight in, it is imperative that I learned how to use this camera prior to my initial use. It would be virtually impossible for me to discuss each and every one of the controls contained on the camera body, as my review would well exceed 10,000 words, so my aim is to concentrate on the basics. I will begin by discussing the EN-EL3e rechargeable Li-ion battery, which accompanied the camera together with its’ easy to use MH-18a quick charger, which takes approximately 2¼ hours to charge for an exhausted battery and will provide up to 2,700 images per battery charge. The appropriate cable was also supplied and we are informed that batteries not displaying the Nikon holographic seal could possibly damage the camera, so we also ensure we use the correct batteries. We made a purchase of an additional battery to enable us to have one in the camera and carry the spare one at all times. Contained within the camera box was an extremely comfortable and adjustable camera strap, which is easily fitted onto the upper sections of the camera by way of metal rings. The section of strap that fits around the neck is significantly wider and of a softer material, so it does not chaff the skin. Whilst my husband chooses to take photographs by simply holding the camera I prefer to place the strap around my neck, as I am fearful of dropping it, particularly when we’re taking photographs from the edge of a hill or cliff. A clear sturdy plastic cover is provided to protect the 5½ cm in length and 4 cm in width colour monitor and tightly clips into place by way of a long lip on both the upper and lower sections. This is easily removed by simply holding the camera firmly and pulling the bottom cover gently, but it is very rare that we will remove it, as it does not obscure the monitor. We were required to fit the viewfinder eyepiece cap, which is made from a fairly soft rubber material that is very comfortable when it makes contact with the eye. On initial inspection the Set Up Menu appears to be extremely mind boggling, as it displays so many features; many of which we have yet to use. However, the first step is to set the time, date and language using the fairly large multi selector button, which is located to the right hand side of the monitor. At this point in time the language that I would like to have chosen was not an option on the camera if you get my meaning! It is this button that will enable you to navigate the various camera menus where you can move the cursor up and down to specific options, return to the previous menu and display the sub-menu. An extremely useful feature is if a question mark is displayed on the monitor there is a help option available, which is a feature I have used many times! Whilst I could discuss many of the set up menu features I do not wish to make this review too technical and prefer it to be in language that I can easily understand.
However, I will talk about the key features and it is in the set up menu that you are able to adjust the brightness, image quality and size together with features such as the style of Jpeg image you wish to create and a variety of exposures. As we were fortunate enough to purchase the camera with a lens our first task was to fit it to the camera body, which should be switched off. I am not going to go into great detail here, but changing lenses is an easy task by simply placing them into the camera’s bayonet mount and rotating until it clicks into place. There is no internal memory fitted in this camera, as it operates solely from SD memory cards, which are easily inserted and removed in the area located on the lower right hand side of the camera where the slot cover firmly closes. We are all ready to go with our camera and I was surprised that I found it so easy to operate, particularly with its’ automatic focus. I initially found it a little strange having to rotate the diopter adjustment control; something of which I was totally unaware of prior to owning this camera. I learned that this was to enable the user to obtain the correct focus dependent upon the individual’s eyesight. Another area I found strange was having to adjust the lens to zoom into my subject as opposed to pressing a simple button, which I was used to with my previous Sony Cybershot, which was taken by my first husband during our divorce. The camera offers a fabulous feature, particularly for people like me who were initially totally oblivious to the vast range of technical features this model has to offer. The camera can be set on an automatic point and shoot mode, which basically means that when the camera is pointed at a subject the shutter release button only requires to be partly pressed to enable the camera to focus into its’ subject and then needs to be pressed down fully to subsequently capture the image. During this set up the built in flash will automatically pop up if the subject is too dark, but needs to be manually lifted when not in automatic mode. A very usual feature is that there is a setting to assist with camera shake, which I find extremely beneficial, particularly when using a powerful zoom lens.
The camera has the ability to allow the user to be creative with their photography, such as night landscapes, night portrait, moving subjects and whilst my husband is expert in this field, as he is completely technically minded, this is an area that I have yet to learn. After taking your photograph the image is displayed on the monitor for approximately four seconds after which it is saved onto the memory card. All of the photographs can be viewed by simply selecting the main command dial where you are also able to delete any unwanted images. We have purchased many accessories for our D80, which allows us to obtain maximum benefit from the camera’s features, such as a tripod to enable us to use the self-timer mode, a remote control where we can capture images using either a delayed or quick response. Up to this point in my review I was able to use my wealth of valuable knowledge to inform you of our camera’s capabilities, but I got a little stuck on the ISO sensitivity, so it has been necessary to make reference to a small section in the easy to follow user guide. I learned that the higher the ISO sensitivity the less light is needed to create an exposure, which subsequently allows higher shutter speeds or smaller apertures. The camera has a top shutter speed of 1/4,000 second and flash sync speeds up to 1/200 second. Back to me now where I would advise that the ISO button, which is located on the left hand side of the monitor needs to be pressed and the main command dial rotated until the required setting is displayed in the control panel. In our five years of experience with this fantastic camera we have been able to capture some outstanding images; many of which are of wildlife on the move and my husband has uploaded dozens of our photographs onto his Flickr account. The picture quality is out of this world where images are colourful, sharp, clear and crisp and due to the option to reduce red eye our images do not resemble that of somebody who has spent the afternoon propping up the bar at the local boozer! I hope I have covered all of the key features that this fantastic camera has to offer, but as I am sure you will appreciate, it would be an impossibility to discuss each and every one. As this is such an expensive piece of equipment it is essential that it is regularly cleaned where we use a slightly damp cloth for the body work and our camera is well protected in a case, which was an additional purchase.
Whilst the topic of this review is for the basic camera I would like to briefly mention the two interchangeable lenses that we own, namely the 18 – 135 mm one that was included in our initial purchase price of £999.99 and a further more powerful AF 70 – 300 mm lens belonging to Tamron that we purchased for approximately £100 a few years ago. There are dozens and dozens of lenses from which to choose and in time, we will probably make further purchases to meet our ever growing needs.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Nikon D80 is readily available where it is mainly second hand, particularly as this 2006 model has since been superseded by various others. At the time of writing (12 August 2011) they are selling on Amazon and are listed as “like new” from £250 plus £5.10 postage and packing. However, I would point out the obvious and that is to check the various sellers’ feedback prior to purchase.
This camera has met each and every one of our requirements and has served both my husband and I well over the five years in which we have owned it where we have never experienced any faults or failures in capturing our precious images. Consequently, it receives my full recommendation together with 5 stars.
I hope you found my review useful and would thank you for reading.
This review will appear on both Dooyoo and Ciao under the same user name.