Nikon D80 review

Intro

 

The Nikon D80 digital SLR is the successor the D70s. Announced in August 2006, it’s positioned between the entry-level D50 and semi-professional D200, squarely targeting photographic enthusiasts or those who simply want a step-up from a budget model.

The D80 inherits or tweaks many aspects from both the D50 and D200, along with introducing a few new features of its own. Starting with the headline specifications, the Nikon D80 shares the same 10.2 Megapixel resolution, 2.5in screen and user interface of the D200, although as we’ll explain in the review, there are some differences. The body itself is physically very similar to the D50 and inside there’s the same metering system.

 

While the D80 is pitched at the next-step up from entry-level digital SLRs, its 10.2 Megapixel resolution and price tag will inevitably see it compared against Canon’s EOS 400D / Rebel XTi and the Sony Alpha A100. There’s certainly many similarities between the three bodies, although it’s interesting to note the D80 has no in-camera anti-dust feature (it’s performed in optional software later), and there’s also no anti-shake solutions in its standard kits.

Depending on your region and supplier there may be three different D80 lens kits available, with either the DX 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, the DX 18-70mm f3.4-4.5 or the new DX 18-135mm f3.5-5.6; the latter, while costing significantly more than the budget kit options of the Sony and Canon models, delivers a considerably longer and more useful 7.5x optical zoom range.

For the purpose of this review we’ve selected the middle option of the DX 18-70mm lens, although to see what the D80’s really capable of, we’ve also included resolution results using a 50mm prime lens. As for the DX 18-55mm and the new DX 18-135mm lenses, look out for a full reports using the D80 coming to Cameralabs soon. Alternatively, couple the D80 with the Nikkor 18-200mm VR and you could enjoy one of the best body / lens combos currently available. Find out more about this best selling lens by checking out our Nikkor 18-200mm VR review.

So to find out how the Nikon D80 compares against other Canon and Sony DSLRs, not to mention the higher-end D200, read our full review. For an overview of the camera’s headline features, check our Nikon D80 video tour.

Check out our 10 Megapixel group test to see how the Nikon D80 compares against the Canon EOS 400D / Rebel XTi and Sony DSLR-A100. Find out how the three biggest DSLRs of 2006 really compare and ultimately which one will work out best for you.

NEW: Wondering which lens goes best with a new D80? Check out our Nikkor kit lens group test which compares the DX 18-55mm, DX 18-70mm, DX 18-135mm and the DX 18-200mm VR, complete with a video tour around all four.

Testing notes

Note: the model tested was a final production unit, running firmware version 1.0. Following our convention of using default factory and best quality JPEG settings to test camera bodies unless otherwise stated, the D80 was set to Large Fine JPEG mode and sRGB, with Auto White Balance, 3D Matrix metering and the Optimise Image parameter set to Normal for sharpening, tone, colour, saturation and hue; High ISO Noise Reduction was set to Normal.

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