[Following is a reprint of my body only review.I placed a review of the lens at the end.]
The Nikon D80, destined to replace the popular D70 series, is a great camera for Nikon fans who wish to upgrade from their D50s, 70s or 100s. It’s also attractive enough to maybe get a few people to jump ship!
Here’s the highlights:
1) 10.2 megapixel. A substantial upgrade from the 6mp of the older cameras, performance should be very comparable to the highly regarded D200 camera;
2) 11-point AF system. Similar again to the D200 in performance (though not as easy to change);
3) Large viewfinder (.94x magnification). Again, taken from the D200, this is a clear improvement over the previous cameras. Spec wise, this is also better than all the competition, even though other, personal preference factors need to be taken into consideration (such as layout of LCDs and focusing points).;
4) 2.5″ LCD. Not only is it larger, it can also be viewed at a much wider angle–particularly handy when locked to a tripod.
The camera is small for Nikon (about like the D50), but has a good, firm grip for those with medium to larger hands. Controls are well thought out–easy to get to and use. Dampening of mirror noise is better than its competition.
Nikon’s use of the SDHC format should be commended. These small cards will have no real disadvantage to the older CF hards once the HC versions start hitting the shelves, and should relieve the danger of “bent pins”.
Things you’ve liked about previous Nikons have been retained. The D80 uses inexpensive wireless & wired remotes, and it still allows the built-in flash to control other Nikon Speedlights remotely.
Compared to the competition, the Canon Rebel XTi & Sony Alpha 100, the Nikon starts a bit in the hole, considering it’s the most expensive camera (by $200 & $100, respectively). The XTi offers a nice “anti-dust” hardware & software solution; while the Sony offers in camera stablization. Both use the rear LCD for info status. While many may prefer the traditional LCD on top (like the D80), the rear LCD does have the advantage of being considerably larger text for older eyes (and on the Alpha, rotates when you rotate the camera for verticals). Too bad the D80 doesn’t give you this option as well.
The XTi is smaller and lighter, maybe too small for many people. The XTi also does not offer wireless capability with the built-in flash (like D80/A100). It’s battery (hence capacity) is a bit smaller.
The Alpha 100 being Sony’s first modern digital SLR means that getting lenses and accessories my be a bit more difficult (even though it uses a lot from the older Maxxum cameras). It’s also a bit noiser in its operations.
The D80 adds more AF selections than either of the above cameras, has nice enhancements like grid lines and double exposures. It also comes with a protective cover for the rear LCD.
Lens wise, they greatly outnumber those offered by Sony, particularly in any considered “Pro” grade. While Canon can compete in “Pro” grade with Nikon (particularly in longer length lenses), Nikon has a bit of advantage in wider angles for digital. Nikon only offers one size digital sensor, where as Canon must offer two series (for 3 different chip sizes).
Is the D80 worth the money? For anyone with Nikon lenses, undoubtedly. My recommendation for anyone with Canon EF or Minolta Maxxum lenses: look at those cameras first…but be sure to look at the D80 before you buy.
Lens review: Tremendous!The Nikkor 18-135 gives everybody what they want, an affordable lens with above average quality.
First, the 18-135 range is excellent for a kit lens, equivalent of a 27-200 in 35mm photography.It looks great, zooms smoothly, and balances well.The Silent Wave focusing motor is quiet, quick and smooth, and allows immediate manual focus (no hunting for switches).The internal focus is great for anyone using polarizing filters, and allows for a more efficient tulip shaped lens hood (supplied).
Second, the image quality is very good. The aperture is of average size, so don’t expect images to jump out like large aperture lenses, but quality is good throughout the range.
Third, Nikon always includes a better than average 5 year warranty in the US on their lenses.
The only negative is that I always prefer a metal lens mount to a plastic one, although the latter keeps both the weight and cost down.
One of the key advances developed for the D80 is its high-resolution image-processing engine, a dedicated new high-performance processing chip that greatly accelerates performance. ISO AUTO mode automatically adjusts sensitivity between ISO 100 to 1600, maximizing available light to help achieve optimal exposure7 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 optimization optionsNear-instant response with 0.18 sec. power-up Top shutter speed of 1/4,000 second and flash sync speeds up to 1/200 secondFast image transfer via USB 2.0 Hi-Speed interface and SD memory cardCreative in-camera effects and editing functionsMultiple Exposure modes Large 2.5-inch LCD monitor with ultra-wide 170-degree viewing angle for clear image preview and easy access to settings and information; Slideshow function (Standard or Pictmotion) SD memory card storage, SDHC compatibleHigh-energy EN-EL3e rechargeable lithium-ion battery delivers the power to shoot up to 2,700 pictures on a single chargeSupports more than 43 AF NIKKOR lenses in addition to the growing family of DX NIKKOR lensesBuilt-in Flash with i-TTL flash controlIncludes Nikon’s PictureProject softwareUnit Dimensions WHD – 5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 inch; 1.3 lbs Supplied Accessories -EN-EL3e Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, MH-18a Quick Charger, EG-D2 Audio Video Cable, UC-E4 USB Cable, Strap, Body cap, DK-5 Eyepiece Cap, DK-21 Rubber Eyecup, BM-7 LCD monitor cover, Accessory shoe cover, PictureProject CD-ROM Kit 2 includes Nikkor DX 18-135mm zoom lens
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