Mid-priced 10 megapixel digital SLR for professional looking pictures
Nikon’s D80 is big brother to its entry level D40 Digital SLR (D-SLR), boasting a 10 megapixel resolution over its sibling’s six.
The target audience is more amateur enthusiast than doting dad, but nevertheless Nikon has delivered a camera that is as easy to use as it is highly specified, which should serve it well against direct competitors in Sony’s Alpha 100, Canon’s EOS 400D and Pentax’s K100D.
It further offers an incentive for Nikon film users to swap to digital by featuring a lens mount compatible with a wide range of AF and DX lenses.
Other key features include a new, faster processing chip, an 11-area auto focus system to ensure sharp images even when your subject isn’t centre of frame, auto light sensitivity up to ISO1600, pop-up flash, continuous shooting of three frames per second up to 100 JPEGs (RAW is also an option), and a 2.5in screen with which to review them. A second LCD window up top displays essential information including battery life, shots remaining and resolution selected.
As you’d expect from Nikon, the D80's build quality is high and, with rechargeable battery inserted and 18-70mm kit lens attached, the camera has a nice rugged, solid feel to it when gripped. Like the Nikon D40, it features a mode wheel with familiar icons for shooting subjects and scenes, allowing anyone to point-and-shoot from the off. You’ll have to supply your own SD storage card, however.
Flicking the on/off switch handily encircling the shutter button, you’re ready to take your first photo in an instant (officially 0.18 seconds) while any shutter delay is imperceptible.
Generally the D80 is capable of excellent results, with images well exposed, sharp and colourful. Occasionally there is some softness due to camera shake at the extreme telephoto end of the zoom, particularly under dull conditions, but it’s not pronounced.
Though non-Nikon converts are looking at shelling out the best part of £900 for a body and lens, you’ll find better deals with minimal shopping around. For those who want to witness a giant leap in their photography from a small amount of effort, the D80 has to be a leading contender.
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Good Points Rugged, solid build User friendly control layout In the main, sharply focused, well exposed and colourful images Bad Points Lenses and removable media are essential extras Expensive for the occasional photographer Overall A solid camera in every sense of the word, yet at the same time relatively compact, the D80 marries a wide array of features to a user-friendly layout. If you want crisp, vivid digital images without spending a king’s ransom, and don’t mind a camera that won’t slip into your pocket, Nikon’s flagship budget D-SLR is worth serious consideration.
£699 body only, £899 with 18-70mm lens or £949 with 18-135mm lens
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