A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Home > Equipment > Nikon > Nikon D80

Featured Equipment Deals

Introduction to Lightroom: Exporting Images (Video Tutorial) Read More

Introduction to Lightroom: Exporting Images (Video Tutorial)

Learn how to properly export your photos once you've developed them in Lightroom, including metadata, watermark, naming, choosing your export location, and more.

Latest Equipment Articles

Triggertrap Mobile Review Read More

Triggertrap Mobile Review

Triggertrap is a great alternative to a camera remote that will turn your smartphone into a sophisticated shutter release. Read more about its many triggering modes!

Latest Learning Articles

Portrait Photography: Fixes and Tips in Lightroom (Video Tutorial) Read More

Portrait Photography: Fixes and Tips in Lightroom (Video Tutorial)

This video tutorial teaches you how to use the tools in Lightroom to enhance a portrait while also ensuring your subject still looks natural.


Nikon D80 Review

by Hannah Thiem, October 2007 (updated March 2011)


The Nikon D80 single-lens reflex digital camera is the least expensive current Nikon digital camera that provides autofocus with older Nikkor AF and AF-D lenses. The Nikon D80 offers a similar image-processing engine and the same 10-megapixel resolution as the D200 at approximately two-thirds of the cost and two-thirds of the weight (1.3 lbs versus 1.8).

The Nikon D80 is compact and solidly built around a metal chassis and lens mount. It has a comfortable, ergonomic design with rubber around the hand grip and at the rear of the camera for the thumb. The D80 is Nikon's cheapest digital body with two control wheels, useful for metered manual exposure control or exposure compensation in automatic exposure modes.

Where to Buy

You may be able to find a used Nikon D80 in Photo.net's Classified Ads Section. Otherwise, Nikon has replaced the D80 with the D90 in their lineup, which is available from our partners. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

If you are new to digital photography, start with the photo.net guide "Building a Digital SLR System".

Operating Speed

The Nikon D80 is ready to take pictures 180 milliseconds after being switched on. It takes a little over a second for the just-captured image to be displayed on the LCD monitor after pressing the shutter release. Overall, the D80's reaction time is fast, as you'd expect from a mid-2006 camera, but not as fast as newer digital cameras.

At three frames per second, the Nikon D80's continuous drive mode is great for capturing changing human expressions, but only fair for capturing peak sports action. The in-camera buffer memory fills up after 110 JPEGs or 6 camera RAW files have been stored.

The 11-zone autofocus system is fast, even in low light, particularly when using AF-S (silent wave motor) lenses.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, 200mm (effective 300mm), f/4.5, shutter-priority mode at 1/640th, ISO 100. Bright, sunny Sunday, lots of athletic activity on the Mass Ave bridge in Boston, camera set to continuous drive. This image was the strongest: after a second of continuous capturing, the rollerblader noticed a large lens pointed at him and accommodated by removing his hat. A higher shutter speed would have resulted in a sharper image: his face has a touch of motion blur.

Controls

Nikon's D80 has the standard four exposure modes: Metered Manual, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, and Program autoexposure. In metered-manual mode, two control wheels facilitate simultaneous adjustment of aperture and shutter speed.

In addition to the creative exposure modes, the D80's mode dial offers seven Digital Vari-Program ("idiot") modes: completely automatic (green), portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, night landscape and night portrait. Each mode corresponds to one permutation of camera settings that will supposedly be reasonable for that type of subject.

The camera has three metering modes: 3D color matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering. The 3D matrix meter tries to be smart about such things as a big swath of bright blue at the top of the frame: "must be a blue sky; exposure should be determined by looking at the darker objects underneath". The center-weighted setting uses a much simpler exposure algorithm, determining exposure mostly by looking at objects toward the center of the frame. If you are capturing RAW files, the difference between matrix and center-weighted would only be significant in extreme situations, such as when the setting sun is in the frame. The spot meter is useful for backlit portraits and other situations where the subject is not in the same light as the background.

Next to the LCD monitor are buttons for changing White Balance, ISO, and Image Quality/Size.

Nikon must think that a lot of their customers are in the habit of filling up the memory card with extremely poor photographs. They've included a shortcut for reformatting the SD card: press and hold the erase button on the back of the camera to the left of the viewfinder while simultaneously pressing the metering button on the top of the camera to the right of the LCD screen. Release and repeat to format the SD card. This saves a trip into the menu system.

LCD Monitor

The 2.5" 230,000 pixel LCD monitor is large, bright and clear for reviewing images. The screen doesn't have an anti-reflective coating and proved difficult to view in sunny conditions.

Viewfinder

The optical viewfinder shows about 95 percent of the image the sensor will capture. An LCD display at the bottom of the viewfinder, just underneath the image, shows focus indicator (green dot that appears when the image is in focus), shutter speed, aperture, flash and exposure compensation indicators, flash-ready indicator, exposure scale, battery and auto ISO indicators, and number of exposures remaining.

The viewfinder offers a diopter adjustment range from -2 to +1, enough that people with moderately poor vision are likely to be able to use the camera without eyeglasses or contacts.

In-Camera Editing

The D80 has built-in editing functions, including cropping, image resizing, color balancing with color histograms, color filter effects, red-eye reduction, and D-lighting for shadow and highlight enhancement. Other creative features include image overlay and monochrome effects in black-and-white, sepia and cyanotype (blue and white monochrome).

Flash

This camera has a built-in pop-up flash (guide number 42'/13m at ISO 100), which can be useful for fill light on sunny days. Use it as a primary light only in an emergency; the direct-from-the-camera light will flatten subjects' features. There is no reason to expect to take a better photo than you would with a point and shoot camera if you light the subject with the same blast of on-camera flash that you would use with a point and shoot camera. The pop-up flash isn't tall enough to see over the hoods or even the fronts of Nikon's professional lenses, resulting in shadows in the bottom of the frame.

The camera body can wirelessly control any of the Nikon i-TTL flashes. Flash exposure is adjustable from the camera, from -3 to +1 EV (start with -1 EV when using flash as a fill light). Maximum sync speed is 1/200th of a second with any flash.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, 200mm (effective 300mm), f/4.0, 1/125th, ISO 100, taken at dusk using fill-in flash.

Available Light

I used the D80 with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, (compare prices), and a monopod to photograph a flamenco performance by Juanito Pascual and Elena Andujar at Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts. Flash photography was not allowed.

These images were captured from the upper balcony in Jordan Hall at ISO 1600. The D80 can be set to ISO 3200, but noise becomes unacceptable. Use of a monopod helped minimize camera shake, as well as resting the long, heavy lens on the balcony railing. The camera was set to manual exposure mode, aperture between f2.8-4.5 and shutter speed no slower than 1/80 to capture the musicians and dancer in motion.

Unsure of the best white balance, I captured in RAW, which fills the SD card faster, but allows for significant adjustments to exposure, color and white balance on a personal computer. The 3 fps continuous drive mode was helpful during Elena's flamenco dance performance, though an even faster capture rate would have been nice.

I tested Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S, (compare prices) and the D80 at the 2007 Tango Festival in Providence, Rhode Island. It was a fun challenge to work with the available light and see the interesting colors that resulted.

These images were captured at ISO 1600 using aperture priority at f2.8. Given the difficult lighting, I worked individually with some of the dancers, requesting them to hold a position to reduce motion blur in the resulting photographs.

Memory Card

The D80 has a single Secure Digital (SD) card slot and is SDHC-compatible, allowing the use of 4 GB and larger memory cards. We tested the camera with a Sandisk 4GB SD card, which held about 360 RAW images.

Batteries

The D80 comes with a rechargeable EN-EL3 Lithium-ion battery. This is adequate for taking a few hundred photographs, budgeting a reasonable amount of review time and usage of the in-camera flash. For any serious project, carry a fully charged backup battery.

The optional Nikon MB-D80 vertical grip supplies the camera with power either from two EN-EL3e batteries or 6 AA cells. The grip replicates one of the control wheels and the shutter release, very convenient for vertical format photography, especially with longer and heavier lenses.

Note that the D80 is incompatible with the earlier and EN-EL3a versions, although they look similar to the EN-EL3e.

Compatibility with Older Nikon Lenses

The D80 is compatible with all Nikon/Nikkor F lenses starting with the AI (auto indexing) versions introduced in 1977. Older lenses that have been "AIed" by independent repair shops will also work. Unlike the cheaper D40 bodies, the D80 supports autofocus in Nikon AF lenses that lack internal autofocus motors.

To see some photographs made with an ancient Nikon and 50/1.4 lens, look at "What about an old 35mm SLR?"

D80 or D40/D40x?

Nikon has come up with various designs for doing autofocus. Throughout the 1990s, autofocus involved a slot in the back of each AF lens and a screwdriver blade coming out of the lens mount. In the 21st Century, Nikon decided to put small autofocus motors in most of their new lenses, with a purely electrical connection between camera body and lens. For backward compatibility, bodies such as the D80 have the screwdriver blade in addition to the electrical autofocus connectors. The D40/D40x bodies do not have the screwdriver blade and hence do not work with many Nikon AF lenses, even ones that are still in production but whose designs have not been revised. If you have or think that you might want some of the older design lenses, the D80 is a better camera.

In the "creative" exposure modes, the D80's second control wheel provides a big boost to operating speed. The D80's superior autofocus system makes it a better body for sports and action.

The D40 is a better body if ultimate compactness and light weight are important. You can throw the D40 into a bag when you think that you might want to take pictures, not just grab it from the shelf when you have a big photographic idea.

D80 or D300?

If you don't mind the extra cost and weight, the Nikon D300, (compare prices) (review) is a very nice camera. The D300 should be substantially better in the following situations:

  • sports photography; 51-zone autofocus system and 6-8 fps continuous capture rate
  • rainy/dusty environment photography; the D300 has better weather sealing
  • low light photography; the D300 has 14-bit RAW files instead of 12-bit
  • precise cropping; the D300 has a viewfinder showing 100 percent of the image to be captured

What if you do find the price difference between the D80 and D300 significant? Get the D80 and spend the extra money on high quality lenses.

D80 or Canon Digital Rebel?

Which is better, the Nikon D80 or the latest Canon Digital Rebel? If you have a big collection of Nikon lenses, that isn't a very interesting question. If you have a big collection of Canon lenses, the question does not get any more interesting. If you are serious about photography, you will be accumulating a large system of products from one brand or another. If you haven't yet figured out what to buy, the best place to start is "Building a Digital SLR System".

The Kit Lenses

The Nikon kit lenses cost almost nothing, include in-lens silent wave autofocus motors, and measure out with surprisingly high optical quality. Where's the compromise? Maximum aperture and therefore light-gathering capability. The viewfinder image will be significantly darker than with a professional zoom lens or prime (non-zoom) lens. Unless you are using the camera on a tripod and the subject is not moving, you'll be forced to use high ISO settings, with attendant low image quality, in low light situations. Here are the standard choices in D80 kit bundles:

Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX, 135mm (effective 200mm), f/8, 1/60th, ISO 400. This image was captured just before sunset.

Conclusion

The Nikon D80 has the best price/performance of any digital SLR in the Nikon line. This is the cheapest Nikon body with two control wheels. This is the cheapest Nikon body compatible with older autofocus lenses.

Where to Buy

You may be able to find a used Nikon D80 in the Photo.net Classified Ads. Otherwise, check out the Nikon D90, (compare prices) (review) or Nikon D7000, (compare prices) (review) from our partners. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

More

Choosing a Lens

Nikon makes a complete lines of lenses for 35mm film and full-frame digital cameras. Unfortunately, the Nikon D80 has a DX sensor, "APS-C" sized, that results in a 1.5x focal length multiplier. A high quality prime 20mm wide angle lens gives a boring 30mm point and shoot perspective. Much of the light captured and sent to the back of the camera by the lens falls outside the boundaries of the digital sensor and plays no part in image formation; you end up carrying a lot more heavy glass than necessary unless you're using one of the comparative handful of lenses designed specially for the DX format.

The following are our suggestions for a variety of applications:

To learn more about depth of field and crop-sensor cameras, read Depth of Field and the Digital Domain.

Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S, 60mm (effective 90mm), f/4.0, 1/250th, ISO 100. 90-100mm is a good lens length for portraits. No one wants their nose to appear large in their close-up. Also, the beautiful sunny weather in this coastal town lends itself well to happy portraits.

Specifications

  • 10 megapixel output (same as the D40x, D200)
  • 23.6 x 15.8mm CCD sensor "DX format", 1.5x multiplier (same as the D40x: has a 2-channel read-out and can achieve 3 frames/sec, the D200 uses a 4-channel read-out version that provides 5 frames/sec)
  • 1/200th of a second flash sync speed (D200 is slightly faster at 1/250th of a second)
  • 11-zone autofocus system (same as D200, the D40x uses a three-zone AF module)
  • ISO sensitivity range 100-1600 plus ISO 2000, 2500 or 3200 with boost (same as the D40x, D200)
  • 3 fps continuous capture rate (D200 has 5 fps)
  • depth of field preview (the D40/D40x is missing this feature)
  • 2.5" LCD monitor, 230,000 pixels (same as the D40x, D200)
  • built-in flash (same as the D40x, D200)
  • compact, light body: 1.3 lb or 585 g without battery (D40x is 1 lb or 455 g without battery; D200 is 1.8 lb or 830 g)
  • uses the rechargeable EN-EL3e battery (same as the D200 and D300)
  • optional vertical grip: MB-D80 (no vertical grip for the D40x, D200 has the MB-D200 vertical grip available)

Where to Buy

You may be able to find a used Nikon D80 in Photo.net's Classified Ads Section. Otherwise, Nikon has replaced the D80 with the D90 in their lineup, which is available from our partners. Their prices are fair and you help to support photo.net.

Gallery

With the Nikon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX, (compare prices):

With the Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8D ED-IF AF-S, (compare prices):

With the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR, (compare prices):

With the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8D ED AF Zoom Nikkor, (compare prices) (review):

With the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 Nikkor AI-S Manual Focus, (compare prices):

With the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 DI 1:1 Macro Lens for Nikon, (compare prices):


Text and pictures, except as otherwise indicated, © 2007 Hannah Thiem.

Article revised March 2011.

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



yoni perlmutter , October 30, 2007; 05:44 P.M.

Nicely done review of a very capable camera. Thanks.

Frank Eleveld , October 31, 2007; 09:10 A.M.

Seconded. The review is well-written and the test images shot are great too!

Best regards, Frank

Ellis Vener , October 31, 2007; 11:31 A.M.

Comments

#1:

According to Nikon:

The D40 uses Nikon F mount with AF coupling and AF contacts Type G or D AF Nikkor

1) AF-S, AF-I: All functions supported,

2) Other Type G or D AF Nikkor: All functions supported except autofocus,

3) PC Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D: Can only be used in mode M; all other functions supported except autofocus,

4) Other AF Nikkor (Excluding lenses for F3AF)/AI-P Nikkor: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II

5): Non-CPU: Can be used in mode M, but exposure meter does not function; electronic rangefinder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster.

(IX Nikkor lenses can not be used).

So to say that "The Nikon D80 single-lens reflex digital camera is the cheapest current Nikon digital camera that works with older Nikkor AF and AF-D lenses." is just flat out incorrect.

#2:

'Overall, the D80's reaction time is fast, as you'd expect from a mid-2006 camera, but not as fast as newer digital cameras."

To back that up you need to compare it to other camera(s) in it's price class.

#3:

"The in-camera buffer memory fills up after 110 JPEGs or 6 camera RAW files have been stored."

JPEGS have different resolutions. What compression level and size (resolution) JPEG?

#4:

"Nikon must think that a lot of their customers are in the habit of filling up the memory card with extremely poor photographs. "

That's one way of looking at it. Another way is that the short cut makes easy work of reformatting a card after downloading it. That's a good thing.

#5:

"The D80 can be set to ISO 3200, but noise becomes unacceptable. "

Compared to the D200 I find the noise unacceptable in shadow areas at ISO 200! But The D80 is a slouch comapred to the comparable Canons at ISO 800 and above.

#6:

Great choice of photos under a wide range of lighting circumstances.

#7:

"In the 21st Century, Nikon decided to put small autofocus motors in most of their new lenses, with a purely electrical connection between camera body and lens. "

It's a nit I admit but Nikon had AF-S (electronic driven) AF in 1998 or 1999.

#8:

To compare the D80 to the D300 isn't even close . Bob is a longtime dedicated Canon user and hasn't handled the D300 (I have handled the D300 and expect to get a D300 in my hands within the next couple of weeks) --so

A.) Bob's strongly biased against Nikon

B.) he can't actually have reviewed a camera he hasn't had access to. The D80 vs. Canon Rebel XTi is a more valid comparison but you also need to bring in the new Sony and Pentax cameras into the comparison for this to be useful to potential buyers.

Otherwise well written and presented.

Mike Mason , November 01, 2007; 03:05 P.M.

I've owned a D80 for the last couple of months, it's my first DSLR, and I've been very happy with it. I have the 18-70 kit lens and the 50mm/f1.8 lens for lower light stuff. I would also consider the 18-200 VR lens that has received rave reviews on other sites, it performs well in a multitude of situations and could replace up to 3 separate lenses.

At the time I bought the camera I considered the Nikon D80, D40, Canon Rebel XTi and Canon 30D (available at a bit of a discount since the 40D was due). I plumped for the D80 because it was in the middle of the price range, had an excellent viewfinder (incredibly bright compared to the XTi) and because some friends had D80s and liked them. I also wanted to save some money for accessories and (eventually) more lenses.

If I were buying the camera again today I'd also seriously consider the Nikon D300 and Canon 40D because camera technology only gets better and whilst they're a little more expensive the bodies will have more longevity.

I really like the D80. It's heavy enough to feel solid without being too much of a brick. The controls are well laid out and I like the two control wheels for making quicker adjustments. Auto-ISO is a fantastic feature and I leave it on all the time -- the camera automatically increases ISO to keep shutter speed above my chosen setting, usually 1/30th or 1/60th. Available light performance seems good to me, I get satisfactory results even at ISO 1600 but newer cameras like the D300 and 40D will give even better results.

At the moment I actually prefer the JPEGs produced by the camera to RAW files, but I am shooting RAW+JPEG every now and then in the hope that my RAW conversion/manipulation skills will improve in future.

Nice job on the review, Hannah, I enjoyed your sample shots and am inspired to try harder with my own images!

Gerber Daisy

Roger Smith , November 02, 2007; 01:11 P.M.

Re: Ellis "To compare the D80 to the D300 isn't even close . Bob is a longtime dedicated Canon user and hasn't handled the D300 (I have handled the D300 and expect to get a D300 in my hands within the next couple of weeks)..."

The link in this article is actually to a preview, not a review as the link states. The preview offers almost no information about the camera beyond a features chart and press release, so give Bob some slack for that.

I agree that it's a bit naive to put a comments box under a review and to expect people won't comment on the review itself, no matter what the "terms of service" state. I'm not being argumentative, rather pointing out how people think and how most other pages work.

Bill Egan , November 04, 2007; 10:36 P.M.

Nikon D80

Hi All I gave up arguing Ford's to Chevy's a long time ago but have had my D80 for over a year now. I am a amateur but really enjoy macro and sports. After a big gulp of "what am I thinking" I purchased the 2.8 70-200. The combination is awesome for sports. I also have a Tokina 90mm 2.8 for Macro. This combination is also a lot of fun. I shoot a lot of bicycle racing and the shots are much better than with my D70 and slower zoom. I know a lot of the improvement is in the glass. From an amateurs point of view I still have not learned half of what the D80 can do but am making progress. It seems to have the capacity to grow with me for a long time and it will be a while before my skill level catches up with my equipment. Overall opinion: good feeling camera with the added battery handle, easy to use, more than enough room to expand for an amateur, reliable and fun. Thanks for the review, from an amateurs point of view I see no bias and have been looking forward to this review for a while. Bill Egan

Image Attachment: DSC_3477.JPG

Bill Egan , November 04, 2007; 10:48 P.M.

Sorry about the large file, another amateur problem. Any advice accepted.

Stane Crnjak , November 05, 2007; 07:24 A.M.

I own Nikon D80 from January 2007 and I have taken aprox. 20.000 pictures with it. It's an excellent camera for amateur photographer. ISO 1600 is pefectly usable on 30x45cm (12"x18") prints. Here is what I would like Nikon to change in firmaware for D80:

- Top control panel. It's nice that Nikon D80 still have one. There is almost complete data on it. Also an "EV" compensation indicator. But just indicator, not how much or in what direction did you compensate EV. When turning main command dial while searching for "neutral" position, you can skip "neutral" position very easily and end up turning that dial in both directions, not knowing, where that "neutral" is. Of course, you can look in viewfinder, where those little lines do tell you, where the hell you are! Annoying.

- Let's say that "preview" mode is on and you want to take few shots one after another while looking through a viewfinder. While doing that, you need to change aperture or/and shutter speed. You start turning main or sub command dial between shots, but instead of changing desired parameters, you and up scrolling between stored photos. Of course, you(again) forgot to half-press that shutter release button, which cancel preview and allow us making those changes.

- AUTO ISO. Excellent feature. But why we can choose only 1/125sec as "min shutter speed". Why not 1/500sec? I would like to have usable AUTO ISO also when using 300mm lens. Why not 500mm lens? I have explained how AUTO ISO is working in my Nikon D80 review. In "M" mode AUTO ISO is almost useless. Read it, if you still don't know, why AUTO ISO is an excellent feature. http://photosc.blogspot.com/2007/08/nikon-d80-review.html

- ISO value. Why not showing it in viewfinder all the time? Common now Nikon! You do not expect to sell less Nikon D200/D300 because of that, do you?

- Bracketing. Why you can't do it with self timer mode? Why must we press shutter release button for each "bracket" separately? If anywhere, than in bracketing we do not need shake ones. They must match perfectly!

- Matrix metering mode exposure. I didn't want to put this on a list, because I don't think that this is an issue. But Nikon should make it a little bit less sensitive to darker-than-middle-gray areas in the centre, and problem will be solved. Just a little bit. I do like bright pictures, but let me decide, if I want blown highlights and less middle tones.

- "Lock exposure" in M mode. Let's say, you set you aperture and your shuter speed. It would be nice if you could turn command dial and change aperture and shutter speed simultanously.

This is "I don't like" list for my Nikon D80. "I like list" is much longer.

Regards Stane

Albert Darmali , November 06, 2007; 09:17 P.M.

Actually the only feature I wish included in D80 is the ability to meter AIS lenses. Wouldn't mind paying a hundred bucks extra for it. But I guess if they did that, then there'll be too little difference between D80 and the more expensive D200 huh?

David Brown , November 09, 2007; 10:22 A.M.


Nikon 50mm 1.8 at f2

Been using this SLR for 6 months now.

Mine came with the 18-70mm 3.5-4.5 lens which wasn't mentioned in the review which I find a bit bulky/heavy although I tend to attach it whenever I'm not sure what I might need and it is my only wide-angle lens.

If the situation suits it and particularly for people photos I use the 50mm 1.8 lens mentioned in the review as it's max aperture is much larger allowing hand held photos in lower light without flash and a nice, shallower depth of field.

Added to this the "ISO Auto" function (Custom menu 07) makes the camera seamlessly increase the ISO when light starts fading allowing me to carry on taking photos without having to remember or more importantly stop shooting to change the ISO.

Although it doesn't meter with AIS lenses, they can be attached and used without too much trouble. It is surprisingly easy to meter by trial and error using the LCD and the histogram. I still use my old manual AIS 90mm macro lens on the D80 (would be very expensive to replace with a modern autofocus lens of similar qulaity) and macro is well suited to metering in this way.

David Brown , November 09, 2007; 10:31 A.M.


Elicar 90mm AIS manual on D80 body

And here is a photo with the old manual AIS lens attached to the D80 body.

Simon Hickie - Melbourne, Derbyshire, UK , November 17, 2007; 06:05 P.M.

I've been using the D80 for nearly a year now. My main beef is with the matrix metering - takes far too much account of what's under the focusing point to the extent that it acts more like a spot meter! Other gripes include not having the metering mode & ISO settings in the viewfinder, plus noise at higher ISO settings when compared with comparable Canons. On the plus side is the wireless flash capability, auto ISO, large bright viewfinder, great remote shutter release and general handling.

I get round metering issues these days by shooting in centre-weighted manual metering mode, or dial in a default -0.7EV if shooting in matrix AP mode.

Would I buy it again? Probably not if I could have afforded a D200 (now a D300). Will I upgrade? Yes - mainly to get more reliable matrix metering, but I plan to skip a generation & hope that Nikon bring out a affordable Canon 5D equivalent.

Seth Guikema , November 18, 2007; 03:21 P.M.

I have been using the D80 for about a month now. Prior to that I was shooting primarily slide film with a N90s, and the D80 was my transition to digital photography. I looked at the D70s and D200 used as well, but I have been very happy with the D80 so far. It is surprisingly easy to learn to use if you're making the transition from a decent Nikon film body. Low light performance has been good with the 50/1.8, and the quality with the 18-35 is very good. The main advantages that I saw in the D80 over the D70s used (which can be found quite inexpensive these days) were (1) more megapixels (though do you really need 10 MP?), (2) the presence of DOF on the body like I was used to on the 90s, (3) exposure and WB bracketing (though I find I don't use it on the D80 much), easier to use controls (two dials, color hisograms, etc.), improved autofocus, etc. The two main reasons I considered the D200 were instead were (1) ability to meter with the non-AF lens I have and (2) better weather sealing and tougher overall build. My camera needs to be able to survive backpacking, kayaking, etc. so that last criteria actually was an important consideration for me. After talking with others who take their digital equipment into the back-country, I decided that the D80 would be sufficient given proper care. I found the D80 refurbished by Nikon (through Adorama) at a good price. While the D70s and D200 both deserve a look for someone transitioning from a Nikon film body, I think the D80 strikes a nice balance between performance and cost.

Richard Mansell , November 29, 2007; 11:21 A.M.


Dubrovnik with 18-70 (forgot polarising filter!)

I bought this camera as I already had an N80 and wanted to transition to digital. I love it - very happy. I got the 18-70, which I use alongside my 50 1.8 and 85.18. The 18-70 is used for general purpose/travel; the other two for portraits. The transition from the N80 to the D80 was almost seamless - the controls and feel are very similar and easy to master. The menu system is generally intuitive and easy. My major gripe is that the matrix metering seems to be a bit off - it overexposes, at least on my camera and IMO. I've solved this by exposure-compensating by -.3 EV.

I was waiting for a DSLR which reacted quickly enough in terms of shutter lag and on-time so that it was comparable to a 35mm, and which was affordable - and that is the D80 for me.

My favourite feature, as mentioned above, is setting the ISO to shift authomatically while shutter speed and aperture remain constant - this means that I can keep taking portraits at, say, 1/125 and f2 without constantly manually changing ISO as light changes - EXTREMELY convenient.

I really liked my N80 - I LOVE my D80. I think it's a really terrific camera and I am delighted with it.

Tony Wellington , November 29, 2007; 05:01 P.M.

I shoot with both D80 and a D200. I do this so that I don't have to change lenses too often, keeping the 18-70 on my D80 and 80-400 on the D200. I therefore compare the cameras on a daily basis. My main gripe with the D80 is the dodgy metering. I'm forever having to compensate for it, whereas on the D200 it works very well without having to make corrections. The screen on the D80 is too small to check the shot for exposure, particularly if one is working in daylight. So I often find myself guessing what the meter is up to (I tend to use the centre-weighted rather than 3D Color Matrix), and I nearly always compensate by between -.3 to -1.0. The remote shutter control is fantastic (you have to buy a device for the D200). The other major difference between the two cameras is the frames per second, which is far superior on the D200 (another reason why I keep the long lens on it). If I had my "druthers", I'd own two D200s, simply because of the D80's metering issues.

Michael Hogan , November 29, 2007; 08:26 P.M.

I am a professional photographer with 25+ years experience. I own several different camera systems from 8X10 to digital and everything in between. For most of my work I use 2 D80 bodies, a Profoto Compact 600 and three SB800 with various modifiers + pocket wizards. The D80 is superb - I make my living with them! If your pictures are bad it's not the camera's fault!

It never ceases to amaze me just how gullible most photographers are with respect to equipment. The camera makers come out with a "pro model" and everyone wants one. Marketing hype is just amazing. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the images from any of the current DSLR cameras on the market - I have tested them and the D80 is as good as any DSLR - If there was a better DSLR I would buy two of them.

DSLR cameras are disposable - two years - maybe three and they get sold on ebay. They are NOT an investment like a Large Format film camera or lighting equipment! Build quality? Weather sealing? What a joke! Save your money for some decent lighting equipment and learn how to make good photographs. Stop blaming the meter in your camera for your mistakes.

Bottom line: The D80 works very well for my needs as a professional photographer!

Charlie Schultz , November 29, 2007; 10:35 P.M.

I traded my two Hasselblad 500C for the D80, I'm impressed. The color saturation is quite impressive. I also like the fact that you can go completely manual for Iso, Shutter speed and Ap. speed. I don't use auto except for the lens. I also use my external exposure meter to verify the internal one. It's pretty close. It also works very well with studio flash. Like I said I'm very impressed, Nikon did a good job with this body. I have the 28-135mm lens. I will have to get used to the perspective distortion with this lens but it takes very clear pics. Happy shooting. Charlie

Philip Turner - San Francisco, CA , December 02, 2007; 02:59 A.M.

Hold Out For D200 or Fuji S5

Breeching Humpback - Stephens Passage, Alaska

Although for general photographic needs the D80 is fine at low ISO settings. I find the noise quite unacceptable at ISO 400 and above. I hope the sensor is better on the D200 as far as acceptable low and mid frequency noise is concerned. The D80 fell short for me there as well. I also noticed the in-camera buffer became filled rapidly (six RAW images) rendering the camera unusable for what seemed an interminable period of time. While photographing breeching Humpback whales in Alaska, the camera rarely kept up with the action while I impatiently waited for the images to be written to the media. Friends with their D200's kept on rapidly shooting while I swore I was stuck with an old Nikon F manual film advance camera. I'd hold out for the more expensive D200 in retrospect. As far as color saturation and color rendering; superb! Again, I only question the excessive noise even at ISO 400 setting. Invariably I felt like I had made a definite upgrade, but now think I should have considered the D200. But at this price point ($1,500) I'd have to give serious consideration to Fuji S5 too!

Norman Kjærvik , December 06, 2007; 03:31 A.M.


Bernina Alps from Diavolezza.

JPG straight from camera, PS-resized to 511 pixels width, and two details from center of same image. Nikon D80/18-70 zoom at 18 mm and f./9.0. Recording data: Program mode, matrix metering mode, colourspace III, in-camera sharpness adjusted to + 1, exposure EV - 0,3 at ISO 100.

Norman Kjærvik , December 06, 2007; 03:35 A.M.


Detail from center of image.

Detail I.

Samo Trotosek , December 12, 2007; 08:04 P.M.

I have upgraded my old D50 with D80 aprox. 1 year ago , I also use D70S and D200, and recently tested D300 and D3. I noticed a lot of difference and improvement mentioned above. According to money I had spend for D80 (820euros-body) and costs of new D300 (aprox 1700euros) I think the economic benefits are still on D80 side. Today I would buy D80 again... One month ago I purchased SB 600 and discovered brand new horizon with flash TTL modeling and flash comander mode options in D80 (this is great improvement according to older D50, D70, D70S and D200!

Junce Martin , January 03, 2008; 01:46 A.M.

The only question i really have asked my self since buying this camera is if it's so good how much better are the D200, D300, D2, D3... etc

Briliant camera and at it's price point i don't know why you would get the D40X or any canon around it, also have found it much more comftobale to hold than the canons which feel cramped.

Here are a great place with some video reviews about this model: Nikon D80 video reviews

There are some PROBLEMS with card slot. It comes open easy, but this doesn't affect the camera's operation.

Graeme Eckford , January 04, 2008; 05:06 A.M.

I've had my D80 for over 12 months now and I was initially disappointed, however, after getting to grips with post processing and purchasing better glass I'm amazed at the results available.

My kit start out with a Sigma 18-50 3.5-5.6 zoom which was really quite soft and lacking in contrast. I've since added the brilliant Sigma 18-50 f2.8 which seems to partner the D80 perfectly - images are razor sharp, no chromatic abberation and only a little flare in tricky conditions. Images will easily enlarge to A3+ and still look fantastic.

If I was to wish for a few improvements, they would be: 1) True mirror lock-up function, the exposure delay mode is a poor imitation 2) Ability to set the camera to default to maximum aperture when DOF preview button pressed (this would make filter placement mush easier) 3) More Weather-proofing 4) A lower ISO setting of maybe 25 or 50. 5) Maybe some dust removal?

Overall its a fantastic camera producing stunning results. Its going to be difficult to justify an upgrade to a D300! Go and get one - they are cheap, reliable and far better than a EOS400D (IMHO)!

Samir Koirala , March 01, 2008; 01:07 P.M.

Recently bought a used D80 with the 18-70mm and 50 f/1.8 Nikkor lenses. My first DSLR after 12 years shooting film with the excellent Canon Elan IIE. After a thousand frames on the D80, I am thrilled with my choice. However, it does have a few quirks that have made shooting with it less intuitive than I would like (at least so far). A few things I have noticed:

- Overall excellent image quality. Up to ISO 400 I use RAW and process with Adobe Camera Raw. This gives me noticeably higher resolution than in-camera JPEGs. Subjects with lots of fine detail really jump out compared to what you get with JPEGs. At higher ISOs, I find that the D80 JPEGs work better. Sure, you lose some fine detail because of noise reduction, but the balance between sharpness, noise and color is very good indeed. Therefore, I always take pictures in RAW plus JPEG mode, using RAW for lower ISOs and JPEGs for higher. The D80 also gives excellent results with flash (I use the SB600).

- Strong camera basics. The things that dont affect image quality per se but make the photographic experience more pleasant are well thought out. Large, bright viewfinder, comfortable grip, discreet mirror slap (quieter than my Elan IIE and most DSLRs...a big plus in my book), fast, accurate AF even in low light, convenient controls, the customizable FUNC button, and a general feeling of responsiveness. A photographers camera.

- Some annoyances. Mainly the well-documented quirks of the matrix meter (overly sensitive to the area under the active AF point) and the sometimes harsh clipping of highlights. I hate to keep checking the histogram while shooting, and the adult supervision the matrix meter needs can be a distracting. My workaround has been to use centre-weighted and spot meters, but in rapidly changing light I do miss having a reliable matrix meter. I can generally recover blown highlights from the RAW files but I wish the JPEGs had a gentler roll-off at the bright end. Some newer DSLRs seem to handle highlights better. A few less critical issues with my D80: the AWB is inconsistent in incandescent light, the absence of permanent ISO display in the viewfinder is plain silly, the lack of a dedicated dial to change from auto area AF to a specific point is a bit annoying, and long exposures (10-15 min or longer) have a prominent amp glow in the upper third of the image.

- Bottom line: A very capable all-around camera for a serious photographer on a budget...possibly still the best out there for the price. Outresolves most kit lenses at most apertures (including my very good 18-70mm) so save your money for better lenses and you will really see the D80 shine.

Janet Murdaca , October 22, 2008; 11:04 P.M.

Help! I have had a Nikon D80 for almost a year and use it for Sports Photgraphy. I have a 70-200mm VR Nikkor lens and it takes amazing photos outdoors! But, I have been taking volleyball, basketball and hockey photos and the photos are either still too dark or too grainy. I have tried everything to turning up the ex. compensation, ISO over 1600, Ap. setting at maximum 2.8 and shutter speed has to be over 1/400 or it is totally blurry. Is the D80 just not fast enough for this lens?

Image Attachment: fileKoqcWh.jpg

Samir Koirala , February 05, 2009; 09:30 A.M.

Probably pointless since this response is months later, but anyway...Janet, it sounds like you're pushing the limits of what the D80 can give you. If you're already at f/2.8 and ISO 1600 you really only have two options: either a faster lens (85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4, for example, if you can do without the zoom), and/or a DSLR with better high ISO performance. A D90 or D300 would gve you one additional stop (3200), but with performance similar to the D80 at 1600 (ie., not that great). For a really noticeable improvement, I'm afraid the D700/D3 are your only options (or a Canon in a similar price range).

Samir Koirala , February 05, 2009; 09:34 A.M.

After using a D80 for almost a year, I feel I can now give an updated and more informed opinion. First the good: as was my first impression, image quality below ISO 400 is excellent even by 2009 standards. Using RAW capture, ISO 100-400, and processing with Nikon Capture NX2 worked best for me. Lots of crisp, colorful images with great tone, sharpness and detail, and not a hint of chroma noise. At high ISOs (>800), bright areas looked fine but there was significant shadow noise. Still, for me the D80 is usable up to ISO 1600 when necessary. The other pluses of the camera including its viewfinder, FUNC button, quiet shutter, etc. also held up well during my time with the D80.

That said, my initial enthusiasm for the camera dampened over time because of two main issues. First, that darned metering system. I should start by saying that I know some users have learned to adapt to it, and good for them. I, however, felt that it needed simply too much supervision. With matrix the results were too unreliable (generally overexposure) and needed compensation way too often. Even with centerweighted, I found many occasions when the metering didn’t behave as predictably as I would want. The metering woes were compounded by a fairly sharp clipping of highlights. I had noticed both of these quirks initially but hoped they would be easy to work with or around. Unfortunately, for me, they were not. The second issue was the way AF works on the D80 (and apparently D90 too – I tried it). Contrary to what the D80 user manual says (p.31), even in AF-S mode, the camera refocuses between frames when shooting in continuous drive mode with the shutter button held down. For me this is a real issue. I often shoot in low light in which the center point is fastest and most accurate. So I press the shutter button halfway to lock focus at the center point, then recompose and shoot a series of frames to catch the ideal moment or maximize chances of getting a frame without blur. With the D80 (and D90), the first frame is focused where I want but the camera refocuses for subsequent shots even if I'm holding down the shutter button the whole time, making focus-recompose almost impossible with continuous shooting. Yes, there IS a way around this by moving AF to the back, and many users prefer that but it never became intuitive for me.

Ultimately a camera shouldn’t get in the way of shooting and for my use I felt the D80 did so too often. When I had the time to tweak exposure settings and fiddle with focus, the results were excellent, and I got some very memorable shots. However, it never became as reliable and intuitive a tool as I had hoped, so I sold it recently and moved to another DSLR.

Sergio Leal , December 27, 2009; 08:28 P.M.

I have a D700 and I recently purchased a D80 for my wife and for backup camera. We are no longer shooting slide films so we can afford to correct exposures at 3 stops above or below shooting in NEF, right ? Pardon me if I am wrong, but from what I read above, many of the most common D80 "flaws" could be solved by shooting in NEF format, with clear good quality lenses if one is aware of some of its limitations...


Add a comment



Notify me of comments