Preliminary report on D80

Started Sep 7, 2006 | Discussions thread
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Walter S Matthews Veteran Member • Posts: 3,311
Preliminary report on D80

I now own a D80.
Why?
Mostly because I wanted it but my reasoning was thus...

Nikon has been improving their low light performance and the D50, which I bought and sold for what I bought it for, was the best low light Nikon I had ever shot. I have been using the D200 more and more at weddings and soon I will be going through a series of no-flash sancturary weddings where I have the Canon 5D as my primary camera and the D200 as the alternative back up. The D200 is at best marginal at 1600 and since I found the D50 to be better than the D200 for sow light and since the D80 was reported to have most of the capability of the 200 I reasoned tht the D80 would have at a minimum the low light performance of the D50, which it clearly does and the improved resolution of the D200.

I have had the camera for only a day and my findings are preliminary but it is a very very good imaging camera. The colors from it are, in my judgement, the best I have seen from a Nikon digital camera and it handles very well. It is also a very light camera. I was afraid that it would be too light and toy like and my first impression in picking it up was just that, that it was more toy like than DSLR like but after shooting with it for four hours yesterday it feels pretty good. My lower back promises it won't miss the extra weight.

I won't try to post images yet because I have not had a chance to run controlled tests but I will. I plan to test the performance, with a specific eye on noise at 1600 with the same shot, same lens same set up with the d200, the D2X the S3 and the D80.

Preliminary shots with the D80 and my 85mm F1.8 lens at iso 1600, camera set to 6MP, custom white balance, tungsten lighting, wide open on the lens and 1/30 of a second are absolutely impressive. There is more noise than the Canon 5D generates but the colors are a lot better from the D80 than from the Canon. With the Canon the reds tend to saturate way too fast at low light. I expect it with the Canon and just plan to tone them down in post when I have to shoot very low light shots. That doesn't seem to be happening with the D80. I won't know till after this weekend where I have two weddings with no flash allowed and one of them has a bright maroon colored carpet that the Canon consistently turns into a red.

There are three things about the camera that irritate me.

1. The LCD shows the image for only 4 seconds after the shot and then turns off. There doesn't seem to be any way to turn that time interval up and I am used to the S3 where the image will stay till I tap it off with the shutter.

2. The histogram is of four graphs, all at once and it makes the image small, a la how the D2X does it and not like the D200 where there is a big histogram over the big image on the LCD.

3. When you want to change states, like changing WB, you have to look at a very small icon on the top LCD and it is just too small for me to see in good light and almost invisible to me in low light.

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