D80 vs D50.. (sorry another one)

Started Nov 2, 2006 | Discussions thread
Peter v.d Werf Contributing Member • Posts: 749
some experiences from a D50 to D80 upgrade

I bought the D50 with the 18-200VR some 4 months ago. At that time, in my opinion the D50 had a much better "Feel" the the D70s and the better features of the D70s weren't worth the price difference. (there were rumours about an new model, but I needed a camera and simply couldn't wait)

After 4 months of extensive shooting I grew very fond of my D50/18-200VR combo but also had my wishes for a future upgrade...which I found in the D80 when it was announced.

When a co-worker offered to buy my D50 the choice of upgrading was a simple one. I bought the D80 with 18-135 lens, kept my own 18-200VR of course and he combined my D50 with the 18-135 lens.

My impressions:

1. D50 is pain in the neck it is not very convenient overall

I found the D50 very convenient actually, except for the zoom function in playback. This is greatly improved with the D80 (one button to zoom in, one to zoom out, instead of using the button/scroll combo on the D50)

2. LCD does not reflect right exposure or color

never had this problem on either the D50 or D80, maybe the images are a little bit darker on the cam LCD but that's it

viewfinder is small,

having no previous SLR experience I didn't notice the small VF on the D50 until I looked through a D200 VF once. Real big difference!! In comparison to the D50, the VF on the D80 (same as D200) is a real joy to look through.

one other very big improvement VF-wise is the possibility of enabling the grid lines in the VF on the D80. I sometimes thought that my sensor was put in my D50 at an angle, because I had to correct a lot of un-straight horizons, while I was pretty sure I had them straight when shooting...so the grid saves my day with this gimmick haha

top LCD does not have a light bulb

indeed, the luminated top-lcd was one major reason to upgrade. Sounds trivial, but when you're shooting a lot in darker situations, it can get annoying have to point the lcd towards a light to see the settings..

3. Colors are not that natural and WB is not great especially tungsten

I find colors very natural to my taste (maybe a bit saturated (have saturation in-cam at setting 0 bytheway), but I suppose this also is personal taste. I just start playing with the raw format, so not I'm not experience but I haven't found any problems with the WB being of.
Out-of-the camera WB seems just fine to me with either camera

4. If you try extra sharpening you get horrible artifacts

I did find the out-of-camera shots of the D50 to be a tad sharper (both in-cam +1 sharpening). But after sharpening the raw images, the D80 images show their advantage and deliver sharper end results then the D50.

6. I see lot more overexposures and highlight blinking in D50 as
compared to D80.

At the moment I live in Curacao (Caribbean) for work with a LOT of sun:). I had my D50 during the day mostly around -0,7 to compensate, I have the D80 at the same which delivers good results. I almost never shoot in AUTO mode, but during testing I did notice that the D80 handles the bright environment with blue skies better the the D50 in full-auto (D50 almost always overexposed in auto).

7. D50 does not let you shoot in both RAW and Jpeg fine....

While my "transition" from jpeg-only to raw this I indeed find a flaw in the D50. I wanted to learn working with raw, but also needed a very fast workflow for sorting, editing and publishing my images. I wanted to keep doing this with jpeg-fine, while in the mean-time toying with raw. This wasn't possible, so I kept shooting jpeg-fine and some raw images.

Now with the D80 I shoot raw+jpeg-fine. Quickly publishing the out-cam jpeg-fine and when I have the time I edit the raw of my better shots. Perfect (but that's just me)

8. D50 does not accept 4GB SD card

No bad imho, because I had a 2gb card (and a 1gb) and shot some images in raw, and then you get 560 shots more then enough for me. On the D80 this 2GB is too small with my workflow because the jpeg-fine (4mb) and raw (9mb) gives me about 140 shots...bit skimpy:)

9. Focussing on 18-200mm on D50 is bit slower than on D80 18-135mm
kit lens

My experience is that the D80 simply focusses faster. Some improvement using the 18-135, definitely faster with the 18-200VR (non-DSLR users go ooowww wow when they use it haha)

10. 10MP does seem significant magnifaction of the same image as
compared to 6MP.

Quality-wise I can't really tell the difference between D50 vs D80 imgeas unless I go pixel-peeping. The combination of 4MP more and somewhat sharper pics after sharpening gives the D80 a advantage. More room for cropping.

But I am getting good results with D80 high ISO pics (..)

D50 was amazing at high iso shots. Haven't done too much yet with the D80, but they don't seem less then the results I got with the D50. Would say the D50 is a bit better

D80 does not improve anything significantly over D50...I think once
you hit the DSLR segment its all about features you can get same
image quality from 500dollars to 5000 dollars...how you get there
is different....

In comparison to the D70s, I think the D80 is a major improvement over the D50. The extra features (noticable faster operation, the VF, LCD, grid, auto-iso/shutter-limit-function, DOF-preview, 10MP, lit-top-display,raw+fine ) were worth the price difference for me.

Personally, I you are more-then enthousiastic about shooting, the D50 is also an amazing camera, but after a while you'll outgrow it. Better spend 300$ more once on a camera that will last you longer and gives you more to play with...

If, on the other hand, a few hundred dollars is an issue, for the same money I recommend getting the D50 + 18-200VR instead of the D80+135. First combo I think is faster focussing, better glass and you'll love the VR low light situations!

good luck with you're purchase, which ever one you pick!


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