Preliminary report on D80

Started Sep 7, 2006 | Discussions
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.

Thomas Karlmann
Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,761
Re: Preliminary report on D80

Walter: thank you for such an informative report. You have addressed every concern I had with the D80.

I also am concerned with the histogram on the D80. My D70 has the best histogram of any of the 4 DSLRs I own. Why did they change that? Grrr!

I also like the tap-shutter-to-lose-preview that I have on the S3 as well as the D70. I would miss that. This issue was one of the reasons I disliked the S2. Sounds like a potential firmware change.

Your low light discussion, so far, is what I have been waiting to hear. Thank you again for taking the time to do the comparison with the 5D.

Happy Weddings!
--
Thom--

Thomas Karlmann
Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,761
WB Icons?

Who can read those? I usually memorize their relative positioning. I think those icons are about 2-3 point type!

I applaud cameras like the Sony A100 and the Canon 400D for not having those way too small WB icons.
--
Thom--

Anthony Veteran Member • Posts: 8,933
Re: Preliminary report on D80

The real test is going to be skin tones. In your limited testing, how does the D80 perform on skintones, particularly in low light???

Anthony

Walter S Matthews wrote:

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.

-- hide signature --
EdVT Senior Member • Posts: 1,481
Re: Preliminary report on D80

Walter thanks for posting this "hands on preview" I ca'nt wait to see some test images, but I would very much like to see some of those first default shots you're withholding I think they can tell us a lot so please do post some.

Best regards, Ed

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limlh Senior Member • Posts: 1,165
Re: Preliminary report on D80

I wonder whether it's worthwhile to have a one to one exchange of a second hand S3 pro with my newly acquired D80. I was waiting for the price of the S3 pro to drop, but alas it was discontinued. Then the D80 appeared on the market and suddenly the second hand S3 pro is selling for the same price of the new D80.

I had the D80 for a few days, and I think it's not a bad camera at all. Faster read write and focusing. Nice viewfinder and large screen. Only in the area of IQ does it lose out to the S3 pro, but it's IQ has improved, DR is better than S2 pro. Spent a couple of days at the Botanical Garden to get acquainted with it and a few shots (PP) to show:

http://www.pbase.com/lhlim/image/66449816
http://www.pbase.com/lhlim/image/66447046
http://www.pbase.com/lhlim/image/66326016
http://www.pbase.com/lhlim/image/66452962
http://www.pbase.com/lhlim/image/66492674

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B18 Regular Member • Posts: 451
Re: Preliminary report on D80

Nice shots !

Great to finally D80 sample shot spring out. Can't find em in Clubsnap for some reason.

D80 / D200 . D80 / D200 ..

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OP Walter S Matthews Veteran Member • Posts: 3,311
Re: Preliminary report on D80

I shot a wedding today in a very large Catholic church where I have shot weddings three other times. I actually purchased the Canon 5D because of the first wedding I shot there and although I never really liked the colors from the Canon, it did give me noise free shots at 1600 and allowed me to shoot the service without Flash which is required as Flash is not allowed during the ceremony.

I did try the Nikon D50 and found it to be better than the D200 at iso 1600 but there were too many things missing on the D50.

Today I shot the D80....

All I can say is wow.

Iso 1600 and Nikon 35mm F2.0, 85mm F2.0 and finally Nikon 18-55 F2.8.

All worked nicely and gave nicely saturated, properly colored images. There is some noise but clearly not enough to worry about. The shots are beautifully colorful, clean and crisp. All of them were shot hand held with no flash. I had so much luck with the D80 that I kept it in my hands for the prelinminary coctail party before the reception. Rather than use flash, which I almost always do, I fired away with no flash and the exposure conditions were tungsten light, iso 1600, F2.8 on the 18-55 Nikon lens and again, absolutely beautiful images.

I can't express how impressed and happy I am with the result.

Nikon has finally built a camera that is more useful for what I want it to do than the Canon. The Nikon images are just beautiful. ...............it's just altogether too easy to shoot low light with the D80.

I will post a few on Monday as I have two more to go this weekend and need to get some sleep.

Isidore Regular Member • Posts: 132
Re: Preliminary report on D80

Thank you Walter for your report. This is certainly very interesting and ups the ante in the competition.

But as an independent observer I can only imagine how the D80 makes the current D200 owners feel with the latter selling at nearly twice the price of the D80 and effectively offering the same kind of photographic results.

Nikon seems to be cannibalizing their products (as they should) fast enough to stay in the game and keep buyers buying. Has anyone heard of D70 or D70s of recent? Less than 2 years ago, it was the talk of the town.

Isidore

OP Walter S Matthews Veteran Member • Posts: 3,311
Re: Preliminary report on D80

I own the D200 and for things like sports, the D80 is not so good because it is a lot slower, only 3 FPS. But the focus speed is the same and the image quality is better so I guess you are correct. In any event at under $1K it is a heck of a good buy.

Anthony Veteran Member • Posts: 8,933
Re: Preliminary report on D80

This is true of technology in general. How do you think Canon 20D or 30D owners feel about the Rebel XTi? Or D100 owners felt when the D70 came out? At least the D200 still uses compact flash.

Early adopters always pay a premium to be an early adopter. At this stage, there's no reason why dSLRs won't eventually go down to near the same price as their film counterparts. Even the least expensive dSLR now performs in ways that are better than pro film SLRs of just a few years ago, in buffer size, frame rates, flash sync, etc. Seems to me that dSLRs don't need shutters that flash sync at high speeds, since the sensors could do that, and that would drive the cost of shutters down. Likewise, there's no need for a film transport mechanism and those motors. There's no need for hinged doors and light sealing issues. So, those cost savings can be applied to the sensor and electronics.

Makes me wonder what's just around the corner for cameras....

Anthony

Isidore wrote:

Thank you Walter for your report. This is certainly very
interesting and ups the ante in the competition.

But as an independent observer I can only imagine how the D80 makes
the current D200 owners feel with the latter selling at nearly
twice the price of the D80 and effectively offering the same kind
of photographic results.
Nikon seems to be cannibalizing their products (as they should)
fast enough to stay in the game and keep buyers buying. Has anyone
heard of D70 or D70s of recent? Less than 2 years ago, it was the
talk of the town.

Isidore

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newlens Contributing Member • Posts: 617
Re: Preliminary report on D80

Thank you for your post, Walter.

I am curious - what is battery life like on the D80?

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Fujifilm X100S Nikon D610
Keith Aitken Veteran Member • Posts: 6,576
Thom - the S2 has-tap-to-lose

Thom

Agree that this quick switching feature is very useful and useable.

The S2 does have it, unless I am misunderstanding you. I have my S2
LCD/preview set for a 2-minute display, unless interrupted by tapping
the shutter . . .

Walter
thanks for the quickie review, really interesting because low light shots
have been one reason we all love S2s and S3s . . . Now we have close
competition

Keith

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Sunshine :
The photographer's friend . . . And nemesis.

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VLphotos Forum Member • Posts: 97
Re: Preliminary report on D80

Thanks Walter for your opinions on the D80. It's good to hear from people who have actually used several cameras and not those who debate about each camera without actually using them. I look forward to your D80 pictures.

It's good news to hear about the D80's high ISO performance but what about DR, skin tones, or basically the overall image quality? If Nikon can improve their sensors then I'll buy their cameras. It's that simple. I still like my S3 but if Nikon can give me a good body and sensor all in one camera then I'm sold.

Nikon was missing the good sensor while Fuji was missing the good body. Whoever gives me both first gets my money.

Thomas Karlmann
Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,761
Re: Thom - the S2 has-tap-to-lose

I have my S2 set to Postview -- I cannot stand the ability to lose a shot by pressing the shutter -- unless I hit some other key. This was changed in the S3 -- thank goodness. I suppose some may find that Preview feature usefull, but in my wedding work -- it is just to easy to lose aa image! I was absolutely delighted** when I discovered the S3 changed this functionality!!!

Postview for me.
--
Thom--

Thomas Karlmann
Thomas Karlmann Senior Member • Posts: 2,761
D200x?

I would like to see Nikon come out with a D200-class camera that incorporates the IQ of the D80 into a D200 body. (if all this bears true)

Couldn't this happen? I keep thinking about the relatively lame-duck transition from D70 to D70s.

Why not a slight alteration to the D200?
--
Thom--

marcoventuriniautieri
marcoventuriniautieri Regular Member • Posts: 142
Re: Preliminary report on D80

Hello Walter,

Since you mention the D80, a series of thoughts that pass through my mind in these days can pop up here too, perhaps...

And so I was thinking: are there any reasons for someone today should want to buy the D80, and not the Canon 400D, or the Sony Alpha, apart from already having Nikkor lenses?

You know, if I just look at it objectively, it just seems to me that the D80, if compared to the other cameras on the market, have a few things less, and nothing more.

I had/have a FM2n, and that was the reason for buying an S3, which I still use... and though, I feel that I would buy something else today.

Ciao,

Marco

Walter S Matthews wrote:

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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PerL Forum Pro • Posts: 14,056
Why?

marcoventuriniautieri wrote:

Hello Walter,

Since you mention the D80, a series of thoughts that pass through
my mind in these days can pop up here too, perhaps...

And so I was thinking: are there any reasons for someone today
should want to buy the D80, and not the Canon 400D, or the Sony
Alpha, apart from already having Nikkor lenses?

Have you held a 350/400D in your hand? It feels like a digicam, cramps your hand after five minutes. The noise performance of the 350D isnt any better than the D50, and it seems that the 400D isnt any better than the the D80. The kit lens is a disaster.
The Sony? Plastic build, noise, very expensive lenses.

You know, if I just look at it objectively, it just seems to me
that the D80, if compared to the other cameras on the market, have
a few things less, and nothing more.

I had/have a FM2n, and that was the reason for buying an S3, which
I still use... and though, I feel that I would buy something else
today.

Ciao,

Marco

Walter S Matthews wrote:

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.

JGFan Contributing Member • Posts: 658
Question for Walter

Are you shooting jpgs, raw, or both with the D80 and D200?
Thanks.
--
Cullen

Anthony Veteran Member • Posts: 8,933
Re: D200x?

Historically, that's what Nikon has done.

The D50 uses the same sensor as the D70/D70s, yet the AA filter and color tuning is different.

The D70 was improved to the D70s.

The D2h became the D2hs.

The D80 uses nearly the same sensor as the D200, but it's also tuned differently with a different AA filter and fewer output pipelines, which I guess means lower noise at the expense of some speed.

So, yeah, I imagine there'll be a D200s at some point.

Anthony

Thomas Karlmann wrote:

I would like to see Nikon come out with a D200-class camera that
incorporates the IQ of the D80 into a D200 body. (if all this
bears true)

Couldn't this happen? I keep thinking about the relatively
lame-duck transition from D70 to D70s.

Why not a slight alteration to the D200?
--
Thom--

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