D80-my first impressions

Started Sep 8, 2006 | Discussions
doktorwise Junior Member • Posts: 44
D80-my first impressions

I've been shooting for many years with a Canon AT-1 and AE-1 film cameras, and I've got a little Canon digital P&S, which I love, but is quite limited and slow. I've now finally made the plunge into DSLR land with a D80 that I received yesterday.

Last night I unpacked it and fiddled with it a little while the battery charged. I took a couple pictures before going to sleep and a few this morning. The reason for this post is to give other film camera folks thinking of making the plunge my first impressions.

First of all, while the viewfinder is definitely better than the D70 and D50 versions that I looked at in a camera store, it isn't nearly as nice as my 25+ year old Canon viewfinders. It's noticably smaller. There's a lot more information there, and I suppose that's a good thing, but in my mind, what is missing is an intuitive exposure interface for use in manual mode. My personal gold standard is the ring and needle approach in my old AT-1. Nikon makes an effort with a little horizontal row of vertical lines to indicate over/under exposure, but it feels a little like the difference between and old school dial speedometer and the digital speed readouts you see in some newer cars. Somehow just seeing a needle moving takes less brain cycles to interpret than a bunch of lines lighting up. Part of the problem may be just a matter of getting used to the control wheels on the camera body instead of an aperature ring on the lens and a shutter speed dial on the body. I like the idea of the control wheels, but it will take a bit of adjustment. Because the control wheels are used for so many different things, I keep forgetting which is which for what and when. (If you know what I mean.)

To me the build quality feels very robust. It's a bit heavier and bulkier than my film cameras, although part of that is the zoom lens, which seems very nice. This is the first auto-focus camera other than a P&S that I've had, and I must say, I like that part a lot more than I thought I would. It's quiet and smooth, and focuses faster that I could manually, although I'm still getting the hang of controlling it.

The controls generally make sense, and seem logically placed. The LCD screen is bright and sharp, and zooming into pictures and viewing their histograms is very nicely implemented. I haven't spent a ton of time diving into all the menus, but so far, the interface seems straightforward and easy to understand.

I'm not going to comment to comment on image quality, as I haven't really had a chance to print anything, and I'm very confident that the IQ will be at least as good as what I'm used to, and probably much better.

To wrap up, I'm happy and excited about my purchase. I've got a lot to learn, and a lot to get used to, but this camera feels like a very good starting point for me. If you're still a film person thinking about making the jump, I would recommend it, although it will take some time to adust.

critterbug Regular Member • Posts: 296
Re: D80-my first impressions

Thanks for posting your impressions.

Ive had such a hard time deciding between XTi and D80. I was set to go XTi, but that small viewfinder keeps bothering me. And you think the D80 viewfinder is small!

Heading down to BB to check out the D80 in more detail, and compare viewfinders again. If I could design my own cross breed camera out of featues the D80 and XTi have that would ROCK! Oh well, no product is ever perfect.

lovEU Veteran Member • Posts: 3,176
Re: D80-my first impressions

First of all, while the viewfinder is definitely better than the
D70 and D50 versions that I looked at in a camera store, it isn't
nearly as nice as my 25+ year old Canon viewfinders.

first of all - welcome to digital SLR world!

About that viewfinder thing: I made some experience the other way around like you but same conclusions: Only shooting digital until then a couple of months ago someone handed me her old Pentax asking for taking a pic of her. She gave me a short introduction. Looking first time through such old viewfinder I was puzzled. Because it was so easy to focus manually in opposite to my D70s where it is often enought no real option.

So I was wondering why modern DSLRs are not implementing prisma viewfinders. Until now, I've no idea if there are some technical constraints. Or if it is just costs. Or maybe some R&D people think it would be too old fashioned?

Personally I'd whish to see such feature within my next body. Hopefully D200s

Btw, you could not have done better than starting with your D80! For sure you'll learn very fast. Controls are very intuitive with Nikon cams.

Have a good one
---
regards, eric

Franklin Veteran Member • Posts: 4,339
Re: D80-my first impressions

I just got my D80 from local circuit city. I saw they also XTi boxes locked in the cage under the counter. Neither D80 or XTi are on display. I didn't even ask about XTi because I know I won't like the small size of XTi having owned XT before.

critterbug wrote:

Thanks for posting your impressions.

Ive had such a hard time deciding between XTi and D80. I was set
to go XTi, but that small viewfinder keeps bothering me. And you
think the D80 viewfinder is small!

Heading down to BB to check out the D80 in more detail, and compare
viewfinders again. If I could design my own cross breed camera out
of featues the D80 and XTi have that would ROCK! Oh well, no
product is ever perfect.

David Chin Forum Pro • Posts: 11,670
Thanks for such a ...

... well-written post! Linked at :> http://www.nikond80links.com/nikon-d80-user-impressions/ (#5)

-- hide signature --

Regards, David Chin
(D.7.0. & C.P.4.5.0.0.)

Nikon D80 Links:
http://www.nikond80links.com
http://www.pbase.com/dlcmh/nikon_d80_sneak_pictures

Links to all my other sites:
http://www.flickr.com/people/davidchinphoto

OP doktorwise Junior Member • Posts: 44
Re: D80-my first impressions

Yeah, I never really checked out the 400D Xti KISS Rebel or whatever the hell they call it. I'd been researching DSLRs for a few months, so I'd already seen the 350 and I didn't much care for it. I don't remember all the reasons, but I do recall it feeling cheap and fragile. From what I read, the 400DXtiKISSRebel is just a higher mp version with a few other features thrown in, so I wasn't much interested.

The 30D was better, but like the D200, was way more than I wanted to spend. I was looking more seriously at the D50 and the D70s, but the D50 seemed a little too "stripped down" in terms of controls and features, while the D70s seemed too bulky. I remember admiring a D200 at the strong urging of a friend, and being impressed by the viewfinder (compared to all the other DSLRs) and it's overall build quality and features. I thought it was a marvelous piece of machinery that I would never want to actually lug around with me.

What I was looking for was something like the D70s with the D200 viewfinder that was the size of the D50. With the D80, Nikon hit a sweet spot for me at just the right time.

alexab Forum Member • Posts: 63
Re: D80-my first impressions

Just unpacked and played with it for a couple of hours. Obvious advantage in handling and ergonomics over my old D70 (non-s): finally a real viewfinder, usable LCD screen, more real buttons vs. former menu items, good zoom control for the image review, etc. Nice. All this was known from specs, so no surprise here. Don't care about some new features, like in-camera editing though.

Image quality is more important. Looking forward to first in-depth comprehensive reviews from Phil and others.

Here are my first very subjective impressions about IQ:

1. Improved default tonality. With D70 I always had to use custom curves (Fotogenetics EV3, sReala), otherwise images were flat and required extra PP. Looks like it's fine now, straight from the camera.

2. Smarter auto WB. Handles incadescent light better, for example. Also, D70 auto WB produced a little too "cold" results most of the time, so I had to keep it at "-1". Not any more.

3. Maybe I am dreaming, but it feels like dynamic range has improved somewhat: less highlights clipping. Needs serious comparative testing to confirm, of course.

Does anybody agree with my observations? Or has other "first look" impressions?

 alexab's gear list:alexab's gear list
Sony a6000 Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS
Martin Kilner New Member • Posts: 9
Re: D80-my first impressions

..wow sounding good guys!...i owned a D70 for 9 months, but the picture quality got worse, black spots all over the pictures, i took it back to circuit city, and have been cameraless since just waiting for the D80 to show up!...so any photo's you guys could post would give me an idea of whether to plunge back in with a Nikon....cheers...Martin.

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