Body & Design

Sticking with what people find familiar (and works) the D80 pretty much follows the design of the D70/D70s, albeit with a few tweaks, mostly softening of lines, with a more rounded top and molding around the shutter release. Dimensionally however the D80 is quite a bit smaller, virtually the same size as the D50. Nobody quite does a quality plastic body like Nikon, it feels tight and solid, wrapped around a good metal chassis. Over this are a few offerings of rubber to improve grip, obviously at the front around the hand grip, at the rear for the thumb and on the left side (from the rear).

Side by side

Here we find the D80 beside the eight megapixel Canon EOS 30D. As you can see the D80 is approximately the same height but is narrower and somewhat better proportioned. As you can see from the comparison table the D80 is very slightly heavier than the Sony DSLR-A100 (the only other ten megapixel here) and has similar dimensions.

Camera Dimensions
(W x H x D)
Body weight
(inc. battery & card)
Olympus E-500 147 x 85 x 64 mm (5.8 x 3.4 x 2.5 in) 479 g (1.1 lb)
Canon EOS 350D 127 x 94 x 64 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in) 540 g (1.2 lb)
Sony DSLR-A100 133 x 95 x 71 mm (5.2 x 3.7 x 2.8 in) 638 g (1.4 lb)
Pentax K100D 129 x 93 x 70 mm (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.8 in) 660 g (1.5 lb)
Nikon D80 132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in) 668 g (1.5 lb)
Nikon D70 / D70s 140 x 111 x 78 mm (5.5 x 4.4 x 3.1 in) 679 g (1.5 lb)
Canon EOS 30D 144 x 106 x 74 mm (5.6 x 4.2 x 2.9 in) 785 g (1.7 lb)

In your hand

As we've come to expect from a Nikon SLR, the D80 feels very comfortable and natural, with a good grip and logical, ergonomic, button placement. It's neither too heavy or too light (as to feel fragile) and feels very well put together and surprisingly robust.

LCD Monitor

The D80 shares the same large LCD monitor we saw on the D200 and D2X, an impressive 2.5" 230,000 pixel unit which is bright, sharp and yet smooth. Nikon stress the screens wide viewing angle, and we can attest to that, the quoted 170° appears to be accurate. The D80 also shares the D200's beautifully 'made over' user interface, with high resolution anti-aliased fonts and icons and increased use of gradients and color. Without doubt one of the best looking user interfaces in the industry.

The screen doesn't have an anti-reflective coating and so can suffer from reflection in bright conditions. The camera is supplied with a clip-on screen protector which has a clear center which has no detrimental effect on image brightness and will help to protect the screen.

Top Control Panel

The D80 has one control panel on the top on the right side, it provides a full range of information covering photographic and digital settings. The panel has a green backlight which can be illuminated by flicking the power switch to the lamp position, it's spring loaded and returns to 'ON', the backlight stays on for the 'auto meter-off' time (CSM 28). You can also choose to have the backlight's come on with any button press (CSM 17). Note that even when the camera is 'Off' this panel displays the number of frames remaining on the card or -E- if no card.

A breakdown of information displayed on the LCD panel can be found on the diagrams below.

*1 • Shutter-speed
• Exposure compensation value
• Flash compensation value
• ISO sensitivity
• White balance fine-tuning
• White balance color temperature (K)
• Number of shots in bracketing sequence
*2 • Aperture (f-number)
• Bracketing increment
• PC connection indicator
*3 • Number of frames remaining
• Number of shots remaining before buffer fills
• PC mode indicator
• Preset white balance recording indicator

Diagram reproduced with permission from the Nikon D80 user manual.