After 20 days of “teasing” Nikon has released details of its new D80 digital SLR camera, which sports a 10.2-megapixel DX format CCD sensor and high-resolution image processing engine.


August 9, 2006: After 20 days of “teasing” Nikon has released details of its new D80 digital SLR camera, which sports a 10.2-megapixel DX format CCD sensor and high-resolution image processing engine.
The D80, which will fit into the Nikon DSLR range just above the D70s, has a slimmer and more compact body, thanks largely to the use of SD memory cards for data storage. It sports a large and bright viewfinder that offers 0.94x magnification and is diopter-adjustable plus a 2.5-inch 230,000-dot LCD monitor with an 170-degree viewing angle from all directions. A new dedicated Zoom button makes it easy to review images and gauge sharpness at up to 25x magnification. The size, layout and operation of all buttons and controls are designed for maximum ease of use.


Front, back and top views of the new Nikon D80 camera body.
The new camera has an interesting combination of features, including the same 420-pixel 3D Colour Matrix Metering II as the D50 (which supports centre-weighted and spot options). It also boasts the same Multi-CAM 1000 AF Sensor Module as the D200, which supports a new 11-area AF system. The latter can use each focus area individually or the centre sensor can also be switched to wide-frame operation for broader coverage. A new Auto-area AF mode measures all 11 focus areas, then automatically determines which of them are on the primary subject and activates only those areas for fast and accurate shooting. However the D200’s Group Dynamic AF function is absent and there’s no facility for matching non-CPU lenses to the camera’s image processing system.
Another D80 highlight is its high-performance image processing chip, which uses “colour independent analogue pre-conditioning” and the same 12-bit digital image processing algorithms as found in the D200 and Nikon’s latest professional digital SLR cameras. This delivers accurate colour reproduction plus faster camera responsiveness. Claimed start-up time is only 0.18 seconds to power up and the shutter’s minimal release lag time is approx. 80 milliseconds. Continuous shooting at a rapid 3 frames/second in bursts of up to 100 JPEG
images, make action photography a reality.
Variable centre-weighted metering and spot metering linked to the active focus area are also available, as are professional levels of exposure compensation and auto exposure bracketing. A sophisticated Auto White Balance system is partnered by six manual settings (Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, and Shade), as well as a preset option for using a grey or white object as a reference. As well as the standard P, A, S and M shooting modes, the D80’s Digital Vari-Program setting offers pre-sets for Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Macro Close up, Sports, Night Landscape and Night Portrait shooting modes. Flash synch stops at 1/200 second.
A new menu interface, similar to that on the D200, and featuring refinements to the colour scheme and increased font size makes navigation easier on the eye, intuitive and furthers ease of use. D80 owners can customise menus to display only selected items using the new “My Menu” set. Playback options include RGB histogram display, single frame, 4 or 9-image thumbnail display and highlight point display, along with a new Pictmotion slideshow option that includes Standard and Advanced settings with selectable styles, transitions and background music. The D80 can also be connected to a TV set via the supplied AV cable for slideshow playback.
In-camera image editing features include D-Lighting, which automatically brings out detail; red-eye correction, image trimming and Image Overlay, which merges a pair of selected NEF-RAW files taken with the D80 to create a new composite image. Other options include Monochrome settings (Black-and-white, Sepia, Cyanotype) and Filter Effects (Skylight, Warm filter, Colour balance). Multiple Exposure is a new shooting option that creates a single image within the camera from up to 3 consecutive exposures. The D80 is also compatible with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System along with an extensive range of Nikkor lenses. Other D200 features carried over to the new model include the wireless flash system and long-life battery. Dedicated accessories include the Wireless ML-L3 (IR) Remote Control and MC-DC1 Remote Cord options, which enhance camera stability for long exposures. The camera will be supplied with Nikon’s PictureProject software, which supports only basic raw file conversion, but is also compatible with the optional Capture NX image editor/raw file processor. Compatibility with Adobe’s Camera Raw – and some other third-party raw file converters – should also be available once the camera has been released.
Announced concurrently with the D80 are two new zoom lenses, the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED and the AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED. The former has a focal length range equivalent to 18-135mm in 35mm format and features Nikon ED glass, aspherical lens elements and SWM (Silent Wave Motor). A lightweight, compact lens with internal focusing, it is designed exclusively for Nikon DX format cameras and is expected to be affordably priced. It can focus to within 45 cm through the entire zoom range, accepts 67 mm screw-in filters and comes with a HB-32 lens hood.
The new AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED is compatible with both 35mm and DX format cameras and gives a picture angle equivalent to 105-450mm with the latter. Equipped with Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VRII) image stabilisation, it provides a claimed four-stop advantage over non-stabilised lenses. Two stabilisation lodes are provided: Normal for standard hand-held shooting and Active to compensate for a larger range of vibration. Two ED glass elements minimise chromatic aberration and the SWM enables fast and quiet autofocusing. Internal Focus (IF) design maintains a constant lens length and allows use of angle-critical filers like polarisers and graduates. Minimum focusing distance is 1.5 metres throughout the zoom range. The lens is supplied with an HB-36 hood and accepts 67mm screw-in filters.
The D80 is expected to be available in Australia in late September or early October, along with a new 18-135 AFS kit lens (27-200mm equivalent in 35mm format). Local distributor Maxwell Optical Industries had not finalised prices when this announcement was posted, but has indicated a camera and lens kit will be priced under $2,000 including GST. For more information visit