You know that something good is about to head your way when Nikon, one of the leading manufacturers of DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras, throws a teaser ad of massive intent that aims to generate hype, speculations and build anticipation for an imaging device that's going to represent the company in moving forward. Such advertising efforts are by no means a novelty, but Nikon differs in its approach by channeling its resources and advertising directive not on its most technological advanced camera but rather on its mainstream model instead. The DSLR in question is none other than the hotly speculated D80, which in a move against conventions of hollering modest increase in pixel count and functionality, better trimmings, ergonomic improvements and better value for money is what Nikon brands as "The Next Nikon", among many others.
It's not difficult to appreciate Nikon's bold move of staking so heavily in a brand new mainstream model. The keyword here is volume and any good product or sales manager will tell you without hesitation that while high-end products make for excellent technological showcase, they don't generate nearly as much revenue as mainstream products nor do they attract as many buyers to quickly expand user base for the same period of time.
True enough, a methodical look over the past 12 months will have painted a clear picture revealing an industry wide focus on affordable DSLR cameras. Earlier models not withstanding, Nikon had already rolled out the D70s and the D50 for which the latter was and still is the company's most affordable DSLR to date. Then there are other models like the Canon 350D, Panasonic L1, Pentax K100D and the recently launched Sony Alpha A100 that are all competing for the more or less the same mass consumer dollars. What sets Nikon apart from her competitors is that they are currently the only DSLR manufacturer offering more than one budget DSLR model, with the addition of the new D80 taking that tally up to four.
Sporting a new and improved 10.2-megapixel image sensor, the Nikon D80 immediately poses a concern and a challenge for Sony's infant A100 DSLR. The competition from Nikon's latest DSLR is all the more urgent considering some of its specifications such as the image processing engine, AF system, ISO sensitivity, noise reduction levels, metering system, viewfinder, and LCD monitor are all plucked from the company's higher-tiered professional models. However, with barely a year gone since the D50 and D70s were unveiled, the arrival of the D80 seems to have come a little earlier than expected. Nevertheless, new is always a good thing, especially for budding photographers contemplating in taking their passion to a more serious level. On paper, the D80 is quite frankly as good as it gets for a mainstream DSLR, but will it be the ultimate camera for beginners and amateurs? Read on as we find out the camera's capabilities and tackle this interesting question.
Standard Package Contents
Before we go in depth about the control handling, new features and test shots, let us take a look at the specifications of Nikon's D70s, D80, D200 and its rival, the Sony A100 all on the following page.