12-24-2010, 02:22 PM
After using my Nikon D80 for about 1.5 years I wrote this review maybe it will help. Remember the review is over two years old and I have some new suggestions I would offer now but it will be a starting point for this discussion.
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“Even after years of experiences with SLR cameras this camera was confusing for me.”
“The digital SLR cameras are indeed a status symbol. Especially when you pull one out amongst the point and shoot crowd at a scenic vista but will you get a better picture than them?”
I have been an SLR photographer (armature) for 28 years. I began my hobby back in 1980 with a Minolta SRT 100, a completely manual 35mm SLR camera. One of my first discoveries about SLR photography was the need to study. I was lucky that a friend had taken photography as an elective at a local collage and had retained his text books. With a loan of the books and some diligent reading and practice I was able to become proficient with my ever growing collection of camera bodies and Len’s. I shot hundreds of rolls of Kodachrome over the years and have my work hanging all over my home and those of many other people also. By 20004 the lure of digital photography became a sirens call too strong to ignore.
My first digital was a Kodak 4600 4 megapixel having a neat little 10X optical zoom lens on board. The phenomenon of being able to delete photos and not have to pay dark room fees for my mistakes was an enlightenment to say the least. By 2007 I was ready to step up to a digital SLR camera. I wanted to stay the course with a Minolta body so that my lens collection would be compatible with my new body. Unfortunately, Minolta was going out of the digital SLR business. Since I had secretly coveted Nikon cameras for the past 20 or so years I turned my attention to Nikon D SLR’s.
I settled on the D80 and purchased a kit having a 18-55mm f 3.5-5.6 and a 70-300mm f4-5.6 for lens selection. These sounded like fast lens’s to me and you will soon find my reviews on them here also.
Here’s what I found awaiting me when I took my new camera out for my first shoot here in Alaska. I was sort of intimidated by the myriad of information contained in the users manual and kept shooting my point & shoot Kodak for the day. Next day I began to uncover the hidden complexities of the new D SLR cameras. Even after years of experiences with SLR cameras this camera was confusing for me.
My first hurdle came with the need to understand white balance. This and the inability to hand hold the 70-300mm lens were the biggest problems. Learning the process of bracketing (digital style) is another significant piece of work for the newbie also. This is not to say that there are not issues I still face a year later when I use the camera for a days shoot. The huge number of technical decisions that are sometimes needed (often if you leave the pure program mode) make it a good choice to keep my book handy.
I purchased the “Nikon D80 Digital Field Guide” by David D. Busch and find it to be more useful than the owners manual supplied with the camera. Having this guide handy when photo results are less than desirable is a must. Unless you can commit all of the books contents to memory I suggest that you keep it near.
I will urge that unless you are very technology savvy and already an accomplished photographer that you think long and hard prior to forsaking that little point and shoot that has been serving your needs up until this time. The digital SLR cameras are indeed a status symbol when you pull one out amongst the point and shoot crowd at a scenic vista but will you get a better picture than them? Myself, having put in lots of hours studying and practicing with my camera I may have an edge on them. The fact that perhaps I have a better sense of composition and always seek an unusual vantage point before releasing the shutter helps. Still, I almost always can do as well with my old Kodak.
One big factor in the success rate with the old point & shoot is that it has built in VR. What is VR. you ask? Vibration reduction, a very useful additive in low light or telephoto mode. It is incorporated into many of the small point and shoot cameras and adds to the chance for fool proof photography.
On the upside if you do take an outstanding photograph with your D80 the 10.2 megapixel sensor will allow a great enlargement of your print. I would recommend that you buy the body only and then shop for the best lens for your needs. I ended up selling my kit lens on eBay and buying several others that preform better for me.
My final analysis is this. You could buy a Nikon D80 and end up using in program mode because you don’t have time to learn the camera or just cant figure it all out. Or you can save a bunch of money and hassle and get a 10 megapixel point and shoot that has built in VR. The D80 itself is thus far functioning without problems and I continue to endeavor for better results with it. The cameras are very good and in most cases better that the new owners at using them.
In closing; the D80 is a good camera but perhaps not for every beginning SLR photographer. If you can take a course in digital SLR photography at a local school you’ll get the most out of your purchase.