August 10, 2006 The digital prosumer camera market went from red hot to white hot yesterday when Nikon announced the 10.2-megapixel D80, a replacement for its 6.1-megapixel D70s. The D80 will represent remarkable value when it hits shelves next month for an estimated selling price of US$1000 for the body only and US$1300 for the body and an 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S IF-ED DX Nikkor Lens. Many of its features have been taken straight from professional cameras in the Nikon range, with many of the attributes of the D200at half the price. It can shoot at speeds of up to 3 frames per second, for up to 100 consecutive shots (in JPEG Normal mode), powers up in only 0.18 seconds and captures a picture with an imperceptible shutter lag time of just 80 milliseconds (0.08 seconds). A new 11-area auto- focus system (from the D200) detects focus with superb precision and can even track a moving subject across the frame, shifting focus instantly and automatically to any of the 11 auto-focus points that detect the subject.
The D80's large, bright 0.94x viewfinder affords a remarkable view not found in many digital SLRs, making critical composition easier and more pleasing. The camera's rechargeable battery can last up to 2700 shots on a single charge, while also providing a real-time Fuel Gauge of the percentage of charge remaining in the battery at all times. And like all Nikon digital SLR cameras, the D80 feels solid and substantial while being both compact and comfortable. But more experienced photo enthusiasts will admire the D80 most for its bevy of creative controls and features that make photography with the camera so much more enjoyable and rewarding.
Its new Optimize image menu, for instance, offers complete control over the look and feel of your pictures, allowing you to boost saturation and create pictures with vivid color, or shoot black-and- white pictures with a choice of four filtration effects, or even create your own custom look that expresses personal style and creativity. Other creative tools include an all-new image Retouch menu for in-camera image editing, built-in i-TTL flash control with the ability to control up to two remote groups of Speedlights, as well as over 32 Custom settings to customize several attributes of the camera's performance.
"The Nikon D70 and D70s cameras proved to be extraordinarily successful due to the excellent value they offered to passionate photo enthusiasts when each was introduced. They offered an ideal balance of features, performance, innovation and price, making them appealing to a very broad range of photographers. With the introduction of the D80, Nikon is significantly raising the bar for a camera in this class," said Edward Fasano, general manager for Marketing, SLR Systems Products at Nikon Inc.
"By bringing high- end features and technologies inherited from our professional line of cameras to the passionate photo enthusiast, while making the camera simpler and more enjoyable to use, we believe the D80 will represent the 'sweet spot' for anyone looking for a new level of digital SLR camera performance and value. Paired with the new 7.5x 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S IF-ED DX Zoom-Nikkor lens, the D80's performance and versatility becomes even more compelling for consumers," he added.
Unrivaled Image Quality
At the heart of any digital camera lies its image processing engine - a sophisticated processor that determines, among other things, the overall color rendering and image quality of pictures taken with the camera. One of the key advances developed for the D80 is Nikon's own high-resolution image processing engine that inherits best-of-breed technologies from Nikon's latest professional digital SLR cameras, including color independent analog pre- conditioning and high-precision 12-bit digital image processing algorithms, which combine to produce natural-looking images that benefit from faithful color and tone reproduction. A new dedicated high-performance processing chip greatly accelerates performance on all levels, while also achieving lower power consumption, assuring more pictures per battery charge.
The D80 also benefits from Nikon's exclusive 3D Color Matrix Metering II, to ensure accurate exposures, even in the most challenging lighting conditions. Evaluating, rather than merely measuring or averaging the true content of each scene, input from the system's frame-wide 420-pixel sensor is automatically referenced against an onboard database of over 30,000 scenes from actual photography to calculate final exposure value. Variable Center- Weighted metering and Spot metering centered on the active focus area are also available, as are exposure compensation and auto exposure bracketing. Sophisticated exposure automation combined with options for complete user control help to make the D80 an ideal high-performance digital SLR for passionate photography enthusiasts.
Speed to Burn
One of the hallmarks of Nikon's digital SLR cameras is how fast they operate, not only when capturing images, but also when processing them. The D80 proudly carries this tradition forward. Not only is the camera powered up and ready to shoot in only 0.18 seconds, it also reacts at blazing speeds when the shutter button is pressed. With a minimal shutter lag time of just 80 milliseconds (0.08 seconds), and the ability to shoot 3 frames per second up to 100 consecutive shots (in JPEG Normal mode), the camera is ready to shoot whenever that priceless expression or special moment presents itself. Images shot are processed instantly and recorded rapidly to the inserted SD memory card. Preview images are also displayed near instantly.
The D80's new 11-area auto-focus system also fulfills its role in the overall speed of the camera, delivering fast and precise focus under varying shooting conditions. Adopting a refined version of Nikon's advanced Multi-CAM 1000 AF Sensor Module, this new 11-area AF system with center area wide-frame operation adds effective new focusing options that will instill greater confidence in getting the desired shot. An all-new Auto-Area AF mode measures all eleven focus areas and automatically determines which of them are on the primary subject.
Creativity Comes Standard
The Nikon D80 is designed to inspire creativity at every level. For this reason, the camera includes a wide assortment of features and tools to empower all kinds of users, ranging from the novice to the seasoned pro, to pursue their creative vision, instantly and right from within the camera.
D80 photographers will enjoy the camera's built-in Multiple Exposure mode for unique composite image effects, or the Optimize menu options that closely tailor results to the scene at hand or the intended use of an image or to a custom preference of the photographer. Optimization of sharpening, tone (contrast), color, saturation and hue is controlled by the user-selected choice of Normal, Softer, Vivid, More Vivid, Portrait, Custom and Black-and- White. The black-and-white mode can be customized using red, green, yellow and orange filter effects as well as image sharpening and tone compensation.
The D80 also features an all-new image Retouch menu, with exclusive in- camera editing functions that will certainly keep D80 users engaged when they're not busy shooting. Options within the Retouch menu include:
* D-Lighting: Automatically balances underexposed portions of an image to enhance detail in these areas, without affecting the highlights of the picture.
* In-camera Red-eye Correction: Automatically removes the annoying red-eye effect sometimes caused by flash.
* Trim: Images can be trimmed within the camera to produce smaller files with reduced display sizes for easy sharing or greater efficiency for specific end purposes.
* Image Overlay: Merges a pair of selected RAW files taken with the D80 to create a composite image within the camera as a RAW or JPEG file. This feature is especially useful when trying to create a soft-focus effect with two similar images.
* Monochrome settings: Monochrome settings can be applied to any color image in the camera, to convert it to a pleasing monochromatic picture, either in black-and-white, sepia or cyanotype.
* Filter Effects: Can be used to emulate and apply the effects of a Skylight filter or a Warming filter to any image stored on the inserted SD card. A Customized Color menu within filter effects can also be used to make subtle shifts in color to any image in the camera.
For anyone just beginning to enjoy the added performance and versatility of digital SLR photography, creative shooting is as simple as rotating the Digital Vari-Program mode dial on the camera. The D80 has seven preconfigured program modes to optimize the camera for specific shooting conditions and greatly increase the chances of taking a great photograph. In "Portrait" Mode, for example, the camera automatically optimizes the color, hue, and saturation levels to capture the most flattering skin tones, softens the focus of the background images to emphasize the face and applies a milder form of in-camera sharpening. Users can choose from Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close- Up, Sports, Night Landscape or Night Portrait.
The D80 also offers creative ways to share pictures, with its built-in Pictmotion slideshow feature, which includes style selections that control transitions and background music. Shows can be enjoyed on the 2.5-inch LCD, or complete with audio on a television when connected via the supplied AV cable.
The D80 features refined ergonomics and design, borne from Nikon's extensive experience designing successful SLR cameras for over 50 years. As a result, the camera is incredibly comfortable to use and handle, and incorporates several new features that enhance its usability. The D80 features a large and bright viewfinder with large 0.94x magnification to ensure the clearest view possible for precise composition. Included is a built-in diopter adjustment control knob that also makes it easier to fine- tune the view to match eyesight. The viewfinder's integrated grid display can also be turned on to assist with composition.
A large new 2.5-inch 230,000-dot high-resolution LCD provides an ultra- wide 170-degree viewing angle from all directions. Navigating the spacious preview of your images is easy with a new dedicated Zoom button, magnifying images on screen up to 25 times their original size. A new RGB histogram display aids in evaluating exposures with greater precision. Other playback options include single frame, 4 or 9-image thumbnail display, an improved histogram display and highlight point display. A new menu interface featuring refinements to the carefully chosen color scheme and increased font size makes navigation easier on the eye, easier to understand and easier to use. Menus can be customized to display only selected items using the new "My Menu" set.
The D80 is slimmer and more compact than its predecessors, and remains true to Nikon's commitment to intuitive operation. The size, layout and operation of all buttons and controls are designed for maximum ease of use.
With the D80, users also have complete and seamless compatibility with Nikon's extensive Total Digital Imaging System, and the camera is designed to take advantage of many of the technologies built into Nikon accessories. The D80's powerful built-in Speedlight is compatible with Nikon's Creative Lighting System, and can wirelessly control up to two groups of Speedlights in full TTL mode, taking the guesswork out of multiple flash photography. Compatible Speedlights within the Creative Lighting System include the SB-800, SB-600 and Nikon's Wireless Close-up Speedlight Systems, featuring the SB- R200.
The D80 also offers unprecedented compatibility with Nikon's extensive selection of AF Nikkor lenses as well as new DX Nikkor lenses, which are designed exclusively for use with Nikon DX format digital SLR cameras. Nikkor lenses, famous for optical superiority, add to the D80's ability to deliver outstanding images.
The D80 will also have an optional MB-D80 battery pack available, extending the shooting capability in an ergonomic design that adds shooting stability. Able to run on either one or two EN-EL3e rechargeable batteries or six AA-size batteries, the pack also features an additional command dial and alternative buttons for shutter release and AE-Lock/AF-Lock that make vertical shooting more comfortable.
The D80 is also fully compatible with Capture NX software (available for purchase separately), Nikon's highly versatile and elegantly simple new photo editing solution designed to help photographers tap the full potential of NEF (RAW) images. Featuring an innovative user interface that provides easier access to powerful and visually intuitive enhancement tools, Capture NX's powerful photo image processing and editing tools can also be applied to JPEG and TIFF files to satisfy a broader range of photofinishing needs and applications.
The D80 will be available beginning September 2006 for an estimated selling price of US$1000 for body only and US$1300 for body and lens outfit, including the new 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S IF-ED DX Nikkor Lens.