If you’ve been frequenting the usual photography / camera forums and blogs, you may have bumped into pictures of this camera:
Last week, Nikon had posted a teaser on its websites worldwide about a new, upcoming 10.2-megapixel DSLR (Click here for the DPreview article).
These leaked shots (if they prove to be real) reveal the camera to be the Nikon D80 – the successor of sorts to the highly popular Nikon D70. I believe that these shots are real. Even if they aren’t, the D70 is due for an update anyway – although it’s still a great camera by today’s standards, it is over two years old.
But what does this mean to existing D70 owners? Should you upgrade? Is this camera as good as a D200 (which has the same megapixel count)? How is it different from the D70?
I’ll try to answer these questions, but bear in mind that they’re completely based on assumptions made from these pictures, which I also assume to be true. With these disclaimers out of the way, let’s have a closer look. 🙂
From the front, the camera looks a lot like a souped-up D50, with more rounded lines and a smaller appearance than the D70. However, it does have the D70’s front command dial on the hand grip – something which was sorely missing from the D50.
Unlike the D70 (and like the D200), the pop-up flash release and flash mode/exposure selector have been separated into two separate buttons. No big difference in operation here.
However, there seems to be a custom button located below the AF-assist lamp, which is good. Custom buttons are always good – maybe it’ll let you select your ISO settings or to an AF lock or more. I dunno, but it’s a good sign.
The back of the camera reveals quite a number of changes. Firstly, there’s a new 2.5in LCD (bigger than the 2in one on the D70s and 1.8in one on the D70). The button layout is largely the same as the one on the D70, although the ISO and white-balance buttons (with their corresponding playback functions) have been swapped. The trash button has also moved to the top left (where the bracketting and drive-mode buttons used to be)while a new ‘OK’ button has appeared where the trash button itself used to be.
However, the fact that the ISO, white-balance and quality settings are still shared with playback buttons isn’t good news – especially if you normally enable instant review. The problem is: if you want to change you ISO settings right after a shot, you may still be in image playback mode and end up switching to thumbnail view. Not a serious problem, but it’s annoying (and is one very good reason to buy a D200 instead).
More shocking, though, is that the CF card door has now moved to the side of the camera (it used to be at the back, which was perfect :(). In fact, the shape and dimensions of the door seem to suggest an SD card slot instead (just like the D50). I can’t tell for sure, as it may just be a notch that leads to a much bigger CF card door. Only time will tell, unfortunately. In the mean time, hold off those CF card purchases if you’re planning to upgrade to a D80!
Now this is interesting… The drive-mode button is now located to the right of the monochrome LCD panel, along with a new AF button. My guess is that this AF button lets you select either between single- and continuous-autofocus, or between different autofocus dynamic/spot modes. Or all of the above! This may also see the introduction of a new AF module, although there’s nothing wrong with the one on the D70 to begin with. AF mode selection was one of the weaknesses of the D70 (you could do it, but it required going through the menus, which is very *yucks!*) – nice to see Nikon doing something about it.
The more observant may also notice the disappearence of the bracketing mode button. Well, I never used the one on the D70 much anyway, so Nikon probably listened to customer suggestions here as well.
Well, the D80 looks to be an incremental update over the D70/D70s. The only reason I’d ever buy one is if the D80’s viewfinder offers much higher magnification (maybe closer to that of the D200’s) – so I can actually keep an eye on the depths of field while I’m framing a shot. It’s a problem for me, personally – even after jamming a DK-21m magnifying eyepiece to my D70.
I doubt the D80 will have the D200’s 5fps continuous drive or weather sealing either. Only time will tell, of course. Until then, wait for the official announcement from Nikon. 🙂