Nikon has announced the launch of the D80 SLR, a successor to its hugely successful D70. Featuring Nikonu2019s own high-resolution image processing engine and a new dedicated processing chip, Nikon claims significantly accelerated performance.

Nikon has announced the launch of the D80 SLR, a successor to its hugely successful D70.

Featuring Nikon?s own high-resolution image processing engine and a new dedicated processing chip, Nikon claims significantly accelerated performance on all levels and lower power consumption. The camera claims both enhanced automatic operation and more advanced manual features, powered by a 10.2MP DX Format CCD image sensor. This sensor, in addition to the F bayonet lens mount, offers compatibility with Nikon?s range of AF and DX Nikkor lenses.

The new model inherits many of the characteristics of Nikon’s existing professional digital SLR cameras, including colour independent analog pre-conditioning and high-precision 12-bit digital image processing algorithms. Nikon’s 3D Colour Matrix Metering II is on hand to ensure accurate automatic exposure control, in addition to variable centre-weighted metering and spot metering, exposure compensation and auto exposure bracketing.

Advanced Auto White Balance (AWB) is able to measure the entire frame of each scene and match white balance to the light source. For increased manual control, there is also a choice of six manual settings: Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, and Shade. A refined 11-area AF System is based on Nikon’s advanced Multi-CAM 1000 AF Sensor Module to improve the speed and precision of focus lock.

Nikon is claiming a start up time of just 0.18 seconds and a shutter release lag time of approximately 80 milliseconds. Continuous shooting at 3 frames per second, in bursts of up to 100 JPEG has been added for action photographers.

The D80 is packaged in a more compact body than its predesecssor, and Nikon has refined the size, layout and operation of all controls to improve ease of use. A viewfinder with 0.94x magnification are combined with a built-in diopter adjustment control to allow photographers to alter the view to suit eyesight. An integrated grid display can also be activated to assist composition.

A new 2.5inch, 230,000-dot high-resolution LCD provides a 170 degree viewing angle from all directions. Images can be previewed using a new dedicated zoom button that helps assess sharpness up to 25 times magnification. The D80 boasts built-in Standard or Advanced Pictmotion slideshow options, including style selections that control transitions and background music. A new RGB histogram display also assists when evaluating exposures.

The menu interface can be customized using a ?My Menu? setting. In-camera image editing features have been added, including Nikon?s D-Lighting and Red-eye correction, which are all accessible through a new Retouch menu. A Multiple Exposure option creates a single image from up to three consecutive exposures to offer what Nikon is dubbing ?a similar effect of that produced with film.?

Built-in flash employs Nikon’s i-TTL flash, while support for the Advanced Wireless Lighting System allows the built-in flash to function as a two-group remote commander providing direct control over wireless SB-800 or SB-600 Speedlights.

Total Imaging System add-ons include the new MB-D80 Multi-Power Battery Pack, the Wireless ML-L3 (IR) Remote Control and MC-DC1 Remote Cord. The D80 comes complete with PictureProject software, enabling easy image importing, editing, organisation and sharing.

The D80 will hit stores this September priced £699.99 for a body only package. A Nikon D80 and 18-70mm lens kit will retail for £899.99 while a Nikon D80 and18-135mm lens kit will cost £949.99.

You can catch a ‘first look’ preview of the Nikon D80 in the October issue of What Digital Camera, on sale Friday 8th September. Nikon?s new Capture NX software is reviewed in September?s What Digital Camera, which goes on sale this Friday.

KEY FEATURES IN DEPTH

Image quality

New 10.2 effective megapixel Nikon DX Format CCD image sensor offers a resolution of 3,872 x 2,592 pixels. The camera inherits the advanced imaging processing engine of Nikon professional DSLR cameras. Colour-independent pre-conditioning prior to A/D conversion works in tandem with digital image processing algorithms to produce ?natural-looking images that benefit from faithful colour and tone reproduction.?

3D Colour Matrix Metering II automatic exposure control evaluates brightness, colour, contrast, selected focus area and camera-to-subject distance. The system references the data against an expanded onboard database created using data from more than 30,000 actual photographic scenes to accurately calculate the final exposure value for the shot. Variable centre-weighted metering and spot metering centered on the active focus area are also available.

Refined 11-area AF system packs the same number of focus areas available for the professional D2 series into a space-efficient system. Each of the 11 focus areas can be altered individually, the centre sensor can be switched to wide-frame operation for broader coverage and new Auto-area AF mode measures all 11 focus areas. The system automatically determines which are on the primary subject and activates only those areas.

ISO AUTO mode automatically adjusts sensitivity between ISO 100-1600 to maximize available light and achieve optimal exposure. Sensitivity can also be set manually between ISO 100 – 1600 in steps of 1/3 EV, plus HI-0.3, HI-0.7 and HI-1. Three levels of High ISO Noise Reduction are available when shooting at high ISO settings. Long Exposure Noise Reduction is also available when shooting at shutter speeds of 8 seconds or slower.

Optimized Results

Seven automated Digital Vari-Programs can be accessed from the Mode Dial. These provide automatic operation optimizing white balance, sharpening, tone, colour, saturation and hue. Options include Auto, Portrait, Landscape, Close Up, Sports, Night Landscape and Night Portrait.

Image sharpening, tone (contrast) compensation, colour mode, saturation and hue adjustment can be controlled by the user-selected choice of Normal, Softer, Vivid, More vivid, Portrait, Custom and Black-and-white (with colour filter options).

Faster Performance

A power-up of 0.18 seconds combines with an 80-millisecond shutter time lag (approximate) for faster handling. Continuous shooting performance at 3 frames per second enables the shooting of up to 100 JPEG (FINE M-size or smaller) or up to 6 RAW (NEF) images. Shutter speeds range from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds, in addition to a bulb setting.

In-camera image editing and effects

Creative in-camera effects and editing functions available under the new Retouch menu include:

D-Lighting automatically brings out detail to enhance results while optimizing overall exposure balance.

Red-eye correction automatically detects and compensates for red-eye.

Trim can be used to produce smaller files for easy sharing or greater efficiency for specific end purposes.

Image Overlay merges a pair of selected RAW (NEF) files taken with the D80 to create a new composite image that can be saved in RAW or JPEG format.

Monochrome settings (Black-and-white, Sepia, Cyanotype)

Filter Effects (Skylight, Warm filter, Colour balance)

Multiple Exposure creates a single image within the camera from up to 3 consecutive exposures.

Ergonomics for efficient handling

A large new 2.5inch LCD monitor with a 170 degree viewing angle and new dedicated zoom button assist accurate and easy assessment of sharpness by enabling image preview at up to 25 times magnification (for L-size images). Displays include RGB information as a single histogram display or as separate histograms for each colour channel.

Built-in slideshow options include Advanced Pictmotion shows with style selections that control transitions and background music, that can be viewed on the 2.5-inch LCD, or complete with audio on a television via the supplied AV cable.

My Menu lets users customize menus to display only the items they wish to see.

Integration with Nikon?s Total Imaging System

Compatibility with Nikon?s line-up of AF Nikkor lenses and digital-exclusive DX Nikkor lenses. (When used with the D80 or any DX Format SLR, all AF and DX Nikkor lenses have a picture angle comparable to 1.5x that of 35mm [135] format.)

Compatibility with the Nikon Creative Lighting System allows the D80 to work with SB-800, SB-600 and SB-R200 Speedlights to deliver the benefits of i-TTL flash.

An optional MB-D80 battery pack is able to run on either one or two EN-EL3e 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.

Free PictureProject software features an intuitive user interface that provides access to tools for organizing, editing and sharing images. Auto Enhance and other creative functions are available, as are Mail, Slideshow and CD/DVD burning functions. Pictures can be organized using simple drag and drop operation, and can be quickly located by name, keyword, or date.