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Monday, January 22, 2007

Hot New D-SLRs

How seven recently introduced models stack up

Nikon D80Nikon D80
Nikon has replaced its long-successful 6.1-megapixel D70s with the D80, a 10.2-megapixel D-SLR that's priced at less than $1,000, which has a lot going for it besides the 67-percent increase in resolution.

For starters, the D80 is fast: It starts up in just 0.16 of a second and has a shutter-release lag of a mere 80 milliseconds, so you're not going to miss shots waiting on the camera. It can shoot up to 100 JPEGs or 6 NEF (RAW) images at 3 fps, and the 11-area Multi-CAM 1000 AF system (which functions in light levels as dim as EV -1) can keep up with quick-moving subjects.

Like the higher-end D200, the D80 features Nikon's Color Matrix Metering II, but with a 420-segment sensor instead of the D200's 1005-segment sensor. There's also center-weighted metering (with 75 percent of the emphasis on a central 6mm, 8mm or 10mm area in the center of the finder, which is your choice via a menu) and 2.5-percent spot metering.

The Nikon D80's image-processing engine combines color-independent analog preconditioning with precision 12-bit digital image processing for outstanding color and tone reproduction, yet reduces power consumption to provide up to 2,700 shots per charge with the provided Li-Ion battery.

Creative features include D-Lighting (which automatically balances underexposed areas without affecting highlights), Trim (which lets you reduce file sizes in-camera for easy sharing), Image Overlay (which merges a pair of selected RAW images in-camera, useful for sharp/unsharp image soft-focus effects), monochrome settings and film effects. You can also do multiple exposures with the D80. The 2.5-inch, 230,000-pixel LCD monitor can be viewed from angles of up to 170 degrees and provides magnifications up to 25x for easy image checking. Notably smaller and lighter than the D200, the D80 offers many of its features in a much lower-priced package. Estimated Street Price: $999. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-UX, www.nikonusa.com.



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