Short Report: Nikon D80
Small but powerful, the latest Nikon D-SLR offers a lot at an affordable price
The camera provides 32 Custom Settings, of which many photographers don't take full advantage. I love them because they allow me to customize the camera to my own personal way of working. I engaged the grid display, which places a grid overlay in my viewfinder, helping me to hold my camera straight when I'm composing using the rule of thirds. I reduced the area of sensitivity for my center-weighted metering from 8mm to 6mm for more precise meter readings off my portrait subjects. I also set the Function button on the camera to change its autofocus modes, a feature I'd otherwise have to access via the camera's menu system.
The camera provides the ability to enhance images you've already recorded to the camera's SD card. I especially like the D-Lighting system, which automatically enhances an underexposed or backlit image in-camera. It does a remarkably good job and eliminated an additional step for me when I wanted to make a simple print directly from the camera to my printer or when I wanted to e-mail an image. And e-mailing is made all the easier by allowing me to resize my images in-camera as well. The great thing about all these effects is that they don't change the original file, but instead create a duplicate that's saved alongside all my original images.
The camera may be small, but it's certainly not a "lightweight" when it comes to capturing great photographs. The D80 packs quite the punch. Estimated Street Price: $999 (body only).
Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-UX, www.nikonusa.com.
Image Sensor: 10.2-megapixel (effective) CCD
AF System: 11-area TTL Phase Detection
Lens Magnification Factor: 1.5x
Shutter Speed: 1⁄4000 to 30 sec., X-sync at 1⁄200 sec.
ISO Setting: 100-1600 (1⁄3 increments)
Continuous Firing Mode: 3 fps with 100-frame burst (JPEG) and 6 NEF
Storage Media: SecureDigital (SD)
Size: 5.2x4.1x3.0 inches
Weight: 19.9 ounces
Power Source: EN-EL3e Lithium-Ion; 6 AA (with optional MD-D80)