Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Dirt on Nikon's D80

Just when it looked like the dust was beginning to settle between Canon, Nikon, & newcomers like Samsung and Panasonic, Sony steps up to the plate after the death of Konica Minolta and brings their phoenix in to stir the pot again. Sony's A100 is raising all kinds of eyebrows around the DSLR world. Whoodathunk that Sony would be the guy to step in with a 10 megapixel DSLR?

It's kind of fitting though if you step back a minute and consider the playing field. It seemed as if Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and the rest had settled on battling the entry-level market with their 6 & 8 megapixel cameras. Canon can't step up now with the recent addition of their 30D. Nor could Nikon, it seemed, step up from their 6 megapixel consumer shooters - the D50 and D70s - because of their mid-level prosumer D200, which weighs in at 10.2 megapixels. But Sony, new to the market, decided to make some noise. Sony manufactures the 10.2 megapixel sensor found in the D200 and it has been widely speculated that the same sensor is found in Sony's new A100.

Nikon responds. A little over a week ago Nikon shocked us with an announcement due August 9th of their new 10.2 megapixel "affordable" DSLR for "enthusiasts." The consensus is in that this is a consumer level camera that is the next step in evolution of the D50/D70. The camera is the Nikon D80. Images of the new camera have leaked out onto the web over the past few days.
Speculation on specs? Leon Huang over at the Hip Tech Blog made some quality observations from the images that are noted below:
  • ​​​​​Button layout looks like a combination of D50 and D70/D70s, with
    the Playback/Menu/WB/etc buttons looking more like the former, and the dual-wheel setup more like the latter.

  • It has the physical self-timer and IR remote button like the D50, which D70/D70s doesn’t have.

  • It has the physical Matrix/Spot/Center-weighted button like the D70/D70s, which D50 doesn’t have.

  • It has a new AF button beside the top LCD panel.

  • The Bracketing button went from D70/D70s’ dedicated button to a shared button, which is shared with the ISO/ZOOM button.

  • It has a new dedicated OK button, which was previously shared with the QUAL button and was named ENTER.

  • It has the DOF Preview button that is found on D70/D70s and not D50.

  • The Trash/Delete button changed in position.

  • From the small memory card compartment similar to the D50, we can assume that the D80 uses SD cards instead of D70/D70s’ CF cards.

  • It has the 4-way controller lock switch like the D70/D70s, which is handy for preventing accidental change in focus zone.
Notice that there is also a new button right below the flash-activation button. Could this be a dedicated flash compensation button? Or the Vibration Reduction that many have been dreaming of?

Further speculations include a boost to 4.5fps, what looks like a 2.5" LCD, a 1/250 sync speed and priced between $899 or $999.

So what's Canon doing? Word is something's coming along August 24. An Israeli photography site had what appeared to be an official Canon announcement stating (in Hebrew nonetheless):

This year

August will be different


Every legend has a beginning

You can speculate along with other users here and here. Whatever the case, Sony's entry into the market has shaken up the competition a bit and it looks like lower prices and better products for consumers. Go capitalism!

Update 7/31/06: Take a look at the thread Zach started over at the Itinerant Angler regarding the new D80. It's relevant to several of the issues raised here and there are posts from both Nikon and Canon users that are involved in the discussion. Interesting discussion.

Update 8/4/06: The countdown page.


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