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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    2,175

    Played with the D80 and XTi today

    Today, I had some time to play a bit with the D80 and XTi. I was at a local electronics store to pick up a video game, but it's also one of the few Best Buys in existence that lets you freely play with the digital SLR's and exchange lenses.

    I obviously can't comment on image quality, but I can comment on ergonomics and first impressions.

    Grip and Feel

    The D80 feels really good to hold, and the grip feels similar to the one on the D50 (not the D70s). The body has an appropriate amount of heft to it, and it just has a solid feel to it. The buttons are large enough and are generally laid out intuitively, with the exception of the few oddities on the top. Overall, it's a pleasure to use and feels more balanced to me than the D70s did.

    The XTi is quite similar to the XT though there are some minor differences. The grip feels about the same, but the material on it is different. I also prefer the smooth finish to the camera rather than the scratchy, rough one from before. However, being able to compare the D80 and the XTi side by side led me to an easy conclusion (for me) that the D80 was better to hold in most situations. Some people like the smaller grip though, so try it out before buying.

    Now after I've said this all, the store also had my beloved 30D to compare this to, and that still wins out for me. The grip is bigger (though shallower), it has the rear dial, and it has a certain heft that I like. Now, some of the buttons could be better placed, but all in all, the feel of the 30D was better to me.

    I didn't have a D200 to compare this to.

    Screen

    Pretty simple.

    D80 > XTi > 30D

    The D80's screen was bright and had a great viewing angle. The XTi was very close though. The 30D was quite a longshot off by comparison due to its (relatively) dim screen.

    Viewfinder

    Again, this one was pretty clear cut. Being able to try out the XTi and the D80 side by side really exposes the stark contrast.

    The D80's viewfinder was large, bright and big. It wasn't quite as nice as the one on the D200 but very close. From my understanding, they are actually slightly different viewfinders, so this probably accounts for the difference.

    The XTi's viewfinder was small and dim by comparison. It's still better than the one on the D50 or D70s, but it totally paled in comparison to the one on the D80.

    The 30D's viewfinder was not nearly as nice as the one on the D80 but still quite good.

    Other Issues

    I really liked the feel of the D80, but there was one low point and it's that nasty 4 way controller. I found it a bit stiff to press, and it was too small IMO. This mirrors what Jeff said in his review, and I really have to agree. There's so much space on the back of the D80, so why couldn't they have made it a little bigger?

    The D80 had the 18-135 kit lens attached to it, so I can comment on the build quality of it. It's not quite as bad as the 18-55's or 18-200's build quality which was utterly cheap. At least, it has a (small but acceptable) rubber focus ring below the zoom ring, unlike the other two which have it located at the tip of the barrel. That said, it's still a good step down from the build quality of the 18-70. That was the nicest built kit lens ever.

    I prefer how Nikon and other manufacturers place the dial in front of the shutter rather than behind it like Canon does. Minor quibble, but it's worth nothing.

    Conclusion

    All in all, I was impressed by the build, ergonomics and design of the D80. It's a much nicer camera than its predecessor, and from this angle, it stacks up very well against the XTi, and even the 30D.

    Obviously, this is just an external look at the camera. Image quality is something I couldn't evaluate, but the reviews are coming in, and the D80 is getting very favorable reviews all around. If I were buying, I would skip the kit lens though. Save the $300 and spend it on something better like a Sigma 17-70 or Tamron 17-50.

    About the XTi, it's a very good camera for the price. You're getting quite a bit of camera for $800. Although the ergonomics, viewfinder and design don't quite meet the D80, the image quality and lens selection put the two on more equal footing. Don't forget that!

    I couldn't cross compare to Pentax because that wasn't available. There was an A100 around, but I wasn't terribly interested in trying it out. When the K10D's come in, I will report on how that goes since I have an interest in that camera, especially with the new USM lenses which were announced.

    Now, this doesn't mean much for me since I'm not interested in the D80/XTi at all, but I'm just posting this for the sake of letting you all know how I felt.
    Last edited by Rex914; 09-24-2006 at 12:32 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Derbyshire, UK
    Posts
    2,505

    Thanks Rex

    Very usefull comments Rex thanks for posting. For me It's a shame you didn't have time to have the same run through of the Sony alpha and the Pentax K100. I'd have liked to hear your comparative comments especially about the viewfinders. See even when you do a good review someone wants more!! sorry. Thanks again for taking the time to play in the store & time to post.
    Around every picture there's a corner & round every corner there's a picture
    - the fun's in finding them

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    15
    You can adjust the brightness of the 30D screen of course.

    Also here in the UK there is quite a price differents for body only

    400D (XTi) £480
    D80 £575
    30D £710
    Last edited by whiteflyer; 09-24-2006 at 04:44 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    2,200
    Quote Originally Posted by whiteflyer View Post
    You can adjust the brightness of the 30D screen of course.

    Also here in the UK there is quite a price differents for body only

    400D (XTi) 480
    D80 575
    30D 710
    In the US, there is only $165 US selling price difference between the D80 and a 30D.

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