The D80 also has a large selection of in-camera image editing options in playback mode, including colour optimisation, red-eye correction, cropping, filter effects and D-lighting, which enhances the appearance of shadows in backlit scenes.
Naturally the D80 can shoot in RAW mode, as well as three different JPEG quality settings, and RAW+JPEG with all three JPEG modes. Fine quality JPEG files are around 4MB, and RAW files are around 8MB. The 12-bit RAW files are compressed, but appear to use a lossless algorithm, so image quality is preserved.
The D80’s performance is predictably outstanding, and start-up is practically instantaneous. In continuous shooting mode it can manage three frames a second. In all JPEG-only modes it can keep this up for around two hundred shots before needing to pause, although in RAW+JPEG mode the buffer can only hold six frames before pausing to write to the memory card.
The AF system is also very fast. I’m sure that someone on a forum somewhere is going to want to know if it’s faster than its competitors, and I’ll have to say that it’s virtually impossible to make that judgement without specialised testing equipment. It certainly seems to me that it’s just as fast as the Sony A100, although possibly a fraction slower than the Olympus E-400. Suffice it to say that focus lag is never going to be an issue. The D80 does have superior low-light focusing though, thanks to a good built-in AF illuminator with a range of at least three metres.
The D80 is powered by a big 7.4v 1500mAh Li-ion battery, and Nikon claims it is good for an impressive 2,700 shots under its test conditions. I can’t confirm this, but after a full charge I fired off around 600 shots over several days in a variety of conditions, and the five-segment battery indicator was reading 3/5 when I was done.
One surprise is the choice of memory card. The D80 uses SD cards only, rather than the CompactFlash cards that are usually employed in high-end SLRs. SD cards are readily available in sizes up to 2GB now, with 8GB SDHC cards promised for next year, but CompactFlash cards are already available in sizes up to 8GB and will probably get even bigger. Considering that when shooting in RAW+JPEG Fine mode a 1GB SD card is only big enough for 54 shots, this seems like a strange and seriously limiting choice for such a powerful camera.