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Nikon Aims to Lift Amateurs' Game
Chicago Sun Times

While the D80 isn't as newbie-oriented as the D40, it's still willing to debase itself a little in order to truly earn its consumer tag.

The built-in retouching features are surprisingly extensive. You can crop, sharpen, zap red eye, adjust the color, and then save the edited image to a new file -- all in-camera.

And both its screen and its slideshow features are so well-designed that you can triage a day's worth of shots down to a handful of keepers during the cab ride back to the airport.

Also note that this thing sips electricity like Ed Begley Jr. I reliably got well over 500 shots per charge.

But the D80's physical design is just as valuable as any other feature. It fills your hands in an extremely satisfying way, with a reassuring heft (its plastic shell is built around a sturdy metal frame), and the buttons are always easy for your fingers to find.

Overall, it makes you want to carry this around and take more pictures. Both these impulses are key to good photography.

Honestly, the only people who'd want to spend the extra $400 for the D200 are sports shooters (the D80 shoots faster than all other consumer cameras, but it's still much slower than the D200), and pros who can't learn anything useful from a 900-word review.

As usual, I recommend for a superb in-depth rundown.

But if you're a serious amateur who's ready for new challenges, take the value and run; the D200 generally won't help you make better pictures.

As it is (and here comes another damned billboard), the D80 gets my most meaningful recommendation: Instead of returning Nikon its review-copy D80, I'm sending a check.

Andy Ihnatko writes on technical and computer issues for the Sun-Times.

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