Nikon Announces D80
A few years ago, when Canon introduced the Digital Rebel to great acclaim and market reponse, Nikon needed to pull a rabbit out of its corporate hat. What it came up with was the D70, a camera that sold for more than the Rebel but, unlike the Rebel, didn't dumb down any features. It was a smart move and a huge success, and managed to move Nikon's feet away from the fire right smartly.
The task of the new D80 seems similar: Sony has come out with a bargain-priced 10.2 MP camera that uses the same chip as Nikon's stellar D200, and Nikon needs to prevent customer migration. Nikon's problem is that, for the most part, it outsources its sensors—from Sony, now newly minted as a Nikon competitor in the DSLR sweepstakes.
Sony and Canon's problem—along with all the rest—is that Nikon really knows cameras and photographers. You might say that it concentrates on camera technology slightly more, and sensor technology slightly less, than its competitors. The great felicity of the marvelous D200 is its razor-sharp responsiveness, speed, ergonomics, and deployability. From the specs, it looks as if Nikon, besides strategically plugging a potential leak in its market share, is trying to play to those strengths and give buyers as much of that as possible in a less expensive camera with the D80 (although, naturally, I am suspicious of the "exciting" additional in-camera processing modes). I'm sure those of you whose main preoccupation in the hobby is camera models will soon know more than I do about the new camera, and that the catalogue-style reviews that treat cameras feature-by-feature will soon add a great deal more detail to either clarify or confuse you. The upshot from a more gestalt perspective, however, doesn't seem too hard to suss out: another great Nikon, in a long line of great Nikons, well judged for the times.
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON