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Nikon Coolpix P80 – Review

June 27, 2009

Being an amateur photographer since high school way back in the &)’s and since going pro for two years doing industrial, aerial, wedding, portrait, and other photography, which took all the fun out of it for me; I was always used to carrying around a large bag with all sort of pockets and cubby holes and a strapped on tripod.

Back in the days of carrying two Nikon F3’s plus six or seven lenses including the much cherished nocturnal lens, a flash system which consisted of a big ass hand held speedlight and a smaller version to snap on to the hot shoe for back up.  I carried liquid and solid cleaners, shutter releases, about eight of my favorite filters, a light meter, power packs, and of course gobs of various types of film.   Sometimes, depending on the job at hand, I’d carry another pack with my medium format Hasselblad and all of its toys.

I felt cool carrying all that stuff, I thought I looked like I had been places, like I’d been through some things.  Well, as age and vanity pass by and as technology advances, my load when traveling has become considerably lighter.  I gave up photography for a couple years; I didn’t even own a camera.  My first digital camera purchase was the Pentax Optio M30, 71.megapixel, 3X zoom, about the size of a credit card that fit easily in my pocket.  I picked up this camera for an Alaskan road trip I went on about three yeas years ago and it did an OK job, I was surprised.

nikon2But, when it came time for my two month European road trip, I wanted something with a little more oomph so I can control my exposures and focus manually if I want.   But, since I was intending to pack light, I wanted something lightweight and I didn’t want to have to carry around a bunch of lenses, attachments and gadgets, so I started looking at several of the so called ultra zooms from Olympus, Cannon, Pentax and Nikon.  The one I settled on was the Nikon Coolpix P80 for about $260.

This 10.1mp autofocus camera has a built in flash with several flash modes, 18X zoom which in the 35mm world is equivalent to 27-486mm f2.8-4.5.  Compose your frame via the large 2.7 in. TFT/LCD display or through the viewfinder.  I can use this camera in full auto mode or I can go to full manual mode with aperture or shutter priority, or I can select from a number of programmed scene modes and it has nice macro capabilities.  On the rare occasion I thought some video might be appropriate, I just put it in movie mode and started saving a .avi file, with sound.

P80 AdaptorThis little gem added little weight to my pack; I carry the camera itself, three extra batteries (about the size of a postage stamp), the charger which is a single unit with flip out AC plug also very light weight, and I carry two filters, a skylight and a polarizar.  I have used a 16G SDHC but I carried three 4G SDHC cards for the trip.  The lens has a funny  screw size so standard filters won’t fit, so I got a customized adapter from Nextphoto that gives me a standard 52mm filter size.

I carried my P80 on my shoulder on walks through big cities like Paris and Rome and on rugged hikes in the Swiss Alps and the Mediterranean coast.  At times I was hot and sweaty, it rained, it was in the hot sun for long periods of time, and it got dropped a few times and banged into tress and rocks.  It took a beating and it’s still going strong.

The only complaint I have is write speed.  I almost always shoot at maximum resolution and I can only get about one frame per second;  I’d like to see double that.  In spite of that, I would strongly recommend the the p80 to anyone that’s looking for something lightweight and compact yet has the features and power of the bigger SLRs.  Below are some of my pictures taken with the P80.  You can see all of my pictures taken with the P80, on my European Road trip.


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Nikon Coolpix P80 Specifications:

Image Sensor Type: CCD, size=1/2.33 in.

Total Pixels: 10.7 million

Effective Pixels: 10.1 million

Image Area (pixels):

  • 3648 x 2736(10M)
  • 3264 x 2448(8M)

Image Area (pixels) – 5M:

  • 2592 x 1944(5M)
  • 2048 x 1536(3M)
  • 1600 x 1200(2M)
  • 1280 x 960(1M)
  • 1024 x 768(PC)
  • 640 x 480(TV)
  • 3648 x 3432(3:2)
  • 3584 x 2016(16:9)
  • 2736 x 2736(1:1)

Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution: 1.1 frames per second

LCD Monitor Size: 2.7 in. diagonal

LCD Monitor Type: Wide Viewing Angle TFT-LCD

LCD Monitor Resolution: 230,000 Dots

Lowest ISO Sensitivity: 64

Highest ISO Sensitivity: 6400

Storage Media: SD, SDHC

Internal Memory: Approx. 50MB

Storage System: JPEG: JPEG-baseline-compliant; can be selected from Size priority and Optimal quality, AVI, WAV

Compatible File System(s):

  • DCF 2.0
  • DPOF
  • EXIF 2.21

Image Stabilization: Optical

Movie Modes:

  • Movie with sound
  • Time lapse movie

White Balance:

  • Fluorescent
  • Incandescent
  • Flash
  • White Balance Preset
  • Auto
  • Daylight
  • Cloudy

Playback Functions:

  • Full frame
  • Thumbnail (4 or 9 or 16 segments)
  • Zoom
  • Slideshow
  • Sound playback

Interface: Hi-speed USB

Lens Zoom: 18x

Lens Specification: 4.7-84.2mm (equivalent with 35mm format picture angle 27-486mm) f/2.8-4.5

Viewfinder: 0.24 in. TFT LCD , approx. 230,000 dot with diopter adjustment

Viewfinder Frame Coverage: Approx. 97%

Autofocus System: Contrast AF, Multi-area AF

Maximum Autofocus Areas/Points: 9

Focus Modes:

  • Face-Priority AF
  • Auto

Single-point AF Mode: Yes

Auto-area AF Mode: Yes

Focus Lock: Half press of shutter-release button (single-point AF in AF-S)

Exposure Modes:

  • Programmed Auto (P)
  • Shutter-Priority Auto (S)
  • Aperture-Priority Auto (A)
  • Manual (M)
  • Auto
  • Scene

Scene Modes:

  • Portrait
  • Night Portrait
  • Sports
  • Landscape
  • Party
  • Beach/Snow
  • Sunset
  • Dusk/Dawn
  • Night Landscape
  • Museum
  • Fireworks Show
  • Close Up
  • Copy
  • Back Light
  • Panorama Assist
  • Voice Recording
  • Face-Priority AF

Automatic Exposure Scene Modes: Yes

Exposure Compensation: Plus or minus 2 EV in steps of 1/3

Exposure Lock: Yes

In-Camera Image Editing

  • D-Lighting
  • Small Pic
  • Distortion Control

Built-in Flash Distance: 28 ft (8.8m)

Flash Sync Modes

  • Slow sync
  • Red-eye reduction
  • Redeye reduction with slow sync
  • Flash cancel/ flash off
  • Auto
  • Auto with red-eye reduction
  • Anytime flash

Video Output: NTSC, PAL

Self-timer: 2 sec. or 10 sec.

Battery: EN-EL5 Lithium-ion Battery, 3.7V 1100mAh, 250 shots per charge

AC Adapter: EH-62A AC Adapter

Battery Charger: MH-61 Charger

Voice Memo Function: Yes

Tripod Socket: ¼-20

Approx. Dimensions

  • Height: 3.1 in. (79mm)
  • Width: 4.3 in. (110mm)
  • Depth: 3.1 in. (78mm)

Approx. Weight:12.9 oz. (365g)

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