Former D80 user, looking to get back in....

Jun 27, 2006
Tampa, FL
So a few months back when cash was a bit tight, I sold off all my Nikon gear, including my D80 body.

A few months have passed and things have perked back up quite a bit with my new job, so i've been looking to get back into photography again, alibet possibly with a lower model.

Has anyone else here downgraded? I guess my biggest concern is that I'll miss some of the things I used to enjoy on the D80 so much that I will never be satisfied with the lower end model.

I would prefer to stay $600 or less, so although the D90 looks amazing (I got to play with it at Best Buy today and it was superb), I need to aim a little more entry level I think, D5000 (which is still higher than I really want to spend right now), the upcoming D3000 or maybe even to the darkside with the Canon XS (~ $475 right now w/ kit lens).

I used to use a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and a Nikon 50mm, but I think i'll be fine with the kit lens for at least a little while. I was disappointed to see that the D5000/3000 lack a built in motor for the 50mm (which isn't an issue on the Canon as all the canon lenses have built in motors).

I was all ready to suck it up and go for the XS, but something is making me hesitate. I'm not sure if its the build quality or loyalty to Nikon, but I just can't pull the trigger.

Curious to hear your thoughts.

EDIT: I guess it would help to include a list of the things I'm looking for;

Numerous AF points (3 on the D40/D60 won't cut it for me).
Grid would be nice, but not required.
SDHC support (knocks out the older Nikon's and Canon's)
Good low light performance
Lightweight (easy to travel with, I wasn't terribly fond of my D80 during our two week honeymoon)
Good build quality
Bright Viewfinder (I loved the VF on my D80)
Good quality LCD (my eyesight isn't amazing)
Video would be awesome to have (but not required)
Ability to use the nifty 50 (I know I know, not a requirement, but I just LOVED the pics I took with that lens)
Feb 10, 2009
I went from the D80 to the D300. For me it would probably be the D90 minimum if I had to sell my equipment. Which means I would save a little longer to get atleast that.
Jun 4, 2007
Rockville, MD
Just get a D40. It's so simple and easy to use that you just shoot and never have to screw around with settings or anything, and it's also ultra lightweight and small which makes it great for travel. Once upon a time I had both a D80 and a D40. The D80 was my first DSLR and I bought the D40 after that as a secondary camera. I felt bad after awhile hardly using the D40, so one month I challenged myself to use only the D40, and it turns out I liked it so much that I never picked up the D80 again ever. I eventually sold it to help fund some lens lust. :smile:

I found that I liked the 3-point system on the D40 better than the 11-point system on the D80. The D80 wouldn't let you select sensors by "group" and its full-auto system was never smart enough to consistently pick out what I wanted, so I ended up in single point mode and always had to madly scroll through the points whenever I changed composition or angle which was a PITA. The D40 system is simple and works great. Everybody rags on it, but I've never had trouble getting the shot I want even chasing my 2yr old around.

Other benefits of the D40:

- great high ISO. About a stop better than the D80 and nearly as good as the D90, just 6MP rather than 12.
- 1/500s flash sync, which makes fill flash in daylight actually work, and stop action too.
- super small and lightweight.
- rear Info display (I like it)
- very crisp images due to a weaker anti-aliasing filter vs other cameras, so images will really pop.

You still get electronic focus assist and the AF sensors are still active with non AF-S lenses. Just select the AF sensor you want to use, manually turn the focus ring, and watch for the electronic focus assist dot in the lower left and fire. I've used the 50mm f/1.8 on this camera and have gotten great results, along with a Tokina 11-16. If you're taking a photo of something moving with the 50mm, just stop down a little for more depth of field to give yourself more margin for focusing error and you're set.

The D60 is also a nice camera with a lot of firmware tweaks vs the D40, but you lose the 1/500s flash sync, and the high ISO isn't as good, but you gain megapixels and some cropping ability which is nice too. The 6MP sensor doesn't leave you much leeway for cropping. With the D3000 out the D60 is probably on clearance, and from what I hear the D40 is discontinued in Japan, so deals should be great on either of these cameras.
Feb 1, 2009
I agree with Steve. D40 or D60 are the way to go. Both of them offer better IQ than the D80 (at least in terms of high ISO) and both will easily make your budget if you find the right seller and only go for a couple lenses. I think the best kit for dipping your toe in would be a D40, 35/1.8 and 18-55.

If you insist on a built-in AF motor there's the D50 (which has a top LCD), but I know the screen is quite small and the viewfinder is also smaller. It's a trade-off.

I don't see the need for more AF points if they don't work all that well. I wouldn't say my dad's D80's AF is noticeably faster or better than my D40's.

BTW, re the bright viewfinder. This may be because my dad only uses an 18-200 VR, but a little while ago I noticed that his VF is much dimmer than mine. I should really put that lens on my camera and see if I notice a difference from my usual lenses.
Mar 18, 2008
Miami, Florida, USA.
There are so many cameras to choose from! If you were happy with the D80, why not another one? Even a used one in good condition could be easily bought for little money.
The D40 is small and has very good image quality. It should be available at your favorite store and you could play with it before buying. I would say the lens you use will be more important than the quality of the camera. Being small and light, the D40 can be taken anywhere, especially with the kit lenses.
Just take your time and examine your choices. If the camera you have in mind is accessible to play with it, just go ahead and do it. The feeling of holding the camera and looking in the specs what it can do is of great help.
Good luck!

William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.

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