First, to keep things honest... my lil' Nikon P80 had me hooked, 100% guaranteed right from the start this petite lil' bugger won me over! Right up until the day it got Stolen! :( So, I must admit, this review is a mite biased.
I am thoroughly prejudiced in favor of this Nikon Camera... of course, when it comes to Nikon... I've been a highly prejudiced fan for years.
So... take that into account when you're readin' this lil' Nikon P80 review.
To begin with... I was looking for a camera, to use for my websites, carrying on hikes... and having close by, most all the time... for those unexpected opportunites traveling, living...and, goin' RV Boondocking!
At the same time...
I'm not a 'Techie'... or a pro photographer... so I'm not wading into all those 'design details' either. I think, myself as well as most of you... haven't got a fading clue about 'em... all those numbers and electronic specifications that only an engineer with a Phd. in Astro Physics from Harvard has any sort of an understanding of what they mean.
I'll just share what I've gathered about the 'Using' qualities of the Nikon P80 that I've found, having used it for several months now.
First off... this Nikon P80 ain't a D2 or one of the pro grade Canons ... and I'm not gonna claim that it is... but... for me... and I believe, for about 98% of most amateur photographers.. it's the cat's meow!
I've been wanting a D300... or better, for quite a while. There are a few 'Artistic' endeavors, floatin' around in the back of my head, I'd like to have the tools to pursue...
... unfortunately, besides having an excess of space for the floating of such ideas... my finances haven't measured up to my ambitions lately! :-) ... So... I had to search for something a bit more economical...
... and that's when I found the Nikon P80.
Along with that, I got to realizing some of the limitations of a 'BIG' camera... They can be a real pain in the neck... literally... when you're on a 6 or 8 mile hike... Having something a mite lighter and more compact, hangin' on the end of a camera strap... would not draw a complaint in such situations...
...not to mention a short discussion I had with myself, about how much power a 'photographer' like me really needs!
Also... there's a convenience issue... How many folks do you know, that have a DSLR, or an old Film SLR... and seventeen different lenses? They spend more time changin' lenses... then takin' pictures! :-)
What a sticker-in-your-sock... to have to carry all that hardware on a long hike...
Wouldn't it be nice to have a camera that eliminated that? But still let you adapt to the opportunities you find on your latest expedition?
Yup... you guessed it... in my opinion... the Nikon P80 meets all those requirements!
an 18 power optical zoom, and a Vibration Reduction system... you can
get amazingly close to far distant critters with this lil' Nikon P80!
... or compose a gorgeous scenic pic... isolating that one, beautiful
little part... otherwise lost in the 'Big' picture.
***A couple of examples:I did these pics just bracing the camera on the tailgate of the truck... Check out the distant snow bank...***
... now look at the same area... just to the right of that snow bank... from the same location with my lil' Nikon!
and... this guy was a few hundred yards away... a lot safer to be able to approach him, by way of a zoom lens... than bein' one of the Bozos that go stompin up with their lil' phone camera... to get a pic...
... Though... I'd advise use of a Camera Tripod for those maximum zoom
shots... even with the VR engaged... it's hard to hold steady enough for
a good picture... 'Course... you might be steadier than this wobbly Ol'
***This Nikon can capture the close up bits of Mountain Beauty as well!... Like this lil' flower, at Lofty Lake in the Uintas***
Speakin' of that... The 'issues' I've seen people talk about.. regarding picture quality... only seem to come into play, to my mind, with VERY LARGE enlargements... for the most part.
When was the last time YOU made a 24"X36" enlargement? So... if the 'noise' the big shots complain about... concerning the Nikon P80... only seem to come out... in those great big blow ups... that you NEVER do... why waste any part of your day, worryin' about it?
My little P80 is compact... not as small as the models that fit in a pocket... but it will fit in a pocket... if it's a good sized pouch. :-) ... and keep in mind, those littlest pocket cameras don't have the lens this Nikon is equipped with.
Sized like it is... this Nikon P80 fits sweetly into a pocket in my Ruck, or the Tank Bag on my Yamaha.
If your pockets don't measure up, not to worry. This Lil' Bit of a Nikon is light... You'll not feel like you've got a bowling ball hanging 'round your neck, when you're halfway through Butchardt Gardens!
Small as it is, the Nikon P80 is supplied with 10.1 MP power... it has all the resolution I can use. Fact is, 98% of the photographs I use, are published on one of my websites. For that purpose, I'm not able to use but a fraction of the resolving power of this camera...
So why worry about it in the first place? ... It'd be kind of like gettin' upset 'cause you can't afford a 250 mph Porche... If you live in Denver... where the heck are you gonna use that kind of power?
Don't get into the Mega Pixel war... most people will never use a fraction of the power available in the cameras that are currently available... The Nikon P80 has all the power most of us need... and more than most of us will ever truly use.
Having a camera that can make enlargements to 36" is a fine thing... but tell me... just where is it that I... or you... are going to do that?
My point?... well... I understand that if you're going to REALLY blow up pics... there may be a good amount of 'noise' in the images created by the P80... when GREATLY enlarged...
SO WHAT! ... I bought it for building scrapbooks and my websites... about the largest I ever go is 5X8.... with very, very few... 8X10... and in that range... my Lil' Nikon P80 has performed superbly!
I didn't buy my Nikon P80 to make posters...or bill boards... so complaining that it won't, is like complaining that your VW ran out of gas... trying to drive it to the moon!
Quality of construction and flexibility get my attention far more than sheer resolution power.
If you DO want to do those BIG pictures... this ain't the tool for you folks! How-some-ever... If you want a camera with compact convenience and quality, built in, for ever'day use... this is a good'n.
Speakin of 'Flexibility', Nikon has packed a goodly number of 'scene' options, into their lil' P80 digital picture taker. The way I see it, such options basically make it a point and shoot for those situations...
There's a whole menu of choices... Sunset, Beach/Snow, Landscape, Fireworks, Party/indoor and more... even a Panorama assist...
Which... if I'd used it here... I might have captured an even better memory!
...It may take a college course to learn all the possibilities incorporated in this little Nikon Jewel!
Couple it with a good sized SD 'card'... and you've got a pretty fine video camera!
Need sports shots? Trying to capture that fleeting 'perfect instant' shot? That won't be a problem with this lil' guy. The shutter lag you see in lesser cameras is not a problem here... set the camera correctly... and fire away!
Or... shoot in one of the continuous modes and rip off a dozen exposures in a second or so!
About the only way you'll miss the shot.. is if you keep the camera in it's case!
The only fault I've got with it, after several months of use... is the lens cover... I'd have paid another $5 if Nikon had opted to install a positive locking lens cap... instead of the rinky dink friction fit junk they put on it...
What bean counter had that idea?
I don't get it... Nikon built a superb camera... and then hung an irritating piece of junk on the front of it... What happened? The Lens cap engineer was on vacation when they were finishing the design?
Come on Nikon! You hit a Home Run with your P80... Don't screw it up with an error running the bases!
The only other place I've run into any difficulty is with the battery. I'd advise gettin' a second to keep with you. I have a bad habit of recharging the battery, at the wrong time...
...and then runnin' out of power... at -just- the wrong time! :-) ... having a back up battery in your ruck... on a long hike... will keep you from bruisin' your backside... kicking yourself! :-)
All in all... considering all you get, and the quality of what you get... for the price you'll have to pay... I don't think you'll find a better Hiking, Carry, All Around, General Use, RV Travel Camera, than the Superb, little, Nikon P80.
The P80 that was stolen was replaced with a Coolpix P510. A similar but more capable camera. I will post a review of that as soon as I dig out from under the pile of work I have stacked up. In the mean time, since the P80 is likely hard or impossible to find this long after its introduction, look at the P510. It is an EXCELLENT substitution.