People on the street, and students in my class, sometimes tell me their ten year old camera has died, and ask if it would be worth getting it repaired. The answer is usually no, because so many cameras that fetched top-dollar when they were new are no longer worth much on the resale market, yet would be very expensive to repair.
Almost all the cameras on the street are in the “amateur” or “advanced amateur” class, a group of photographic tools that have gotten much more affordable over the years. That leaves us with two options: replace the camera that originally cost $1200 (like my wife Abby’s 2005-era Nikon D70S) with a much better one in the $400-$600 range (like the Canon EOS Rebel T5 with its kit lens for just $399), or poke around Ebay or Craigslist or pawn shops for a used version of our dead camera.
An excellent example of this is the Nikon D80. When it first appeared on the market 10 years ago, this camera retailed for $1000, but today even the cleanest ones on Ebay are never more than about $180. For me, this is exactly the kind of bargain that allows us to use and enjoy perfectly good technology, that once fetched big money, at nearly giveaway prices.
I have a couple of D80s, both bought used, that deliver amazing image quality, image quality that is honestly very hard to beat. It takes a lot of photographer and a lot of necessity to generate a situation in which older, used cameras can’t deliver great pictures.
I’ve said this before, as have others, but it bears asserting again: you don’t need to upgrade your camera. You need to wear it out.
The Nikon D80’s strengths are…
- Lightweight and unobtrusive
- Easy to use, well-place controls
- Will autofocus older AF Nikkor lenses as well as newer AF-S lenses
- Decently large LCD display on the top of the camera which is missing on all of Nikon’s D3xxx and 5xxx intro-level cameras
- Delivers sharp, clean 10 megapixel images at low and medium ISO settings
- Very affordable in the 2017 market
The D80’s weaknesses are…
- Slowish frame rate of 3 frames per second, which is too slow for sports
- Noisy images at higher ISO settings
- A little small for full-sized hands
- Plastic construction makes it a bit fragile
- Exposure control dial doesn’t have a lock and is easily moved to another setting
- Exposure mode dial is filled with useless amateur “scene mode” options
If you are thinking about picking up a D80 is a pawn shop or from the web, and the price is right, make your move. This camera will make good pictures.