Nikon D80 vs. Nikon D300 with Tokina 11-16mm f2.8

Author sophos9 - Last updated: 25.07.2009

Its been play time in the sophos9 household! The D300 has been under heavy testing in preparation for an urban exploration mission which is scheduled for tomorrow – the differences between the Nikon D80 and D300 have become to be pretty clear so I thought I would share some of them.

I’ve been using both camera’s with a Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens which is my weapon of choice for urbex – mainly indoor shooting however did hit the garden for some clarity type shots. I’m not going into a comparison of cards and lab tests, there are others on the web – I’m interested in what the differences are in the hand of an urban explorer and not a white coat.

Here are some of the observations

  1. Speed (fps) – the D300 shoots like an uzi, I don’t know the technical differences however after using both, I would say the D300 is at least 2 x as fast as the D80
  2. Feel – The D300 just feels so damn good its unreal, feels really sturdy and fits the hand perfectly. The D80 also feels good but different – maybe not as robust although its clear why, the D300 has a nice aluminium body
  3. Features/Functions – D300 is packed with a billion and one differing things where as the D80 is a lot more point and shoot
  4. Live view and info on the back screen – never thought I would care that much however since using it, its a god send! Low down pictures can now be taken instead of having to lay on rotting derelict floors
  5. Display – the new 3 inch display is awesome!
  6. Menu/review speed – about 3 times faster than the D80! Yey for no more lag….
  7. The horrible ‘punter mode’ wheel is no more – sorry but I really hate that on the D90 and backwards!!!
  8. Picture quality – much crisper quality on the D300 in comparison with the D80
  9. Picture colour – colour is much more natural and specific on the D300, the D80 tends to ‘mash’ colours together a little
  10. Controls – the D300 has controls everywhere so no flipping in/out of menus anymore – like that 🙂
  11. CF Cards instead of SD’s – a pain when you have to make the change although I hear that CF’s are much more reliable. I can easily shoot over 2000 shots when out on an urbex mission – would hate for the card to screw up 🙁

I’m going to compare shots out on location however for now will post a comparison shot outside using exactly the same settings on both cameras. I know its unfair really to combine shots from a D80 and D300, lots of aspects are different so I’m not trying to prove anything apart from how good the difference is…

Both shots were uncompressed RAW images bridged from camera into Photoshop and exported to JPG

Nikon D80 at 1/45sec, f4, 11mm and ISO 200

Nikon D80 with Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 at 1/45sec, f4, 11mm and ISO 200 (100% Crop)

Nikon D300 with Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 at 1/45sec, f4, 11mm and ISO 200 (100% Crop)

Nikon D300 with Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 at 1/45sec, f4, 11mm and ISO 200 (100% Crop)

No idea on the technical differences – maybe the new sensors, internals or something else. I must also confess to no really caring, all I know is that its better and sharper with better/more natural colouration.

Am I saying the D80 is a bad camera? Definitely not – its still a really great buy! I used mine for a while however it lacked certain features that I could not do without especially the way I shoot urbex asylums etc

Would I recommend the upgrade… HELL YEA! I feel like I’ve made the move into a great arena, one of which I would like to stay in for a good while (I have a bit of a habit of changing my equipment way to regular). I’m really stoked about the mission tomorrow, I’m pretty sure its going to be an industrial urbex – really looking forward to using the D300 on site!

Is there a down side of the D300…? Sure there is, will detail the 2 main problems:

  1. Price

Seriously awesome DSLR which should produce years of excellent urbex experiences 🙂



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