After three years of owning a prosumer camera (Konica Minolta Z5) and only having a bunch o photographs worthwhile to watch in terms of general quality, I took the jump and said good buy to a bunch of Euros… and I bought a Nikon D80. And oh boy, I can be a lousy photographer, but the sheer image quality of some of the pictures taken where just jaw dropping… Definition, sharpness, depth of field, high iso’s, focus speed, ergonomics, it was just like moving from a Smart to a Volvo…
Despite it’s size and being so “high profile” camera, I will not go back… I took me a while to choose between the Nikon D80, Canon 400D and the newcomer Canon 450D (Sony did not even enter the equation). Nikon D80 is almost two years old, and a replacement is probably near (that might be the reason why it drop down it’s price). It’s more expensive than the 400D and the same price for the 450D probably, but I feel in love with it’s viewfinder and ergonomics. Also it uses SD cards, and that means that I could still use my Minolta cards. I really didn’t like 400D: too small and so with a hand grip a bit weird, small viewfinder, and the kit lens meant that I had to buy something better latter on. So I payed a bit more and chose Nikon. Nikon D80 kit lenses, the 18-135, is not top of the line, it’s a compromise, but it delivers amazing images… Regarding the 450D was probably like the 400D, so I’ve passed.
Well, Nikon D80 can shoot JPG and RAW: the NEF format. NEF format is like a digital negative, where you can process it a bit to improve something that went wrong, like white balance or sharpness. But Nikon’s NEF manipulation program, Capture NX cost’s some more money, and well I looked for alternatives. They might not be the best or give the ultimate results, but for an amateur like me it’s enough. Also Adobe CS3 and Photoshop where out of the question, as Capture NX, for only running on Windows and also the former from costing an arm and both legs.
Well the list for some free programs that can process Nikon’s D80 NEF format:
– The Gimp: http://www.gimp.org with the UFRaw plugin.
– UFRaw: http://ufraw.sourceforge.net/
– Raw Therapee: http://www.rawtherapee.com/
After some shooting, and reading the manual and some practice, still I’m not a better photographer, but my photos look much better…
NOTE: On Windows, Irfanview with the plugin package can also render NEF files for viewing.