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Canon 30D vs Nikon D80

The Canon EOS 30D and the Nikon D80 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2006 and August 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 10 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 30D versus Nikon D80
Canon 30D Nikon D80
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
8.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge600 shots per battery charge
144 x 106 x 74 mm, 785 g 132 x 103 x 77 mm, 668 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 30D and the Nikon D80? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 30D and the Nikon D80. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 30D vs Nikon D80
Compare 30D versus D80 top
Comparison 30D or D80 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D80 is notably smaller (11 percent) than the Canon 30D. Moreover, the D80 is markedly lighter (15 percent) than the 30D. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the 30D nor the D80 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Yet, since both cameras are based around an APS-C sensor, their respective lenses will tend to have similar dimensions and heft. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (30D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D80).

Concerning battery life, the 30D gets 750 shots out of its BP-511A battery, while the D80 can take 600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
 
Canon 70D 139 mm 104 mm 79 mm 755 g 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199i
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
 
Canon 7D 148 mm 111 mm 74 mm 860 g 800 Y Sep 2009 1,699i
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon 350D 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D80 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 29 percent) than the 30D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D80 is 10 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 1.6 (30D) and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 30D and Nikon D80 sensor measures

With 10MP, the D80 offers a higher resolution than the 30D (8.2MP), but the D80 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.11μm versus 6.42μm for the 30D). Yet, the D80 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the 30D, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D80 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D80 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 30D are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 30D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The Nikon D80 offers exactly the same ISO settings.

30D versus D80 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
 
Canon 70D APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
 
Canon 7D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.011.785466
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
Neither the 30D nor the D80 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 30D and the D80 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the D80 has a higher magnification than the one of the 30D (0.62x vs 0.56x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 30D, the Nikon D80, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 70Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Canon 60Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3 Y n
 
Canon 7Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
 
Canon 50Doptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3 Y n
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
 
Canon 400Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 350Doptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
 
Nikon D50optical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the 30D, but is missing on the D80 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The 30D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D80 uses SDHC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 30D and Nikon D80 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
 
Canon 70DYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Canon 60DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 7DYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 50DY----mini2.0---
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 400DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 350DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D50Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 30D (unlike the D80) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 30D and the D80 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 30D was replaced by the Canon 40D, while the D80 was followed by the Nikon D90. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 30D or the Nikon D80 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 30D:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 600) on a single battery charge.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2006).

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D80:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.62x vs 0.56x).
  • More compact: Is smaller (132x103mm vs 144x106mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 117g or 15 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (5 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 30D comes out slightly ahead of the D80 (7 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

30D 07:06 D80

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 30D and the Nikon D80 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 30D and the D80 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 30D+ ++ +oo.. Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
 
Canon 70D+ +83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199i
 
Canon 60D+79/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
 
Canon 7D+ +84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2009 1,699i
 
Canon 50D+ ++ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 400D+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon 350D80/100+ +oo.. Feb 2005 899i
 
Canon 20D..+ +..o.. Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Nikon D5078/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D200+ ++ +o5/5.. Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 30D:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D80:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 30D vs Nikon D80

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 30D Nikon D80
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2006 August 2006
    Launch Price USD 1,399 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Canon 30D Nikon D80
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.5 x 15.0 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 337.5 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 8.2 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3504 x 2336 pixels 3872 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.42 μm 6.11 μm
    Pixel Density 2.43 MP/cm2 2.69 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 59 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.5 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 11.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 736 524
    Screen Specs Canon 30D Nikon D80
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.56x 0.62x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 30D Nikon D80
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Canon 30D Nikon D80
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 30D Nikon D80
    Battery Type BP-511A EN-EL3e
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge600 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 144 x 106 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.2 x 2.9 in)
    132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 785 g (27.7 oz) 668 g (23.6 oz)

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