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Nikon D3100 vs D80

The Nikon D3100 and the Nikon D80 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2010 and August 2006. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D3100 has a resolution of 14.2 megapixels, whereas the D80 provides 10 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D3100
versus
Nikon D80
Nikon D3100   Nikon D80
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
14.2 MP – APS-C sensor 10 MP – APS-C sensor
1080/24p Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 (100 - 12,800) ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 230k dots 2.5" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
550 shots per battery charge600 shots per battery charge
124 x 96 x 75 mm, 505 g 132 x 103 x 77 mm, 668 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3100 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3100 and the Nikon D80 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The D3100 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the D80 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D3100 vs Nikon D80
Compare D3100 versus D80 top
Comparison D3100 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 larger (14 percent) than the Nikon D3100. Moreover, the D80 is markedly heavier (32 percent) than the D3100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3100 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D3100 gets 550 shots out of its EN-EL14 battery, while the D80 can take 600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999ebay.com
3.
 
Nikon D5600 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 n Nov 2016 699 amazon.com
4.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499ebay.com
5.
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon D3200 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 n Apr 2012 599ebay.com
7.
 
Nikon D5100 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 n Apr 2011 749ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499ebay.com
14.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749ebay.com
15.
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899ebay.com
16.
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D3100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D80, 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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 5 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D3100 and Nikon D80 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon D3100 offers a higher resolution of 14.2 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the Nikon D80. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.01μm versus 6.11μm for the D80). However, it should be noted that the D3100 is much more recent (by 4 years) than the D80, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3100 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3100 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 15.4 inches or 58.5 x 39 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 12.3 inches or 46.8 x 31.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 10.2 inches or 39 x 26 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D80 are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.2 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.5 x 10.4 inches or 39.3 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 12.9 x 8.6 inches or 32.8 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D3100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D80 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

In terms of underlying technology, the D3100 is build around a CMOS sensor, while the D80 uses a CCD imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

D3100 versus D80 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the D3100 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D80 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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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
1.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
2.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
3.
 
Nikon D5600 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
4.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
5.
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
6.
 
Nikon D3200 APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
7.
 
Nikon D5100 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380
8.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
9.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
10.
 
Nikon D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
11.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
12.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
13.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
14.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
15.
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
16.
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D3100 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D80 does not. The highest resolution format that the D3100 can use is 1080/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D3100 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 D3100 (0.62x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3100 and Nikon D80 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon D3100optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
2.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Nikon D5600optical n3.2 / 1037 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
4.
 
Nikon D3400optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
5.
 
Nikon D3300optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D3200optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
7.
 
Nikon D5100optical n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
8.
 
Nikon D3000optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
9.
 
Nikon D5000optical n2.7 / 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D60optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
11.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
14.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
15.
 
Nikon D70soptical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
16.
 
Nikon D70optical n1.8 / 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

The D3100 writes its imaging data to SDXC 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 Nikon D3100 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon D3100Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Nikon D5600Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YYY
4.
 
Nikon D3400Ymono / mono--mini2.0--Y
5.
 
Nikon D3300Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
6.
 
Nikon D3200Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon D5100Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D3000Y- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D5000Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D60Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D40XY- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D70sY- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D70Y- / ----1.0---

Both the D3100 and the D80 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D80 was replaced by the Nikon D90, while the D3100 was followed by the Nikon D3200. Further information on the features and operation of the D3100 and D80 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D3100 Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D80 Manual.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D3100 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.


Advantages of the Nikon D3100:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (14.2 vs 10MP) with a 19% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/24p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x96mm vs 132x103mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 163g or 24 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the D80 launch.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D80:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.62x vs 0.53x).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2006).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3100 is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 2 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding 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.

D3100 09:02 D80

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3100 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D3100 or the D80 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599ebay.com
2.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999ebay.com
3.
 
Nikon D56004/5..4/579/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 amazon.com
4.
 
Nikon D34004/5+4/576/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499ebay.com
5.
 
Nikon D33003/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499ebay.com
6.
 
Nikon D32005/5+ +..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599ebay.com
7.
 
Nikon D51005/5+ +..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D3000..+..72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749ebay.com
10.
 
Nikon D60..80/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 629ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499ebay.com
14.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749ebay.com
15.
 
Nikon D70s..........5/5 Apr 2005 899ebay.com
16.
 
Nikon D70......+ +.... Jan 2004 999ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

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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: Nikon D3100 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 Nikon D3100 Nikon D80
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2010 August 2006
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D80
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.1 x 15.4 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 355.74 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 27.8 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 14.2 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4608 x 3072 pixels 3872 x 2592 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.01 μm 6.11 μm
    Pixel Density 3.98 MP/cm2 2.69 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 67 61
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.5 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 11.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 919 524
    Screen Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D80
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.62x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D80
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDHC cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D80
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D3100 Nikon D80
    Battery Type EN-EL14 EN-EL3e
    Battery Life (CIPA)550 shots per charge600 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 96 x 75 mm
    (4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
    132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 505 g (17.8 oz) 668 g (23.6 oz)
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    Check D3100 offers at
    ebay.com
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    Check D80 offers at
    ebay.com

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