Nikon D80 vs Sony A77
The Nikon D80 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2006 and August 2011. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D80 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A77? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D80 and the Sony A77. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A77 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Nikon D80. Moreover, the A77 is markedly heavier (10 percent) than the D80. It is noteworthy in this context that the A77 is splash and dust-proof, while the D80 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|2.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|3.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|4.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|5.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|6.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|7.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|8.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|10.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|11.||Nikon D70s||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||500||n||Apr 2005||899|
|12.||Nikon D70||140 mm||111 mm||78 mm||679 g||400||n||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Pentax K-3||131 mm||100 mm||77 mm||800 g||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|14.||Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|15.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||647 g||480||Y||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 A77, 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.
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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 A77 is 2 percent smaller. 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.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the A77 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 10 MP of the 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 3.91μm versus 6.11μm for the D80). However, it should be noted that the A77 is much more recent (by 5 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 Sony A77 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A77 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 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 D80 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha SLT-A77 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A77 offers substantially better image quality than the D80 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.9 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|15.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|16.||Sony A77 II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.5||12.7||1442||77|
|17.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A77 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D80 does not. The highest resolution format that the A77 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the A77 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the D80 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A77 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D80 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the A77 has a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.62x), 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 Nikon D80, the Sony A77, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D50||optical||n||2.0 / 130||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D70s||optical||n||2.0 / 130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D70||optical||n||1.8 / 130||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Pentax K-3||optical||Y||3.2 / 1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3/s||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A6500||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A77 II||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A99||2359||Y||3.0 / 1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that differentiates the A77 and the D80 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A77 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the D80 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The A77 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D80 does not have a selfie-screen.
The D80 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the A77 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A77 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D80 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 D80 and Sony Alpha SLT-A77 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D90||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D50||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D70s||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D70||Y||- / -||-||-||-||1.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Pentax K-3||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony A6500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony A77 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A99||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A77 (unlike the D80) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the A77 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the D80 and the A77 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D80 was replaced by the Nikon D90, while the A77 was followed by the Sony A77 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D80 or the Sony A77 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D80:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (600 versus 470) on a single battery charge.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha SLT-A77:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 55%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.9 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.73x vs 0.62x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the D80 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A77 is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D80 and the Sony A77 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 D80 and the A77 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.
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 (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.
|1.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|2.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|3.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|4.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|5.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|6.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|7.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|8.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|9.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|10.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|11.||Nikon D70s||..||..||..||..||..||5/5||Apr 2005||899|
|12.||Nikon D70||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jan 2004||999|
|13.||Pentax K-3||4/5||..||..||83/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|14.||Sony A6500||5/5||+ +||3.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|15.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||4/5||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony A77 II||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2014||1,199|
|17.||Sony A99||5/5||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|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.
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.
- Canon XTi vs Sony A77
- Fujifilm X-A2 vs Nikon D80
- Leica V-LUX Typ 114 vs Nikon D80
- Nikon D3100 vs Sony A77
- Nikon D70s vs Sony A77
- Nikon D80 vs Olympus E-600
- Nikon D80 vs Olympus E-M1 III
- Nikon D80 vs Panasonic FT7
- Nikon D80 vs Sony HX400V
- Olympus E-M10 IV vs Sony A77
- Olympus E-M10 vs Sony A77
- Sony A77 vs Sony H200
Specifications: Nikon D80 vs Sony A77
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 Model||Nikon D80||Sony A77|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony A mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2006||August 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 999||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D80||Sony A77|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3872 x 2592 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.11 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.69 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||61||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||24.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.2||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||524||801|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D80||Sony A77|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D80||Sony A77|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D80||Sony A77|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D80||Sony A77|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||600 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
143 x 104 x 81 mm
(5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||668 g (23.6 oz)||732 g (25.8 oz)|
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