Nikon D90 vs Panasonic FZ80
The Nikon D90 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 (labelled Panasonic FZ82 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2008 and January 2017. The D90 is a DSLR, while the FZ80 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D90) and a 1/2.3-inch (FZ80) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 18 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 D90 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80? 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 D90 and the Panasonic FZ80. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear 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 Panasonic FZ80 is notably smaller (10 percent) than the Nikon D90. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D90 nor the FZ80 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the FZ80 has a lens built in, whereas the D90 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D90 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D90 gets 850 shots out of its EN-EL3e battery, while the FZ80 can take 330 images on a single charge of its DMW-BMB9 power pack. The power pack in the FZ80 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Panasonic FZ80||130 mm||94 mm||119 mm||616 g||330||n||Jan 2017||399|
|Canon SX740||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||265||n||Jul 2018||399|
|Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Nikon D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|Panasonic TS7||117 mm||76 mm||37 mm||319 g||300||Y||May 2018||449|
|Panasonic ZS70||112 mm||67 mm||41 mm||322 g||380||n||Apr 2017||449|
|Sony HX350||130 mm||93 mm||103 mm||652 g||300||n||Dec 2016||449|
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 naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The FZ80 was launched at a lower price than the D90, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D90 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic FZ80 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the FZ80 is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 5.6. The sensor in the D90 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the FZ80 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the FZ80 offers a higher resolution of 18 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the D90. 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 1.25μm versus 5.53μm for the D90). However, it should be noted that the FZ80 is much more recent (by 8 years and 4 months) than the D90, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the FZ80 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic FZ80 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the FZ80 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.5 x 18.4 inches or 62.2 x 46.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 14.7 inches or 49.7 x 37.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.3 x 12.2 inches or 41.5 x 31.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D90 are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D90 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-6400.
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. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the FZ80 provides a better video resolution than the D90. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the FZ80 has an electronic viewfinder (1166k dots), while the D90 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 FZ80 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D90 (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the D90 has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.46x), 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 D90 and Panasonic FZ80 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
One feature that is present on the D90, but is missing on the FZ80 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 reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the FZ80 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The D90 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the FZ80 uses SDXC cards. The FZ80 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D90 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 D90 and Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
It is notable that the FZ80 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D90 does not provide wifi capability.
The FZ80 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the D90 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D90 was succeeded by the Nikon D7000. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D90 better than the Panasonic FZ80 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D90:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.46x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (850 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2008).
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (18 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 19%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/24p).
- 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 96%).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D90 requires a separate lens.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D90).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D90 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the FZ80 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 12 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D90 and the Panasonic FZ80 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings 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 D90 or the FZ80 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
|Nikon D90||+ +||+ +||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|Panasonic FZ80||+ +||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||399|
|Canon SX740||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Jul 2018||399|
|Canon SX730||+||..||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|Canon 40D||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|Nikon D7500||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|Nikon D7200||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|Nikon D7100||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|Nikon D7000||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|Nikon D3000||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D60||80/100||+ +||4/5||o||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D80||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|Panasonic TS7||+||..||..||..||3.5/5||May 2018||449|
|Panasonic ZS70||+ +||..||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2017||449|
|Sony HX350||..||..||..||..||4/5||Dec 2016||449|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1000D vs Nikon D90
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Panasonic FZ80
- Canon SX740 vs Panasonic FZ80
- Canon T6s vs Panasonic FZ80
- Fujifilm X-A5 vs Nikon D90
- Fujifilm X-S10 vs Nikon D90
- Leica D-LUX Typ 109 vs Nikon D90
- Leica X Vario vs Panasonic FZ80
- Nikon D500 vs Panasonic FZ80
- Nikon D7200 vs Nikon D90
- Nikon D90 vs Samsung NX30
- Panasonic FZ80 vs Panasonic GF1
Specifications: Nikon D90 vs Panasonic FZ80
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 D90||Panasonic FZ80|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||20-1200mm f/2.8-5.9|
|Launch Date||August 2008||January 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 1,299||USD 399|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic FZ80|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||18 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||4896 x 3672 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||1.25 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||64.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||720/24p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 6,400 ISO||80 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||73||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.7||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.5||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||977||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic FZ80|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1166k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic FZ80|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/2000s|
|Continuous Shooting||4.5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic FZ80|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D90||Panasonic FZ80|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||850 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
130 x 94 x 119 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 4.7 in)
|Camera Weight||703 g (24.8 oz)||616 g (21.7 oz)|
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