I found myself at a huge, brightly-lit electronics store yesterday evening, looking for something. I'd tell you what I was looking for, but I got dazzled by an entire row of all the latest DSLRs on display, and I forgot.

I have to say, in direct comparison, hoisting one slick digi-Wunderplastikam after another to my eye from one end of the row to the other, it's not much of a contest—one camera stood head and shoulders above the rest. The Nikon D80 is just more of my idea of what a camera ought to be than any of the others. Fast, responsive, ergonomic, great size and weight, near-ideal design. Sure, it doesn't have a feature or two I like (see the post below), and I could nit-pick a control or two, but for the most part, well, Nikon just "gets it."

As far as a comparison with its Big-C competitor is concerned, sorry, but the D80 has the 30D beat at the starting gate. I'll tell you why. If you hold any two cameras up to your eyes at once (one to each eye, of course—sorry I have to specify that, but I'll get mail if I don't—and you'll have to hold them vertically, naturally, unless your face is a foot wide), and train them on the same place, you can see a nice visual superimposition of one viewfinder image on top of the other. (If you have trouble with one-eye dominance, open and close each eye alternately a few times.) In this case, the 30D's a little bitty 98-pound-weakling rectangle was nestled inside Nikon's big, bright, bold viewfinder image rectangle. The 30D viewfinder is not bad, exactly, but, as this exercise makes all too clear, neither is the contest close.



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