The Nikon D80 is a prosumer digital SLR introduced in 2006. While the camera doesn't have the advanced shooting capabilities of Nikon's pro SLRs, it is capable of taking excellent photographs in low light and night photography situations. The D80's low light capabilities can be further improved by changing some of the settings in the camera menu.
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Before taking effective night shots with the D80, you need the right equipment. While it is possible to hand hold the camera and get effective shots, using a tripod will reduce camera shake and image blur significantly. The Nikon ML3 wireless remote will also help with this, as you can trigger the shutter without inducing any shake by pressing the shutter button with your finger. To use the remote, you must choose one of the remote shooting modes on the D80. Press the multiple windows button on the top right side of the camera until one of the two remote icons is displayed. The one with the clock above it is a two second delay, while the one with just the remote is an instant trigger. After putting the camera in remote mode, point the remote at the camera and press the shutter button.
While the manual shooting modes will give you more creativity, the D80 comes with two night-optimised modes in its creative scene mode zones. These modes are Night Portrait and Night Landscape. With these modes, you are telling the camera what type of picture you are shooting, and the D80 will set itself to get the best type of shot. The Night Portrait and Night Landscape shooting modes can be selected from the mode dial on the upper left side of the camera. The Night Landscape icon is a crescent moon over a building, while the Night Portrait icon is a star behind a person.
The D80 has ISO settings between 100 and 1600 in steps of one third. It also has boost ISOs of 2000, 2500, and 3200, which are shown as H0.3, H0.7, and H1.0. These modes are noisier, but can be used for emergency low light situations where standard ISOs don't work. Try using ISO 800, 1250, or 1600 first to see if that works before using the boost. With the higher ISOs, use the noise reduction feature, which you can turn on in the camera menu system by pressing Menu, then pressing the down arrow once so the camera icon is highlighted. Press the right arrow, then the down arrow to High ISO NR. Normal is the default setting, but the D80 also has a High setting that you can use with the boost settings.
Many photographers find that long shutter exposures are needed for night shots without a flash. The D80 has a Long Exposure Noise Reduction feature that can be activated by pressing Menu, then pressing the down arrow once so that the camera icon is highlighted. Press the right arrow, then the down arrow to scroll to Long Exp. NR, then press the right arrow and press enter to turn it on.
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