Nikon has packed 10.2 million pixels into its latest digital SLR creation, the D80 ? a digital SLR for enthusiasts that will replace the 6.1MP D70s.

Officially unveiled this morning, the black-bodied newcomer will carry a body-only price of £699.99 and is expected to be available in the UK next month. It will also be out in a kit with a new 18-135mm lens costing £949.99 and with an 18-70mm zoom in a kit priced £899.99.

Claimed to be as durable as the D70s that it supersedes, the D80 boasts a new 10.2MP DX format CCD imaging sensor. The two-channel sensor aims to enable a continuous shooting rate of three frames per second for up to 100 JPEG shots or six RAW (NEF) images. According to Nikon the sensor is designed to ?allow plenty of leeway for enlargement and creative cropping? to produce a quality that will be acceptable for most people, without having to transfer images to computer.

Boasting a ?solid look and feel? the 585g (without battery) model is hailed as almost as compact as the entry-level D50.

It is claimed to have a start-up time of 0.18sec and sports a 2.5in (230,000 pixel resolution) LCD screen with a 170° viewing angle.

The SD-card-compatible model also features a centre AF sensor that can be switched to wide frame for ?broader? coverage, says the company.

The D80 borrows its customisable ?My Menu? systems from the D200 and ? in another tweak ? the dioptre adjuster is now a knob instead of a sliding adjuster (after photographers apparently complained that they accidentally knocked the slider in their gadget bag when out and about).

Powered by a rechargeable EN-EL3e battery, the D80 is claimed to deliver up to 2,500 shots from a single charge.

New features include the ability to display ISO settings in ISO Auto mode and a different location for the ?OK? button (previously the ?Enter? button?) which has been moved closer to the multi-selector for convenience, according to Nikon.

Claimed to offer the ?best quality-to-price ratio on the market? the D80 will also feature a new image processing engine designed to use less power than previous models, though ? at the time of writing ? Nikon UK was not able to say how much power it saves.

In-camera digital effects include, intriguingly, a ?Cyanotype? mode ? believed to be the first such feature on a digital SLR ? and a Skylight filter setting.

An image optimisation mode allows photographers to control characteristics such as sharpness and colour saturation. There is also in-camera image editing and three levels of noise reduction when using the high ISO settings (top ISO is 1600).

A full report will appear in next week’s AP, in shops on Tuesday 15 August.