Nikon D90 Preview: September 2008
Nikon D90: It had to happen sooner or later and Nikon are the first!
The New Nikon D90 ($999 USA, 899€) introduces High Definition 1,280x720p/24, motion JPG .AVI video to the world of the DSLR! This is, I am sure, a point that will have photographers from all genres and experience levels arguing its good and bad points. The simple way to see it is progression and commercialism.
Technology moves on regardless of what we think and manufacturers have to promote it to stay ahead of the game…simple.
My view is this, if you don't like it, don’t buy it! Check out these video clips and sample images from the Nikon D90:
I have written this in a slightly different way because Nikon have introduced/improved on quite a few items of technology with the Nikon D90. Not all particularly useful to most people. Of course, these are just my opinions so you can have your say at the end.
So, with that out of the way, let's look at the full spec of the Nikon D90
Here are the key Nikon D90 features and tech specs taken from Nikon USA:
*ESP (Estimated Selling Price) listed only as an estimate. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time. Some of the main highlights here are
Like it or loathe it, the video application will come in handy for many families. For those who don't want to carry cameras and video for family days out, holidays etc. For serious video, the specs don't really make the grade for things such as stock footage. Having the ability to create such amazing depth of field with DSLR lenses though, is incredible. To be able to use Canon L lenses on my Sony PMW EX1 video camera to get the same results, I would need an adapter costing around $1200!
This is the way consumer cameras are heading. I would expect this to become the norm on most models in the future with the exception of the professional DSLR's. Maybe!
Low Noise at High ISO
Nikon edged ahead with low light performance with the D3. If the Nikon D90 gets the same treatment, this camera should be great as a backup for wedding photographers for example.
Is this just another fad or something useful? I personally do not like to use anything on a DSLR which takes away my control of focussing. Focussing is, in most cases, paramount. I can handle and correct slight over/underexposure particularly if shooting RAW. However, getting an important shot out of focus…nothing gets my goat more!
3 Super-Density 920,000-Dot Colour LCD Monitor
I am guessing that the quality of the LCD screen on the Nikon D90 will be incredible. I am a little disappointed with the screen on the Canon 1D Mark III. With just 230,000 pixels especially when zooming in to check focus, it seems a little lack-luster.
One Button Live View
Nikon, at the time of writing, are still ahead of Canon on this one. They have nailed auto focus whilst in live view although Canon's recently released EOS 50D has also added autofocus to its live view mode. I only occasionally use this feature but I can see how it can be handy to have available. E.g. sometimes when shooting interiors I have the camera backed right up against the wall. This means I cannot get behind the viewfinder but I can still see the screen, especially with the 170° viewing angle.
Auto Active D-Lighting
Being a wedding photographer, I am all for anything that tackles high contrast, high dynamic range situations. Think wedding dress Vs Dark Suit. Most manufacturers are now concentrating on this problem with their research and development.
In Camera Image Editing
Red eye reduction maybe, but distorting and playing with images in camera…not for me! For one, the difference between working on an image on a 3" screen and a computer with 15-30" screen is obvious. Are we taking digital imaging technology a little too far? Fad!
GPS Geo Tagging
I am on the fence with this as I don't know enough about it. I guess I don't miss using it so I don't need it?!? The best thing about reflecting on old images for me is that it spurs the memory back into action. Even the fact that my distant memory is a little jaded at times doesn't matter as I fill the gaps with nice things.
Could it be that when my kids look at photos in years to come they will say "Oh look, do you remember when we went to Portland Bill:
Naa! Still, it may have its uses for some people.
Pretty cool for viewing your Nikon D90 images instantly on a full 1080p HD TV.
The rest of the specs on the Nikon D90 are pretty standard although improved.
Image Sensor Format
Image Sensor Type
15.8 x 23.6mm
Image Area (L) DX Format
Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution
4.5 frames per second
Continuous Shooting Options (CH)
DX-formatCH: Up to 4.5 frames per second
CL: Up to 4 frames per second
LCD Monitor Size
" Monitor Type
" Monitor Resolution
" Monitor Angle of View
170-degree wide-viewing angle
LCD Monitor Adjustments
Brightness, 7 Levels
Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal-plane
Slowest Shutter Speed
30 sec. in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV
Fastest Shutter Speed
1/4000 sec. in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV
Bulb Shutter Setting
200-3200 in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 1 EV (100-6400 Expanded)
JPEG: JPEG-baseline-compliant; can be selected from Size priority and Optimal Quality AVI
Compressed 12-bit NEF (RAW)
Program Auto (P) with Flexible Program Shutter-Priority Auto (S)
Aperture-Priority Auto (A)
Auto (flash off) Advanced Scene Modes
Advanced Scene Modes
Exposure Metering System
420 pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering II
Shutter Release Modes
Single-frame [S] mode
Continuous low-speed [CL] mode; 1-4 frames-per-second
Live View [LV] mode
Continuous high-speed [CH] mode: 4.5
Movie with sound HD 1280 x 720/24 fps VGA 640 x 424/24 fps
QVGA 320 x 216/24 fps
Nikon F Bayonet Mount
1) DX AF NIKKOR: All functions possible
2) D-/G-type AF NIKKOR (excluding IX NIKKOR lenses): All functions possible (excluding PC Micro- NIKKOR)
3) AF NIKKOR other than D-/G-type (excluding lenses for F3AF): All functions except 3D-Color Matrix Metering II possible
4) AI-P NIKKOR: All functions except Autofocus, 3D-Color Matrix Metering II possible
5) Non-CPU AI NIKKOR: Autofocus not supported. Can be used in exposure modes A and M but exposure meter does not function. Electronic range finder can be used if maximum aperture is 5.6 or faster; Colour Matrix Metering and aperture value display supported if user provides
Nine User-customizable settings
In-Camera Image Editing
NEF (RAW) processing
External Flash Shoe
Built-in Flash Distance
56 at ISO 200 ft.17 at ISO 200m
Dust-Off Reference Photo
Save/Load Camera settings
Nikon Creative Lighting System Compatibility
Flash Sync Speed
Up To 1/200
FP High Speed Sync
Up To 1/4000
Flash Sync Modes
Front-curtain sync (normal)
Red-eye reduction with slow sync
2, 5, 10, 20 seconds duration
EN-EL3e Lithium-ion Battery
EH-5a AC Adapter
MH-18a Quick Charger
Battery Life (shots per charge)
22 oz. (620g)
Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish
Software Suite CD-ROM
MB-D80 Multi-Power Battery Pack, ML-L3 wireless remote control, DK-21M Magnifying Eyepiece, EH-5a AC Adapter, Capture NX2 Software, Camera Control Pro 2
EN-EL3e Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, MH-18a Quick Charger, DK-5 Eyepiece Cap, DK-21 Rubber Eye-cup, UC-E4 USB Cable, EG-D2 Audio Video Cable, AN-DC1 Camera Strap, BM-10 LCD Monitor Cover, Body Cap, BS-1 Accessory Shoe Cover, Software Suite CD-ROM Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area
So, is the Nikon D90 worth buying? You decide. For me, if I had the Nikon D80 or D40 I wouldn’t be rushing out to upgrade to the D90. If I had a D100 or D50 with a ton of Nikon lenses or if I was new to digital photography looking for a funky starter camera…I recon I would go for this.