Nikon D90 Review

It seems like it’s been coming a long, but Nikon has finally released the D90, which is intended to replace the D80 directly.

After all, the D80 was beginning to seem a little inadequate compared to the more affordable D60, which has the exact resolution, a larger LCD, and a newly developed kit lens that is image stabilized.

The body of the Nikon D90 is quite similar to that of the older D80. It is simpler to grasp quickly since it is chunkier, has more circumference, and is fatter than the D60s. It includes two control dials, which at first glance may appear complex but ultimately make it much easier to adjust the aperture and shutter speed.

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Nikon D90 Image Quality

Aside from the fact that it is easier to hold, this camera has more to offer customers than the Nikon D60.

Although there is nothing in the specifications to indicate any differences, the 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor employs technology that was “inherited” from the D300. This appears to be a subtle way of implying that it might not be quite the same as the technology found in the D300. The ISO range is from 200 to 3200, but it may be “extended” to 100 or 6400 by pressing the appropriate button.

Because more recent Nikon SLRs have shown good image quality at high ISO, this was the first item on the list to be evaluated throughout the testing process. The highest continuous shooting speed is 4.5 frames per second (when using a memory card with a high-speed rating), and the 11-point autofocus system is much more advanced than the 3-point system that the D60 has.

The D90 now has a Live View mode owing to the transition to a CMOS sensor. This Live View mode looks excellent because of the D90’s outstanding 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD screen. The self-cleaning’ sensor unit ought to further reduce concerns regarding the accumulation of dust.

Nikon D90 Lense

The introduction of a brand-new 18-105mm VR kit lens is the last significant change that has been made. There is no question that shops will also sell alternative configurations, but by a wide margin, this one is the one that provides the best value. In light of all that has been stated, it’s plausible that the D90 is being compared to the incorrect camera. It is unequivocally head and shoulders above the D60.

It is so good that it poses a more significant threat to the D300 than any other camera. It may not have the same tank-like construction as the D300, but it seems solid enough and is not difficult to carry around. The most critical question to ask is this: what can the D300 achieve that the D90 cannot?

Nikon states that the shutter in the D90 is meant to last for 100,000 cycles, which is somewhat of a professional benchmark. Furthermore, the power-management technology in the D90 implies that the battery should be fine for at least 850 photos before recharging.

Nikon D90 Video Quality

The D90 is the world’s first single-lens reflex camera (SLR) to include a movie mode.

It trounces all but a few digital compacts, makes MiniDV camcorders look a bit sick, and could even steal a few sales from HD camcorders thanks to its maximum resolution of 1,280 by 720 pixels at 24 frames per second.

This Movie mode does have certain restrictions and downsides, but it’s still remarkable overall (in fact, we’re going to devote a two-page spread to it when this review is over).

Nikon D90 LCD

Anyone who has already used a Nikon DSLR will find the control arrangement of the D90 to be quite familiar.

The power switch is a lever loaded with a spring and located around the shutter button. The start-up time is so quick that it is almost as good as immediate. Because there is a monochrome status LCD on the top plate, the rear LCD, even though it may be used for checking the settings, will most likely be limited to displaying photos while the camera is in the Playback or Live View modes.

The only issue with the status LCD is that a few icons are presented in a minimal format.

Nikon D90 Display Issues

The back 3-inch LCD, on the other hand, is a whole different ballgame. It is not only the size that is outstanding; the saturation, clarity, and shear definition are all quite impressive. In environments with a lot of light, it may become more difficult to make out, but it is not difficult in most situations. There are a few nitpicky concerns with this.

The first issue is that because of its brilliant and colorful appearance; it is easy to be fooled by it. When the images are uploaded to the computer, pictures that appear magnificent on the back of the camera may be shockingly unremarkable.

The other problem is that it cannot be moved from its current location. You might be able to get beyond the fact that, as a consequence, the Live View mode is somewhat less effective as a result of this, but the fact that it is challenging to compose movies on a fixed LCD will rapidly become apparent.

This is the case with the vast majority of tiny cameras, but if you compare the D90 to a real camcorder, you should be aware that this is a drawback.

Nikon D90 Build Quality

The Nikon D90 has the overall impression of being a high-quality camera. In addition, the brand new 18-105mm VR kit lens is the ideal accessory for it. Its weight and dimensions are perfectly proportioned to the body of the D90, resulting in a wonderfully balanced combination. The zoom action is pretty light and fluid, yet there is no “slop” or “creep” in the movement. This lens has an excellent overall feel, but the manual focus ring has a somewhat slimy texture.

It’s a reasonably unreserved thumbs-up so far, and the only thing remaining that may let the D90 down at this point is its image quality, but even this is right on the mark. So far, it’s looking quite good for the D90. The auto-white balance is perfect, the color rendition is fantastic, and the exposures are significant, especially considering the artificial illumination.

What about its performance at high ISO? Stunning. The 18-105mm lens has good definition, and maybe even more essential is that it maintains that definition over the whole frame and throughout the entire focal range. There is neither one particular “sweet spot” in the aperture range nor the zoom range you need to keep your camera set to.

Great value camera

Interestingly, nearly no chromatic aberration was observed when this lens was used on the Nikon D90. However, chromatic aberration was kept when it was used on the Nikon D50 body. Is Nikon utilizing the image processing capabilities of the camera to correct?

Evidence suggests that other manufacturers, such as Panasonic, may be employing a similar practice on some of their cameras.

The response to that question is not entirely apparent, but one sure thing is that the D90 is an excellent DSLR camera that falls inside the mid-range price bracket.

Others may be persuaded by the depth and dynamic range of the photographs produced by the Pentax K20D, while followers of Canon may choose the EOS 40D’s more streamlined design and handling.

Nikon D90 Specs

Body materialCombination of aluminum alloy and plastic.
Sensor• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor
• 12.9 million total pixels
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• Supports high ISO sensitivities
• High-speed data readout
• Nikon DX-format sized CMOS sensor
• Power-saving design
Dust Reduction System• Image Sensor Cleaning
• Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)
Image processorNikon EXPEED
A/D conversion12 bit
Image sizes• 4,288 x 2,848 (L)
• 3,216 x 2,136 (M)
• 2,144 x 1,424 (S)
File formats• NEF (compressed RAW)
• JPEG: Fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx. 1:16) compression
• Up to 36 alphanumeric characters can be input using the camera monitor and multi selector (contained in Exif header)
Lens mount• Nikon F mount with AF coupling and AF contacts
• Approx. 1.5x lens focal length (Nikon DX format)
Usable lenses• DX AF Nikkor: All functions supported
• Type G or D AF Nikkor: All functions supported (PC Micro-Nikkors do not support some functions)
• Other AF Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D Color Matrix Metering II. Lenses for F3AF not supported.
• AI-P Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D Color Matrix Metering II
• Non-CPU: Autofocus not supported. Can be used in exposure mode M, but exposure meter does not function. Electronic rangefinder can be used if lens has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster.
Auto Focus• 11 focus points (1 cross-type sensors)
• Multi-CAM 1000
• AF working range: -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100, normal temperature)
• Contrast Detect in Live View (Tripod) mode
Lens Servo• Single Servo AF [S]• Continuous Servo AF [C]• Manual focus [M], Electronic range finding supported
• Focus Tracking automatically activated by subject’s status in AF [A]
Focus Point• Single point from 11 focus points
• Center point narrow or wide zone
• Liveview (Tripod mode): Contrast AF on a desired point anywhere within frame
AF Area Mode• Single point AF
• Dynamic Area AF
• Automatic-area AF
• 3D Tracking AF (11 points)
Focus LockFocus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
AF assistAF-assist illuminator (range approx. 0.5-3 m/1.6-9.8 ft.)
Exposure modes• Program Auto [P] with flexible program
• Shutter-Priority Auto [S]• Aperture-Priority Auto [A]• Manual [M]• Auto
• Advanced Scene Modes (portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, night portrait)
MeteringTTL full-aperture exposure metering using 420-pixel RGB sensor
• 3D Color Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses);
• Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 6, 8, or 10 mm dia. circle in center of frame
• Spot: Meters approx. 2 mm dia. circle (about 2.0 % of frame) centered on selected focus point
Metering range• 3D Color Matrix Metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Center-Weighted Metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Spot Metering: 2 to 20 EV
• At normal temperature (20°C/68°F), ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens
Meter couplingCPU (not AI)
Exposure lockLocked using AE-L/AF-L button
Exposure bracketing• 2 or 3 frames
• 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1 or 2 EV steps
• ADL (Active D-Lighting) bracketing: 2 frames (one with ADL, one without)
Exposure compen.• +/-5.0 EV
• 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps
Sensitivity• Default: ISO 200 – 3200 in 1/3 EV steps
• Boost: 100 – 6400 in 1/3 EV steps
Shutter• Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal plane shutter
• 30 to 1/4000 sec (1/3 or 1/2 EV steps)
• Flash X-Sync: 1/200 sec
• Bulb
• Time (optional Wireless Remote Control ML-L3 required)
• Release time lag Approx. 65 ms
• Viewfinder blackout 120 ms
• Tested to 100,000 exposures
DOF Preview• Stop-down lens aperture by pressing button
Active D-LightingCan be selected from Auto, Extra high, High, Normal, Low, or Off
White balance• Auto (420-pixel CCD, image sensor)
• Presets (12) with fine tuning
• Manual presets (five)
• Color temperature in Kelvin (2500 – 10000 K)
• White balance bracketing (2 or 3 frames in increments of 1, 2 or 3)
Picture Control• Standard
• Neutral
• Vivid
• Monochrome
• Landscape
• Portrait
• Storage for up to nine custom Picture Controls
Image parameters• Sharpening: Auto, 10 levels
• Contrast: Auto, 7 levels
• Brightness: 3 levels
• Saturation: Auto, 7 levels
• Hue: 7 levels
• Quick Adjust: 5 levels (A multi-parameter adjustment)
• High ISO Noise Reduction (High, Normal, Low, Off)
Color space• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Viewfinder• Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder
• Frame coverage Approx. 96% horizontal and 96% vertical
• Magnification Approx. 0.94x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity, –1.0 m-1)
• Eyepoint 19.5 mm (–1.0 m-1)
• Diopter adjustment –2 to +1
Focusing screen• Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark II screen with focus frame
• Superimposed on-demand grid lines over the viewfinder display.
• “Vari-Brite” focus area display built in (The color used to highlight the active focus area (focus brackets) in the viewfinder display changes automatically in response to lighting conditions).
LCD monitor• 3.0 ” TFT LCD
• Approx. 920,000 dots (VGA; 640 x 480 x 3 colors)
• 170° viewing angle
• 100% frame coverage
• Brightness adjustment
Movie• File format AVI (Motion-JPEG)
• Image size (pixels) 640 x 424; 24 fps 320 x 216; 24 fps 1280 x 720; 24 fps
• Compression: Motion-JPEG Audio Monaural on/off selection
• Exposure: Determined with matrix metering utilizing output from the image sensor
• Exposure lock available
• Exposure compensation available in P, S, A, M modes
• Maximum single clip length: 1280×720/ 5 minutes, others 20 minutes
LCD Liveview• Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face priority is selected)
• Face priority, wide area, normal area
Shooting modes• Single frame
• Continuous Low [CL]: 1 – 4 fps
• Continuous High [CH]: 4.5 fps
• Self-Timer
• Delayed remote, quick response remote (optional Wireless Remote Control ML-L3 required for remote shooting)
Self-timer• 2, 5, 10, and 20 s
Flash• Auto pop-up type (auto pop up in Auto, portrait, close-up, night portrait modes)
• Guide no. 12/39 (ISO 100, m/ft.) or 13/43 with manual flash (ISO 100, m/ft.)
• Guide no. 17/56 (ISO 200, m/ft.) or 18/59 with manual flash (ISO 200, m/ft.)
• Sufficient to illuminate the picture angle of an 18mm lens
Flash control• TTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 420-pixel RGB sensor are available with built-in flash and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-400
• Auto aperture: Available with SB-900, SB-800 and CPU lens
• Non-TTL auto: Supported flash units include SB-900, SB-800, SB-28, SB-27, and SB-22s
• Range-priority manual: Available with SB-900 and SB-800
Flash Modes• Auto, portrait, close-up – Auto and auto with red-eye reduction available with built-in flash – Fill-flash and red-eye reduction available with optional flash units
• Night portrait – Auto slow sync and auto slow sync with red-eye reduction available with built-in flash – Slow sync and slow sync with red-eye reduction available with optional flash units
• Landscape, sports – Fill-flash and red-eye reduction available with optional flash units
• P, A- Fill-flash, rear-curtain with slow sync, auto slow sync, slow sync with red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction
• S, M – Fill-flash, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction Front-curtain sync, slow sync, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction
Flash Accessory ShoeISO 518 standard-type hot shoe contact; Safety lock mechanism provided
Flash Sync TerminalNo
Flash compensation• -3 to +1 EV
• 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps
Creative Lighting System• Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with built-in flash, SB-900, SB-800, or SU-800 as commander and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-R200 as remotes
• Auto FP High-Speed Sync and modeling illumination supported with all CLS-compatible flash units except SB-400
• Flash Color Information Communication and FV lock supported with all CLS-compatible flash units
Playback mode• Full-frame playback
• Movie playback
• Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images or calendar) playback
• Playback zoom (image size L up to approx. 27x, M up to approx. 20x, S up to approx. 13x) When one or more faces (up to 10) were detected with shooting, the faces are enclosed in white borders. When playback zoom is applied, different faces can be displayed by rotating the sub-command dial.
• Slide show playback
• Pictmotion
• Histogram display
• Highlights display
• Auto image rotation
• Image comment (up to 36 characters)
Retouch functionsD-Lighting, red-eye correction, trim, monochrome, filter effects, color balance, small picture, image overlay, NEF (RAW) processing, quick retouch, straighten, distortion control, fisheye
Languages• Chinese (Simplified and Traditional)
• Danish
• Dutch,
• English,
• Finnish,
• French,
• German,
• Italian,
• Japanese
• Korean,
• Norwegian,
• Polish,
• Portuguese,
• Russian,
• Spanish
• Swedish
Connectivity• USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) Mini-B connector
• PTP transfer protocol
• NTSC or PAL video output
• HDMI video out (version 1.3a, Type C mini connector provided)
• Remote control / GPS terminal
Storage• SD (Secure Digital) memory cards, SDHC-compliant
Power• Lithium-Ion EN-EL3e (Approx. 850 shots, CIPA)
• Included battery charger MH-18a
• Optional AC adapter EH-5a/EH-5
• Optional Battery Pack MB-D80
Vertical Grip• Optional MB-D80 multi-power battery pack
DimensionsApprox. 132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.)
Weight (no batt)Approx. 620 g (1 lb. 6 oz.) without battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover
Operating environmentTemperature: 0 – 40 °C / 32 – 104 °F, Humidity: under 85% (no condensation)
Box contentsRechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, Quick Charger MH-18a, USB Cable UC-E4, Audio/Video Cable EG-D2, Camera Strap AN-DC1 Body Cap BF-1A, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1, LCD Monitor Cover BM-10, Software Suite CD-ROM (Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area)
Optional accessories*Remote Cord MC-DC2, *GPS Unit GP-1, Photofinishing software Capture NX 2, AC Adapter EH-5/EH-5a, Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D80, Magnifying Eyepiece DK-21M, Eyepiece Correction Lens DK-20C, Eyepiece Magnifier DG-2, Eyepiece Adapter DK-22, Right-Angle Viewing Attachment DR-6, Semi-soft Case CF-D80, Wireless Remote Control ML-L3, Sync Terminal Adapter AS-15, Camera Control Pro 2

Nikon D90 Verdict

You can obtain cameras with the professional-grade build quality, feature sets, and resolutions for an investment of £850. However, even though it does not excel in every category, the D90 is head and shoulders above the competition. This is due in part to the extensive feature set it possesses and in part to the fact that it is so consistently outstanding at all it does.

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