Cameras Nikon D90 Review

Also has viewfinder

Sensor cleaning. Nikons multi-frequency sensor cleaning is also employed in the D90, vibrating the optical low-pass filter glass perpendicular to the plane, rather than parallel as most sensor cleaning systems do. Due to the extreme variability in types of dust in the environment, dont expect any sensor cleaning system to remove everything, but its certainly better than no cleaning system at all.

Like all other Nikons, the shutter sound of the Nikon D90 is relatively quiet and tame. Its not whisper quiet, but theres not a lot of winding and whirring, just the necessary clicking to activate the mirror and shutter. Check the video at right to see what the Nikon D90 sounds like at its maximum frame rate of 4.5 frames per second.

Similar sized sensor

Faster Shooting – Definitely! With a maximum continuous-mode frame rate of 4.5 frames/second, the Nikon D90 is 50% ster than the 3 frames/second of the D80.


Nikon is first with something else: Movie recording in Live view mode. Just press the OK button to start recording. You have to set focus before you start shooting your movie, but you can still manual focus while youre shooting, as well as zoom. The movie will record the noise of the zoom ring to an extent, depending on which lens youre using and how st you zoom, but its still pretty impressive. A whole new generation, now of non-professionals, will learn what it means to pull focus as the moment of interest turns from one subject to another. Its a cinematic technique usually performed by someone other than the camera operator, who is too busy framing the image to attend to focus as well. But millions of Nikon D90 owners will be able to try a technique that few camcorder owners can.

Sensor. A step up from the D80s 10.2-megapixel sensor, the D90s 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor may be the same as is found in the Nikon D300, but Nikon representatives were not sure as of this writing. Quoted dimensions are different, measuring 23.6 x 15.8mm, while our info on the D300 says its 24x15mm. The Nikon D90s sensor has 12.9 megapixels total, but only 12.3 are effective. Output is 12-bit, so you wont get the same lovely 14-bit RAW images, nor the 14-bit Analog to Digital conversion that you get on the Nikon D300.

Dave Etchells

Video – Definitely! As we discuss elsewhere, the HD video produced by the Nikon D90 is r from perfect. If you really care about video, the best bet is still to get a camcorder. If youre like me though, you probably often find yourself bringing a pocket digicam along on a trip, just to have the ability to grab occasional video snapshots. This is exactly what the D90s video mode lets you do, and having it could let you finally leave the digicam at home. (Dave says hell probably upgrade his D80 for this very reason.)

A removable screen cover is still included with the Nikon D90, but the back glass is tempered to resist scratching. Ive finally gotten used to using the screen protector, but be sure to carefully clean it before going out for a shoot in daylight, as the protector can transmit even more glare in daylight when its dirty or smudged. The chief benefit of the screen cover is that if you scratch it, its at most $20 to replace; the LCD glass, on the other hand, will cost a lot more.

Easy access. Most important functions that I usually want to access quickly have their own button, including Flash Exposure Compensation and Bracketing.

Camera automatically corrects chromatic aberration in camera JPEGs, further increasing the apparent quality of the lens

Programmable function button is very handy, position under right middle finger is convenient, makes it easy to manipulate main command dial at the same time

Update 08/27/08: First test shots posted! See the Samples tab.

Scene Recognition System. Scene recognition is something that Nikon has been working on for years, and these last few models have seen incremental improvements to the system. With the Nikon D90 comes Face recognition.

Optical viewfinder. Similar to the Nikon D80s viewfinder, the Nikon D90s 11-point autofocus system is arrayed in a diamond formation. Still called the Multi-Cam 1000, as on the D80, the Nikon D90s AF engine has been updated to include 3D focus tracking and the advantage of Face Detection, which will bias AF points to vor eyes over noses and other objects in a scene. As a test of this system, I held my hand up in front of my nose much like the Three Stooges used to do to protect their eyes from pokes by their fellow stooges, and had someone take a picture of me. The Multi-Cam 1000 consistently lit up the AF points right over my eyes, rather than choosing the closer object (my hand), which was a welcome surprise. If this system is applied to a camera with 51-point autofocus, it will realize its full power. Nikon D90 users will have to remember to keep their subjects eyes under the 11 AF points for it to work properly, but thats better than having to hope the camera will guess right. Better, of course, is to lock the AF point manually; but if youre in a hurry, youll take what you can get.

Faster 4.5 frames/second JPEG improves on D80 (but again, with specific settings only; enabling AF, using shutter speeds below 1/250 will slow frame rate, ISOs of 800 and higher will drastically reduce buffer depth.)

Similar size

Compared to: Canon Rebel XSi – The Canon XSi is priced quite a bit below the D90, but in the Canon/Nikon choice, many people will likely consider it, as its the closest Canon model on the low side of the D90s price. In this case, though, closest means a good $500 or so less expensive than the D90, comparing prices for the kits including lenses. Body-only, as this is being written in mid-October, 2008, the XSi is selling for about $350 less than the D90. (The D60 is the Nikon model closest in price to the XSi.) The XSi and D90 have essentially the same resolution and both have Live View features, but the similarities pretty much end there. Most obviously, the D90 has movie capability. The D90 also shoots ster in continuous mode (4.5 vs 3 frames/second), and goes dramatically higher in ISO (light sensitivity) rating, to a maximum of 6,400 vs 1,600 for the XSi. Then theres the automatic correction for chromatic aberration. Minor details include a significantly higher resolution LCD screen, viewfinder with LCD-based grid that can be turned on and off, extensive in-camera RAW file processing, and direct support for Nikons wireless flash system. The D90s kit lens also has a significantly longer zoom range. In its vor, the Canon XSi offers a live histogram display in its Live View mode and has 14-bit RAW files and internal processing, which can provide smoother tonal transitions, particularly when processing images from RAW files with heavy exposure adjustment. It also comes with more capable RAW-processing software at no added cost. Any way you slice it though, the D90 delivers dramatically more capability, albeit at a considerably higher price.

11% smaller

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Large capacity SD/SDHC memory card. These days, a 2GB or 4GB card is inexpensive enough, and youll want a large card if you plan on recording many HD movies. Good to buy a higher-speed card also, able to record st enough to not limit movie duration simply due to card speed. (SanDisk Ultra/Extreme III, Kingston 133x or equivalent)

16.2 MP (32% more)

Similar sized sensor

Picture Control. The Nikon D80s Optimize Image setting has been replaced with the Picture Control system found on other recent Nikon digital SLR cameras. Options include Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, and Landscape. Each Picture Control includes adjustments for Sharpening, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation, and Hue. Monochrome mode allows adjustment of Sharpening, Contrast, Brightness, Filter effects, and Toning. You can also apply Picture Control settings to movies, and Scene modes have complete control over adjusting which Picture Control setting they use, based on information from the Scene Recognition System.

Ports. Top to bottom are DC in, USB, HDMI, AV Out, and GPS/Remote control ports.

Similar sized sensor

Bottom Line: Competitive Decisions For people buying their first DSLR, Canon is Nikons arch-rival and their models will most likely be the ones most shoppers will be comparing the D90 to. With the D80, Nikon cleverly split Canons price structure down the middle, offering more features at a higher price than more down-market Canon models (like the XTi), but keeping the total price well below that of Canons next model up the line (the 40D). With the D90, theyve followed the same strategy, although the upgraded features Canon has added to their new XSi does narrow the gap there somewhat, and (for a while at least), the fire-sale clearance pricing weve seen on their 40D brings it down to close to the same price as the D90. Heres a quick breakdown of how these cameras compare:

The top deck has nothing new, just a slight reshaping to the buttons and a new top status LCD layout. The significant upgrade here is the new 18-105mm lens. While it doesnt have the extra reach of the 18-135mm lens that came with the D80 bundle, it does have the benefit of Vibration Reduction, Nikons optical image stabilization.

Compared to: Canon EOS-50D – Heres where the D90 will feel its stiffest competition from the Canon lineup, but as was the case with the previous D80/40D matchup, at a considerably higher price. Here, the Canon 50D bests most of the D90s specifications, with 15 megapixels to the D90s 12, 6.3 frames/second to the D90s 4.5 and maximum ISO of 12,800 vs the D90s 6,400, and of course 14-bit image processing and no-added-cost full-capability RAW processing software. It also has shading (vignetting) correction which the D90 lacks. The only significant D90 features not found in the 50D are HD movie recording and chromatic aberration correction. The Canon 50D does have rather an odd choice for its kit lens, though, a 28-135mm image-stabilized model that equates to a 44.8-216mm equivalent range on a 35mm film camera. The wide end of that isnt very wide at all; we think most people would find his an awkward lens to work with: Most users are going to want something capable of going much wider. Leaving the lens out of the equation then, the body-only prices as of this writing in mid-October 2008 were running about $1,400 for the Canon 50D vs $990 for the D90.

Active D-Lighting. No longer new, Active D-Lighting keeps gaining enhancements. In addition to the Auto Active D-Lighting mode added with the Nikon D700, the Nikon D90 gains an Extra High setting to add even more punch to shadow detail. Note that JPEG files modified as they are captured with Active D-Lighting, so theres no unaltered original to refer back to: Consider whether you want top shoot RAW + JPEG to back up those files, or even use D-Lighting after capture if you think an image would benefit from the help.

Having the power switch around the shutter button is always nice too, because you can turn the camera on without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. I frequently turn my digital SLR off as I walk around, and some models make you pull the camera from your ce to even find the switch.

Nikon has been cranking out new digital SLR camera upgrades like crazy these last two years, with the low, high, and pro end of the lineup getting update after update, but the mid-level SLR in particular has gone more than 18 months without an upgrade. While the Nikon D80 has a rich feature-set and maintained a high resale value throughout its tenure, its due for an upgrade.

21% smaller

There are a lot of great digital SLRs on the market, and Ive had the pleasure of using most of them. But Ive never taken to a camera as quickly and easily as I did to the Nikon D80, announced in 2006. Within moments of using it, I could tell I had a winner in my hands. The fit, the operation, and the lens was just right for getting all the shots I saw around me, in one camera.

Look and feel. Though many elements are subtly restyled, the Nikon D90s front end has only one new feature: three holes for a microphone, just up and left of the D90 logo. This is, of course, for the new movie recording mode. All of the buttons are in the same locations and have essentially the same functions. Note also that the autofocus screw drive is still in place on the Nikon D90, meaning it will still drive old autofocus lenses as well as the new electronic lenses, something not included in the less-expensive Nikon D40, D40x, and D60.

1003g (11% lighter)

Live view shooting. Activating Live view on other Nikon SLRs has included turning the Drive Mode dial to Lv and then pressing the shutter button to lock the mirror up; hardly intuitive. The Nikon D90, however, has a dedicated Live view button on the back, just right of the LCD, within easy reach of the thumb. With a single press of the Lv button, the mirror flips up and Live view framing begins. The difference with the Nikon D90 is that you can only focus in Contrast-detect mode, whereas the Nikon D300 and D700 allowed a choice between Handheld (Phase-detect) and Tripod mode (Contrast-detect mode). Phase-detect AF in a Live View SLR is always a noisy afir, as it generally involves dropping and raising the mirror twice (once to focus and once to take the shot), but its generally ster than contrast-detect focusing, particularly as implemented on the D90. Theres a good reason why Nikon refers to the contrast-detect AF mode as Tripod mode, as it takes a long time for the camera to focus when using it; easily several seconds in some circumstances, and never less than about 2.3 seconds in our laboratory testing. Still, it works very well if youre not in a hurry, and by its very nature, is never subject to the front- or back-focusing that can plague phase-detect AF systems if theyre even a tiny bit out of adjustment.

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Bottom Line: D80 upgraders. Certainly, one large group of potential D90 buyers are current owners of the previous D80. Building on the strengths of its excellent predecessor, the Nikon D90 has an awful lot going for it. It upgrades several specs and adds a number of new features over the D80. The key question is whether current D80 owners will find upgrading to the Nikon D90 a worthwhile move or not. To my mind, there are several ctors that could drive this decision:

Thats the average, click to find the BEST price!D90 Review Summary: Though its late to the party, the Nikon D90 arrives shionably, just as its predecessor did in late 2006. It comes sauntering in with most of the current hot features that the D80 lacked, plus a new twist that will bowl them all over with its relevance and utility.

Image storage is via SD cards, which offer up to 32GB capacity at this point. Some are disappointed that Nikon switched to SD in this level of digital SLR camera, but other manucturers have begun to follow suit, including Canon. On a practical basis, current SD cards provide plenty of storage (does anyone really need more than 32GB on a single card?), and modern SD cards are quite st, if not quite up to the level of the latest UDMA CompactFlash cards. SD cards are also somewhat more robust, less prone to bent contact fingers in the camera or card reader jamming the card connector while also rendering the camera useless.

Also has viewfinder

Though its late to the party, the

As on the new Nikon D700, the Nikon D90 also has a new Info button for bringing up the new rear Status display, and further activating the submenu. The submenu includes different items, but theyre well-tuned to the enthusiast photographer. Options include changing Long Exposure Noise Reduction, High ISO Noise Reduction, Active D-Lighting, Set Picture Control, Assign Func. Button, and Assign AE-Lock/AF-Lock button. Whether many photographers will use all of these functions, its good to have them here, rather than having to dig for them in the menu.

New to the intermediate range for Nikon, the Live View feature offers some new tricks over the mode found on the Nikon D90s high-end predecessors, particularly including Face Detection. Surprisingly, there is no phase-detect autofocus available on the Nikon D90 when in Live view mode, only three contrast-detect modes: Face Priority, Wide Area, and Normal Area. Just as weve seen on consumer cameras, in Face Detection mode, a box surrounds detected ces and follows them around the screen. The Nikon D90 can track up to five ces. Live view is activated with a dedicated button just right of the LCD.

Since the dawn of Live view on SLRs, the obvious question has been, Why no movie mode? If you can draw a live image off the sensor, why cant you record it? Nikon is the first to answer the question with a resounding, You can! The Nikon D90 records movies as a Motion JPEG in AVI format at 24 frames per second at what theyre calling 720p equivalent resolution: 1,280 x 720. Other resolutions include 640 x 424, and 320 x 216. Though you have to focus manually, and aperture remains fixed during recording, audio for the videos is captured through the monaural mic on the camera.

Built-in flash supports Nikons Creative Lighting System (wireless flash control) with any CLS-capable external flash units. (Camera can be controller, no need for separate flash to be attached to the camera as a controller.)

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With a 12.3-megapixel sensor, the Nikon D90 rises to the resolution of the more professional D300. It also shares the same sensitivity as the D300, ranging from ISO 200 to 3,200,new york asian escort model plus L1 (100) and H1 (6,400).

Also has viewfinder

Magnification/resolution in Live View mode isnt as great as it could be: More resolution at maximum magnification would make it easier to focus manually

Bottom line, the Nikon D90 is an exceptionally well-rounded digital SLR offering, with just about everything an aspiring photographer will need, and quite a few of the advanced features found on the higher-priced SLRs in Nikons line, but at a lower price. Very highly recommended,Cameras and an easy Daves Pick.


15% larger

On the back, again the Nikon D90s controls are restyled and the LCD is larger, but most of the controls are in miliar positions. Right of the LCD is where youll find the major differences. First is the Live view button, marked with the letters Lv. Just below that is the new navigation cluster, which, like the Nikon D700, has an OK button in the center. The arrow pad is locked by the switch just beneath it, and the Info button, again from the D700, takes up position where the OK button was on the Nikon D80. The Info button brings up a status display, and a second press brings up a new onscreen menu.

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Movie resolutions include 1280×720 (16:9), 640×424 (3:2), and 320×216 (3:2). Recording times are limited to five minutes per clip for HD mode, and 20 minutes per clip for the latter two modes. Nikon couldnt explain the reason for the limit as of this writing, but its likely due to sensor heating issues that might start to degrade image quality. The frame rate is 24 frames per second, and audio is monaural, not stereo. Approximate maximum file sizes for two of the modes are 588MB for the 1,280×720-size movies, and up to 2GB for the 640×424 movies.

Hands-on Preview: 08/27/08

Higher Resolution – Maybe not so much. While the move from 6 to 10 megapixels in going from the D70 to the D80 was a significant and noticeable increase in resolution, the move from 10 to 12 is actually pretty minor. Cameras Nikon D90 ReviewYoull see slightly more detail in the D90s shots, but not enough to justify upgrading. (IMHO, at least.)

Changing most other items of importance is done by a button, including ISO, White Balance, Image Quality (on the left of the LCD); and metering mode, EV compensation, Drive mode, and Autofocus mode (on the top deck); and even flash exposure compensation is integrated into the flash pop-up button, appearing on the left of the lens mount, just above the Bracket button. These are all critical functions that need their own button for st access, and theyre out where you can find them easily; in the case of the latter two, youll have to learn their positions, since theyre out of sight, but at least you wont have to dig in the menu to activate these features.

Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below..

Face detection. Just as weve seen on non-SLR digital cameras, the Nikon D90s Face detection helps determine focus, exposure, and white balance. (Click to view/download 1.7MB MPEG-4 file.)

The Nikon D90s 11-point phase-detect AF system is arrayed in a diamond pattern and now includes 3D focus tracking as found on the D3 and D300.

According to company figures, the Nikon D90 speeds along in several areas over its predecessor, including startup time (0.15 compared to 0.18 on the D80), shutter lag (0.065 compared to 0.08), and optical viewfinder blackout time, which is down to 120 milliseconds from 150 milliseconds. Thats of particular importance to me, because I like to keep my eye on the subject.

Nikon D90 arrives shionably, just as its predecessor did in late 2006. It comes sauntering in with most of the current hot features that the D80 lacked, plus a new twist that will bowl them all over with its relevance and utility.

As they did with the D80 before it, Nikon has cleverly positioned the D90 squarely within a gap in Canons lineup: Its more expensive than the Canon XSi, but delivers many more features. At the same time, while it doesnt quite measure up to some specs of the Canon 50D (although coming close in many areas, surpassing it in some), its also a good bit less expensive than that model. All in all, the Nikon D90 presents a truly compelling proposition for intermediate photographers – Or novices looking for a camera with plenty of capability to grow into. For Nikon shooters it offers a great step up from the previous D80 or previous entry-level Nikon DSLRs like the D50, D40, or D40x. For more advanced Nikon users, it makes a great second body for those whose main camera is one of Nikons higher-end models, like the D200 or D300.

High-ISO Performance – Some benefit, but again, perhaps not enough to justify an upgrade. Based on our tests, in-camera JPEGs from the D80 are actually a bit cleaner than those from the D90 at least at ISOs below 1,600. At ISO 3,200 and 6,400, though, the D90 does demonstrate noticeably better noise processing.

Holding and shooting. The Nikon D90 feels just about identical to the Nikon D80. Its smaller and lighter than the D300, but still has a good grip, with a good dent inside the grip for the tips of your fingers. It also feels more substantial than the Nikon D60, with more of what an enthusiast photographer wants from his camera. I was very happy with the new multi-controller, which includes the OK button in the middle, rather than in some location distant from the menu navigation tool.

Also has viewfinder

$699.89 (27% less)

Movie mode. Capturing a movie is as easy as pressing the OK button when in Live view mode. (Click to view/download 1.9MB MPEG-4 file.)

Autofocus in Live View mode is slow, limited to contrast-detect only; no phase-detect AF option with Live View

All things considered, we once again see a Nikon prosumer SLR model placed squarely in between two Canon models, in terms of both price and capability. Even compared to the higher-end Canon product though, the D90s rich feature set does much to recommend it, it a compelling proposition.

Continuous mode. 4.5 frames per second. (Click to view/download 395KB MPEG-4 file.)

by Shawn Barnett and Dave Etchells

Im starting to feel strange about saying Nikons done it again, but it looks like they have. The Nikon D90 looks like a genuinely excellent camera for the intermediate photographer, and a great choice as a full-featured, light weight body for those who own a Nikon D200 or D300. The addition of video is ground-breaking, and will open up new possibilities that will be fun to explore, even though I wish it handled motion better than it does. Really, my only major disappointment for the intermediate market is the lack of a higher frame rate. Id like to see at least five frames per second, if not six. But at least they raised it to 4.5 from the Nikon D80s three frames per second. Otherwise, theres little to complain about, and only more great features to praise.

Also has viewfinder

Accessory flash: SB-400, SB-600, SB-800, SB-900 (SB-600 is most economical to do off-camera flash with Nikons wireless lighting system.)

Update 08/28/08: Added more test shots, including our low-light, flash and macro series.

Nikons 3D Color Matrix Metering system employs a 420-pixel RGB light meter that covers most of the image area (the D300 and higher models use a 1,005-pixel RGB sensor). As in past models, the Color Matrix Metering system compares what it sees in the image to a database of 30,000 photos to make its metering decisions for each scene. Theyve added more to properly gauge ctors like white balance and subject motion, and now theyre tracking ces with SRS. The autofocus sensors are another piece of the SRS puzzle, each aspect informing and tuning the other. Finding and focusing on eyes rather than foreground objects, or even foreheads and noses, is one particular benefit of the overall integration. Another is improved 3D tracking of objects as they move across the image area. The RGB sensor may not be able to help focus on an object, but it can add a set of data for the Nikon D90 to use while tracking a subject with the autofocus system. For example, if a red object is traversing the frame from left to right, and growing in size as it does so, the SRS would add this information to the AF-sensor data to help it tune the focus more quickly.

The Nikon D90 felt so much like the Nikon D80 that I had to check the badge to make sure I hadnt picked up the wrong camera. Even the new lens felt pretty much the same, if a little shorter. The dimensions of the Nikon D90s body are indeed identical, measuring 5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0in (132 x 103 x 77mm), and the weight is only 1.2 ounces (35g) heavier. But what you get for that extra weight is noticeable indeed.

16.3 MP (33% more)


Battery grip.

Chromatic Aberration Correction – Definitely! To our minds, not enough has been made of this feature on the D90. Chromatic aberration is what causes the purple and green fringes you often see around the edges of high-contrast objects in the corners of the frame. CA is a particular issue in zoom lenses, particularly ones with long zoom ratios. Depending on the subject youre shooting, it may be more or less of a problem, as its generally restricted to the corners and edges of the frame. I find it very distracting though, and have seen many otherwise good images ruined by it. The D90 corrects this to an amazing degree, turning lenses Id otherwise consider marginal into excellent performers. To my mind, this alone could be reason enough for a D80 owner to upgrade to a D90 body. The kit lens for the D80 was Nikons 18-135mm optic. This was a very sharp lens, but it also showed a lot of chromatic aberration in the corners. On the Nikon D90, this lens turns into a beautiful performer in nearly every respect. The D90s own 18-105mm optically stabilized kit lens also has only so-so CA performance on its own, but combined with the D90s distortion-reduction processing turns into a stellar performer.

In-camera retouch menu is great, permits significant image adjustment without resorting to the computer

$1358.41 (41% more)

Update 10/10/08: Posted competitive comparisons and conclusions, brought to full review status.

951g (16% lighter)

Compared to: Canon EOS-40D – For a limited time only… As dealers clear their shelves to make way for the new EOS-50D, prices on the Canon 40D have plummeted recently, bringing the cost of the 40D down to that of the D90, or even a bit below. (As of this writing in mid-October, 2008, the 40D was available body-only online for as little as $900, almost a hundred dollars less than the D90.) Relative to the 40D, the Nikon D90 offers its HD movie recording capability, contrast-detect autofocus in Live View mode, a couple of extra megapixels, one stop higher maximum ISO, the snazzy viewfinder with on-demand gridlines, its extensive in-camera RAW file processing, the automatic CA correction, and the direct, in-camera support for Nikons wireless lighting system. On its side of the ledger, though, the EOS-40D offers ster continuous-mode shooting, at 6-6.4 frames/second, depending on the shooting mode, vs 4.5 for the D90. The Canon 40D also has 14-bit internal processing, a PC-type sync terminal for connecting to external flash systems, and full-capability RAW processing software included in the box. The D90 still sports more features, but the 40Ds higher continuous-mode shooting speed and 14-bit processing might sway some users in its vor. A closer contest than that with the XSi, but the scales still seem to tip toward the D90. If you find the Canon 40D a compelling bargain, though, our advice is to move st, as the 40Ds remaining in the market are likely to sell through quickly.

The Nikon D90 began shipping to the US market in September, 2008, with a suggested retail price of $999.95, or $1,299.95 with the 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR lens. (Note that you save about $100 buying the lens with the kit.)

1467g (29% heavier)

Video Examples: Dave shot some examples of video with the D90, so you can see what the different resolution levels look like. Rather than take up a lot of screen space with a number of thumbnails here, check out our Nikon D90 Video page for a number of examples as well as Daves observations about the D90s video recording.

Whether you decide to upgrade or not will obviously depend a lot on how and what you shoot and the state of your budget. If you dont care about Live View or movie recording, and arent too bothered by chromatic aberration in your current lens collection, you can probably take a pass on this particular evolution of Nikons prosumer DSLRs. On the other hand, if any of the above strike you as must-haves, the D90 is a bigger step forward than were accustomed to seeing between generations of SLRs from a given manucturer.

Reader Comments! –>Visit our discussion forum for the Nikon D90!

by Shawn Barnett,

12.4 MP

Outputs and inputs. New to the output stack is HDMI for easy connectivity to a high definition television, and an Audio/Video output connector (the D80 has a Video connector). Under a separate door youll find the same Remote control port, but its now dual-purpose, allowing connection of the new GP-1 GPS accessory, as well as the MC-DC1 Remote cord.

As a Nikon representative pointed out, its particularly interesting that its Nikon, a company that has never had a dedicated camcorder camera, that is first breaking down this barrier in the SLR world. It will be fun to watch what photographers will produce with a video recorder that can use a full range of quality Nikon glass.

Viewing images. Playback modes enhancements include a new calendar display, a 72-image thumbnail display, a 12, 9, and 4-thumb display; and a new enhancement to the Histogram view that locks the histograms to the displayed image as you zoom. In other words, the histograms show data for just the displayed portion of the image. The retouch menu has new features, including Cross screen and image overlay options, as well as the ability to rotate images in-camera, and create fisheye distortions. For more on this, see the Operation tab of this review.

18 MP (46% more)

12.3 MP

Similar sized sensor

Similar sized sensor

Accurate and consistent metering, works to very low light levels (but only in manual mode at the darkest levels)

A new lens will ship with the Nikon D90 kit, as well: the Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR, with one extra-low dispersion element and one hybrid aspheric element to improve image quality.

Update 10/08/08: Posted full test results from a production unit! See the Optics, Exposure and Performance tabs/subtabs for all the details.

Uses same MB-D80 battery grip as D80 – Nice for D80 users moving up, and a good grip on its own merits

LCD. Another significant treat for D80 upgraders, the LCD is the same bright, crisp, 920,000-pixel LCD screen found on the Nikon D300, D3, and D700. Three inches big, it makes checking your images more satisfying and sure; and autofocus in Live view mode is bound to be more accurate as well. The D80s screen was no slouch by any means, but higher resolution is higher resolution. Even menus benefit from the higher res, more color-rich screen. For one, they can use smaller fonts for more descriptive titles, and include more explanatory text via the help button.

$1566.97 (63% more)

18% larger

852g (25% lighter)

1234g (9% heavier)

If ce detection is activated, the Nikon D90 quickly begins tracking ces, placing a yellow box around each one, up to five at a time. Once focus is achieved, the box turns green. Its just as weve seen from almost all recent non-SLR digital cameras, but its impressive on an SLR. Panasonic, for the record, was first with this feature. For more on Live View see the Live View subtab under the Operation tab.

Battery and storage. You can get up to 850 shots (CIPA standard) with an EN-EL3e battery; that doesnt include any Live view usage or video capture. You can enhance the Nikon D90s battery capacity with the Nikon MB-D80 Multi-power battery pack that was designed for the Nikon D80. If you have large hands or shoot in portrait mode a lot like I do, battery grips can really raise your comfort level. You can use two EN-EL3e batteries, or six AA batteries in the grip. Adding the battery grip does not increase frame rate, as it does on the Nikon D300 and D700, but it does add greater control if you dont mind the weight.

and Zig Weidelich

Another essential upgrade on the Nikon D90 is the move to a high resolution 3-inch LCD screen. The 920,000-pixel display has a 170-degree viewing angle and appears to be as nice as the new screens found on the D3 and D300. It makes checking focus and using Live view mode that much more pleasant.

Though Face Detection is helpful in Live view mode, its utility goes further, as its now an integral part of Nikons Scene Recognition System (SRS). Thanks to the Nikon D90s 420-pixel matrix metering sensor, the SRS can combine color metering with autofocus sensor data and tune white balance and exposure with a particular bias toward getting ces exposed properly. In theory, this should also include sure the Nikon D90 focuses on an eye rather than a nose or forehead. If true in practice, this is quite an advance. Face detection even comes into play in i-TTL Flash control.


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