Nikon D90 Review

It does feel like a long time coming, but the Nikon D90 is a direct replacement for the D80.

After all, the cheaper D60, which has the same resolution, a larger LCD, and a new, image-stabilized kit lens, was beginning to make the more expensive D80 feel a bit ashamed.

The Nikon D90’s body is very similar to the previous D80. It’s easier to grasp than the D60s because it’s bigger and chunkier. Although its dual control dials may initially be puzzling, they work considerably better when adjusting the aperture and shutter speed.

High-ISO pictures

Beyond handling benefits, this camera offers a lot more features that can attract buyers away from the D60.

Although nothing in the specifications suggests any differences, the 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor employs technology that was “inherited” from the D300, which seems like a clever way of implying that it might not be exactly the same. The ISO range is 200–3200, although it can be “extended” to 100 or 6400 at either end.

The first characteristic to be examined was high ISO image quality, which has been proved by recent Nikon SLRs to be good. Maximum continuous shooting speed is 4.5 frames per second (fps) when using a high-speed memory card, and the 11-point AF system is significantly more advanced than the D60’s 3-point system.

The D90 now has a Live View mode as a result of the move to a CMOS sensor, and it looks fantastic because to the superb 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD. The “self-cleaning” sensor unit ought to reduce your concerns about dust as well.

The latest Nikon lens

Another significant change is the introduction of a new 18-105mm VR kit lens. Retailers will undoubtedly offer additional configurations, but this one is by far the best value. All things considered, it’s plausible that the D90 is being contrasted with the incorrect camera. The D60 is obviously streets behind it.

In fact, it’s so good that the D300 might be more at risk from it. It doesn’t have the tank-like construction of the D300, but it seems solid enough and portable. The more pertinent query might be, “What can the D300 do that the D90 can’t?”

According to Nikon, the D90’s shutter is built to last 100,000 cycles (about a professional benchmark), and the battery should last no less than 850 shots before needing to be recharged.

Record videos

The D90 is also the first DSLR in existence to have a Movie mode.

With a maximum quality of 1,280 x 720 pixels at 24 frames per second, it outperforms all but a few of digital compacts, makes MiniDV camcorders appear a little ill, and may even displace HD camcorders in sales.

Although this Movie mode has several restrictions and downsides, it is nonetheless outstanding (we will devote a two-page spread to it following this review).

Condition LCD

Anyone who has previously used a Nikon DSLR will be familiar with the D90’s control layout.

The power switch is a spring-loaded lever that wraps around the shutter button, and it starts up very instantly. While the rear LCD can be used to check the settings, it is most likely only going to be used to display images in Playback and Live View modes because there is a mono status LCD on the top plate.

The small size of some of the icons on the status LCD is the sole drawback.

Display problems

However, the 3-inch LCD on the back is different. Not only is the size remarkable, but also the saturation, clarity, and level of definition. Bright light can sometimes overwhelm it, but generally speaking, it is very simple to distinguish. However, there are a few minor problems with this.

The first is that it deceives by flattery since it is so brilliant and bright. When you load up photographs that appear stunning on the camera’s back onto your computer, they may turn out to be disappointingly unexceptional.

Its fixed position is another problem. While you may overlook the fact that the Live View mode’s utility is marginally diminished as a result, the challenge of editing videos on a fixed LCD becomes clear right away.

True, this is true of the majority of tiny cameras, but if you were to contrast the D90 with a good camcorder, this would be a flaw.

Good construction

The Nikon D90 appears to be a high-quality camera overall. Additionally, the brand-new 18-105mm VR kit lens is the ideal addition. It is the perfect weight and size for the D90’s body, creating a harmonious combination. There is no “slop” or “creep” in the smooth, light zoom movement. Although the manual focus ring has a slightly slimy feeling, this lens feels pretty excellent overall.

So far, the D90 has received a pretty unequivocal thumbs up; the only thing left to criticize is its image quality, although even this is excellent. Particularly in artificial lighting, the exposures, color rendition, and auto-white balancing are all superb.

A high ISO performance, too? Stunning. The 18-105mm lens has good definition, and perhaps more importantly, it maintains that definition throughout the entire frame and across the entire focal range. There isn’t any certain “sweet spot” in the aperture or zoom range that you must adhere to.

Excellent camera

It’s interesting to note that when this lens was used on the Nikon D90, there was nearly no chromatic aberration, but there was when it was tested on a D50 body. Does Nikon use in-camera image processing to make a correction?

There are indications that Panasonic, for instance, might be applying a similar technique to some of its cameras.

The D90 is a fantastic mid-range DSLR, but the answer to that issue isn’t quite apparent.

Canon enthusiasts could choose the EOS 40D’s more streamlined design and handling, while Pentax K20D’s photos’ depth and dynamic range might persuade others.

However, the Nikon D90’s features, performance, and value are truly so exceptional that we feel compelled to award it one of our highest ratings ever.

Nikon D90 Specifications

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
• NEF (RAW) + JPEG
• AVI M-JPEG
• 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 the 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 a selection
• Exposure: Determined with matrix metering utilizing output from the image sensor
• Exposure lock available
• Exposure compensation available in P, S, A, and 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, and 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 a 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 a red-eye reduction available with built-in flash – Slow sync and slow sync with a 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 retouching, straightening, 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

Conclusion

Despite the addition of video, the D90 seems to adhere to the same concept as the D80, which we referred to as a photographer’s camera. It’s a highly competitive piece of equipment in terms of specs alone, but the features that have been picked and combined to create it make it the camera that it is.

The D90 viewfinder is among the best available on an APS-C camera, and it is located above the camera’s highest-resolution screen to date. The two-dial interface is easy to use and has thoughtfully placed, well-chosen buttons. (Purchasers switching from other systems can even operate the meter and dials backward to make everything a little bit more acquainted.)

Even while it may require a little internal setting adjustment to customize the output to particular demands, the image quality, whether at base ISO or the higher settings, is superb.

Although it makes sense that Nikon would want to try to align the processing settings with its more costly cameras, it is debatable how well the default output, which is rather under-sharpened, will suit the consumers of this camera. Things get better with a little bit more contrast and saturation, with no negative consequences.

The D90 was initially discussed in relation to its video capabilities, and it does, in fact, record HD videos—good ones, by the standards of digital stills cameras. However, keep in mind that nothing can stop this camera from shooting pictures, so try not to let that deter you.

Because of its degree of configuration, it has lengthy menus, although they are typically organized and color-coded to reduce the chance that you would get lost in them.

A status screen that provides pretty quick access to those important factors that lack their own buttons is another option, as is the opportunity to make a menu of your most frequently used settings (or list the most recently used ones, if you don’t want to spend time setting it up).

Nikon D90 Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Automatic chromatic aberration correction enhances all lenses’ performance.
  • similar in quality to its competitors’ images
  • Excellent high-resolution LCD display
  • fantastic viewfinder
Need Improvements
  • As menus grow lengthy and complicated (though well organized and differentiated)
  • Overzealous metering is sometimes prone to blowing out the highlights.
  • Compared to its competitors, the default JPEG result is very soft.
  • We think Jpegs could utilize more of the captured dynamic range.

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