Nikon D90 Review Summary
Nikon D90 Assessment
There are two ways to look at the Nikon D90. It is either a Nikon mid-range DSLR or a DSLR with movie recording capability. The good news is that, whichever way we look at it, this is an excellent DSLR.
On the still photography side, the D90 is fast, responsive and produces high-quality images with little noise, great dynamic range and reliable exposure. Automatic white-balance is not perfect and images are softer than we like them to be due to noise-reduction, but there is very little to complain about without searching. Ergonomics are very too, with the exception of a few interface oddities, all minor.
Video, as a bonus feature, is good simply because it is there. It brings flexibility due to interchangeable lenses and high quality due to a large DSLR-sized sensor. The catch is that, if we compare the D90 to a camcorder, it appears as rather limited. Particularly, the lack of auto-focus and 5 minute clip-size limit. So, while it offers very interesting possibilities with video, the Nikon D90 cannot be considered a camcorder replacement. It does easily match the video of small fixed lens cameras, most of which cannot zoom and focus while filming.
The only alternate DSLR with movie-mode is the 3 times more expensive full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II. This model can record 1080p HDTV video and supports an external microphone for stereo audio input.
Alternatives without video-capabiities, include the Pentax K20D, the Canon EOS 40D and the Sony Alpha A700
Sony Alpha A700. In terms of lowest noise and highest speed, the 40D is the winner here. The K20D is the most feature rich, including builtin stabilization, a weather-sealed body and excellent ergonomics. The A700 also features builtin stabilization, plus it has an extremely fast autofocus system, unlimited 5 FPS continuous shooting and eye and grip sensors.
|Lower image noise than most competing DSLRs||Noticeable NR softness starting at ISO 800|
|Fast except for live-view focusing||Poor white-balance under artificial light|
|Better than average dynamic range||ISO only selectable in 1/3 stops|
|Reliable metering||Focus misses in low-light|
|Limited movie mode in a DSLR||Auto ISO deep in menu, remains active in M mode|
|Good ergonomics with comprehensive controls||Some control oddities, see full review|
|Top-notch LCD display|
|Solid build quality|
|In-camera RAW conversion|
Recent Similar Cameras
|Nikon D300 - 100% Coverage viewfinder, 8 FPS, Weather-sealed body, No movie-mode|
|Nikon D80 - 10 Megapixels, 3 FPS, 2.5" LCD 230K Pixels, No dust-reduction, No live-view, No movie-mode|
|Imaging Resource||DP Review|
|Photography Blog||Trusted Reviews|
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Nikon D90 Facts
|12 Megapixels DSLR||ISO 100-6400|
|Nikon F Mount|
Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|4.5 FPS Drive, 100 Images||Spot-Metering|
|1280x720 @ 24 FPS Video Recording||Hot-Shoe|
|3" LCD 920K Pixels||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|Secure Digital High Capacity|
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