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Nikon D90 digital SLR - Nikon D90 digital SLR

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

One of the D90's most useful features, although somewhat overshadowed by the bells and whistles of live view and the video mode, is Active D-Lighting. This selectively adjusts the exposure of different areas of the image, helping to prevent burned-out highlights and featureless black shadows, and increasing the effective dynamic range of the camera. This feature is found on several other Nikon model, including some compacts, but on the D90 it gets five different levels as well as an automatic mode. It works extremely well, and on my test shot of an underground car park both the brightly lit exterior and the shadows under the stairs have plenty of detail.

The much talked-about video mode has its good points, but also some serious limitations. On the plus side, the video quality is extremely good. Shooting in the maximum 1280 x 720 high-definition mode at 24 frames per second the quality is comparable with a dedicated HD camcorder, and the ability to use the zoom lens is very useful. Shooting high resolution video through a top quality long telephoto lens could be very useful for wildlife filming or bird watching, with the camera mounted on a tripod, but unfortunately there is one major drawback when using it hand-held. There is no autofocus available in video mode, which means you have operate the focus ring on the lens barrel while at the same time trying to hold the camera steady and frame the shot. As I've noted, the D90 is quite heavy, and its balance when fitted with the 18-105mm lens means that taking a steady shot needs a two-handed grip, and the same is true when shooting video. This makes it almost impossible to shoot steady, in-focus shots of moving subjects.

While many people seem convinced that there must be some sort of convergence between still and video photography, and that this camera is a step down the right road, I have to say that I disagree. As with all tools that have developed and evolved over time, the form of a camera follows its function. Video and still cameras are different shapes because they have been developed to do different jobs, and the shape of an SLR camera, or indeed most compact cameras, is not particularly well suited to video shooting. Camcorders, and even more so professional-quality video cameras, are the shape they are for a reason, and to expect an SLR do the same job seems to me to be rather foolish. I'm not saying that DSLRs shouldn't have video modes, and indeed I'm sure that other manufacturers will follow Nikon's lead and nearly all of next year's models will have this ability, but I can't see it being more than a gimmick, or at best a sort of bonus extra feature. I certainly wouldn't pay extra for it.

adoniteINK

November 29, 2008, 4:07 am

aw...Cliff seems a lil camera shy...(lol! at the irony in that). Congrats if that was your video debut and great review as well.

PK Son

November 29, 2008, 3:09 pm

Too bad I have a D300, (and a D70) but this camera would've been great!! Nikon!! woohoo!!


Thanks for the review!

SpiderJacek

November 29, 2008, 4:49 pm

Nice camera, but ISO performance shots surprised me. Here, at TR, you can see a hint of noise at ISO200 and it gets worse at higher settings. DPreview shots are clear up to ISO800 and even ISO1600 looks good. Why so much difference? Faulty camera?

Clovis

November 29, 2008, 5:43 pm

I was also surprised by the amount of noise.A compact like the LX3 isn't all that far behind this midrange DSLR in that respect...Unless this was really a defective camera.(absolutely NOT comparing other aspects to a compact; however, the noise was really astonishing for a DSLR)

Horace Coker

November 30, 2008, 12:47 am

I think the noise problem may be due to the fact that all the shots of the model cars look slightly underexposed to my eyes.(Compared to the LX3 images.) Would noise be more likely to be visible on an underexposed image?

dave doubledecks

November 30, 2008, 4:36 pm

I didn't realise the camera doesn't AF in video mode. A huge shame but I guess the 5DII is the same??





In 12 months time all mid-range dSLRs will have video I reckon.

Geoff Richards

November 30, 2008, 6:11 pm

Yeah, no auto-focus in video mode is a real killer for me. Who is seriously going to adjust their focus manually when filming the dog running around etc? :(

Ulf Bjarke

December 3, 2008, 10:41 pm

Very surprising that the D90 got a 9 points for image quality point while the D300 got 10 points. The noise is the same. I own the D90 and I would recommend you not to trust this review regarding image quality.

Thiago

December 17, 2008, 1:54 am

I agree with all above about ISO. I have a compact Canon A590IS and the noise level will be better than Nikon D90? Impossible. Return to google and seek other reviews and make your conclusion. IMO D90 is wonderful, will be my next purchase.



prem 2007a

December 19, 2008, 7:23 am

Hi,





I'm not able to watch any review videos in TR.





Installed Items





Win Xp -SP3


Mozilla Firefox 3.0.5


Flash player


Shockwave player


windows media player & other plugins for firefox.


Java (enabled)








Do I need to install anything 'special' to view TR videos ???????





Plz help !!!!















James Morris

December 23, 2008, 11:28 pm

@prem_2007a: Nope, you should be able to watch the videos. Have you tried using IE? What exactly is the error message you are getting?

prem 2007a

December 26, 2008, 8:07 am




Dear james,





Thanks.Actually I'mn't getting any error msg.The portion where the video is epected to dispaly is viwed a completely blank.Its just like a plain white.I thnik the video player is some how not loading.Don't knw what really is the issue.





I have tried IE & Opera.Still same results.





Any idea james ???

AlfSmith

March 20, 2009, 5:44 pm

Iso PICS, page 6 are not real, believe me. Mistake or not, please, put on the real pics.


Image quality in high ISO is so GOOOOD in the D90...

Ed

March 20, 2009, 6:06 pm

OK, AlfSmith. Been smoking too much of something you shouldn't?

TheEvilGenius

April 27, 2009, 2:29 pm

Does anyone know if Nikon do a camera with VR built into the body, rather than the lens? I believe one of the Sony Alpha's does, but I'm kinda wanting to stick with a Nikon as I have all the lens' for them.

Ivan Harris

May 22, 2009, 12:43 pm

I love the D-90 but when I do a video and play it in Windows Media Player the sound stops and the video continues for a period of time. In the camera and using Quiktime the video and audio stop together but without the additional video I see with Media Player. Specific: if a file runs for 52 seconds with audio and video in the camera and Quiktime, it will run longer in media player but without audio. No matter how long the file there is still some video without audio. I tried to talk to Nikon tech support but they are incompetent or worse. I want the video that is recorded but I would like to have audio with it. Any thoughts? One other thing, in Media Player, when the cursor reaches the right side of the screen is when the audio stops and the video continues.





Ivan

KeithM

May 28, 2009, 12:21 am

D90 Great CAMERA - Bought Mine Sat 23 May - Manual was missing 17 pages and had duplicate pages instead NIKON WILL NOT PAY for you to send it to them for exchange - they're in Dublin so it costs you £3 from UK mainland at cheapest printed rate airmail - a small amount you may think - but their QC that caused it!! One trusts the camera QC is better!!

Peter Dunkley

June 4, 2009, 2:50 am

OK guys, I need a simple answer . . . I'm looking at buying a DSLR and night after night I try and find what will be best and its got to the point I'm exhausted, so I need help, my situation is this;





I'm a designer (were not all bad), I have some photography experience more with traditional SLR, I would like to take images for product shots, through to background images, sizes ranging from hi-res magazine articles through to large 2m banners, you can see its a pretty wide scope . . . would the D90 be my best option in the sub £900 price bracket.





I was concerned about the image ISO samples shown here !





PLEASE HELP as I would like to purchase this weekend. Anyone have a recommendation as to suppliers I can go to I live near Warrington.






Sapporodan

June 12, 2009, 2:49 pm

Can any of you guy’s with a D90 do me a favour.


If any of you have a PS3, can you try plugging your D90 into it, and see if you can copy the photos/video onto your PS3 (or anybody else’s for that matter!).


I was able to do it with my D40 with no problems, and it was fantastic! The PS3 keeps the image quality really high and makes viewing the photos a breeze. But for some reason when I put in my D90, it just tells me it detects an unknown USB device and doesn’t let me connect.


It’s a shame as I liked turning my TV into the mother of all photo frames!





I have only had my D90 for 3 days so its too early for me to comment on it, but my first impressions…………………Oh yeah baby…………

abraham248

December 6, 2009, 6:43 pm

i have had D90 for over 8 months. I struggle to get the right red saturation from this camera. It also has an exposure problem. Overall i do not rate this as a good buy for a keen amateur. A camera costing this much should deliver good quality photographs using green mode and factory settings.

JoeSinc

January 7, 2010, 6:35 pm

Abraham, I think you're missing the point with this camera.. if you want it to do everything for you maybe you need a more entry level consumer camera?

David 38

January 9, 2010, 11:56 pm

i would love to have this camera, and have used one on loan from a friend, its a wonderful camera, but then what o i know, i have D3000.

Rowly

January 13, 2010, 4:37 am

Bought the D90 by accident really. Wife was expecting and we'd decided to get a dslr. Previous experience pushed me towards Nikon and the D60 in particular. Unfortunately they were like hens teeth (may 09), didn't want the D40 & Jessops were prepared to put together a fantastic deal on the 90 (not surprised the company is in 'financial difficulties' with the price I managed to screw them down to!). Anyway we've since shot several thousand frames with discards only coming from poor framing. The camera produces outstanding results everytime, whether fully auto or manual programs. It's just the idiot behind it that messes up.


Can't recommend the D90 enough. I'd give it 11/10

Mike B

March 24, 2010, 12:35 pm

I agree those ISO shots are not realistic of what the camera produces. I suspect either a user error or possible a faulty camera.





Any mass produced item can suffer from a rouge unit and I suspect all those who have issues should have taken their camera back for exchange.

Ashok Tandukar

January 30, 2014, 10:28 am

give how to save d90 camara.

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