Nikon Announces D90 DSLR

New 12.3MP DSLR is world's first with video mode.

It’s Nikon’s turn to make a pre-Photokina launch announcement, with the unveiling of its new D90 digital SLR. The new camera bears a close resemblance to it predecessor the excellent 10-megapixel D80 launched two years ago, but shares more recent technology with the DX-sensor flagship D300 launched at about this time last year.

The camera sports a newly-designed 12.3 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor with a self-cleaning system, the latest EXPEED processor and the same ultra-high-resolution, high angle 920k-dot 3.0-inch LCD monitor as the D3 and D300, complete with a Live View mode with contrast-detection autofocus and face detection.

The D90’s standout feature is a video recording mode, and it is the first DSLR in the world to include this ability, although I’ve no doubt that other manufacturers will be quick to follow suit. It can shoot at resolutions up to 1280 x 720 pixels at 24 frames a second with mono audio, saving the results in the Motion-JPEG AVI compression format. The video mode utilises full matrix metering for accurate exposure, and of course the zoom abilities of the lens can be used while filming.

Another useful feature inherited from Nikon’s more advanced DSLRs is the Scene Recognition system that has proved popular on the D3 and D300. It uses a special 420-pivel RGB sensor to analyse scene and colour information of the subject being photographed. Based on these readings, the camera optimises its focus, exposure and white balance just before the shutter is released.

Other features include a Multi-CAM100 11-point autofocus system which includes 3D subject tracking, a sensitivity range of 200-3200 ISO (with 100 and 6400 also available in Lo and Hi modes), 4.5fps continuous shooting, picture controls that include six pre-set tone balance settings, and in-camera image re-touching tools. Nikon claims a battery duration of 850 shots on a single charge, a start-up time of 0.15 seconds and a 65-millisecond shutter response time.

The D90 will be available from September 2008, priced at £699.99 body-only or £849.99 with the impressive-looking new 18-105mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens, which is also being launched at the same time.

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