A riotous DSLR battle is expected to break out after Canon announced the release of EOS 50D and 5D Mark II and Sony with its A900. Nikon seems to be the most proactive one with its previous release of the full film D700. Now the heat is up with Nikon’s launch of the mid-line D90. Feature-wise, it seems to have taken off to a different level from its predecessor D80 with its HD movie taking capability, Live View, Auto Active D-Lighting and 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS imaging sensor (10.2 megapixel for D80). Read further and I will tell you (in fact, I can’t wait to tell you) how it is a far more powerful DSLR than D80!
When the package arrived, I was so excited to see the golden box of D90 and cannot wait to unpack it.
Let’s take a look at what are inside of the D90 package. We have a Nikon D90 camera body, a rechargeable battery, a charger, a USB Cable, an Audio Video Cable, a camera strap, a CD ROM and a user’s guide.
The look of D90 is pretty much a look-alike of D80. It has a firm grip and is ergonomically fitted for one-hand operation. I can go through the menu and set the camera without difficulty with just my right hand.
The 3-inch super-density 920,000-dot color LCD monitor is awesome! I never have expected such a high-quality LCD. It is identical to D3! It makes photo review and movie playback a pleasure. By the way, there’s Pictmotion which is a slideshow playback function with background music. I know it’s kind of gimmicky but who would complain when you get bonuses?
This is the side-view of D90. On the left side lie the Flash Mode button, Bracketing Button, Lens Release Button and Focus Mode button.
Here you find the connector slot for DC HDMI Mini connector for standard digital A/V signal transfer, DC-IN connector, USB connector and AV connector.
On the mode dial, we find an array of options including Auto Mode, Program Mode, Shutter Priority Mode, Aperture Priority Mode, Full manual (M) Mode, Flash-off and a selection of Scene Modes: Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports and Night Portrait. The scene recognition is indeed very intelligent. Not only does it adjust the exposure and image processing, but also it chooses the most advantageous Active D-lighting and Picture Controls for best results possible.
Active D-lighting is a function to help you tame the highlights and shadows. It has four settings but I would recommend the auto one because it is very clever in getting the details in most photographic occasions.
The SD card slot is subtly located on the right side of the body. It can be upgraded up to 32GB with SD cards from Toshiba and Panasonic.
This is the view from the top. You’ll find a monochrome control panel, the metering button doubled as the format button. The metering of D90 is outstandingly trustworthy. You also have the autofocus mode button. The 11-point AF works quite fast and accurately.
Nikon AF-S DX 18-105mm Nikkor lens comes along with the package. It looks much defined.
The lens, with a focal length between 18 and 105 mm (27 to 157.5 mm in 35 mm equivalent), is especially designed for D90. It has a satisfactory built-in Vibration Reduction system.
This is how the Live View looks like. With only a click, you get access to 3 different AF modes: Wide area suitable for handheld shooting, normal area AF with pinpoint accuracy when using a tripod and Face Priority AF detecting up to five faces and focusing on the closest. It is very easy-to-use. D700 also has Live View, but users have to take one more frame to get the focus right. You don’t have to do that with D90, instead you only need to keep pressing the shutter slightly for three seconds.
Here the set-up menu is shown. It did not take me a long time to get D90 ready as everything is so clearly listed.
For the innovative HD movie taking, it has less noise than the usual camcorder especially remarkable in low-light situations. However, you cannot auto-focus during movie mode and the movie is not as smooth as usual camcorders as the movies are shot at 24 FPS. It can take clips up to 5 minutes and you may consider using a tripod as the camera with lens is quite heavy to hold for 5 minute continuous shooting.
Nikon’s D90 for me is really a worth-buy mid-line. The previous-absent functions like Active D-lighting and Live View are really great partners in getting beautiful photos. The HD movie is acceptable for a pioneer. The image quality can almost match that of even D3 in full-light conditions. So it will be a tough battle for Sony and Canon in the mid-line prosumer market.
These pictures and video are taken by Nikon D90.