Nikon D90 Review
When Nikon introduced the D90 to replace the D80, we were eager to see if it would improve upon an already great camera. We were glad to see it did. Packed with a number of improvements, including having a higher resolution, a faster shooting rate, and more, it was one of the first DSLRs that came with the ability to record videos in HD. We love the D90 as much as the D80, and think it's a worthy successor.
In terms of appearance, the D90 doesn't look much different from the D80. It has a plastic outer shell, but does not feel cheap at all. At 22 ounces, it's a bit heavy and almost the same size as the D80. But because it's heavier, it's also a bit sturdier and durable. The grip is comfortable, and it's just a joy to shoot with. The control layout is very intuitive, and will be familiar to anyone who has used a Nikon camera before. If you've mainly used Canon, you just need a few hours to get readjusted.
The camera's LCD screen is 3 inches and displays with vivid and accurate colors. Buttons like the ISO, white balance, and quality settings are placed on the left of the screen. To the right, the Live View, the navigation, OK, information, and AF point navigation lock buttons.
The pictures taken have accurate colors, great exposure, little noise, and amazing quality. Image resolution for the D90 is increased, but high-ISO performance is still good. We managed to generate some pretty good photos even when using an ISO of 3200. Most of our photos were underexposed, but this is typical of Nikon cameras. You can easily fix this (if you want) by tweaking the settings. Some colors like blue, green, and red are over-saturated, while cyan and purple is under-saturated. Overall, the colors are more accurate than usual, and in align with professional's demand rather than mainstream consumers. If you prefer punchier, brighter, more vivid colors, just increase the saturation in the Picture Styles Menu.
Sharpness is okay overall, but some images did end up softer than we would prefer. If this is also the case for you, we recommend shooting in RAW, and then applying some sharpening filters when editing in Photoshop.
Noise profiling is good, as well. You won't see much noise at ISO 800, and even at 1600 a lot of details are retained. When you go up to ISO 3200, you'll notice a lot of blurring, but you can still manage usable prints at 13 X 19, though 8 X 10 is better. At an ISO level of 6400, you can get good quality prints at 5 X 7 inches.
The performance for the D90 is top-notch, and earns our praise. Like the D80, it has 11 autofocus points, but Nikon also added a 3D-tracking mode, which leads to faster focusing.
Let's look at the performance numbers: Start to first shot less just .2 seconds, which makes it among the best in class. Shot lag measures at .4 seconds in bright light, and .9 seconds in dim light. Shot to shot takes .5 seconds for RAW and JPEG. Using the flash increases that to .7 seconds. Continuous shooting speed is also excellent at 4 frames per second. Overall, The D90 is in the top or near the top of its class in all areas of performance.
Nikon adds a number of features to enhance your photos and experience using the camera. The D90 has face detection, and can detect up to five faces. The face detection will transfer the data to the autofocus and the camera will focus on the faces. The playback mode has retouching tools, including image straightening, red-eye removal, D-lighting, and more.
If you want to change the manual controls, the D90 has an option for that. You can change exposure, white balance, Active D-lighting, and Picture Controls, which allows you to store sets of your favorite shooting settings and parameters. There is also an anti-dust feature, which is always nice to have. All of this is a great improvement of what the D80 already offers. A lot of these features are included in the D300 (a higher end DSLR), but Nikon offers the D90 at a much lower price and is more suitable for less advanced photographers.
Last but not least, most notable feature of the D90 is that it is the world's first DSLR with a movie mode (and the first to record in HD). The movie mode is accessed by turning on Live View and pressing OK to start recording. The D90 is able to record video at 720p (1280 x 720) or at resolutions of 640 x 424 and 320 x 216. At 720p, you can record your video until you hit the 2 GB file limit (roughly 5 min). The video will play at 24fps, which is average compared to other cameras, but still is considered good.
At lower resolutions, you can record up to 20 minutes. However, if your subject is moving or you want to zoom in/out, you would need to manually focus the lens, which is a bit difficult. Today, finding a DSLR capable of recording video isn't rare, but generally speaking, video shouldn't a top criteria when picking a camera. Overall, Nikon earns high grades for ambitiously adding this innovative feature early in the game.
- 12.3-megapixel DSLR
- 3.0'' LCD screen
- Video goes up to 720p
- 11-point AF system
- Continuous shooting rate up to 4.5 frames per second
- ISO Sensitivity ranges from 100-3200
- Amazing photo quality
- Fast performance
- Record HD movies
- Great sensitivity range
- Sturdy and comfortable
- Many features to enhance experience
- Best battery life in its class
- Video mode requires manual autofocus
- 5 minute cap on videos
- May be heavy, especially with lenses
- Poor HDMI quality
The D90 is a great camera made for photography enthusiasts, those looking for a new DSLR, and adventurous beginners. It is a fast camera that can take lots of pictures and record in HD. It comes with a number of features that will appeal to both beginner and intermediate DSLR users.
The D90 takes pictures with amazing quality and incredible speed that is hard to beat. It is well worth its price. If you can't stretch your budget that far, settling for the D80 isn't a bad idea. If you are a more advanced user and can increase your budget, consider the D300.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
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Prices last updated on: Sat, 15 Jun 2019 23:28:00 PDT