The D90 is Nikon’s latest mid range consumer DSLR. It does everything a good Nikon does and brings relief to my shoulder that normally carries the weight of a D3.
Although compact compared to other 12.3 Megapixel DSLR’s it has most of the guts of the D300. It’s a DX format sensor and shoots up to 4.5 FPS with ISO settings up to 3200. More than most consumer users will need and enough to keep even some pros happy.
The screen is a hi-res 3″ LCD, and is a long way from what I remember on my first Nikon DSLR, the D100.
The sensor has vibrating dust removal and on the whole, the camera feels good in my hands, even if the layout of the controls is very different to my normal everyday camera.
It would be a great tool in the hands of any keen amateur and even a great back up camera for any pro.
This was not my reason for buying it though. The reason I bought this camera was that it’s the world’s first DSLR with HD video capability.
There are limitations yes.. and I don’t think i will be shooting any feature films on it, but this is an important time in the history of photography and I did not want to let it pass without getting absorbed in this new direction for the digital SLR.
Shooting film on the D90 is easy. Press the rear Lv button to get Live View, and then press the OK button.
There is no auto focus whilst filming so capturing anything that moves requires so much skill if you can manage it well, you have the dexterity of a professional Focus Puller.
This did not deter me in the least. This is for me to play with, to put some art back into my images and give me a different perspective when looking at scenes before me.
Get used to things being out of focus occasionally and instead enjoy the colours, shapes and textures captured by Nikons great glass in a way you may not have experienced before.. Moving. I have lenses 10 years old that still that cost more than this camera is today. Getting to put them on the front and shoot video is going to be a real adventure.
It is important to remember that this camera is just the first step. I think many of the much needed additional features may have been held back for the D3x or even the D4. Like more control over the exposure. I have managed to get over the randomly adjusting exposure by assigning the function button to hold the exposure when pressed. This is another moment where i’ve had to stop and think about what i’m doing. This is not a bad thing at all. We get far too snap happy and end up deleting a ton of pix. Why not take some extra time. You may even feel your photography improves through it.
I am not so keen on using the rear LCD as a viewfinder as this can be difficult in focusing, but it has made me return to looking at the markings on my lens which I have not done for an age.
The video clips are limited to five minutes, this apparently is so the cost can be kept down as the camera is classed as a stills camera that has video capability and not a video camera as such. I don’t mind as it keeps your clips easy to import/edit and stops things getting boring.
The sound captured by the internal microphone is a bit naff but ok just for an ambient holiday video postcard or the occasional blog post but I wish Nikon had had the foresight to add a mic input like Canon have.. Perhaps this will be another feature that comes out on the next model.
720p/24 is more than enough for the web and this is what i intend to use this camera for.
The main thing you see with the video results is how easy it is to throw backgrounds out of focus. This is what I had the most fun with.
I almost forgot during the test that this is a really competent stills camera. It more than holds it’s own with the D300 and is a great back up for the D3.
For the test film embedded, I only used the camera with a 50mm f1.4 AFD but the D90 works with every AF lens made since 1986.
If you want it to be wifi enabled you will need the amazing Eye-Fi card and you can expect your SD card to fill up in movie at a rate of 21.4MB for a 10 second clip set at 720p. If you don’t get the Eye-Fi explore with the built in GPS tagging, Nikon has a compact GPS sensor that can be fitted on the flash shoe and plugged into the side of the camera.
Keep checking back to the blog to see new photos and video shot with the D90. I have some Lumiere projects in mind and on the whole, having a lighter camera in my bag is going to mean my back feels the benefit.
Although pleasantly enjoying the present I am already saving for whatever amazing amalgamation of stills and video that may be on the horizon. Next year expect some really exciting developments from both Canon, Nikon and Red. I am not a purist when it comes to photography. A movie is just lots of stills.
In the not to distant future, we will be extracting out photographs from movie footage and the quality of these images will blow our minds.
Big thanks go to Ben Read for letting me spend longer in the bathroom than normal.. Mainly as I was filming it.