Likewise, performance is very impressive. Colour, contrast, resolution are excellent under a wide range of conditions. The AF system quickly locks onto a subject and there’s also a 3D AF tracking system, which works well, although like all auto systems, it can get caught out on occasions. But what really floored us was the performance at high ISO speeds, and even shots taken at ISO 3200 suffered from relatively little noise.
Battery life is given at up to 850 frames per charge, and we certainly had plenty of power left after taking more than 300 frames and shooting some video.
Excellent stills camera, weak camcorder
But while the D90 more than cuts it as a still camera, sadly, this can’t be said for its function as an HD camcorder. Make no bones about it: compared with the video clips you get on your average - or even above average - compact camera, the D90 offers very good video performance. But compared with your average camcorder, it doesn’t cut the mustard.
To use the video mode, you put the D90 in Live View mode, press the OK button and away you go. Well sort of, because in movie mode, there’s no autofocus function, only mono sound, and if you want to make adjustments, such as to colour or exposure, you need to do this before you start shooting – there’s no way of making tweaks on the fly.
What’s more, our footage suffered from a bad case of wobble-cam. True, we didn’t use a tripod but the shaky shots were also due to the fact that the D90 uses a Rolling Shutter in the video mode. This processes each video frame by starting from the top and working downwards, so any camera movement (such as fast panning) can result in a nasty case of the wobbles. And last, but not least, you are restricted to five minutes' continuous recording, a limitation we suspect has more to do with the D90 not being saddled with EU camcorder tariffs than any technical issue.
If you’re looking for a still camera that also records some HD video, then the D90 is highly recommended. But if you’re in the market for a replacement for your camcorder, then this isn’t it. We suspect that the next new model will offer a vast improvement on video performance. But if you’re not bothered about using video too much, then don’t hang about – take a good look at the D90 today, because it’s a superb model for the serious photographer. ®
More DSLR Reviews...
Canon EOS 450D
Nikon D90 digital SLR with HD video recording
Re: How does the Nikon D90 compare to the Canon 40D?
Under a grand? I'd try and find a Canon EOS 5D, mk I. There are some available new for around that, obviously you can pick a used one for less.
Why? Excellent per pixel sharpness, over and above the cameras you listed. Full frame, so no FOV crop, which makes wideangle easier. Of course that's only a major advantage if you tend to shoot wideangle; the 1.6x FOV Canon 40D/50D (1.5x Nikon D80/D90) crop factor is an advantage if you tend to prefer telephoto; as it effectively gives you a free 1.6x teleconverter built-in ;)
The only thing missing from the mk1 is live view. If you're into tripod based macro, or astrophotography then that's a pain. Of course the mk2 has it, but it's way over a grand.
Incidentally the noise levels on the D90 are low because it appears to be applying some pretty aggressive noise reduction.
could some one please tell me...
is the Casio EX-F1 a DSLR?
How does the Nikon D90 compare to the Canon 40D?
I am due a new camera (overdue actually!) but I am still undecided on what to get. I have been looking at Nikon D80/90 (or possibly the 300) and the Canon 40/50Ds. How do fellow Reg readers rate the Nikons to the Canon cameras? What are the Nikon lenses like?
If you were going to get a DSLR under a grand, which would you get and why?
Cheers for any comments :)
Nice camera, miserable service and warranty
Nikon makes a nice camera. It's not perfect, but it does a solid job as a camera.
And then, something happens. Under the original 1 year warranty terms, or under the optional time-of-purchase two-year add-on warranty from Nikon, you have to send it in for service.
Once service gets it, they will examine it with a microscope, and look for the slightest exterior damage (such as a scratch). If they find it, then your warranty is VOID. Just like that. And now you're paying full price for repairs.
Except that their service techs are apparently about as well trained as a room full of monkeys. I sent a D-80 back for repair three times, and they never fixed it properly. They keep saying they will just replace the camera, but they haven't done that, either.
God help you if you actually try to call and talk to the customer service reps. You'll get all kinds of promises for updates, emails, return calls, return calls from a supervisor, you name it. But absolutely jack will come of it -- you're still left in a black hole with a vintage 1995 web site "tracking" the lack of progress of your repairs.
Due to their customer service, warranty "honoring" terms, and inability to actually repair a broken camera, I'll never buy another Nikon product. It's that simple.
HD video example (from Canon 5D II)
I'm the happy owner of a D90, and agree that the video feels like a 1.0 feature. Fun, though, and nice to have.