Shooting with the Nikon D90

If you are looking for a good DSLR at an affordable price, the Nikon D90 looks like the camera for you. The Nikon D90 will be a good choice for both the photography enthusiast and those who are a little new to DSLR cameras.

I tested the camera in this  Nikon D90 review and had a go at its updated Nikon DX-format CMOS image sensor that is known for its low noise picture quality and sensitivity through a wide ISO range.

The Nikon D90 has a sensitive Nikon 12.9 megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor coupled with a digital image-processing capability EXPEED technology and a Live View feature which will be a warm welcome to those who are used to shooting with the compact cameras’ LCD monitors.

Design

The black Nikon D90 design looks smart and the camera body is a mix of hard plastic over a metal chassis. As with all Nikon cameras, the hand grip fits snugly into my hand and is layered and textured with rubber to give it a better grip when you are doing your shoots. We think the camera isn’t too heavy and actually feels rather sturdy; really important if you are prone to shakes.

Buttons and dials are placed close although most adjustments like the ISO setting and the exposure compensation have to be done by pressing and holding on to a button and shifting the dials.

I have always enjoy looking at my pictures with a wide monitor and the D90’s LCD is even wider than its predecessor’s (Nikon D80) screen and is comparable to the high-end models. It is a high resolution LCD monitor with approximately 920k-dot (VGA). This wide LCD makes it really useful during playback time as details can be easily seen even without the zoom-in feature.

The Nikon D90 is quite similar to other Nikon cameras and has a top control panel on its right side next to the grip. Its green backlight is handy in the dark and can be switched on by flicking the power switch. It’s spring loaded and returns to ‘ON’ but the backlight stays on.

Features
If you are one of those who like shooting with the LCD when using a compact camera, you will like the Live View mode on this camera. One press of the Live View button activates the LCD, delivering a sharp image to the 3-inch LCD monitor and allows for easy shooting without looking through the viewfinder. This mode has its own contrast-detect modes (Face Priority AF, Wide area AF and normal area AF). The face detection mode is really good and really sensitive when shooting a group picture.

I find the Nikon’s Picture Control System really useful. Using the six original setting, you can further customised the image you are about to take. Using the Standard mode, I further adjusted the saturation and the colours turned out a little richer and deeper.

The Active D-Lighting is designed to accurately restore details in the shadows and highlighted areas, which are often lost in high-contrast lightning situations. With four levels and a new manual setting (Extra High), it can be set to Auto mode if you prefer to leave it to the camera.

Performance
The Nikon D90 features an updated 12.9 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor (23.6 x 15.8 mm) which has a reputation for producing images that have a really smooth tone and low noise across a wide ISO sensitivity range. We did some night shooting with the camera, taking shots across a range of ISO settings at night to test it out.

Details can be made out quite clearly even at low light with D90's Active D-Lighting

The D90’s Active D-Lighting was set to Auto, and we could see that even in low light, details can be made out quite clearly with colours looking quite vibrant. We also tested out the camera at a very high ISO setting of 3200 and the pictures turned out quite smooth and fine with very minimum noise. There was little difference between the pictures shot at ISO 400 and ISO 3200.

Shot taken at low light with a ISO setting of 3200. Almost smooth with minimum noise.

Shot taken at low light with a ISO setting of 3200. Almost smooth with minimum noise.

The built-in flash is useful especially when you need some light for some close quarter shooting but any distance beyond a foot and you will have to put an external flash. The 18-105mm lens that I am using comes with a Vibration Reduction feature (image stabilisation) and this proves useful at times when you hands start to shake. It helps to stabilise the camera to produce minimum blurring.

I have some issues focusing with the AF when shooting at very low light. It takes a few seconds longer but switching it to AF-A (AF-Automatic) or the Manual mode focusing solves it. There isn’t much of a shutter lag as expected with such a camera and you can shoot normally even at low light.

Overall, the Nikon D90 is a good buy with a very sensitive CMOS image sensor and image processing technology for the price.

RRP: $1,988

Nikon D90 Specs

Size
Dimensions Approx. 132 x 103 x 77 mm/5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.
Weight Approx. 620 g/1 lb. 6 oz. without battery, memory card, body cap or monitor cover

Components
Image sensor 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor

Sensor Resolution 12.9 million

Shutter speed 1/4,000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, Bulb

Metering Matrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses) 10 • Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 6-, 8- or 10-mm circle in center of frame • Spot: Meters 3.5-mm circle (about 2% of frame) centered on selected focus point Range (ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens, 20°C/68°F) • Matrix or center-weighted metering: 0-20 EV • Spot metering: 2-20 EV

Flash Built-in flash Manual pop-up with button release

Battery One Rechargeable Li-ion

Battery EN-EL3e

HDMIStorage media SD memory cards, SDHC compliant

Live View AF modes Face priority AF, wide area AF, normal area AF Focus Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face priority AF is selected)

Active D-Lighting Can be selected from Auto, Extra high, High, Normal, Low or off Active

D-Lighting bracketing 2 frames

Depth-of-field preview

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