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Top of camera controls

Top of the camera is the mode dial which surrounds the shutter release button. The camera modes are now printed on the mode dial and run in the opposite direction to the 950.

Below this are the only two other buttons FUNC1 and FUNC2 which are by default set to MODE (in combination with the command dial) and Exposure Compensation (in combination with the command dial).

Note that both of these buttons can be reprogrammed to any one of six controls (detailed below).

Hold down the MODE (FUNC1) button and roll the command wheel allows you to scroll through the various exposure modes (displayed as a single letter on the control panel and main LCD):

Mode Description

Programmed Auto - Camera calculates shutter speed and aperture for best possible exposure, rolling the command dial in this mode allows you to choose from a "Flexible program" selection of shutter speeds and apertures which would achieve the same exposure (P* is displayed in this mode), rolling to the right chooses higher shutter speed and larger apertures, rolling to the left chooses smaller apertures and slower shutter speeds for example a shot in good light (13.7 EV, ISO 100):

Shutter Aperture
P* (roll right) 1/342 s F6.5
P* (roll right) 1/272 s F7.3
P 1/212 s F8.2
P* (roll left) 1/168 s F9.2
P* (roll left) 1/136 s F10.3

Aperture Priority - Aperture can be selected manually by rolling the command dial, the camera calculates the correct shutter speed. If the selected aperture would lead to under or over exposure the aperture will flash on both displays when the shutter release button is pressed halfway. Possible apertures are:

Wide: F2.5 - F7.0 in 1/3 stop increments (10 apertures)
Tele: F4.0 - F11.0 in 1/3 stop increments (10 apertures)

This is a large improvement over the 950's sad 3 apertures, thanks to the new 7-blade Iris Diaphragm. This will also have an impact on the auto exposures giving the camera more flexibility of possible apertures.

Shutter Priority - Shutter speed can be selected manually by rolling the command dial, the camera calculates the correct aperture. If the selected shutter speed would lead to under or over exposure the shutter speed will flash on both displays when the shutter release button is pressed halfway. At shutter speeds slower than 1/4s the shutter speed is displayed in yellow to indicate possible noise in the final image. (In continuous mode Ultra HS the slowest possible speed is 1/30s, in Movie mode the slowest possible speed is 1/15s). Possible shutter speeds are:

BULB, 8 seconds - 1/1000 sec in 1 stop increments (14 speeds)

Manual - In manual mode you can select both shutter speed and aperture (switch between the two by tapping the MODE button) a display on the control panel will indicate how much the image would be under or over exposed with a particular exposure setting, in addition there's a exposure meter on the main LCD: A perfect exposure would indicate +/- 0 (like this one).

Nikon have much simplified the top of the 990, and benefited from it. No longer do we have to suffer the slightly awkward command wheel on the front of the case, they've now moved it to the back where it sits happily under your thumb (see, it's smiling). The extra space from moving the I/O ports means we now have that larger information display. Much better.

Each of the FUNC1 (default MODE) and FUNC2 (default Exposure Compensation) buttons can be programmed to perform any of the following functions:

Programmed as
Pressing the button Holding and rolling command wheel
MODE Switches between shutter speed and aperture readout on the control panel. Selects the exposure mode (as described above)
• Programmed Auto (P)
• Aperture Priority (A)
• Shutter Priority (S)
• Manual (M)
Switches through each focus mode
• Normal AF
• Landscape (Infinity lock)
• Macro Focus
• Macro Focus + Self Timer
Manual focus
Switches through each flash mode:
• Auto Flash
• Inhibit Flash
• Anti-Redeye
• Fill-in Flash
• Slow Sync

Select sensitivity mode:
• 100
• 200
• 400
• AUTO

WHITE BALANCE No action Select white balance:
• Auto
• Preset (Pre)
• Fine (Sun)
• Incandescent (Inc)
• Fluorescent (Flu)
• Cloudy (Clo)
• Flash (Fla)
No action Select exposure compensation:
-2.0 EV to +2.0 EV in 0.3 EV steps
METERING No action

Select metering mode:
• Matrix
• Spot
• Center-Weighted
• Spot AF Area

This allows for a huge amount of flexibility for the photographer. Enabling them to setup the camera to their own control preference or for particular shooting environments (it may be useful for instance to be able to control the white balance mode without having to go into the menu). Hats off to Nikon on this one for a good bit of lateral thinking.


Rear of camera controls

At first the rear of the 990 looks familiar then you notice the new "Multi Selector" (4-direction jog control) which is used to navigate through menus (Hoorah! no more fiddling with the zoom controls to get through the menu) and choose AF focus point. The LCD is of course smaller (1.8" vs. 2") than the 950 which gives the extra room. The three buttons below the LCD have now changed their function (Focus, Flash/Sensitivity, Quality/Size). Monitor and Menu buttons are in the same place and the zoom controller is much the same as that found on the 950.

Sculpting on the rear of the 990 is more defined than the 950, a neat thumb edge just above the Multi Selector makes for a stable (and comfortable) grip, bridging between the top and rear controls the command dial falls under the thumb easily.

Button
Pressing the button Holding and rolling command wheel
MONITOR Switches LCD display between:
• Monitor Off
• Monitor On, settings hidden
• Monitor On, settings displayed
No action
MENU Enters menu for current mode No action
Switches through each focus mode
• Normal AF
• Landscape (Infinity lock)
• Macro Focus
• Macro Focus + Self Timer
Manual focus
Switches through each flash mode:
• Auto Flash
• Inhibit Flash
• Anti-Redeye
• Fill-in Flash
• Slow Sync

Select sensitivity mode:
• 100
• 200
• 400
• AUTO

QUAL Switches between image quality modes:
• BASIC
• NORMAL
• FINE
• HI (TIFF)
Selects image size:
• 3:2 (2048 x 1360)
• VGA (640 x 480)
• XGA (1024 x 768)
• Full (2048 x 1536)

Controls are fairly logical and it doesn't take long to get used to where everything is, moving the command dial to the back of the camera has made changing most settings easier than the 950 (I found the front command wheel awkward). Noteworthy is when you switch into manual focus mode the camera applies some kind of display sharpening which makes it VERY easy to see which parts of the image are in focus (covered further in the Features section of this review).

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Comments

Total comments: 2
Tord S Eriksson

Still in use by some ;-)!

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Ashley Pomeroy

By coincidence I won one of these on eBay yesterday, with the original box n'ting. Then I popped over to DPReview to see how they covered it, and a day later your comment appeared!

It was the first digital camera I ever used. It'll be interesting to see how it's held up. I remember it ate batteries *but* I'm sure battery technology has moved on since then. I hope it reads 2gb cards, that's the smallest size I have.

Comment edited 48 seconds after posting
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Total comments: 2