The Good Bad and Ugly of the D90

Started Sep 20, 2008 | Discussions thread
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spectra Contributing Member • Posts: 850
The Good Bad and Ugly of the D90


This post is regarding the D90 video feature - if you aren't interested in this topic look away now!

I spent today playing with the D90s video capabilities. I used a number of lenses (AF-D, manual and G type) and recorded to a Transcend 16 Gig SDHC Class 6 card. It is a great little camera with a lots of potential however a few issues need to be addressed with the video functionality and they really need fixing for it to be an amazing camera...It is frustrating to see all this potential squandered with the current shooting limitations but you should be able to achieve good results in certain circumstances...I definitely will attempt to realise some of its potential as a creative tool for video production.

I have a feeling we may see specs like these in a future FX pro Nikon camera like a D800....time will tell....lets hope

1. Manual control of aperture, gain (ISO) and shutter speeds needs to be implemented - no brainer. Maybe a new live-view "video mode" implementation needs to be developed in order to do this because essentially the recorded footage is streamed and encoded on the fly from the live-view data. Output of the RAW un-encoded stream to HDMI without the info screen data overlayed is also needed and should be very easy to implement....maybe even a firmware patch could fix it. Video could then be recorded externally using advanced HiDef DVRs like the proposed Cineform recorder - This would be awesome.

2. Image scaling algorithms need to be improved...I saw noticeable moire patterns and aliasing in some test shots today.

3. Record avi files using an up to date video/audio compression codec. Something like Cineform would be nice. The M-JPEG compression used in the D90 is archaic and shows pronounced artefacts and softening of the image.

4. Improve audio quality to 16bit/48 KHz Stereo as a minimum and add interfacing capabilities for mics/mixers etc. Even if its just a stereo 3.5mm jack input it would suffice or maybe digital I/O like SPDIF/ADAT.

5. True 1920x1080p resolution @ 24, 25, 50 & 60 FRAMES/SEC with overcranking up to 120 FPS.....dare to dream

6. Fix rolling shutter issues - a well described flaw!

7. Fix banding present in artificial lighting conditions such as flouro/sodium vapour lighting. I saw UGLY artefacts in test shots today even when it was just a shop in the background using flouros - it was like shooting an interlaced monitor and

not using clear scan (on pro video cameras you can manually adjust shutter speed so it syncs with the monitor refresh rate on CRT displays thereby eliminating the problem). If you can manually adjust the D90 shutter you can cure this "flicker". I could minimise it by manually adjustin the aperture so the shutter speed changed then AE lock it.

8. SMPTE Time code implementation is a good idea. Can be used for syncing or slave locking timecode between cameras.

9. Extend recording times to 20 minutes minimum.

10. Finally...some sort of manual focus assist....its very hit and miss trying to manually focus on a 3 inch screen no matter how good it is...(especially HD footage as focus is more critical and harder to achieve) . Using a larger external HDMI capable LCD is an option at the moment I guess.


The use of interchangeable lenses, the large sensor size and hence low light and dynamic range performance and great DOF characteristics as well as a 24p frame rate really does have a fantastic cinematic look. One can see the potential for Nikon to market a tool like this to the worlds filmaking community and being lovingly embraced

I dont see these video DSLRs as replacing dedicated Vidcams just yet.....but maybe very soon I think the two disciplines of photography and video will merge or at least co-exist side by side.

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