Nikon D90 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Image quality comparable with its peers
- Excellent viewfinder
- Superb high resolution LCD monitor
- Automatic chromatic aberration correction improves performance from all lenses
- Punchy but not un-natural colors (and plenty of control if you want to change them)
- Good dynamic range - and Active D-Lighting to help make the most of it
- Useful in-camera RAW processing option
- Excellent degree of customization (reversible dials and meter ease transition from other systems)
- Fast Autofocus with useful control options
- High sensitivity performance up there with the best we've seen
- Sophisticated wireless flash commander built-in
- Programmable FUNC button with useful list of functions
- Configurable 'My Menu' (and option for FUNC button to access the top item on it)
- Excellent build quality, tight shut lines, quality materials
- Instant power on, very responsive in-use
- Auto-focus assist lamp rather than requiring flash to be raised
- Control over high sensitivity noise reduction
- Customizable automatic sensitivity (ISO)
- Easy to use playback / delete combination
- Status LCD panel on top of camera (we still like them)
- Fast continuous shooting mode
- Good SD card throughput and USB 2.0 transfer speed
- Extensive retouching features including D-Lighting, Red-eye reduction and distortion correction
- Good battery life and precise charge-level indication
- Dedicated help button provides in-menu assistance
- HD video
Conclusion - Cons
- Over-enthusiastic metering a little prone to blown highlights
- Very soft (default) JPEG output compared to its peers
- We believe more of the captured dynamic range could be incorporated into Jpegs
- Menus getting long and complex (though well organized and differentiated)
- Bundled software pretty limited
- Arbitrary 100-shot limit on continuous shooting
- Disappointing automatic white balance performance in incandescent light
- In-camera RAW conversion could provide more control
- Video capabilities limited in a number of ways
We described the D80 as a photographer's camera and, despite the addition of video, the D90 appears to share that same ethos. On a purely specification level, it's a highly competitive piece of kit, but it's the way the features have been chosen and put together that make it the camera that it is.
The D90 viewfinder is amongst the best you'll find on any APS-C camera and it sits above the highest-resolution screen we've yet seen on a camera of this class. The buttons are well chosen and sensibly positioned, and the two-dial interface is a pleasure to use. (Buyers coming from other systems can even reverse the operation of the meter and dials to make everything that bit more familiar).
The image quality, whether at base ISO or the higher settings, is excellent even if it can need a bit of tweaking of the internal settings to tailor the output to specific needs. While it's understandable that Nikon would want to try to bring the processing settings into line with its more expensive cameras, it's questionable how well the rather under-sharpened default output will serve the buyers of this camera. A little more contrast and saturation improve things, without any ill effects.
The early talk about the D90 was about its video capability and indeed it does record HD videos - good ones by digital stills camera standards. But don't let that distract you, this is a camera which lets nothing get in the way of taking photos. Its degree of configurability results in long menus but they're generally well arranged and color-coded to minimize the likelihood you getting lost in them. There's also the option to create a menu of your most used settings (or list the most recently used ones, if you don't want to spend time setting it up), and a status screen that gives fairly fast access to those key parameters that don't have their own buttons.
Our only real worry about the D90 is the matrix metering, which seems to be so strongly connected to the selected AF point that it allows highlights to clip a bit too often for our liking. There is an option to fine-tune the meter (and assign a different amount of correction to each metering mode), if you find it a consistent problem.
The D80 was a very well respected camera, offering a feature set that seemed perfectly tailored to the enthusiast market - the D90 builds on this by including many of the options from the D300. The automatic Chromatic Aberration correction is just one example - without ever having to think about it, it instantly improves the results of every JPEG, regardless of the lens used. Picking the images apart to find differences between cameras reveals it's not quite a half-price D300 but that was a camera we described at the time as being best semi-professional digital SLR on the market, setting the bar pretty high. After using and testing the D90 extensively, it's hard to think of a better enthusiast-level camera.
|Detail (D-SLR)||Rating (out of 10)|
|Ergonomics & handling||9.0|
- 20 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 21 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 22 Photograpic tests (DR)
- 23 Photograpic tests (DR)
- 24 Photographic tests
- 25 Compared to...
- 26 Compared to (JPEG)
- 27 Compared to (JPEG)
- 28 Compared to (JPEG)
- 29 Compared to (JPEG)
- 30 Compared to (RAW)
- 31 Compared to (RAW)
- 32 Compared to (RAW)
- 33 Compared to (RAW)
- 34 Compared to (High ISO)
- 35 Compared to (Resolution)
- 36 Conclusion
- 37 Samples
Last week, more than a million tonnes of Californian coastline slid into the ocean, taking part of Highway 1 with it. Check out the remodeling in photos taken before and after the landslide.
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more