Tuesday, September 9, 2008

hands on with nikon D90

I spent quite a while playing with Nikon's newest release today and want to take a few minutes to put in my two cents. When holding the camera it is noticeably heavier (more solid) than the D80. The D80 always felt a little cheap in it
s construction epically if you compared it to the D70 & D70s which were built like tanks. The feel of the camera is more substantial. I am not sure if this is due to a redesign of the grip ergonomics, building material or some mixture of both.

Button placement and configuration is the same as on the D80 with few changes. There is a LV for Live View mode on the back which is how you get to the video mode (more on that later) and the AF lock switch is crafted similarly to the D300 series camera AF lock. The most noticeable change is the d-pad. Nikon seems to be moving all their new cameras in this direction. The center or set button is separate from the d-pad. This makes it much easier to select the center button in pressing situations - no pun intended.

Overall button placement makes sense - though not accessible as the D200,300,700 series cameras but one shouldn't expect that in a camera of this level. There were two things that peeked my interest when approaching this camera: Image noise and the new video mode. The D300 & D700 boast excellent image to noise ratio that has Canon shooters everywhere considering a switch. How does the D90 measure up? Let's take a look:

ISO-800 Great clarity - almost no noise at 100% crop

ISO-1600 A little detail is lost due to the noise reduction software but you have to look at 100x and really be looking to see it.

ISO-3200 About what 800 looks like on my Canon 20D. If you zoom in to 100X noise reduction is noticeable but not bad - very usable and super crisp all things considered.

ISO-6400 Significant image noise. However, it is still less than my 20D gives me at 1600 ISO. Large prints would be no problem with this.

Is the image to noise ratio as good a the D700 - Absolutely not! Not even close - but you could buy three of these bodies for what one D700 costs so keep that in mind. Here is the thing to consider. Looking at the images full screen on my 22" monitor I didn't see ANY image noise until I zoomed in to 100X on any of these images - not to shabby! When taking these images I set the camera on Aperture priority and set it to about f/5.3. The camera was in Large Fine JPG mode set to the default color and sharpness settings. I didn't do anything to these images except crop them in Lightroom - no manipulation or correction. Now on to the Video...

The video looks good but you loose Auto Focus so in my mind ... it is kinda useless. Take a look for yourself.

right click to download video

That's all my insight and what not - I like the camera and I think it gives the Rebel's a run for their money. Can't say how it stacks up against the 50D because they haven't arrived yet. However, you can bet I will have a compair contrast post in a week or so once we have those in stock!

Stock Images Courtasy of www.dcresouce.com

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