The Nikon D90 is a camera, apparently. I found it very easy to use, and I’m not even a regular Nikon guy. I love the way almost every feature has a dedicated button, and I could even get used to the idea of aperture and shutter being on dedicated dials.
I like the way the active AF points are highlighted. A large square is shown around the active points. This is in comparison to the Canon approach where the active points are lit up in red. The Nikon approach is much more visible. I did find the AF motor quite noisy though, which might be a problem if you’re recording video. Correction: you can’t autofocus when recording video, so AF noise won’t be a problem!
The size and weight are great for a prosumer camera. Not heavy enough to give you pain in the arm, but chunky enough to feel sturdy and stable. The grip is perfect for my manly hands.
The D90 has a neat party trick: it can record 720p high-definition video. Video will become more common in SLR cameras, but at the moment there are only a couple of cameras that can do it. Combining video with SLR optics can give you quite special videos. Sadly things can go a bit wobbly with the D90 if you pan the camera too quickly. So ironically the D90 video is best suited to static scenes.
More generally, modern DSLRs are raising the bar so high, so quickly, that we can sneak out shots that would normally take years of practice and training. The D90 is cut from the same silicone. With the range of settings, the limitless storage (memory chips are as cheap as – well – chips), and 4.5 full frames per second, you can just set the camera to exposure bracket and whale away on the trigger like a guerilla with an AK47. Grab yourself a copy of Adobe Lightroom for some post-processing fun, and I’ll guarantee you’ll find at least one amazing shot on that memory card.
I have of course completely ruined my ability to review DSLR cameras by starting with a full-frame beast. Even with the D90 being well under half the price of the Canon 5D Mark II, I can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness when I see noise on my photos at ISO 1600. I’m being horrendously unreasonable of course. The cameras aren’t in the same class, the noise from the D90 is barely noticeable, and the adjustable built-in flash means you’re hardly ever going to need that high ISO setting. If you have the money and you really need to take those lovely, clean, candlelit shots with a Nikon, you’ll want to look at Nikon’s incredible D700.
Of course, as I’ve said previously, if you want to get your camera-nerd-on to the break-o-dawn, you need to visit DPReview.com. You’ll find their D90 review, weighing in at no less than thirty-freaking-seven pages, right about here. See you in a couple of days.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a mid-range SLR camera, and unless you have a pile of lenses from a different manufacturer, it would be difficult not to choose the D90. The quality of the D90 coupled with the nifty video mode is enough to put it at the head of the class.