Customer Review

561 of 574 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can tell the D90 was designed by photographers and not just engineers! Wonderful user interface and image quality!, September 28, 2008
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This review is from: Nikon D90 DX-Format CMOS DSLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL) (Camera)
I am far from a professional photographer, but I take it as seriously as possible while still referring to it as a hobby. I take mostly pictures of people at events and many of my baby son without flash in low light situations.

I had been using a Nikon D40x for 1 year and very early reached my limitation with that camera. The Nikon D40x has very nice image quality, but the camera's interface is not suited for a more serious shooter who wants quick single button or dial access to such shooting parameters such as white balance, shooting mode, metering mode, etc. I also felt very limited by the D40x not having an in-body focus motor that would allow me to use non AF-I/AF-S lenses (which are lenses without the focus motor built-in).

The Nikon D40x limitations were severe enough that I was about to consider purchasing a Canon 40D until the Nikon D90 appeared just in time.

PROS:

1. Fantastic set of separate buttons on the camera to control parameters like ISO, white balance, metering, autofocus, image quality, shooting mode, etc.
2. Two command dials
3. High resolution 920K pixel LCD screen (like the one on the Nikon D300)
4. 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor
5. Low noise high ISO capability (for low light shooting) I can shoot ISO 1600 with good image quality with this camera, while on my D40x I could only shoot with ISO 400 and obtain acceptable IQ. I will even use ISO 3200 frequently with very usable results!
6. Separate top-viewing LCD screen in addition to the rear high res screen, to show shooting parameters constantly
7. In-body focus motor which allows the use of Nikon's non AF-I/S lenses, including wonderful and CHEAP prime lenses such as the Nikkor 50mm 1.8 (~$100 lens!)
8. Continuous shooting of 4.5 frames per second
9. Small size, although larger than the D40/D40x/D60, it is still substantially smaller in the hand than the D300/D3
10. 720p 24fps MPEG video shooting capability with incredible ability to use depth of field that I cannot achieve with my Sony High-Def camcorder.
11. Eleven auto-focus points (not as nice as the 51 points on the D300, but substantially better than my D40x with its 3 points)
12. GPS option
13. HDMI output
14. Enormous number of options to customize camera and shooting settings to fit your style of shooting
15. Fantastic image quality right out-of-box if you don't want to do any post processing
16. Terrific build quality
17. Top notch camera ergonomics (but this will be a very personal opinion that differs for each shooter)

CONS:

1. "Rolling shutter" phenomenon while recording video: The D90 CMOS sensor has the same problem that other CMOS video recorders have when recording video. If you move the camera, especially horizontally, you get a "jelly" or "rubberbanding" effect where the image wobbles significantly. It is nice to have the video features, which looks very sharp at 720p, but it is NOT a substitute for a video camera. If you use a tripod, and do not do quick zooms/pans, the video quality is excellent. Without a tripod, however, you may get nauseous watching a wobbly video. The sound is also in monoaural.
2. 1/200 flash synch: Not a problem for me, but it might be for you.
3. No weather sealing: This is found on the Nikon D300/D3 and even on similarly priced models from other camera companies
4. The buffer will fill up after about 8 continuous RAW + JPG (FINE) shots. This number differs depending on the shooting parameters that you will choose. If you shoot primarily JPG, the buffer seems to allow a very large number of continuous shots, but I have not quantified this for JPG only.

TIPS:

1. Get the FREE Nikon ViewNX software from Nikon's site as your 1st step in your workflow. This will let you examine your RAW images that you can process for either Nikon CaptureNX2 to do further RAW processing or just export to JPG or TIFF for a JPG/TIFF editor such as PhotoShop.
2. Recommend buying the Nikon CaptureNX2. It is a RAW converter (if you shoot in RAW) that will read the camera settings properly for export to JPG or TIFF. Capture NX2, however, is not as slick as the Adobe products and Capture NX2 requires a fairly powerful computer, otherwise it can run pretty slowly on a PC > 3 years old.
3. If you use JPEGs out-of-camera, consider increasing the sharpness above the default 3 or 4. Nikon uses a very conservative sharpening default setting. Nikon has also decided to change the default JPEG images to match the higher end D3/D700/D300 cameras which produce more neutral images. Consequently, the D90 images that are less punchy than the D40/D40x/D60/D80, so you may also want to turn up the in-camera saturation and contrast.

The Nikon D90 has all of the interface features that serious and even professional photographers need with wonderful image quality.
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 30, 2008 11:39:24 PM PDT
I'm curious if you find Nikon's ViewNX/CaptureNX to be a better/worse/same solution as Aperture or Lightroom?

Posted on Oct 6, 2008 12:47:40 PM PDT
You recommend buying Nikon CaptureNX2 for RAW processing. Indeed PhotoShop can also do Nikon RAW processing. Do I miss anything?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 6, 2008 4:26:18 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Nov 20, 2008 4:50:36 AM PST]

Posted on Oct 9, 2008 10:29:47 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 9, 2008 10:33:52 AM PDT
First, I use Photoshop and Lightroom for my RAW editing; they are far more functional IMO than any of Nikon's software. The reason to use ViewNX or CaptureNX is image quality. Because they interpret the image data the same way as your Nikon camera, the images look truer to how the camera made them (great if you want your RAW files to match your JPEGs). Each "third party" RAW converter interprets the data (especially color and noise reduction) slightly differently; only the Nikon software will be able to read your Picture Controls information, for example. Some people like the "look" of some converters but not others. I would say that most Nikon users do not use Nikon RAW conversion software, but many do use it to convert their best images before the more hardcore editing in Photoshop. It comes down to a matter of preference.

Second, I would have to disagree (in part) that the D90's sensor has better high-ISO performance than the D300. I too examined Ken Rockwell's test, and the reason it looked cleaner was IMO not due to better NR, just more of it-- more aggressive NR (which to me looked blotchy and less attractive). I would guess that if one examines the noise in RAW files between the two models the noise would be exactly the same (it is, after all, the same sensor). I could totally be wrong, and am curious to see how the image quality compares after more scientific testing, such as from dpreview.

Thanks for the quality review!

Posted on Nov 5, 2008 10:24:28 PM PST
Kate Stokes says:
In response to this post and also some of the comments:

Apple just released the D90 (I mean just released it) update for iPhoto/Aperture/Etc which means you can see the images now in your folder without having to have the aforementioned Nikon software.

Posted on Nov 13, 2008 11:53:11 PM PST
great review.

I've been shooting Nikons ever since my Dad brought home his first F series he bought on his honeymoon in Hong Kong in 1967. Well, I guess I was about 3 before he let me shoot the camera. After a dismal 80's run of film cameras (N2020 anyone?) I plunged back in with a D50. Then the NAS hit and I had to get a couple of D200s and a D2H as well as a lot of good glass for DX format.

After taking 6 months to set up my own studio I have found several PP and workflow solutions that work great for me.

I don't think there's any magic bullet... you just have to put in some time to figure out what works best for you.

My software choices are: Lightroom 2.1, Photoshop CS4, NoiseNinja plugin, and that's about it.

It'll be 2-3 years before I upgrade to a FX body, most likely. But the images I get today are as good as any I want to get in the future.

-- c

Posted on Dec 31, 2008 4:51:39 PM PST
David Kasman says:
Maybe the D40 would have been a better original choice for you than the D40x since it has a higher ISO.

Posted on Jan 16, 2009 7:34:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 16, 2009 7:34:46 AM PST
NURseRUN says:
As a recent D90 purchaser, I am thankful for this review. Tip #3 was especially helpful in that it suggests thinking "outside the box", a path I appreciate but don't always remember to attempt.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 7:05:35 PM PST
Wonderfully bright, complex and thoughtful comments. Thank you.

Posted on Feb 9, 2009 9:36:11 PM PST
S. Kim says:
Great Review, very organized and worthy to read.
I wish more people could leave useful review like yours on Amazon.
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