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on October 20, 2008
Several months before the D90 came out, I bought a D60 to hold me over until the D90 was released. Well, I've enjoyed using both cameras, but this one is a huge step up and more suited to an advanced enthusiast, like me. It's a real pleasure to use.

ERGONOMICS - The D90 is solid, tight, and well-balanced with the 18-105 VR lens. It's always ready and it shoots very fast. I love all the direct access buttons; they're easy to press, with good tactile feedback. And since you're not going into the menus as much, you can work faster. It's heavier than the D60, but that's OK. It's still very manageable to carry around and it fits my average-sized hand better too. The shutter sounds different than the D60 (if that matters to you). It sounds more like a professional camera; more like a fast "whoosh" than a "click-click". And there are so many internal customizations that you can set it up exactly as you want.

LENS - Biggest surprise was the 18-105 VR lens which I expected would be ho-hum, but turned out to be pretty sharp and clear. Better results than the 18-55 VR. We've really come a long way from the days (30 years ago) when you were cautioned to ALWAYS to buy a prime lens, NEVER the kit lens because of it's poor image quality. With computer-aided design and new technology, that's not true anymore.

IMAGE QUALITY - I shoot RAW for maximum detail and the ability to adjust settings afterward if necessary - like exposure or white balance. Image quality is very good to excellent depending on your RAW converter. To my eye, best results are obtained with View NX/Capture NX, but Adobe ACR/Lightroom still do a very good job (2010 UPDATE; After using Lightroom the past year, raw conversions are beautiful and far quicker to achieve than Capture NX). When shooting JPGs using the Standard Picture Mode, images are sharp and colors are true, without over-saturation. You can always use different Picture Modes and customize any of them to get closer to the in-camera results you want. For example, you can boost saturation and contrast and save the setting as your default if that's what you like.

LIGHT METER - Metering is fine and seems to be quite accurate in most cases. I use matrix metering mostly. As with any camera, you have to get to know the meter. If I had to be VERY critical, I'd say when it's pushed, it's more likely to preserve shadows than highlights, usually when Active DLighting is on. To me that's a good thing. Another website mentioned a slightly "over-enthusiatic" meter in its review. The good news is: if you really feel exposure results are not to your liking (whether over or under exposed), the meter is fine-tuneable, so go ahead and customize it as you see fit. I would just work with the meter first -get to know the camera and adapt yourself to it before you start making any adjustments. That said, I've used the D90 in a very wide range of lighting conditions and I can truly say that while exposures may vary occasionally, they've always made perfect sense for the situation. I've never been shocked or puzzled by the output.

LIVE VIEW - is great for the occasional high or low shot. I didn't think would need it, but when I had the D60, I found myself in many situations where I really could have used it. Unlike a point-and-shoot, focus is slower in this mode and shooting seems somewhat clunky. I wouldn't use Live View if I were in a rush or trying to get an important shot. It's just a nice little extra.

MOVIE MODE - this is a nice novelty and may be handy in a rare moment, but I'm generally not a video camera person. I'm surprised to read that some people have made movies and commercials with the D90. I keep promising myself to use this feature more, but I don't have a tripod and I'm just too jittery and uncreative to get good cinema-like results. Moreover, from the little I've tried it, I'm not impressed - there's no autofocus during filming and the movie comes out over exposed and far from HD quality. The user manual is not very helpful either. But I didn't purchase the camera for this feature, so I'm not disappointed.

ISO - I really like the new wide range of ISO settings, especially when coupled with the Auto-ISO setting. Mine is customized to keep the camera at ISO 200, but kick in at 1/30. In this example, anytime lighting decreases enough for the shutter speed to drop below 1/30, the D90 will automatically compensate by raising the ISO high enough (up to an ISO limit you set) to help keep your shutter speed at 1/30. Once the ISO maxes-out at your limit, the camera has no choice but to start bringing down the shutter speed. Noise at high ISOs isn't an issue. In fact, you have to zoom in pretty close for it to be even slightly noticeable. I use Auto-ISO mostly all the time. Its an amazing feature! I only turn this feature off when I want to stick to a particular ISO at all times (if its on a monopod or I've stabilized the camera in some way).

ACTIVE D-LIGHTING - helps camera to preserve shadow and highlight detail. More important to use when shooting JPG because the exposure has to be right at the time of shooting, when the camera creates the JPG. RAW shooters can always adjust exposure in post processing. Even though I shoot RAW, I usually leave it on Auto so I can double check the exposure details on the LCD screen. It's available in various strengths from Low to Extra High. Again, another great customization.

-At this price, Nikon should include a robust image editing software, or at least a decent discount on Capture NX2, which works great, but costs extra.
-Kit lens is thick in diameter (67mm). Also, the front glass of the lens seems somewhat exposed, as if it's not recessed that much (it's just enough for a lens cap). I worry that it'll get scratched easily. Good thing Nikon included the lens hood.

AUTOFOCUS TIP - I customized the D90 to autofocus using the AF-L button instead of the shutter release. Now I can focus with one press of my thumb on the AF-L button and shoot with my index finger on the shutter release. This allows me to focus first, let go, then take the shot. Since the subject is already in focus, I can take multiple shots, recompose or go vertical. I'm not forced to continually re-focus for every shot or move the AF point around in the viewfinder. This minimizes AF mishaps on unintentional subjects. And since the VR system remains off until you half-press the shutter (it activates only when you're ready to take the shot, not while you're focusing) you save on battery life as well.

Also, with the D90 set to AF-C mode (continuous autofocus) you can keep a moving subject in focus by holding down the AF-L with your thumb and shooting with your index finger. If the subject becomes still, simply let go of the AF-L button; focusing stops and is locked where you left it. Then shoot when ready. Now your D90 can act as if it's in Single or Continuous AF mode without you having to change settings all the time. This gives you more immediate control over the behavior of the AF system Try it and you won't go back!

SUMMARY - Overall I'm extremely happy with the D90! It's designed for serious shooting, but it's still fun to use; noticeably heavier than the D60, but still not a burden. You do need to be committed to carrying around a solid DSLR in the first place. Once you get used to that, you'll come to appreciate that it's more substantial because it'll be less shaky during shots. Nikon really packed it with a ton of features and customizations. Now I finally have everything I want in a DSLR, without it being overblown and overpriced. I'm actually surprising myself with some really spectacular shots.

If you have your basic photography skills down, you can make any DSLR sing, however, I believe THIS camera, because of its superb sensor and spot-on feature set, can actually help you improve your technique and get better results. You'll take more chances and push yourself farther because now you have the tools (ie. features) to help capture more difficult, more creative shots. And you didn't have to spend $3,000 to get there!

8-MONTH UPDATE: Still love this camera which hasn't lost any of its original excitement. Very reliable - never frustrating. I'm not craving an upgrade - not contemplating a switch to Canon either - I'm perfectly content. Haven't discovered any hidden quirks. In fact, the longer I use it, the more I realize how well engineered it is. The only extras I bought so far were a light monopod and a 50mm 1.8 lens.
961 helpful votes
962 helpful votes
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on March 7, 2016
I've been using this camera for over 5 years and it's still as reliable as the first day I got it. This was my first DSLR and it was quite easy to learn photography with this camera. This is still a relevant camera even today and I feel is better than even the newer D3xxx or d5xxx in many aspects. It has an internal focus motor that lets you use the older lenses without focusing motor built in. Particularly the older 50mm 1.8 which at around $100 is still one of the best lenses available. It's also more ruggedly built than the consumer level Nikons. I would love to say that I always took good care of this but I didn't. I did not purposely abuse it but it's had it's fair share of mishaps and still performed as it should. I haven't used the newer D3XXX's/D5XXX's but from what I remember those only had 1 dial for aperture and shutter speed adjustments. The D90 has independent dials for those making shooting on manual much easier.

I've been using this camera for over 5 years and it's still as reliable as the first day I got it. This was my first DSLR and it was quite easy to learn photography with this camera. This is still a relevant camera even today and I feel is better than even the newer D3xxx or d5xxx in many aspects. It has an internal focus motor that lets you use the older lenses without focusing motor built in. Particularly the older 50mm 1.8 which at around $100 is still one of the best lenses available. It's also more ruggedly built than the consumer level Nikons. I would love to say that I always took good care of this but I didn't. I did not purposely abuse it but it's had it's fair share of mishaps and still performed as it should. I haven't used the newer D3XXX's/D5XXX's but from what I remember those only had 1 dial for aperture and shutter speed adjustments. The D90 has independent dials for those making shooting on manual much easier.

If you can find this at a good price and do not need 1080p video recording or higher megapixel photos (most of us don't), then it is still worth considering.
4 helpful votes
5 helpful votes
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on April 2, 2013
This camera literally changed my life. I never took a class on photography, I just ended up learning how to use this camera on my own.
It's pretty easy to use, and it has been quite a life changer for me. Since I purchased this camera, I have landed covers & spreads to magazines such as GQ, FHM, Zoo, shot PETA campaigns with this camera & so on. Some other advanced photographers used to make fun of me for using this camera, but truthfully I didn't have much money when I bought it & I never intended on being a professional photographer to begin with.
So I HIGHLY recommend this camera to beginners as well as advanced photographers.
Here is my website where you can see all of my work that I have used with my Nikon D90:
aubrey chandler photo dot com
13 helpful votes
14 helpful votes
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on October 1, 2011
Hello to all. I'll try not to duplicate what everyone covered excellently already.

This cameras days I suspect are numbered making a terrific buy today. With the D5100 and the D7000, around both outstanding camera values. Even saw a 2 lens D5100 bundle at SAMs Club for only $899.00! I think the is a better buy today.

Ok, then why did I go with the D90 then instead of the cameras mentioned above? The Legacy in the title says it. my older Nikon lenses have the requirement of the body autofocus lens drive. Meaning the lens itself does not have a motor in it at all. My prime f1.8 50mm for instance, and my 70-300mm. I don't want to buy newer glass. So with the D90, I can have my cake and eat it too.

I wanted to get in on the CMOS imager here, my D200 and D40 which I love in direct sun and plentiful indoor light is a chromatic noise festival in lower light! It kept driving me nuts. Using noise reduction programs and losing detail. The D90 just doesn't have that problem. I agree with another reviewer here about usable images to 1600 ISO no problem at all. My D200 is way noisier at this range, my D40 a little better than my D200.

Another big benefit is battery life. Outstanding battery life. After a full day of shooting, the battery was only a quarter used. I am wondering if the battery grip I ordered is really needed since the battery performance so outstanding. My D200 in contrast with battery grip would almost consumed both batteries! CMOS is so much more efficient than CCD. My D40 is better than my D200, but still really lags behind the D90 in battery life. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but having juice for that one shot, it is confidence inspiring knowing you'll get shot no problem.

I am also a white balance and color nut. Most cameras have so so performance in this area around specific light like incandescent or fluorescent lighting. The D90 isn't perfect, but it pulls ahead of my D200 and D40 in accuracy. My long time favorite was my Olympus E10. Pitiful in just about anything vs. today, it just gets the color and white balnce so right. If I can take my sweet time, I still love using this old classic. The D90 is close, but I find a bit of tuning here and there with the comprehensively easy white balance setup along with bracketing, and I am a happy camper.

It is in the everyday life this camera will supplant my other cameras. The polycarbonate body fits my hand and is well balanced. The controls so logical, I am at home really being already a Nikon fan since my first D70s. My brother uses that camera now and loves it.

The D90 reminds me so much what I love about photography. Being there for the moment. Set it to auto, or program and compose and compose for that perfect image. Or go at it full manual. The command and sub command dials like my D70 make it just so easy. Shutter and aperture at your finger tips right now. Would have liked to have instant ISO control like my D200, but that Is no big deal. This camera is small enough almost like my D70 and D40, and light, unlike my D200, I can carry it all day with or without the battery grip with confidence.

Outdoor shots in my woody environs or taking pictures of the balloons that fly by my place help me realize the relaxed and beautiful place I live and the D90 makes it so fun to share. everything about the D90 even the quirky movie mode is fine with me. I even had some fun with the rolling shutter malady and made my scary lousy short feature in HD. Making lemonade out of lemons I say.

I do believe the D90 is a long term keeper for me. All the right metrics are here.

1. Ease of use due to control layout and intuitive menus.
2. Lens motor drive in body for your favorite non motor nikkor lenses.
3. Low light performance is the best I have had ever with usable images to 1600 or more ISO.
3. Light polycarbonate body is mostly all I need in day to day shooting. My Hee Man D200 soldiers on for more inclement conditions
4.battery life is outstanding. A full day shooting no problem with the D90 with a single stock battery.
5. Overall image quality and balance is great. I find myself more involved in composition than worrying about the D90 unlike my other Nikons. My Olympus E10 though a relic today, still gives me that confidence as long as I am not in a hurry.

So overall the D90 delivers much, while sold at low prices today. If you have a need for a Nikon body that can do it all with built in lens drive for your non motor nikkor glass, the D90 will please no end and will meet or exceed your expectations. It did for me.
Thank you your time. P.s. I realize that my review, more commentary is lacking the comprehensiveness of others. I just don' t want to cover again what already has been done so well. Though I did want to share because there are users that may have a similar situation and find the D7000 too dear, and the D5100 not an option. The D90 is the only new Nikon you can buy that for a short time I suspect meets those gates and much more. V.C.
6 helpful votes
7 helpful votes
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on October 7, 2009
Pros: I love this camera, great features & picture quality for the price.

Cons: I'm out $1085

Honest cons: First unit had the "F- -" (lens unable to communicate with camera body) and "Err" (malfunction) error messages within the first 3 days. Returned and got a brand new replacement, after 10 days and 500+ shots, finally received the "F- -" error again. The fix to the "F- -" error is to remove and remount the lens and hopefully it will not happen too often. Hopefully will not get the "Err" message, this is worse, if it does happen, I will have to send it to Nikon for service and wait 2-3 weeks to get it back.

I'm "REALLY" picky when it comes to choosing a camera, it "HAS" to produce satisfactory images to my eyes. For the $1000 range, it's either this Nikon D90 or the Canon 50D. After seeing a bunch of comparison images between the two cameras and their pros and cons, I found that the Nikon is a bit sharper, more accurate colors, less noise with higher ISO (even though Canon claimed to have an edge in reducing noise). I apologize to all Canon 50D die hard fans, that's my honest opinion, unless I need glasses.

One more thing, after spending a $1000+ on a DSLR and expecting good quality images and wanting to protect the camera lens, I recommend investing in a good multi-coated UV protection filter. The one I bought is the UV Filter for Nikon D80 D90 Kit Lens - Tiffen 67mm Digital HT Ultra Clear Multi-Coated UV Protection Filter. Low cost non coated filters tend to create too much glare.


11/9/2009 UPDATE

So far, the new replacement camera is not having anymore problems with the "F- -" error and NO "err" message yet.

After 1000+ shots, for a kit lens, the sharpness is really good and the Vibration Reduction feature is very useful, an excellent walk around lens. Would've been nice if it was like the lens that came with the D80, 18-135mm, but with VR. I highly recommend this camera if you are looking for one in the $1000 price range.

One suggestion, which is also suggested by review sites, is to change the sharpness setting to 5, 3 is the default.

Happy shooting :^)
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15 helpful votes
16 helpful votes
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on October 2, 2014
The short and sweet on this camera. The negatives are solely that it lacks many features that are common in today's (2014) entry level cameras. That is understandable, since this camera was released in 2008. It is a testament to this camera that its usability and value have held up so well.

The beauty of this camera is that it is a tough and rugged camera that will take an excellent picture even in the more difficult environments on this planet, such as a thunderstorm high in the Andes, and nearly 1000 flash photos on one battery. It is a forgiving camera that will do such a fine job of compensating for any shortcomings of lighting, environment or photographer.

One issue I have is that the kit lens for this camera has been maligned by many both here and elsewhere. This lens is a fine lens and unless you need a long telephoto lens. It should never leave the camera. I have shot with other lenses on this camera and I have to say I have found the best results are with the 18-105mm lens sold with the D90. It is very likely that this lens was specially designed to be paired with this camera, as they work so well together.

If you don't need the bells and whistles of a newer camera, then consider my recommendation of the Nikon D90. I have owned mine since Sept 2008 and it has not even whimpered once, and I have not been gentle with it.
3 helpful votes
4 helpful votes
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on December 8, 2008
I've been using a point and shoot camera for about 5 years now - I'm by no means a photographer, just an average dad trying to take some pictures. My son recently turned one and I've been finding it more and more difficult to capture those precious moments. I press the button on my point and shoot....delay...missed the shot. Also whenever I take photos indoor I've found they are always blurry or noisy, just not very good. So I elected to get a Digital SLR camera - wow they are expensive! I did very extensive research before making the most important decision. Which one do I get??? I decided to narrow my search to Canon and Nikon, the two top brands. I was considering the Canon Xsi, Canon 40D, and Nikon D90.

I quickly decided the Xsi was not for me. On paper it looks great. It has a ton of great reviews and I'm sure it takes amazing pictures. The price was the cheapest of all the cameras I was considering. After visiting Best Buy and actually trying the cameras out the xsi felt like a toy compared to its big brother the 40D. Also the kit lens was very disappointing as far as zoom capabilities.

I did like the 40D a lot. The body seems really solid and well build (even more so than the D90). I loved the 6fps rapid shooting (although I can't imagine I would every really need to shot quite that fast). The kit lens seems like a huge improvement over the wimpy one on the xsi. The camera seemed good to me but after picturing my wife using it, it seemed just a tad to "big and heavy". Some people might disagree.

The D90 had a few features that really appealed to me. One of the main things I really liked about the D90 was the beautiful 3" VGA screen for reviewing. This screen was a big reason why I went with this camera over the Canon models. It's the same size but has 4 times the resolution. Why would you care about this? It's just really nice when you take a shoot you can immediately tell if you got it or not. With the canons I found you had to either zoom in or download to the computer before you could really tell if the photo came out well. The D90 also just had a lot of other tricks up its sleeve that I thought were nice. There is a HDMI output to hook this baby up to your fancy HDTV. The camera also has built in software that creates an animated slideshow of your pictures for viewing on the TV. Again, doesn't really effect image quality but it's a cool feature. There's also some neat post processing you can do right on the camera including red eye removal, black and white filter, or tilt the picture if you accidentally took it at a slight angle. Of course there is the movie mode also (lack of auto focus makes this feature a little disappointing actually). One final selling point for the D90 over the 40D was the kit lens. For me the kit lens is very important because I don't really plan on purchasing a bunch of different lenses and swapping them out all the time. I just want a decent "all purpose" lens. The 40D's 28-135mm kit lens just felt a little to "zoomed-in" for me. After playing with it I wanted to be able to zoom out more but was unable to. The D90's 18-105 feels like a pretty good range for me (keep in mind that these cameras have a 1.5 multiplier built in).

The best advice I can give is to go try the cameras out before you order one. Just go with the one you feel most comfortable with, trust your gut. I've been very happy with my D90 but I'm sure all of the cameras I was considering would have been a huge step up from a point and shot.

UPDATE 12/3/12

Still really happy with this camera. It takes amazing pictures and has held up very well. I would buy it again no questions asked.
37 helpful votes
38 helpful votes
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on October 4, 2013
This camera was my first foray into the world of digital SLRs after many years of film photography. I have owned this camera since 2007 and it has not let me down. I choose it over other popular Nikon's at the time for a few reasons. I had been looking at the D300 and this seemed to be a superior camera in every way. It's lighter, has the same or better image quality, and has all the features you could ask for. While it is not a full frame SLR (and that is something on my wish list) it does take wonderful photos. I have used it for weddings, engagement and maternity portraits as well as some event photography. It has a good battery life, but I do always carry a backup just in case. I enjoy being able to continue shooting without having to worry about changing film. A large memory card is highly recommended with this camera. It has the ability to shoot high quality JPEG, RAW, or both at the same time. My loyalty to Nikon for many years has not wavered and they didn't let me down with this camera. I'll be sticking with them for years to come.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on October 24, 2012
Despite the relative age of the D90, it remains a terrific DSLR. This purchase (used, from Amazon) is actually my 2nd D90 body - I just got it for my brother after owning a D90 myself for about 3 years.

When I first got my D90, it was my first ever DSLR, and I spent a while researching cameras to figure out which would be the best "fit" for me. I'm a bit of a geek and prefer to have control over what I shoot, so I didn't want too much of an entry-level system. After reading reviews, researching specs, etc., I settled on the D90 for the reasonable price point, the carry-around size, the image quality, and manual control capabilities.
It opened up a new world for me. Paired with the 16-85mm lens (great walk-around/catch-all lens), a decent 50mm prime, and the 70-300mm, and you've got a kit that will cover nearly every scenario you could want to shoot (unless you're dead keen on macro work, in which case you'd probably want a dedicated lens for that as well)

Sure, the D90 is getting a little old now, and ISO performance is not the greatest (my only gripe about it, though it was pretty good for its time), but if you take the time to learn what it's capable of (and pair it with any of the lenses I mentioned), you'll find that you have an extremely versatile system that will allow you take some spectacular images.

(slightly self-promoting blurb here, but if you're interested in seeing some images I've taken with the D90, search Youtube for my username "njmatsuya", and you'll find a slideshow I put together of a recent trip to Japan's Mt. Fuji.)
2 helpful votes
3 helpful votes
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on February 6, 2009
I have read that some do not agree that stepping up from a D80 to a D90 is a good move due to how closely related these DSLR's are, but they could not be more wrong!

I am not saying that the D80 is not a good performer (I still have one of mine), but when compared to the D90 (baby D300 :-), it is a little behind.

Image quality wise, the D80 stil rocks, and I still use it during photo shoots, however, the D90 has exceeded all of my expectations by comparison.

The D90 is much faster in EVERYTHING that it does!
The D90 has a better, more functional menu system!
The D90 has more sophisticated picture controls!
The D90 has a faster frame rate!
The D90 has a larger LCD screen!
and there is something special about that CMOS sensor in my opinion!

I will be honest in saying the D90 takes a bit of getting used to (color reproduction wise) when compared to the D80, but once you have it dialed in exactly how you want it to be, you will be EXTREMELY satisfied!

I am satisfied with my D90 in every way, and am considering selling my D80 to get a 2nd D90...maybe.

Please understand, I still use my D80 almost as much as my D90, but when it comes to doing my highly important paid work, I reach for my D90 first...but then again, who wouldn't.

I would speak about it's phenominal high ISO performance (the real reason why I bought one...not the video..don't use it), but after a little internet research, I'm sure you'll be able to find more than I can tell you. Just trust me, it is worlds beyond the D80 in that aspect! Nikon has found a way to master it's noise compression!

This camera is HIGHLY recommended!!!
11 helpful votes
12 helpful votes
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