Nikon D90 Review

Camera Reviews Nikon

The D90 boasts a 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor with Live View and – a world first – 720p HD video recording (1280 x 720 pixels) with the D-Movie mode. It features the same bright, 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD as Nikon’s D300, D700 and D3X. It also has ultrasonic sensor cleaning, 3D auto focus tracking, face recognition, and Active D-Lighting. The D90 uses the same Nikon EN-EL3 lithium-ion battery as other Nikon DSLR bodies – good news for anyone using the D90 as a backup to another Nikon DSLR (or vice-versa).

The D90 inherits the Live View (LV) mode from its higher-priced Nikon siblings. Until recently, Live View has been mostly a compact digital camera feature. It allows the photographer to use the LCD to compose and shoot. Although LV uses a slower contrast-detect auto focus system, the D90′s face detection feature leads to accurate exposure and white balance when people are in a scene.

Nikon also introduced high-definition video recording with the D90 – a world first for DSLRs. Those wishing to flex their creative muscle will certainly enjoy the flexibility of using interchangeable lenses the D90′s D-Movie mode. And the D90′s wonderful sensor captures clean video in low-light/high-ISO conditions. The Live View feature is the basis of the D90′s HD video mode, essentially capturing whatever the sensor sees as video. Shooting video is as simple as turning on Live View with the dedicated button and then pressing the OK button.

Nikon D90 DisplayThe Nikon D90 also includes a robust set of in-camera image editing tools including D-Lighting shadow adjustment. You can remove red-eye, straighten and correct distortion and crop photos. You can also apply image effects like black-and-white or sepia toning and create smaller versions for web uploads and e-mailing. The D90′s in-camera processing options make it possible to make prints straight from the camera with no computer interaction at all.

All Nikon D90 Camera Menus >>

Despite the plastic body wrapped over a metal frame, the D90 feels solid, sturdy and rugged. While it doesn’t share the same weather- and dust-sealing features as its larger siblings the D90 looks and feels like it will hold up to the daily demands of serious amateur and burgeoning professional photographers.

Nikon D90 - Back Controls Nikon D90 - Top Controls
Nikon D90 back and top controls

Controls are well laid out with most of the buttons and dials placed more or less where they’ve been since the days of the D50. Additionally, the D90 includes many controls found on higher end models, like dual control wheels, focus area and auto focus mode controls, bracketing control, a customizable function button, a depth-of-field preview button and even an LCD backlight toggle. All of which gives the user fast control over the camera and make the D90 a serious contender as a backup body for the working professional.

As for the LCD, it’s big, it’s bright and it’s beautiful. Reviewing and composing shots is so much easier with the 3-inch LCD vs. the older 2.5-inch display – even in bright light. Surprisingly, even though the new LCD takes up much more rear-camera space, Nikon was able to offer very nice placement of controls on the back of the D90 while keeping the body pretty much the same dimensions as the D80. The LCD can now also be used as a live information screen by simply pressing the Info button on the rear of the camera. The “Information Display” screen presents an array of shooting information, including shooting mode, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, remaining photos and battery status. Basically just about everything seen on both the small top LCD screen and in the viewfinder but on that glorious 3-inch rear display.

Nikon’s user-friendly menu system, which includes context-sensitive help, is even easier to use than prior generations. As with camera features, the D90′s menus offer many of the more sophisticated options seen on higher end Nikon bodies, like wireless Speedlight flash control, automatic ISO selection, custom bracketing and exposure value controls and command dial and button customization.

next pageNikon D90 Camera Experience >>
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  • Starriderrick says:

    Well done with the review calanan. Very informative.

    I’ll echo your remarks here…” I can admit my love for the Nikon D90. That’s right – I love it.” :O)


  • Very nice review Calanan, I have seen some video examples from the D90 and was really impressed with the quality of the video. Personally I am waiting for Nikon to come out with a full frame D700 version with HD video which I will buy in a heartbeat but I was tempted to pick up the D90 in the interim. I started out with the D70 and moved up the ladder (D80 after and currently I shoot with a pair of D300s) but that D90 definitely looks like a nice piece of equipment.

    Thanks for the review of this and congrats on that shot..its a great one!

  • Miss Kitty says:

    Quite an informative and thorough review, Calanan. It’s not what I’d use as I’m an amateur but I could see professionals interested in the D90. Out of my price range, too.

    Appreciate the nice shots. Especially of that young lady leaping on opening page! Good work.

  • carwax says:

    that is one amazing capture, calanan!

    very nice review. i wasn’t aware the D90 included some D300 features

  • Dana C says:

    Very nice! Look forward to more reviews and images!

  • Tondra says:

    After reading this review to my daughter, she purchased this camera over the weekend. It is very informative and certainly had an impact on her decision to purchase.
    I love the your opening shot. It looks like your subject is leaping from island to island across a vast ocean.
    Thank you again and please keep us up to date and informed on other products.
    I am looking forward to more Calanan reviews.

  • LaMarcas says:

    Great shots! Your review is very technical for us amateurs, but the information is understandable – both pros and cons give us something to sink our teeth into before we add to our Nikon collection. Thanks for a well written and thoughtful article. I enjoy your photos; very diverse and always interesting.

  • Alain C. says:

    I own a D90 and yes, I love it. I’m not a pro, by any stretch of the imagination, but I develloped a love for photography and a need to go beyond point-and-shoot cameras.

    I own Nikkon’s 50mm F1.8 (A VERY AFFORDABLE MUST!!!), a sigma 70-300mm (I’ll spare you the specifics) and the kit 18-55mm VR (had I known more, I would have bought the 18-105mm bundle :( ). That with a tripod, a few polarizing filters and the infra-red remote and I think I have a nice (serious enthousiast) starter kit.

    I honestly didn’t buy this camera for it’s video capabilities, nor should anybody. Local stores sell affordable vid-cams that’ll do it on standard memory cards and won’t be limited to 5 minutes.

    The article states that the camera dos not make the photographer. That’s right, but it help!!! ;) I can miss my composition, but the pic will still look good.

    I’m sure that I won’t regret my purchase, except that it’s creating more need$… LOL

    Good day all.


  • Larry Dickman says:

    Very pleased with my D90 except for the lack of auto focus on videos.

  • Thanks – I will now go out & buy a D90

  • Photo-John says:

    Ha ha! Thanks for the comment, Kirk. Good decision. I hope the camera serves you well. Please come back and write a user review for us after you’ve gotten to know the camera. Your reviews make our world go round :-)

  • Cliff Brewer says:

    Thanks for a great review.
    I bought the D90 in Dec 2008 and have loved it myself. Not a professional either just an enthusiast that figures I can take just as nice family portraits and save the money for my toys, not to mention I’ve become the default photographer for many functions. My other passion is reef aquariums so I recently purchased a better macro. I opted for the new VR version of the 105mm Nikkor micro, and the 50mm f1.8 and have loved the results. I can’t even begin to explain the difference in getting a couple of really good lenses. The kit lens is nice but I also do quite a bit of low light work and they have made a world of difference.

  • Fazel says:

    I have purchased a D90 based on all mentioned reviews. Incredible picture quality especially from low distance with flash. It captures every details of the face, maybe some woman don t prefer! I highly recommend the camera to at least amateurs like me.

  • AR says:

    I recently purchased a D90 and all i can say is WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO!!! i just switched coming from a canon 450d and the ergonomics of Nikon is sweeeeet. Not only do the buttons make taking photos a breeze but the dedicated AE/AF lock button is something i have been drooling about. It handles really well and i just tried it on a concert with ISO 2000 using the 18-105 kit… The noise is fairly manageable, nothing post processing cant handle. I have set the Function button to picture control and i have all i need. I highly recommend this camera. THANK YOU NIKON!

  • pravin says:

    Absolutely stunning photos I must say. I am looking for an upgrade to my Nikon D60. And I think after reading the review and sample images, I found it very helpful. I am still learning my photography lessons, however have came across a long way into taking quality photos. Can you tell me if my old lenses will also be useful for the new camera, Currently I have 18-55 and 55-200mm VR lenses.
    I have put some of my reviews in my blog, hope it helps anyone who wants to buy the D60 which i would be replacing with the new D90. !!!

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