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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:02 pm 
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There's been a lot of talk about this particular camera body. I first handled the D90 at the start of the month and it didn't leave a lasting impression. From previous posts over the forum it was clear I didn't hold this camera in high regard. You might be guessing from the tone of that last sentence that that's no longer the case. The short answer - I'm still unimpressed. Here's why:

The D90's major selling point (in terms of pictures) is the higher range of ISO, and probable better low light performance.

To put that to the test, I compared it with the D80 using the 35-70 2.8 @ 35mm, f/5, 1/50, and MF at ISO 1600. Both were taken at Large-Fine Jpeg, AWB and factory settings.

Below are two of a few comparison images between the D80 and D90 (one is marginally out of focus and down to my MF):

Image
Image

100% crops from top right box:

Image
Image

The D80 is the second sample in both.

I'll let you be the judge on the image quality from this example. The WB would have been in between the two - the D80 is marginally warm, and the D90 is marginally cold.

But IQ aside the D90 body handles very similarly to the D80, and feels slightly more hefty and well-built. But when it comes to the buttons, the D-pad, dials and buttons on the D90 felt very plastic and had a lot of laxity and play to them. This was one of my observations when I first handled the camera at a promotional event. I'm not keen on them.

The menu system is much improved and is placed between the D80 and D300. It has many more options than its predecessor, but lacks the image banks we are accustomed to in the semi-pro models. The LCD makes scrolling through the menus a pleasure, and live-view has been streamlined a little and I think it's an improvement over the D300 and D3.

The biggest change is the incorporation of the video mode. As several videos are available on the internet, I didn't record one, but having tried it, it might be useful to some - just not me.

Video is limited to 5 minutes at the highest resolution to prevent sensor burning. The bottom right corner of the plastic body of the D90 actually warms up whilst you record, and this is where the battery is located. Battery drain was phenomenal - using an EN-EL3e with baseline power of 47% from the D90, 5 minutes of video on the D90 reduced it to 20%.

Battery aside, the video also might have impacted on how Nikon designed their mirror mechanism. The D90 makes a fabulously satisfying click when pictures are taken and really makes you want to take more - but this click is loud and transmitted through the body. You can even feel it, and that concerns me - for delicate tripod work the mirror movement will affect stability. There is no mirror lock up mode on the D90 other than one to allow you to clean the sensor.

As an overall impression though, I'm quite confused with the D90. It is a worthy successor by spec to the D80, and it takes fine pictures. On the other hand it is a flawed successor and feels like a deliberate compromise between performance and the budget. I wonder whether we'll see a similarly strong uptake of D90 cameras in the entry and enthusiast sector given how competitive the offerings are from Canon, Olympus and Sony. For those tempted by the gadgetry on the D60, which was a re-hashed D40x, the D90 represents an attractive proposition. For the more experienced photographer though, the flaws in the D90 can be spotted and make that decision to pay a little more for the D300 far more easily justifiable, especially when there is a collection of glass already.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:27 pm 
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i know exactly what you mean by the coldness of the pictures...


to prevent unecessary shake due to the CLICK nikon introduced a shutter delay that takes the shot after the click.

i however, don't like to use this function as it usually causes some sort of motion blur *with me atleast.*

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:29 pm 
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a camera and camcorder was never meant to be one. thats all i'd say for d90
maybe in the future tho.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:51 pm 
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Thanks for the info Photoj!

Your comment about the buttons intrigues me though... You say they have a "plastic feel". This didn't happen on the D80? Or is it perhaps that you're used to the, surely, better quality of the D200/300? I ask because my D40's buttons, even if they're for sure not up to the standard of pro models, don't feel bad in any way...

I'd be bitterly disappointed to learn that Nikon's latest mid-range model (way ahead of my current camera in terms of specifications) gives a "cheapo" feeling while handling it.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 5:56 pm 
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beren23 wrote:
Your comment about the buttons intrigues me though... You say they have a "plastic feel". This didn't happen on the D80? Or is it perhaps that you're used to the, surely, better quality of the D200/300? I ask because my D40's buttons, even if they're for sure not up to the standard of pro models, don't feel bad in any way...

I'd be bitterly disappointed to learn that Nikon's latest mid-range model (way ahead of my current camera in terms of specifications) gives a "cheapo" feeling while handling it.


I use the D40 as well and the buttons on that little camera feel fine. Plasticky but they give feedback and feel firm. I don't know if Palakaboy will concur, but the D90 buttons, when pressed, wobble a little then just goes down. Although I may be used to using higher end cameras, the D80, 70, 60, 50, 40(x) didn't have this.

As always is the case, handle the camera before you make a purchase. What feels wrong to me may feel right for another.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:01 pm 
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Nice to hear some solid thoughts there.

To be honest though I can't really base how good the Iso performance is purely on those crops which show a portion of the box that lacks any real detail in the first place. I would've posted crops of the text.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:03 pm 
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Gregory.Rotter wrote:
Nice to hear some solid thoughts there.

To be honest though I can't really base how good the Iso performance is purely on those crops which show a portion of the box that lacks any real detail in the first place. I would've posted crops of the text.


I would have done, but that would be mis-representation. The D80 images were all mildly out in terms of MF. I focused too much on trying to frame the exact same shot as I did with the D90 and neglected precision focusing. Elementary error.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 6:10 pm 
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Photoj wrote:
beren23 wrote:
Your comment about the buttons intrigues me though... You say they have a "plastic feel". This didn't happen on the D80? Or is it perhaps that you're used to the, surely, better quality of the D200/300? I ask because my D40's buttons, even if they're for sure not up to the standard of pro models, don't feel bad in any way...

I'd be bitterly disappointed to learn that Nikon's latest mid-range model (way ahead of my current camera in terms of specifications) gives a "cheapo" feeling while handling it.


I use the D40 as well and the buttons on that little camera feel fine. Plasticky but they give feedback and feel firm. I don't know if Palakaboy will concur, but the D90 buttons, when pressed, wobble a little then just goes down. Although I may be used to using higher end cameras, the D80, 70, 60, 50, 40(x) didn't have this.

As always is the case, handle the camera before you make a purchase. What feels wrong to me may feel right for another.


im used to handling the d70s, d60 and the d90.

i feel as though the build quality between the d70s and the d90 are darn near the same, but the buttons feel pretty much on par with the other camera's.

the buttons on the d60 appear to be softer, i'm not sure if that's cause of the mileage on the camera.

and the photo-style selection knob on the d90 is definitely harder to turn than the d90.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:07 pm 
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Thanks PhotoJ and everybody else, that was some quick responses!

I'm seriosly thinking about upgrading to the D90 in a few months, but yes, I'll surely go to a store and see how it feels before making a final decision.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 9:19 pm 
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Thanks Ed, interesting comparison...


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 7:13 pm 
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Hmmm.... interesting review.

This and many other comments has me wondering though.
I have my name on the pre-order list for a D90.
I'm almost wondering if I should just get a D80 and save the $400. :?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 10:53 pm 
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Good comparison... Thanks photoj :)

@ fogman..

me too on the same thoughts... not sure of to decide between d80 and d90.... :(

Waiting for some more solid reviews... :)

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 4:56 am 
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from what i can tell...straight out the box this camera will need some fine tuning.

the SD setting on the camera seems to produce 'colder' results and the 'ND' setting will produce an image closer to what your eye sees.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:05 pm 
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well I'll be purchasing the D90 on a few months time around December or Jan of next yr from the reviews that I have seen so far like all new DSLR, I know D90 does need a little twiking here and there, I was considering the D80 before the D90 hit the shelves, I did went to Ritz Camera stores here in the U.S and look @ the D90 with the kit lens it's very sturdy and well built, and easy to handle for me I think, I know D80 is a great camera, and I know the price will go down a bit, but my heart is set on the D90, is a newer dslr to the D80 and I know when D80 came out 2 yrs ago it probably had the same problems or indifference as D90 again is time and effort and patience to play and experiment with all new slrs that are coming out in the market today, I know D90 will has it's critics but again just give it time and patience and playing time, there's alot of high expectations on the D90 to deliver, but again Nikon wouldn't have release the product if they didn't believe in it so again the saga continues it would be nice if the left out the D-movie mode


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:13 pm 
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Hmmm, yes, it does seem like this camera's default settings need some fine-tuning, nothing (I guess) that a firmware update can't handle.

I also believe this camera's going to be a slam dunk in its class. I've seen some sample pics in other site's previews and they certainly look primising. Can't wait to hear what Gordon thinks about it.

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