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The Nikon D90 – the first DSLR with HD video

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August 27, 2008

The Nikon D90 – the first DSLR with HD video

The Nikon D90 – the first DSLR with HD video

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August 28, 2008 It seems logical that with almost everything being dragged into the convergence mix like matter into a black hole, that the seemingly parallel streams of still and moving image capture should eventually morph and Nikon made the first move this week with the much anticipated announcement of the a high quality Digital SLR with a movie shooting function that delivers quality HD 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels) video. Thanks to the D90’s large image sensor, D-Movie images exhibit less noise than those of a typical camcorder, most notably in low-light situations. This is a landmark camera and will be the first of many remarkable all-in-one imaging devices using quality lenses and technology suitable for both modes. VERY exciting!

The D90 takes its inspiration from Nikon’s flagship DX-format digital SLR, the D300. The D90’s image sensor and 12.3 effective megapixels combine with Nikon’s EXPEED image processing to deliver outstanding images featuring fine details, smooth tones, rich colours and low noise across a wide ISO sensitivity range.

The D90 also provides remarkable performance and operability, featuring Nikon’s exclusive Scene Recognition System that advances precision in auto focus, auto exposure, and auto white balance in diverse shooting situations. Live View mode allows shooting while confirming the subject on the large 3-in., approx. 920k-dot high-density colour LCD and offers three contrast-detect AF modes to allow photographers to focus on any point in the frame, enabling a greater variety of composition. In addition to wide and normal area AF, the D90 offers face priority AF in Live View mode for even sharper pictures of people.

All of these powerful features and more are housed in a compact, comfortable-to-hold body, with intuitive controls. In other words, the D90 is a camera that will satisfy the requirements of passionate photographers who demand superior image quality and crave exciting new photographic possibilities.

Nikon D90 Feature Highlights

Newly designed Nikon DX-format CMOS image sensor with wide ISO sensitivity range with low noise D90’s 12.3 effective megapixels provides outstanding resolution, delivering images with extraordinarily defined detail and expanded enlargement capacity. The extremely wide sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 3200 delivers incredibly low-noise characteristics throughout. Furthermore, sensitivity can be increased to Hi 1 (ISO 6400 equivalent) and decreased to Lo 1 (ISO 100 equivalent) to expand shooting versatility. The camera also employs an Image Sensor Cleaning function that works to free image-degrading dust particles from the sensor’s optical low-pass filter.

EXPEED for smooth tones, rich colours and fine details

Nikon’s comprehensive digital image-processing EXPEED technology is optimised for the D90 to realise the high-quality, high-speed image processing capability. EXPEED also contributes to the outstanding performance of other powerful features such as Live View and the new Face Detection System.

D-Movie: the world’s first D-SLR movie mode

In a world first for D-SLRs, the D90 offers a movie function, allowing you to shoot 320 x 216 pixels, 640 x 424 pixels or HD 720p (1,280 x 720 pixels) movies at the professional smoothness of 24 frames per second in motion JPEG format. The D90’s sensor, which is much larger than the sensor of a typical camcorder, ensures higher image quality and exceptional low-noise, high ISO sensitivity performance, even during movie shooting. Capturing creative movie clips or the drama of life’s moving moments is further enhanced by the wide selection of incredibly sharp NIKKOR interchangeable lenses that are available, from fisheye to wide-angle to super-telephoto. And Micro NIKKOR lenses bring the magic of extreme close-up imagery to movie making.

Scene Recognition System integrated with Face Detection System

The D90 precisely reads the colour and brightness information of each scene from the 420-pixel RGB sensor, and applies this to auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance. The D90 also recognises human faces using the new Face Detection System, data which is incorporated during calculation, resulting in faces with newfound definition and accuracy as well as enabling face priority AF in Live View mode and immediate zoom into people’s faces in playback zoom.

Easy-to-use Live View mode

One press of the Live View button activates the D90’s Live View mode, delivering a bright, crisp image to the 3-in., approx. 920k-dot colour LCD and allowing comfortable shooting without looking through the viewfinder. There are three contrast-detect AF modes that let you focus on any point in the frame: Face priority AF automatically detects up to five faces and focuses on that calculated to be the closest. Wide area AF offers a large AF area suitable for handheld shooting, and normal area AF provides focus with pinpoint accuracy when using a tripod. And when Nikon VR (Vibration Reduction) lenses are in use, photographers will enjoy the benefit of a VR-smoothed image, even in Live View mode.

Picture Control System: Customise the visual style of your images

Nikon’s Picture Control System enables users to customise the look and mood of images. Six original setting options are available — Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape — for easy customisation of image preferences.

Active D-Lighting for smooth tone reproduction in high-contrast lighting

The D90’s Active D-Lighting accurately restores details in the shadows and highlighted areas, which are often lost in high-contrast lighting situations, by localising tone control while shooting. There are four levels, including the new “Extra High.” Active D-Lighting can be used manually or set to Auto mode. It is also possible to bracket your pictures, allowing the capture of one image with Active D-Lighting and one without.

Versatile, practical 11-point AF system

Thanks to the Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus module, the D90’s 11-point AF system offers fast and precise autofocus coverage across the frame with the most sensitive AF sensor operating from the centre. In addition, the D90 features versatile AF-area modes to handle most shooting situations: Single-point AF is recommended for stationary subjects, dynamic-area AF for moving subjects, auto-area AF for spontaneous shooting and 3D-tracking (11 points) AF for when you want to change the composition after focusing on your subject.

Bright pentaprism viewfinder with 96% frame coverage

The D90 has a precise eye-level pentaprism viewfinder with approx. 96% (centred) frame coverage and an easy-to-view 19.5 mm eyepoint (at -1.0 m-1). The built-in 16-frame superimposed grid display can be activated to assist in the creation of better-balanced compositions.

Advanced Scene Modes for superior image quality

The D90 features Advanced Scene Modes: Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, Sports and Night Portrait. These modes not only adjust exposure and image processing, but also judge the optimum Active D-Lighting and Picture Control settings to obtain the best results. The D90 also recognises if VR (Vibration Reduction) is on or off and minimises noise even in dimly lit scenes.

Extensive palette of in-camera Retouch Menus

The D90’s designers incorporated a wide variety of image editing functions, making it easy for users to enhance images within the camera. The D90 introduces several new retouch options: Distortion Control adjusts lens aberration, Straighten corrects inclination of the image, while Fisheye produces optical effects similar to a fisheye lens.

Engineered for precision and durability

Accurate exposures rely on precise shutters and the D90’s electronically timed shutter mechanism was specifically engineered for long, accurate service. To ensure this, D90 shutters, assembled in D90 bodies, underwent exhaustive 100,000 shutter-release cycle testing.

Nikon D90 Other Features

    Gives you quick response, with 0.15-second start-up, 65 ms shutter release time lag (CIPA standard) and 4.5 fps continuous shooting. 3-in., approx. 920-k dot high-resolution LCD monitor with wide viewing angle that lets you change composition of the frame during shooting from various angles and easily confirm your image during playback. Built-in flash with 18mm lens coverage, Guide Number of approx. 17/56 (ISO 200, m/ft., 20°C/68°F) and Nikon’s original i-TTL flash control; works as a commander; controlling up to two groups of remote Speedlights. Highly efficient energy-saving design allows approx. 850 images on a single charge of the Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e. (CIPA standard, with AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, with 50% of pictures taken with flash) Extensive playback functions offer ample options for viewing and selecting the right shot, including 72-frame playback, calendar playback and histogram display for magnified portion of the image. Versatile Pictmotion menu creates slideshows combining five choices of both background music and image effects. Compatible with HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output. Supports the Nikon Creative Lighting System when using the SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 Speedlight, or Wireless Close-up Speedlight System R1C1; ensures accurate exposures via i-TTL flash control. Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D80 (Optional, in common with the D80) gives you the choice of using one or two Rechargeable Li-ion Batteries EN-EL3e or six R6/AA-size batteries to extend battery life. New optional Remote Cord MC-DC2 enables shutter release and long time exposures (bulb) remotely. With the new optional GPS Unit GP-1, location information such as latitude, longitude, altitude and time is automatically recorded to each image’s EXIF data. Included Nikon ViewNX image browsing and editing software lets you organise, label and select images as well as perform RAW (NEF) image editing adjustments and conversions. Optional Capture NX 2 photo-editing software features patented U Point™ technology and powerful tools for quick and easy photo editing including enhanced RAW (NEF) Editing.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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