Video: Nikon D90 Digital SLR
Julie Govan is the Brand Manager at Crutchfield, and has been writing about consumer electronics since 1999. Her areas of expertise include home theater, surround sound, digital cameras, and HDTV. In her spare time, she also writes book reviews and fiction. She earned a B.A. in English from Davidson College, and went on to receive a master's degree in English literature from the University of Virginia.
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Zak Billmeier grew up in southern Vermont and coastal Maine. After graduating from Mary Washington College with a Geography degree he still isn't sure quite what to do with, he eventually settled in the mountains of Central Virginia. He spends his free time chasing his daughter around, taking pictures, gardening and cooking. He joined Crutchfield's car A/V writing team in 2007 and is now a lead producer on our video team.
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In this short video, Julie and Zak highlight the coolest features of Nikon's D90 digital SLR.
Zak: Hi, I'm Zak.
Julie: And I'm Julie.
Zak: And we're here in the Crutchfield video studio today with the Nikon D90 digital SLR camera, with its 18-105 vibration reduction kit lens — great lens. But if you've already got enough lenses at home, it's available body-only as well.
Julie: Yep. I was really excited when I got a chance to get my hands on the D90 because I have a D80 at home that's this camera's predecessor. I could tell right away that this was designed along similar lines. It has a very familiar, reassuringly solid feel in my hands. They've got some very similar button layouts, so you don't have to relearn the whole camera. But they do have some improvements that they've built in. As a result, they've added some new stuff in terms of easy-access buttons for those improvements, and we'll talk about those in a second. But they've also got this big, beautiful three-inch LCD view screen on the back. Makes it really, really easy to review your photos and do a couple of other things.
Zak: Yeah, it's a great screen. And one of the neatest things you can do, of course — you're seeing this more and more on cameras now — is live view. So, like a point-and-shoot, you can frame your shot right on this great screen, but this camera takes it a step further, and it's a big step. You push this "OK" button when you're in live view mode, and now you're shooting movies.
Julie: Movie mode!
Zak: Movie mode on an SLR. It's the first one to do it.
Julie: That's right.
Zak: And you can use your whole stable of Nikon lenses at home to shoot movies. It's really cool.
Julie: And it's a great movie mode. It actually shoots at 1280 x 720 resolution, and that's an HD resolution. So the movies are going to look great. It doesn't compete with a full-function camcorder, because it doesn't have a mic input and it only records in mono audio. But for folks who don't need that, who just need to capture a few moments here or there, this is a really, really nice addition. And of course, that's not the only thing that's going on with this camera. It has some other improvements, which as far as Zak and I are concerned, tell us that Nikon went ahead, talked to a bunch of SLR users, and said, "What would be easier for you? What would make life simpler in using your camera?" And then they went and they applied these improvements. They might seem like small things, but they really make a tangible difference.
Zak: Collectively, certainly, yeah.
Julie: Yeah, and one of the things Zak and I were talking about is some changes they made to the self-timer.
Zak: Yeah, now, all right, this is a small detail. But you've got your whole family spread out in front of you. The camera's on a tripod. The timer's set. We're going to get that rare, once-a-year family photo. And then you've got to run in there, take your place in the ten seconds or so. Shutter goes off. Everybody wants to get out of there, but somebody was moving, somebody was looking away, they were messing around, and you don't get the shot that you want. Well, you can set the timer to take up to nine pictures, so that for sure, one of those is going to be the right one.
Julie: That's right. Another thing that I really like that they've done is they've taken the auto mode that's on the dial, and they've added another auto mode that's for flash-off shooting. That's great if you don't want to go to the trouble of turning the flash off manually. It means you can use this in a place like a museum, or at a wedding — someplace where you don't want the flash to go off unexpectedly.
Zak: Yeah, it allows you to use available light, which always makes for great photos. And one thing Nikon does is they have a feature called active D-lighting. What that does is, if you're outside in the harsh sunlight, you've got your subject in the shade, and the light is bright behind you. This will lighten up that foreground and make them pop out really nicely.
Julie: That's right. We actually went outside yesterday and tried this out to see if it worked the way they said it did. So first we took a shot with D-lighting off. You can see that Amanda, who's the subject in this photo, is pretty backlit. And then we went ahead and took the same shot with D-lighting on, and it actually made a huge difference. We could actually see her face and see the expression on her face.
Zak: Works great.
Julie: Yeah, it's a really nice feature. So there it is, Nikon's D90 digital SLR.