Juan Carlos Oganes' film-making and work blog.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nikon D90 - a new toy in town

Now this is a nice transition for all pro photo and video lovers out there.

I consider myself so much into capturing moments and freezing memories for life. And if they are in "motion", the better. Sadly, few cameras feature extreme quality in both worlds of still and moving photography. I guess with this new baby out, this is gonna end and a dream will come true.

Enter the Nikon D90 12.9 (12.3 effective) Megapixel Digital still camera WITH 720p HD video recording! Yes folks, this new thing can record at 720p at 24fps. No more of those aweful quality 640x480 VGA lousy videos captured with your still cam. Of course, as one would assume, it doesnt stand up to the professional digital HD camcorders out there but it still is a great progress in the arenas of the digital HD world (I wouldn't trade my HVX no way!).

There's a new CMOS sensor and according to the Nikon press release it's D300 quality output all the way up to ISO 6400 and one thing being borrowed by the higher end models is the awesome 3.0-inch VGA screen as the D3/D300. It also has a Live Preview function and the needed dust removal option too. Another awesome feature is its HDMI output for the video!!....but i'm sure it has some drawbacks. There's no free lunch, u know, and as I compare and see, there's a lot similar to the D80, though there is a new shutter and 3D tracking AF seen on the D3/D300.

When I checked it out, the D90 is very similar to it's ancestor (the D80) and it looks to me more of an upgrade more than a complete new model replacement of the prior model, but what will really catapult this one to be a fav for many amateur and prosumer user will be the 'world's first' DSLR movie mode. I certainly wouldn't recommend to use it to make your films, of course, but what I saw was that -having the CMOS sensor and the use of 35mm lenses- I could have that depth-of-field so loved by us filmmakers. The holy grail of our "religious" motion-picture career without the need of any expensive adapter.

So, in brief, the camera has this features:
  • 12.9 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor (effective pixels: 12.3 million)
  • Dust removal system
  • Bigger, better screen (as D3, D300)
  • Live View with contrast detect AF
  • Movie Mode
  • Wider ISO range, upgraded AF system (3D tracking, face detection)
  • Active D-Lighting, vignetting control and extra retouching options
  • Automatic chromatic aberration correction
  • Picture Control presets
  • Faster continuous shooting and larger buffer
  • Pictmotion slideshows
  • 3.0-inch 920,000 pixel (VGA x 3 colors) TFT-LCD (same as D3 and D300)
  • Live View with contrast-detect AF, face detection
  • Image sensor cleaning (sensor shake)
  • Illuminated focus points
  • Movie capture at up to 1280 x 720 (720p) 24 fps with mono sound
  • IS0 200-3200 range (100-6400 expanded)
  • 4.5 frames per second continuous shooting (buffer: 7 RAW, 25 JPEG fine, 100 JPEG Normal)
  • Expeed image processing engine
  • 3D tracking AF (11 point)
  • Short startup time, viewfinder blackout and shutter lag
  • Slightly improved viewfinder (96% frame coverage)
  • Extensive in-camera retouching including raw development and straightening
  • Improved user interface
  • New optional compact GPS unit (fits on hot shoe)
  • Same battery and vertical grip as D80
  • Vignetting control in-camera
  • 72 thumbnail and calendar view in playback.

This new camera defintely is one to check (or to own for some serious photographers that would need the 720 HD feature). All in all this one is a serious contender to many still cams out there and for about $1 K (body only) its quite cheap for a model with this features.

UPDATE: It seems that some users have seen some "funny features" on this camera. The CMOS sensor has some serious issue that is skew: slow-read reset of the sensor and the results are some type of "funny" elastic motion like jelly shaking. Here is a video test I found on the net that shows it.