As I mentioned before, the menu of the D90 is almost identical to that of the D300, which I personally think is a good indicator of the seriousness of the firm’s intentions and smart continuity with the older models. Not to mention such an important factor for every camera as the number of guaranteed shutter actuations. For our camera it’s 100K. The shutter speed is a serious consideration, and immediately determines the model’s range of use. So make your first conclusions!
Naturally, the D90 is present cleaner from the sensor dust – this function has become quite common, as well as a new mode for DSLR cameras video, and quite good, by the way, but the autofocus it does not work – you have to focus manually. Of course, this is not the most important feature of this camera, it’s just an interesting feature.
Let’s notice the most important qualitative changes in comparison with the apparatus of the same category – D80. The increase in sensor resolution to 12.3 megapixels calls for a significant improvement in the noise reduction system. For all modern cameras the ability to shoot at high sensitivities is already a usual thing and here amateur cameras just have to catch up with flagship models.
The fact that obtaining high-quality images when working without external flashes, using only the light available at the “site” is becoming increasingly important. Many trained amateur photographers, as well as, for example, journalism students of New York State University, where the author has the honor to teach, not always have a full-frame professional camera of the last generation, but they love to shoot without the “blitz”.
Will they be able to work at high ISO sensitivities with budget cameras? Will Nikon’s latest developments help them shoot high quality images in all conditions?? These are the questions I will try to answer during the test of the new Nikon D90.
So, here we go
I want to mention right away that I will be using a single lens in this test, the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. This new optical tool was received in Nikon’s New York representative office together with the camera it is supposed to be equipped with it in a “kit” variant . This only makes the tests more interesting: we’ve studied the excellent professional optics inside out and now we can turn our eyes to the new low-cost products.
After all, not everyone can immediately get a fleet of professional lenses from Nikon, and good, predictable performance even with inexpensive optics is very important. This lens has optical Image Stabilizer, which is a great feature when shooting in unfavorable lighting conditions.
And in general the impression of the new lens is quite pleasant for Nikon lenses even traditional : high quality workmanship, no backlash, noiseless and smooth run of the rings. The only thing I don’t understand is why the bayonet mount is made of plastic? With the purpose of cheapening?
Well, it wouldn’t be much more expensive if it had a solid metal mount. In a word, a question. But I think that we will get over this unfortunate technical mishap – the main thing is that everything that we expect from the new camera so much will come true. Okay, everyone in the studio!
For some reason all of my tests with new cameras start in the studio. Believe me, it’s a total fluke! Nevertheless, it’s not so bad: you can immediately check the accuracy of the white balance setting, see how the optics work when shooting model and portrait sessions, assess the speed and accuracy of autofocus, etc.d., as well as test shooting at high sensitivities in low light to evaluate the effectiveness of the noise cancellation system.
Photo 1 shows the stylist working with the model. Incandescent light with low power in the room. Sensitivity 1600 ISO, stabilizer on. I cannot visually tell the difference between this result and the pictures taken with the D300 for comparison: the noise is quite acceptable, despite the many dark areas in the image. Frankly speaking, I was expecting such a great result and the D90 pleased me right from the first frame.
Knowing precisely the color temperature of the pulse devices that come with the studio, I set it on the test camera. No surprises here either – everything is accurate, no color variations. So I am excited to start the first tests of the new device photo 2, 3 . The camera focuses very fast and the kit lens is in the best shape, sharpness, detail, and contrast.
Well, maybe it’s a little bit stiff, but for an “every day” optic it’s not bad you can see it by looking at Photos 4 and 5 . The operability of this new camera is great, I have the impression I’ve held it in my hands many times before: the lines, viewfinder and shutter sound very much like the D300, only it doesn’t weigh anything, it’s very light “photographers” should like this ! .
So, the camera is good enough for studio work without any reservations. I declare about it with full responsibility, as studio photography is the main type of my photographic practice.
Taking a walk in a spring city
Continuing my testing that started so wonderfully, I went to New York’s Europe Square – a good place for testing in my opinion: there is the reconstructed Kievsky Railway Station, a very interesting bridge over the Moskva River and good general plans. Uneven illumination of the river and light buildings, including.
the house of the government is the best place to evaluate the breadth of the dynamic range of the sensor, the accuracy and correctness of the exposure metering, as well as the contour sharpness and detail of the image obtained with the lens under test.
It’s been several hours since daylight: the sun is not too high, and light, translucent clouds cover it from time to time. It helps to evaluate the delicacy of highlights and shadows in the subject, or rather how well the camera reproduces them.
Judging by the first pictures taken at different focal lengths Photos 6, 7, 8 , you can appreciate the dynamic range of the Nikon D90: in the light and dark areas of the image all details are preserved, “knocked out” and “failed” areas are not observed. I like the accuracy and confidence of the exposure metering system. I chose the 3D color matrix metering because I think it most accurately reflects reality in auto mode and mode P.
I ascend the bridge over the Moskva River and as I walk up the bridge I notice many contrasting details, lighted in different ways: the abundance of glass on the bridge gives all kinds of reflections. I take a few shots Photo 9 , and I am happy to note the beautiful and smooth performance of the exposure metering system.
Moving to the other side, I take a shot with the view of the river and the White House. The lighting is uneven, even broken in plans, but even here the new Nikon didn’t let me down: looking at the photo I’m convinced of almost complete light balance. I want to notice again the excellent sharpness and good geometry of the 18-105 mm lens, which, frankly speaking, is not always to be expected with inexpensive optics photo 10 .
From about the same vantage point I shoot the bridge almost backlit, to check the detail in the shadows. All the details are preserved, contrast is good and well-balanced photo 11 . To check the lens resolution and sharpness in the center and along the edges I take a fragment of the bridge truss, and again no problems with it photo 12 .
Testing the new Nikon in the tracking autofocus and continuous shooting mode. The D90 has a claimed speed of 4.5 frames per second, which is very good on its own. Frankly speaking, I was under no illusion, considering the declared class of the new device: almost all amateur cameras, even with high-class lenses, get noticeable faults in tracking focusing, and with continuous shutter work for sure.
Even the flagship models from different manufacturers suffer from this technical malaise to a greater or lesser extent. I shoot three different series of five shots in a row. It feels like the continuous shooting speed is really in the order of 5 fps.
Reviewing the footage at a glance. Oh, my goodness! Absolutely no moving objects in sharp focus in any shot! Such results are not very common with more perfect devices and lenses Photos 13, 14 . I shot three more series with the same results. Totally surprising and unexpected result! So we give an “A+” to the tracking focus and continuous shooting tests, as well as to the quality of the lens in this mode!
Filled with impressions, I take the subway. On the way, I took the last shot in a half-dark underground passage at 1600 ISO, once again checking the camera for noise in hard light conditions.
The white balance was set automatically, and despite the fact that the showcase was lit by fluorescent lamps, the result is quite acceptable noise is also a concern . Once again we see how well the camera works in the auto white balance mode and conclude that the sensitivity of 1600 ISO for Nikon D90 is absolutely working, without any quality limitations photo 15 .
Here’s a summary of our tests. My subjective opinion is as follows: in its class the camera deserves an excellent mark in all respects and should confidently take its place in a trunk not only for advanced photographers but also as a second camera and maybe first in the studio ! professionals, including the flawless speed and ultra-precise tracking focus, and photojournalists. I wouldn’t call it amateurish: in my perception “amateur” things are just expensive toys, no more.
Nikon D90 is not one of them. And the notion of “semi-professional” is not good either. We don’t say: a cook, a tailor, a pilot, a photographer – “semiprofessional”… This camera is rather for photographers who are serious and prepared, and it is not so important whether he is a professional or not. Of course, the lightweight plastic body is inferior in terms of reliability to “armor”, for example, D3, but after all, the D90 has slightly different tasks.
So give this new camera a try, and I’m sure many of you will be just as impressed by it as I was! Best of luck to you, colleagues!
The editorial team would like to thank Nikon New York office for the equipment provided for the test.
All pictures were taken in high resolution JPEG format.
Test in pictures
By clicking on the picture, you can see a larger image. You can get out of fullscreen mode by clicking outside the photo field.
Photo 1. Lighting: wall sconces with weak incandescent bulbs, auto white balance gave adequate accuracy of lighting conditions, image noise was minimal f/4.0, 1/20sec, ISO 1600, focal length 26mm .
Photo 2. The main requirement was to precisely reproduce the texture of knitted fabric. The 18-105 mm lens pulled it off brilliantly f/9, 1/125 sec, ISO 200, focal length of 50 mm .
Photo 3. A similar scene – the detail, texture, color in shadows and highlights are flawless f/9, 1/125 s, ISO 200, focal length 52mm .
Photo 4. Close-up. Nice highlights and unobtrusive rendering of the skin structure f/9, 1/125 sec, ISO 200, focal length 105mm .
Photo 5. The sharpness of the lens is amazing, you can see the smallest details when zooming in, undetectable by the naked eye f/9, 1/125 sec, ISO 200, focal length 105mm .
Photo 6. Rather harsh side lighting, yet no dips in shadows or highlights f /10, 1/400 s, ISO 200, focal length 50 mm .
Photo 7. The same subject, taken from closer distance f/10, 1/400s, ISO 200, focal length 50mm .
Photo 8. Architectural piece. You tend to over-emphasize the sky and lose detail in the shadows. In this case, the tonality of the shot is close to perfect f/8, 1/1000 s, ISO 400, focal length 85 mm .
Photo 9. Extremely sharp picture, especially impressive behind glass f/9, 1/320 s, ISO 200, focal length 21 mm .
Photo 10. Cityscape with a long shot. No complaints about picture quality. The overall tone, contrast, and detail are great f/9, 1/320 sec, ISO 200, 48mm .
Photo 11. The detail of the image is excellent, and the aperture is almost completely open f/5.3, 1/400 seconds, ISO 200, focal length 70 mm .
Photo 12. Accuracy of focus at an open aperture on a long focal length is flawless f/5.6, 1/100sec, ISO 200, focal length of 90mm .
Photo 13. A still from the series, AF tracking test f/7.1, 1/800s, ISO 400, focal length 105mm .
Photo 14. Another scene taken with tracking autofocus f/7.1, 1/800 s, ISO 400, focal length 105 mm .
Photo 15. The difficult lighting and very high sensitivity did not prevent getting a good image. Noise is almost non-existent, even in shadows f/5.6, 1/100sec, ISO 1600, focal length of 85mm .