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You are hereHome > Best Digital Cameras > Nikon D90 DSLR

View all Nikon Digital Cameras

Nikon D90 DSLR Review

Review Date: Mar 16, 2009

Nikon D90 DSLR
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Photoxels Editor's Choice Award - Serious Enthusiast DSLR
Photoxels Editor's Choice Award - Serious Enthusiast DSLR

Category: Serious to Advanced Amateur

The Nikon D90 digital SLR features 12.3MP resolution on a Nikon DX format CMOS image sensor (23.6 x 15.8mm) and is the first DLSR featuring movie capture. It replaces the D80 and is positioned between the entry-level D60 and the D300.

Major features of the Nikon D90:

  • Scene Recognition System optimizes autofocus, auto exposure, i-TTL control and White Balance.
  • 11-Point AF system with AF-area mode, including 3D-tracking
  • Pentaprism for large, bright viewfinder image with built-in grid display
  • Live View with 3 Contrast-Detect AF modes: Face Priority AF, Wide Area AF and Normal Area AF
  • 3.0-in. 920,000 dots LCD screen
  • Start up time of 0.15 s, shutter release lag of 65 millisecond, continuous shooting at 4.5 fps for up to 100 shots
  • Advanced Scene Modes automatically optimize exposure, image processing, Active D-Lighting, and Picture Control
  • Built-in flash acts as a Wireless Commander, controlling up to two independent groups of an unlimited number of remote Speedlights
  • 850 pictures per charge
  • In-camera Retouch Menus include Straightening, Distortion Control, D-Lighting, Filter Effects, Color Balance, Image Overlay, RAW Processing, Quick Retouch
  • World's first DSLR Movie: 320 x 216 pixels, 640 x 424 pixels and 1,280 x 720 pixels.
  • Active D-Lighting
  • ISO 200 to 3200

The D90 is the first DSLR that features movie. The advantage of recording movies using a DSLR (as opposed to a compact digicam) is the ability to control depth of field, use an approriate lens and zoom during recording.

The D90 also features Live View, but with only Contrast-Detect AF. Phase-Detection AF cannot be used in Live View mode.

The Nikon D90 should appeal to serious photographers desiring a fast and quality digital SLR camera.

Read our Nikon D90 Review...
Nikon D90
QuickFact™ Sheet
  Nikon D90US | CAN | UK | Imaging  
  Type Single-lens reflex digital camera  
  Lens Mount Nikon F mount (with AF coupling and AF contacts)  
  Effective Picture Angle Approx. 1.5x lens focal length (Nikon DX format)  
  Effective Pixels    
  Effective Pixels 12.3 million  
  Image Sensor    
  Image Sensor 23.6 x 15.8mm CMOS sensor  
  Total Pixels 12.9 million  
  Dust-Reduction System Image Sensor Cleaning, Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX2 required)  
  Image Size (pixels) 4,288 x 2,848 (L)
3,216 x 2,136 (M)
2,144 x 1,424 (S)
  File Format - NEF (RAW)
- JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with Fine (approx. 1:4), Normal (approx. 1:8), or Basic (approx. 1:16) compression
- NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats
  Picture Control System Can be selected from Neutral, Standard, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape; storage for up to 9 custom Picture Controls  
  Media SD memory cards, SDHC compliant  
  File System DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) 2.0, DPOF (Digital Print Order Format), Exif (Exchangeable Image File Format for Digital Still Cameras) 2.21, PictBridge  
  Viewfinder Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder  
  Frame Coverage Approx. 96% horizontal and 96% vertical  
  Magnification Approx. 0.94 x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity; -1.0m^-1)  
  Eyepoint 19.5mm (-1.0m^-1)  
  Diopter Adjustment -2 to +1 m^-1  
  Focusing Screen Type-B BriteView Clear Matte screen Mark II with focus frame (framing grid can be displayed)  
  Reflex Mirror Quick-return type  
  Depth-of-field Preview When depth-of-field preview button is pressed, lens aperture is stopped down to value selected by user (A and M modes) or by camera (other modes)  
  Lens Aperture Instant return, electronically controlled  
  Compatible Lenses Lens Compatibility Chart >  
  Type Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter  
  Speed 1/4000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, Bulb  
  Flash Sync Speed X=1/200 s; synchronizes with shutter at 1/200 s or slower  
  Release Mode Single-frame, Continuous Low Speed, Continuous High Speed, Self-timer, Delayed Remote, Quick-Response  
  Frame Advance Rate Continuous High Speed; up to 4.5 fps; Continuous Low Speed; up to 1-4 fps  
  Self-timer Can be selected from 2, 5, 10, and 20 s Duration  
  Metering TTL exposure metering using 420-pixel RGB sensor  
  Metering Mode - Matrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other COU lenses)
- Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 6-, 8- or 10-mm circle in center of frame
- Spot: Meters 3.5-mm circle (about 2% of frame) centered on selected focus point
(ISO 100 equivalent f/1.4 lens, 20°C/68°F)
- Matrix or center-weighted metering: 0-20 EV
- Spot metering: 2-20 EV
  Exposure Meter Coupling CPU  
  Exposure Modes Auto modes (auto, auto [flash off]), Advanced Scene Modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports, Close-up, Night Portrait), programmed auto with flexible program (P), shutter-priority auto (S), aperture-priority auto (A), manual (M)  
  Exposure Compensation ±5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV  
  Exposure Bracketing 2 or 3 frames in steps 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 1 or 2 EV  
  Exposure Lock Luminosity locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button  
  ISO Sensitivity
(Recommended Exposure Index)
ISO 200 to 3200 in steps of 1/3 EV, can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 100 equivalent) below ISO 200, or to approx. 0.3, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 6400 equivalent) over ISO 3200, ISO sensitivity auto control available
  Active D-Lighting Can be selected from Auto, Extra High, High, Normal, Low or Off  
  Active D-Lighting Bracketing 2 frames  
  Auto Focus Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus module with TTL phase detection, 11 focus points (including 1 cross-type sensor) and AF-assist Illuminator (range approx. 0.5-3 m/1 ft. 8 in.-9 ft. 10 in.)  
  Detection Range -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100 equivalent, 20°C/68°F)  
  Lens Servo - Auto-focus: Single-servo AF (S), Continuous-servo AF (C), Auto-servo AF (A), Predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status in single- and continuous-servo AF
- Manual (M): Electronic rangefinder supported
  Focus Point Can be selected from 11 focus points  
  AF-area Modes Single-point AF, Dynamic-area AF, Auto-area AF, 3D tracking (11 points) AF  
  Focus Lock Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (Single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button  
  Built-in Flash - Auto, Portrait, Close-up, Night Portrait modes: Auto flash with auto pop-up
- P, S, A, M: Manual pop-up with button release
  Guide Number
(m/ft.) at 20°C/68°F
- At ISO 200: Approx. 17/56, 18/59 with manual flash
- At ISO 100 equivalent: Approx. 12/39, 13/43 with manual flash
  Flash Control - TTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 420-pixel RGB sensor are available with built-in flash, SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 or SB-400: standard i-TTL flash (when using spot metering); 2)
- Auto aperture: Available with SB-900, SB-800 and CPU lenses
- Non-TTL Auto: Supported flash units include SB-900, SB-800, SB-28, SB-27 or SB-22s
- Range-priority manual: Available with SB-900 and SB-800
  Flash Modes Front curtain sync, slow sync, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction with slow sync  
  Flash Compensation -3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV  
  Flash Bracketing 2 or 3 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1 or 2 EV  
  Flash-ready Indicator Lights when built-in flash or SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX or SB-50DX is fully charged; blinks for 3 s after flash is fired at full output in i-TTL or auto aperture modes  
  Accessory Shoe Standard ISO 518 hot-shoe contact with safety lock  
  Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) - Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with built-in flash, SB-900, SB-800 or SU-800 as commander and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 or SB-R200 as remotes;
- Auto FP High-Speed Sync and modeling illumination supported with all CLS-compatible flash units except SB-400;
- Flash Color Information Communication and FV lock supported with all CLS-compatible flash units
  White Balance    
  White Balance Auto (TTL white balance withmain image sensor and 420-pixel RGB sensor), 12 manual modes with fine-tuning, color temperature setting; preset manual white balance  
  White Balance Bracketing 2 or 3 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3  
  Live View    
  AF Modes Face priority AF, Wide area AF, Normal area AF  
  Focus Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face priority AF is selected)  
  Image size (pixels) 1,280 x 720/24 fps, 640 x 424/24 fps, 320 x 216/24 fps  
  File Format AVI  
  Compression Format Motion-JPEG, with monaural sound  
  LCD Monitor 3-in., approx. 920K-dot (VGA), low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with 170° viewing angle, approx. 100% frame coverage, and brightness adjustment  
  Playback Function Full-frame and thumbnail (4, 9 or 72 images or calendar) playback with playback zoom, movie playback, Pictmotion, slide show, histogram display, highlights, auto image rotation, and image comment (up to 36 comments)  
  USB Hi-Speed USB  
  Audio Video Output Can be selected from NTSC and PAL; simultaneous playback from both the audio video output and on the LCD monitor available  
  HDMI output HDMI Miniconnector; camera monitor turns off when HDMI cable is connected  
  Accessory Terminal - Remore Cord MC-DC2 (Optional)
- GPS Unit GP-1 (Optional)
  Supported Languages    
  Supported Languages Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish  
  Power Source    
  Battery One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e  
  Battery Pack Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D80 (optional) with one or two Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, or six R6/AA-size alkaline, Ni-MH, lithium or nickel-manganese batteries (Battery Holder MS-D200 is required when using R6/AA-size batteries)  
  AC Adapter AC Adapter EH-5a (optional)  
  Tripod Socket    
  Tripod Socket 1/4 in. (ISO 1222)  
  Supplied Accessories
(may differ by country or area)
Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e, Quick Charger MH-18a, Eyepiece Cap DK-5, Rubber Eyecup DK-21, USB Cable UC-E4, Audio Video Cable EG-D2, Camera Strap AN-DC1, LCD monitor cover BM-10, Body Cap, Accessory shoe cover BS-1, Software Suite CD-ROM  
  Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 132 x 103 x 77mm /
5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.
  Weight (Camera body only) Approximately 620 g/1 lb. 6 oz. without battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover  
  Operating Environment    
  Temperature 0-40°C/32-104°F  
  Humidity Less than 85% (no condensation)  

Camera body only, lens sold separately: US $999.95 / CAD $1,119.95

Packaged with 18-55mm AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor lens: CAD $1,279.95

Packaged with 18-105mm AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor lens: US $1,299.95 / CAD $1,449.95


Product technical specifications (including MSRP and Included Accessories) are as represented by the manufacturer and subject to manufacturer's change without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer. Product color availability and included accessories may also differ by country or area. Please verify the latest specs from the appropriate manufacturer's site.

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Though we make every effort to strive for accuracy in reproducing these specs, we do occasionally make mistakes, so verify with the manufacturer's site for the latest specs. Also, in the early stages of a product introduction, you can almost guarantee there will be some errors from the manufacturers themselves as they update their sites. If you see any mistakes, please contact us. We do appreciate your writing in with the corrections and thank you in advance!

Nikon D90
Body only with 18-105mm lens

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