Nikon D90 Review

Review Date: October 13th 2008
Author: Zoltan Arva-Toth
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Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6



Single-lens reflex digital camera

Lens mount

Nikon F mount (with AF coupling and AF contacts)

Effective sensor

Approx. 1.5x lens focal length (Nikon DX format)

Image sensor

23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS sensor
- Supports high ISO sensitivities
- High-speed data readout
- Nikon DX-format sized CMOS sensor
- Power-saving design

Effective pixels

12.3 million

Total pixels

12.9 million

Dust-reduction system

Image Sensor Cleaning, Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)

Noise reduction Long exp. NR

Photographs taken at shutter speeds slower than 8 s are processed to reduce noise. As the time required to process images to reduce noise after capture is roughly the same as shooting time (shutter speed), the time required until images are completely recorded increases accordingly.


Photographs taken at ISO sensitivities of ISO 800 and higher are processed to reduce noise. High, Normal (default), Low, Off
At ISO sensitivities of Hi 0.3 and higher, a level of noise reduction lower than that achieved with a setting of "Low" is selected.

Recording formats Image size (pixels)

- 4,288 x 2,848 (L)
- 3,216 x 2,136 (M)
- 2,144 x 1,424 (S)

File format

- NEF (compressed 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


SD (Secure Digital) memory cards, SDHC-compliant; Eye-Fi memory cards (requires confirmation)

A/D conversion bit count


Image write rate

Approx. 14 MB/s under the following conditions:
- Recording medium: 1 GB Panasonic Pro HIGH SPEED SD memory card
- Image quality: JPEG normal
- Image size: Large

Picture Control System

Can be selected from Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Landscape, Portrait; storage for up to nine custom Picture Controls

File system

DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) 2.0
DPOF (Digital Print Order Format)
Exif 2.21 (Exchangeable Image File Format for Digital Still Cameras)

Image comment

Up to 36 alphanumeric characters can be input using the camera monitor and multi selector (contained in Exif header)


Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder
- Advanced focusing screen display built in
This feature is capable of displaying superimposed on-demand grid lines over the viewfinder display, and is convenient for composing shots.
- "Vari-Brite" focus area display built in
The color used to highlight the active focus area (focus brackets) in the viewfinder display changes automatically in response to lighting conditions.

Frame coverage

Approx. 96% horizontal and 96% vertical


Approx. 0.94x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity, 1.0 m-1)


19.5 mm (1.0 m-1)

Diopter adjustment

2+1 m-1

Focusing screen

Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark II screen with focus frame (framing grid can be displayed)

Reflex mirror

Quick return

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

- DX AF Nikkor: All functions supported
- Type G or D AF Nikkor: All functions supported (PC Micro-Nikkor does not support some functions). IX Nikkor lenses not supported.
- Other AF Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D color matrix metering II. Lenses for F3AF not supported.
- AI-P Nikkor: All functions supported except 3D color matrix metering II
- Non-CPU: Autofocus not supported. Can be used in exposure mode M, but exposure meter does not function. Electronic rangefinder can be used if lens has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster.

Shutter Type

Electronically controlled, vertical-travel focal-plane shutter

Speed *3

1/400030 s in steps of 1/3 or 1/2 EV, Bulb, Time (optional Wireless Remote Control ML-L3 required)

Flash sync speed

X=1/200 s; synchronizes with shutter at 1/200 s or slower

Release time lag

Approx. 65 ms

Viewfinder blackout

120 ms

Shutter release Release mode

Single frame, continuous low speed, continuous high speed, self timer, delayed remote, quick response remote (optional Wireless Remote Control ML-L3 required for remote shooting)

Frame advance

Continuous low speed: 14 fps

rate *4

Continuous high speed: Up to 4.5 fps


Can be selected from 2, 5, 10, and 20 s duration

Remote shooting

Wireless Remote Control ML-L3 (optional), Remote Cord MC-DC2 (optional)

Exposure Metering

TTL exposure metering using 420-pixel RGB sensor

Metering method

- Matrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU 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 2.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point

Range (ISO 100, f/1.4 lens, 20C/68F)

- Matrix or center-weighted metering: 020 EV
- Spot metering: 220 EV

Exposure meter coupling



Auto modes (auto, auto (flash off)); Advanced Scene Modes (portrait, landscape, close-up, sports, night portrait); programmed auto with flexible program (P); shutter-priority auto (S); aperture-priority auto (A); manual (M)

Exposure compensation

-5+5 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV

Auto bracketing

- Exposure and flash bracketing: 2 or 3 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1, or 2 EV
- White balance bracketing: 2 or 3 frames in steps of 1, 2, or 3 EV
- ADL (Active D-Lighting) bracketing: 2 frames (one with ADL, one without)

Exposure lock

Luminosity locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button

ISO sensitivity (Recommended Exposure Index)

ISO 2003200 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) above ISO 3200.

Active D-Lighting

Can be selected from Auto, Extra high, High, Normal, Low, or Off

Focus Autofocus

Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus module with TTL phase detection, 11 focus points (including one cross-type sensor), and AF-assist illuminator (range approx. 0.53 m/1 ft. 8 in.9 ft. 10 in.)

Detection range

-1+19 EV (ISO 100, at 20C/68F)

Lens servo

- Autofocus: Single-servo AF (AF-S); continuous-servo AF (AF-C), predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status (AF-A)
- Manual (M): Electronic range finding supported

AF-area mode

Single-point, dynamic-area, auto-area, 3D tracking (11 points)

Focus lock

Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button

Flash Built-in flash

- Guide Number: Approx. 17/56, 18/59 with manual flash
(ISO 200, m/ft, 20C/68F)
- Approx. 12/39, 13/43 with manual flash (ISO 100, m/ft, 20C/68F)
- Auto, portrait, close-up, night portrait: Auto flash with auto pop-up
- P, S, A, M: Manual pop-up with button release

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 and
SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-400
- Auto aperture: Available with SB-900, SB-800 and CPU lens
- Non-TTL auto: Supported flash units include SB-900, SB-800, SB-28, SB-27, and SB-22s
- Range-priority manual: Available with SB-900 and SB-800

Angle of coverage

Sufficient to illuminate the picture angle of an 18mm lens
Picture edges may be slightly dark depending upon conditions, such as the lens used and the aperture setting.

Flash mode

Auto, portrait, close-up
- Auto and auto with red-eye reduction available with built-in flash
- Fill-flash and red-eye reduction available with optional flash units

Night portrait
- Auto slow sync and auto slow sync with red-eye reduction available with built-in flash
- Slow sync and slow sync with red-eye reduction available with optional flash units

Landscape, sports
- Fill-flash and red-eye reduction available with optional flash units

P, A
- Fill-flash, rear-curtain with slow sync, auto slow sync, slow sync with red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction

S, M
- Fill-flash, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction
- Front-curtain sync, slow sync, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction

Flash compensation

-3+1 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV

Flash-ready indicator

Lights when built-in flash or optional flash unit such as 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

Flash sync terminal


Nikon Creative Lighting System

- 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

Auto (TTL white-balance with main image sensor and 420-pixel RGB sensor); 12 manual modes with fine-tuning; color temperature setting; preset white balance; white balance bracketing

Live View AF modes

Face priority, wide area, normal area


Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face priority is selected)


Determined with matrix metering utilizing output from the image sensor

Movie File format

AVI (Motion-JPEG)

Image size (pixels)

640 x 424; 24 fps
320 x 216; 24 fps
1280 x 720; 24 fps




Monaural on/off selection


- Determined with matrix metering utilizing output from the image sensor
- Exposure lock available
- Exposure compensation available in P, S, A, M modes


3-in., approx. 920k-dot (VGA), low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with 170 viewing angle, approx. 100% frame coverage, and brightness adjustment


- Full-frame playback
- Movie playback
- Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images or calendar) playback
- Playback zoom (image size L up to approx. 27x, M up to approx. 20x, S up to approx. 13x)
When one or more faces (up to 10) were detected with shooting, the faces are enclosed in white borders. When playback zoom is applied, different faces can be displayed by rotating the sub-command dial.
- Slide show playback
- Pictmotion
- Histogram display
- Highlights display
- Auto image rotation
- Image comment (up to 36 characters)

Retouch functions

D-Lighting, red-eye correction, trim, monochrome, filter effects, color balance, small picture, image overlay, NEF (RAW) processing, quick retouch, straighten, distortion control, fisheye

Interface USB

Hi-Speed USB; PTP transfer protocol
USB hubs not supported

USB transfer rate

Approx. 12 MB/s
Test conditions
- Windows Vista or Windows XP using standard USB driver
- 512 MB Panasonic Pro HIGH SPEED (data recorded until filled to capacity)
- Image size: Large
- Image quality: JPEG normal
However, actual data transfer time varies with the following conditions:
- Computer performance
- Number of images
- Image size
- Image quality

Video output

Can be selected from NTSC and PAL; images can be displayed on external device while camera monitor is on

HDMI output

Version 1.3a with type C HDMI connector; camera monitor turns off when HDMI cable is connected

Accessory terminal

- Remote cord: MC-DC2 (available separately)
- GPS unit: GP-1 (available separately)

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 (supplied)

Number of shots (battery capacity)

- CIPA standard *1
One EN-EL3e battery (camera): Approx. 850 shots
One EN-EL3e battery (MB-D80): Approx. 850 shots
Two EN-EL3e batteries (MB-D80): Approx. 1700 shots
Six AA batteries (MB-D80): Approx. 600 shots

- Nikon standard *2
One EN-EL3e battery (camera): Approx. 4200 shots
One EN-EL3e battery (MB-D80): Approx. 4200 shots
Two EN-EL3e batteries (MB-D80): Approx. 8400 shots
Six AA batteries (MB-D80): Approx. 1900 shots

*1 Measured at 23C/73.4F (2C/3.6F) with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens under the following test conditions: lens cycled from infinity to minimum range and one photograph taken at default settings once every 30 s; after photograph is taken, monitor is turned on for 4 s; tester waits for exposure meters to turn off after monitor is turned off; flash fired at full power once every other shot. Live View not used.

*2 Measured at 20C/68F with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens under the following test conditions: release mode set to continuous high speed, autofocus mode set to AF-C, image quality set to JPEG basic, image size set to M (medium), white balance set to A, ISO sensitivity set to ISO 200, shutter speed 1/250 s, focus cycled from infinity to minimum range three times after exposure meters have been on for 3 s; six shots are then taken in succession and monitor turned on for 4 s and then turned off; cycle repeated once exposure meters have turned off.

? The actual number of shots possible will vary depending upon battery charge and operating environment. The number of shots possible when AA batteries are used may be less than that indicated here, depending upon the brand and manner in which the batteries have been stored. Use of some brands of AA batteries may not be possible.

The following can reduce battery life:
- Using the monitor (e.g. in Live View mode)
- Keeping the shutter-release button pressed halfway
- Repeated autofocus operations
- Taking NEF (RAW) photographs
- Slow shutter speeds
- Using VR (vibration reduction) mode with VR lenses

Battery pack

Optional MB-D80 multi-power battery pack with one or two rechargeable Nikon EN-EL3e batteries or six AA alkaline, NiMH, lithium, or nickel-manganese batteries; AA batteries (available separately)*

* Optional MS-D200 battery holder is required when using AA batteries.

AC adapter

EH-5a or EH-5 AC adapter (available separately)

Power-up time

Approx. 0.15 s

Tripod socket

1/4 in. (ISO 1222)

Dimensions (W H D)

Approx. 132 x 103 x 77 mm (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.)


Approx. 620 g (1 lb. 6 oz.) without battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover


The body is made of a combination of aluminum alloy and plastic.


Shutter units are durable up to approx. 100,000 cycles.


040C (+32104 F)


Less than 85% (no condensation)

Accessories Supplied

- Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e
- Quick Charger MH-18a
- Audio/Video Cable EG-D2
- USB Cable UC-E4
- Rubber Eyecup DK-21
- Camera Strap AN-DC1
- Body cap
- Eyepiece Cap DK-5
- Accessory shoe cover BS-1
- LCD Monitor Cover BM-10
- Software Suite CD (ViewNX, Nikon Transfer, Apple QuickTime)


- Remote Cord MC-DC2
- GPS Unit GP-1
- Photofinishing software Capture NX 2 (upgrade to latest version before using)
- AC Adapter EH-5/EH-5a
- Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D80
- Magnifying Eyepiece DK-21M
- Eyepiece Correction Lens DK-20C
- Eyepiece Magnifier DG-2
- Eyepiece Adapter DK-22
- Right-Angle Viewing Attachment DR-6
- Semi-soft Case CF-D80
- Wireless Remote Control ML-L3
- Sync Terminal Adapter AS-15
- Camera Control Pro 2 (upgrade to latest version before using)

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Nikon D90 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.

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