Friday, May 7, 2010

The Nikon D90: a DSLR Video Revolution.

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DSLR filmmaking is beginning to come into focus (pun unintended), with major names like Saturday Night Live and House using readily available semi-pro DSLRs to shoot scenes and entire episodes. Professional and amateur directors alike have begun to tout the improved maneuverability and versatility the same cameras used by still photographers. Today we’ll take a look at the first DSLR to offer HD video recording: the Nikon D90.

The D90 boasts the ability to record 720p HD video as well as VGA and QVGA resolutions with audio capture supported in all modes. When the camera was originally released in 2008, these video recording modes made the D90 one of a kind as it was the only DSLR on the market with the ability to capture HD video as well as still pictures. Not only is the D90’s video recorded in crisp 720p HD, its shot at 24 frames per second - the same frame rate as most cinema film cameras. Though it’s certainly debatable, many sources argue that 24p footage looks more cinematic than the 30p footage produced by other DSLRs and camcorders. You should be aware however that like most DSLR's with video capture capability, you are limited to 5 minutes at a time. I think most will find this sufficient for many of their intended uses.

The D90’s excellent performance doesn’t stop at video capture - its 12.3 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor produces stunning results. With an ISO range of 100 (low 1 mode) to 6400 (high 2 mode) and 4.5 frames per second burst mode, the D90 will lend itself well to a wide variety of shooting conditions. An 11-point autofocus system ensures rapid and intuitive acquisition and tracking of subjects. I find that the picture quality rivals that of DSLR’s costing significantly more.

To take full advantage of these video and still photography capabilities, the D90 is compatible with all Nikon AF and AF-S lenses and current external flashes. Because of this interchangeability, it’s easy to creatively use the D90 to its full capabilities. If you’ve already got Nikon gear, there is probably no need to replace it should you wish to purchase a D90 as an upgrade to your current camera body.

In my testing of the D90, I was impressed by its build quality, its beautiful 3-inch main LCD and top LCD displays allowed me to easily access important shooting information and photo previews. The 24p HD video comes out wonderfully, though I wish a line-in jack was provided for the use of an external microphone.

The D90 is an outstanding camera. A hobbyist looking to take great pictures, an advanced level amateur will love it. Overall, it’s an excellent camera and worth your consideration.

Compare to: Nikon D700, Nikon D300s, Canon EOS 7D

Key Accessories:
Nikon Lens or Tamron Lens
3 year Extended Service Plan
Camera Bag
Promaster spare battery (camera comes with rechargeable battery)
Sandisk 16 GB memory card