Atma Xplorer

Xploring Games, Computing, Photography

Enjoying my Nikon D90

Phew! Things have been really hectic for me since the New Year began and one of the few joys during the interim that I found throughout my currently busy busy busy schedule (aside from the obvious lure of moolah) was the opportunity to take pictures with my new baby, the Nikon D90. I posted it’s first pics (well picture of the D90 box at least) via my New Year greeting but failed to record the unboxing pics because I didn’t remember to take pictures 🙁 Oh well, at least I got the hang of all the new buttons, nubs and features pretty quickly because I dropped everything and played with the cam’s features up until the New Year’s celebration on the beachside but that’s another story. 😀

In any case, I bought it last year, on December 31 via kimstore (order placed December 30 and item received December 31). That should give you an idea of how fast kimstore is with transactions 😀 Ok enough of the shameless plug. The moment I got my hands on the new cam, the very first thing I did (you should too, especially when you’re getting a new cam in the near future) was to read the manual to make sure I’m doing things right and that I won’t do anything to harm my new cam. To further sate my appetite for what-to-know, I also printed out a copy of Ken Rockwell’s D90 review and PDF guide. If you’re new to digital SLR cams, looking for equipment reviews and recommendations, I recommend paying a visit to his site. Photography is his bread and butter so that should indicate how important (or relevant) his opinions are.

Coming from the very simple and lightweight D40, the very first thing I noted and loved about the D90 was it’s sheer number of buttons and nubs. You can see a comparison of the physical differences of both cameras from the table below:

Nikon D40

Nikon D90

Notice anything? Yep. Compared to the D40, there’s quite a lot of buttons for the D90. They’re not just for display though, they actually quite useful once you know how to use them 😀 You see, with the D40, if you need to set something for a shot… say, change your Image Size, you need to navigate through your menu and change it. With the D90, just press the proper button and rotate the secondary nub. That’s just a simple example but lets go on 😀 What if you wanted to switch your ISO setting? Your shooting mode? During normal circumstances, you don’t need to change these on the fly but it’s handy especially when shooting in the field where lighting change over time.

As for the all important specification head to head?

BASIC SPECIFICATIONS D40 vs D90
Camera Model Nikon D40 Nikon D90
Field of View Crop Factor 1.5 1.5
Dimensions 4.94 x 3.69 x 2.51 in (126 x 94 x 64 mm) 5.18 x 4.04 x 3.02 in (132 x 103 x 77 mm)
Weight 1.1 lbs (475 gramms) 1.4 lbs (620 gramms)
Weight (with Batteries) 1.2 lbs (522 gramms)
Body Material plastic metal/plastic
Waterproof No No
Announce Time November 15, 2006 August 26, 2008
SENSOR
Total Pixels 6.24 Megapixels 12.9 Megapixels
Effective Sensor Resolution 6.1 Megapixels 12.3 Megapixels
Optical Sensor Type CCD CMOS
Color Depth 36 bit 36 bit
Light Sensitivity 200 – 1600 ISO, Auto ISO 200 – 3200 ISO, Auto ISO
Max Resolution 3008 x 2000 4288 x 2848
Sensor Dust Reduction No Yes
FEATURES
Video Recording No Yes
Manual setting of shutter speed and aperture Yes Yes
Live View No Yes
Af Assists Illuminator Yes Yes
Manual Focus Adjustment Yes Yes
Face Detection No Yes
Features Tripod mount, Remote Control, Camera orientation detection Tripod mount, Remote Control, Camera orientation detection
White Balance Auto, Manual, Presets Auto, Manual, Presets, Bracketing
Max Shutter Speed 30 s 30 s
Min Shutter Speed 1/4000 s 1/4000 s
X-sync Speed 1/200 s 1/500 s
Exposure Modes Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority
Auto Exposure Bracketing 1/3 range in 5 EV steps 1/3 range in 5 EV steps
Exposure Metering Center-weighted, Spot, 3D Color Matrix Center-weighted, Spot, 3D Color Matrix
Exposure Bracketing No Yes
Still Image Format 3 JPEG, RAW 3 JPEG, RAW
Digital Video Format AVI
Digital Video Codec MJPEG
Built-in Microphone No Yes
LENS SYSTEM
Lens System Mounting (bynet) Nikon F Nikon F
Image Aspect Ratio 3:2 3:2
Video Max Resolution 1280×720
CAMERA FLASH
Built-in Flash Yes Yes
Hot Shoe Yes Yes
Flash Features i-TTL Flash exposure bracketing,i-TTL
Red Eye Reduction Yes Yes
VIEWFINDER
Viewfinder Optical TTL (through the lens) Optical TTL (through the lens)
Viewfinder Field Coverage 95% 96%
DISPLAY
Display Form Factor Built-in Built-in
Display Pixels 230000 920000
Display Size 2.5 inch 3 inch
STORAGE
Supported Flash Memory SD, SDHC SD, SDHC
BATTERY
Battery Capacity 1000 mAh or 470 frames 1500 mAh or850 frames
Supported Battery MB-D80 EN-EL3e
Power Slot Yes Yes
ADDITIONALS FEATURES
Continuous Shooting Speed 2.5frames per second 4frames per second
Self Timer Yes Yes
Self Timer Delay 2, 5, 10, 20 s 2, 5, 10, 20 s
Turn On Time 0.18 s 0.15 s
Cables Included USB cable USB cable, A/V cable
Included Accessories Eyecup, Neck strap, Battery charger, Body cap, Lens cap, Shoe cap Eyecup, Neck strap, Battery charger, Body cap, Lens cap, Shoe cap, LCD monitor cover
Interfaces USB (2.0), Video output USB (2.0), Video output, HDMI, Audio output, Remote control

If you’re a numbers guy/girl, the D90 is a cut above the D40.  Sure, the D90 can capture more pixels but what’s important is it’s sensor.  The CMOS sensor brings the D90’s performance at par with Nikon’s more professional offering, the D300 :D.  It’s like getting a D300 for cheap.  The D90 has video but unlike Canon’s latest offering, the 500D, it seems like a feature added at the last minute :(.  Autofocus doesn’t work and sound is jittery at best.  I understand the decisions that Nikon made that put the HD video feature on the D90 but I would’ve liked it better they really didn’t add such a crippled feature.  Maybe they’ll fix most of the D90’s quirks with a firmware update but still, I would prefer to disable it entirely.  I have a Flip HD for HD video purposes :D.

Now, what I like about the D90.  First would be it’s size.  My fingers are quite long which makes holding my D40 quite cumbersome because it’s quite small, small enough to fit in one hand.  Optimally, we should should with both hands right?  The left hand cradles the lens for stability and the right holds the cam and the shutter button.  This is problematic with the D40 since it’s light and small enough to be held with one hand, I usually end up holding the cam with ackward position for my fingers >_>.  The obvious solution would be to get a camera grip but since my budget permitted it, I got a D90 instead.  😀  The sheer size of the D90 makes it comfortable to hold and shoot with and it’s weight makes it easier to stabilize the camera (for me at least since I feel like I’m fighting against the weight of the camera, not the weight of my own arm >_>).

The D90’s advanced feature set are quite helpful as well. D-lighting in particular has been very useful in composing lowlight shots or shots with very high lighting contrasts (i.e. the subject is bathed with background light). Without D-lighting, finding the right exposure would’ve been a nightmare in those situations :D.

Now, the part that you’ve been waiting for, the pictures :D.  I was only able to process a few pics so please bear with me.  These shots were taken during one of our frequent visits to pizza hut.  The manager was kind enough to give us a discount card taking 10% the usual price 😀  Imagine that.  If you want to see more of my pics, you can just follow updates on my flickr account.

I’m still working on the pictures from the photoshoot with Genre productions but even if I do finish processing them, I’ll still waiting for the go signal to post them :D. Now, I did promise a post on Canon vs Nikon (specifically the 500D vs the D90). I’m still working on it but it’ll probably be put on hold while I process more pics. *sigh*

So what happens with my D40 now that I’ve switch to my D90 full time? Well it’s relegated to the status of secondary body. I’m still saving up to get a Nikkor 35mm f/2.0 AF-D lens to replace it’s current 50mm lens. The 50 mm is a good lens but I feel that at 35 mm, I’d get better use out of it. Will post an update on my current camera gear in a few so please look forward to it 😀

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