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Nikon D100 vs D90

The Nikon D100 and the Nikon D90 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2002 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D100 has a resolution of 6 megapixels, whereas the D90 provides 12.2 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D100 versus Nikon D90
Nikon D100 Nikon D90
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
6 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 720/24p Video
ISO 200-800 (200 - 1,600) ISO 200-3,200 (200 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8 LCD, 118k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 4.5 shutter flaps per second
370 shots per battery charge850 shots per battery charge
144 x 116 x 81 mm, 780 g 132 x 103 x 77 mm, 703 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D100 and the Nikon D90? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D100 and the Nikon D90 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D100 vs Nikon D90
Compare D100 versus D90 top
Comparison D100 or D90 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D90 is notably smaller (19 percent) than the Nikon D100. Moreover, the D90 is markedly lighter (10 percent) than the D100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D100 nor the D90 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D100 gets 370 shots out of its EN-EL3 battery, while the D90 can take 850 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D100 144 mm 116 mm 81 mm 780 g 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Nikon D500 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
 
Nikon D70s 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 500 n Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Nikon D70 140 mm 111 mm 78 mm 679 g 400 n Jan 2004 999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D90 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the D100, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D90 is 1 percent bigger. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D100 and Nikon D90 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the D90 offers a higher resolution than the D100 (6MP), but the D90 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 7.85μm for the D100). Yet, the D90 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 6 months) than the D100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D90 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D90 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D100 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D100 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 200-1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D90 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.

D100 versus D90 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
 
Nikon D70s APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
 
Nikon D70 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.410.352950

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D90 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D100 does not. The highest resolution format that the D90 can use is 720/24p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D100 and the D90 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the D90 offers a wider field of view (96%) than the one in the D100 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D90 has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D100, the Nikon D90, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D90optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5 Y n
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
 
Canon 10Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D500optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D70soptical n 2.0 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D70optical n 1.8 130 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 Y n

The D100 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D90 uses SDHC cards.

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Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D100 and Nikon D90 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
 
Nikon D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 10DY-----1.1---
 
Nikon D500YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYY
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D300Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D40Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70sY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D70Y-----1.0---

Both the D100 and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D100 was replaced by the Nikon D200, while the D90 was followed by the Nikon D7000. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D100 better than the Nikon D90 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D100:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2002).


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D90:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 43%.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (96% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.53x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 118k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (132x103mm vs 144x116mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (850 versus 370) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 6 months of technical progress since the D100 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D90 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 1 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D100 01:12 D90

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D100 and the Nikon D90 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D100 or the D90 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D100..+ +oo.. Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Nikon D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Canon 10D..+ +..o.. Feb 2003 1,999i
 
Nikon D500+ +91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i
 
Nikon D7000..80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D300S+ +82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Nikon D3000+72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D300+ ++ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D4081/100+ +o5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
 
Nikon D70s......o5/5 Apr 2005 899i
 
Nikon D200+ ++ +o5/5.. Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Nikon D70..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D100:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D90:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Nikon D100 vs Nikon D90

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D100 Nikon D90
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2002 August 2008
    Launch Price USD 1,999 USD 1,299
    Sensor Specs Nikon D100 Nikon D90
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 6 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 2000 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.85 μm 5.53 μm
    Pixel Density 1.63 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 800 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 1,600 ISO 200 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 73
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 977
    Screen Specs Nikon D100 Nikon D90
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 118k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D100 Nikon D90
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 4.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy50 000 actuations100 000 actuations
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D100 Nikon D90
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D100 Nikon D90
    Battery Type EN-EL3 EN-EL3e
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge850 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 144 x 116 x 81 mm
    (5.7 x 4.6 x 3.2 in)
    132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 780 g (27.5 oz) 703 g (24.8 oz)

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