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Nikon D90 Comparison Review

The Nikon D90 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was revealed to the public in August 2008 and is equipped with an APS-C sensor. It offers a resolution of 12.2 megapixel.

Is the Nikon D90 a good camera? The D90 has a Camera Elo of 1487. This rating puts the D90 below average of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (APS cameras), the D90 also ranks below average. – Well, the Nikon D90 is more than 12 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2008.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D90
Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
720/24p Video
ISO 200 - 3 200 (200 - 6 400)
Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4.5 shutter flaps per second
850 shots per battery charge
132 x 103 x 77 mm, 703 g



Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Nikon D90 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Nikon D90 vs credit card front
D90 versus credit card top view
D90 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Nikon D90 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons 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 D90 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon 40D 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.9 in 29.0 oz 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Nikon D7000 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 27.5 oz 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D3100 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599i
 
Nikon D300S 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Nikon D3000 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599i
 
Nikon D5000 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749i
 
Nikon D60 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D300 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D80 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 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 listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Nikon D90 was launched in the US market at a price of $1,299. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Nikon D90:
Check Ebay offers

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Nikon D90 features an APS-C sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Nikon D90 among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability.

Nikon D90 sensor measures

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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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 D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
 
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 D60 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.511.456265
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461

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

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D90 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 96% and a magnification of 0.63x. The tables below summarize some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D90 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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 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
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3100optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 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 D60optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One convenient feature of the D90 is the presence of an on-board flash. While this built-in flash is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light to brighten deep shadow areas.

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Connection 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 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 D90Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3100Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D300Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
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Expert reviews

While the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D90. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

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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 D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Nikon D7000..80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D3100+ +72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
 
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 D6080/100+ +4/5o4.5/5 Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X79/100+ +4/5o4/5 Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D300+ ++ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D90 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the D90.

What type of imaging sensor is used in the D90?

The camera is build around a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Nikon equipped the D90 with the EXPEED image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the D90?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Nikon D90?

Nikon mentions a shutter rating of 100 000 actuations for the D90. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the D90 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my Nikon D90?

Nikon embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your D90 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.

Does the Nikon D90 feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The D90's flash sync speed is 1/200 sec.

Which battery does the D90 use?

The camera gets its power from the EN-EL3e (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Is there a vertical grip available for the D90?

Yes, Nikon offers the MB-D80 as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Nikon D90
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date August 2008
    Launch Price USD 1 299
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 373 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4 288 x 2 848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.53 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 3 200 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 6 400 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 73
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 977
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 4.5 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy100 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse Photographyno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    UHS card support no
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Battery Type EN-EL3e power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)850 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    Camera Weight 703 g (24.8 oz)

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