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Nikon D90 vs YI M1

The Nikon D90 and the YI M1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2008 and September 2016. The D90 is a DSLR, while the M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D90) and a Four Thirds (M1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the YI provides 20.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D90 versus YI M1
Nikon D90 YI M1
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
720/24p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 200-3,200 (200 - 6,400) ISO 100-25,600
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 920k dots 3.0 LCD, 1040k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
4.5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
850 shots per battery charge450 shots per battery charge
132 x 103 x 77 mm, 703 g 114 x 64 x 34 mm, 281 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D90 and the YI M1? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D90 and the YI M1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D90 is only available in black.

Size Nikon D90 vs YI M1
Compare D90 versus M1 top
Comparison D90 or M1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the YI M1 is considerably smaller (46 percent) than the Nikon D90. Moreover, the M1 is substantially lighter (60 percent) than the D90. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D90 nor the M1 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D90) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (M1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the M1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

The power pack in the M1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
 
YI M1 114 mm 64 mm 34 mm 281 g 450 n Sep 2016 349 i
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
 
Canon SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299 i
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
 
Canon 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Fujifilm X-A3 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 339 g 410 n Aug 2016 399i
 
Nikon D7500 136 mm 104 mm 73 mm 720 g 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i
 
Nikon D7200 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199i
 
Nikon 1 J5 98 mm 60 mm 32 mm 231 g 250 n Apr 2015 399i
 
Nikon D7100 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 950 Y Feb 2013 1,199i
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
 
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 D60 126 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 500 n Jan 2008 629i
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 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.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 M1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 73 percent) than the D90, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D90 features an APS-C sensor and the YI M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the M1 is 40 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D90 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Nikon D90 and YI M1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the M1 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 12.2 MP of the D90. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 5.53μm for the D90). However, it should be noted that the M1 is much more recent (by 8 years) than the D90, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the YI M1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D90 are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D90 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the YI M1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

D90 versus M1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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
 
YI M1 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
 
Canon 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
 
Fujifilm X-A3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
 
Nikon D7500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386
 
Nikon D7200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387
 
Nikon 1 J5 1-inch 20.7 5568 37124K/15p21.112.047965
 
Nikon D7100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.213.7125683
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
 
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 D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the M1 provides a better video resolution than the D90. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 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, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the M1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D90 and YI M1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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
 
YI M1none n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon SX730none n 3.0 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
 
Canon SX420none n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
 
Canon SX710none n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
 
Canon 40Doptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-A3none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D7500optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
 
Nikon D7200optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon 1 J5none n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
 
Nikon D7100optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 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 D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D90 has one, while the M1 does not. While the built-in flash of the D90 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The YI M1 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The D90 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the M1 uses SDXC cards.

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 D90 and YI M1 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---
 
YI M1Ystereomono--micro2.0Y-Y
 
Canon SX730-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
 
Canon SX420-monomono---2.0YY-
 
Canon SX710-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Canon 40DY-----2.0---
 
Fujifilm X-A3Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Nikon D7500YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y-Y
 
Nikon D7200YstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
 
Nikon 1 J5-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Nikon D7100YstereomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D60Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---

It is notable that the M1 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D90 does not provide wifi capability.

The M1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of YI. In contrast, the D90 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D90 was succeeded 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 and YI websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D90 or the YI M1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D90:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (850 versus 450) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2008).

ilogo

Advantages of the YI M1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 720/24p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (114x64mm vs 132x103mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 422g or 60 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (73 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years of technical progress since the D90 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the M1 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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.

D90 05:12 M1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D90 and the YI M1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D90 or the M1 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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 D90+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
 
YI M1..69/100..2.5/5.. Sep 2016 349 i
 
Canon SX730+..4/5..4/5 Apr 2017 399i
 
Canon SX420........3/5 Jan 2016 299 i
 
Canon SX710+..4/5..3.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
 
Canon 40D+ ++ +4.5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
 
Fujifilm X-A3..74/1004.5/5..4/5 Aug 2016 399i
 
Nikon D7500+ +86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i
 
Nikon D7200+ +84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199i
 
Nikon 1 J5....4.5/54/54.5/5 Apr 2015 399i
 
Nikon D7100+ +85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2013 1,199i
 
Nikon D7000..80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
 
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 D80++ +o4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D90:
Check Ebay offers
YI M1:
Check Amazon price

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D90 vs YI M1

    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 D90 YI M1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date August 2008 September 2016
    Launch Price USD 1,299 USD 349
    Sensor Specs Nikon D90 YI M1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.8 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 372.88 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 20.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4288 x 2848 pixels 5184 x 3888 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.53 μm 3.34 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 8.96 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 720/24p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 200 - 6,400 ISO no Enhancement
    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 D90 YI M1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 920k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D90 YI M1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 4.5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D90 YI M1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Nikon D90 YI M1
    Battery Type EN-EL3e BXM-10
    Battery Life (CIPA)850 shots per charge450 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 132 x 103 x 77 mm
    (5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
    114 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 703 g (24.8 oz) 281 g (9.9 oz)

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