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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nikon D90 Review - Reasons why you should buy one

I've been trying a few times to complete this post, but not manage to pull it together. Finally got it completed, a little messy and boring without photos, so bear with me on the crap, alright.

The purchase of my 1st dSLR is back-dated to July 2009. Many of my friends are surprise that I go direct into mid-range dSLR although I've never own one before. Their thought is half-true only, because I do own a semi-manual Canon Powershot A570IS. Photographing has been my interest since high-school and my envy towards my friends able to join the photography club in high school follow me till I graduated.

The dream pull a few years till I'm financially capable enough to afford hobbies, like photography. The dSLR still cost a fortune after I start working, so I opt for the cheaper option of semi-manual compact to test out if I'm still into photography. I chose the Canon Powershot A570IS, priced at RM999.00 when I bought it in mid 2007.

The Canon Powershot A570IS, that's capable of giving me the control of a typical dSLR only with a much smaller sensor. It quickly give me the rush to improve my skill and I studied lots of website about the aperture, shutter speed, ISO range, noise, exposure, flash usage and etc. Soon, I'm shooting all photos with manual control and that's when the complain about the limitation of a compact sensor hit me. I still have this loyal A570IS with me all the time.

No matter how hard I try, the result is just not comparable to a real dSLR. The hunt for an affordable upgrade started. I studied almost all entry dSLR in the market, particularly for Canon and Nikon. D40, D60, D80, D90, D300, 400D, 450D, 500D, D5000, 1000D and etc. Finally with help from my wife, I settled down with a Nikon D90, not really an entry level dSLR but a mid-range instead. The justification for such expensive purchase? Read on for 17 reasons to buy D90.


The powerful mid-range Nikon DX dSLR, Nikon D90 that's coupled with the AF-S Nikkor DX 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR kit lens. How much it cost? RM4,688 as quoted from Nikon website, I got mine cheaper but spent more on other accessories =P (Ask me if wanted to know more)

Anyone also can tell you that the quality of the photograph does not resulted from the gear itself, but the art from the eyes of the photographer. Fine but yet, all professional photographer use only full frame most expensive dSLR. Why is that? The reason is simple, the more expensive a dSLR, the better the results. It's the same concept on the car, more expensive car, more horsepower & torque. That's fact, and different driver on the same car do make lots of different. Just look at Malaysian's driver. But an amateur on a full frame dSLR won't go wrong. The result would be still astonishing.
So what do Nikon D90 have and kick those other entry level dSLR ass?

Justification 1:
Built-in AF Motor. D90 is the cheapest dSLR in Nikon range that features the Built-in AF Motor. Even the newest D5000 that's priced at RM3.5k does not have it. This feature alone will save you lots of money in future lens upgrade. Probably the only reason you will need to pay extra for this little machine.
Quick comparison: AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4G (RM2,188) vs AF Nikkor 50mm f1.4D (RM1,288).
Another comparison? AF-S Nikkor VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8G IF-ED (RM7,388) vs AF Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8D ED (RM4,688).
Not convince? Go compare ultra wide angle lens, and check the price yourself.
Canon included it in the price, that's why it's expensive.

Justification 2:
Dual Control Dial. Again, D90 is the cheapest dSLR in Nikon range that features the Dual Control Dial. Friends that owned the entry level wouldn't know what is that. D90 simply have 2 dials for quick control over either aperture & shutter speed, aperture & ISO, shutter speed & ISO and etc. It is the most important feature in a dSLR that I can't live without. I cannot imagine myself got to keep going into menu or pressing additonal button just to adjust these simple setting. Great shot is lost with the time wasted on simple adjustment.

Justification 3:
Active D-Lighting. This special feature that's available only for JPEG capture help in taming shadow and highlights. I noticed it work really well and the photos are completely different. It is not available with older dSLR, but newer dSLR like D5000 do have this feature.

Justification 4:
Live View. This is suppose to be the common feature in all cameras, but somehow the built mechanism of a dSLR hinder it to be included in cheaper entry level. Canon have it but they are expensive, probably it's already included in the price. You might say it's not useful for you, but how about if you wanted some local to snap your family photo somewhere out of country? You think they will know how to use the viewfinder? My sister asking me where is the live view as well, so, your call.

Justification 5:
Depth of Field Preview button. Special dedicated button to preview the depth of field before the photo is snap. You can press this button and view through the viewfinder and take a look at the exact depth of field your dSLR is taking. The scene that you see is definitely different from the actual photo, that's due to the built mechanism utilising the pentaprism or pentamirror for viewfinder. The exact thing out there is just different. Professional find this button very valuable in their work. As there is not 2nd take in photoshooting, so make sure it's right the 1st time.

Justification 6:
Lots of setting control on the body. White Balance, Exposure Compensation, ISO, Flash Type & Compensation, Focus type, File Size, Auto Focus Area, just to name a few. All these are accessible from the body buttons without the need to access the menu for adjustment. Just depressed the function and control it with the dual control dial, for type & steps adjustment. Super time savings to avoid missing great shots.

Justification 7:
HD Video Mode. The first dSLR capable of capturing HD quality video. It can record up to 720p quality for 24fps up to 5 minutes. More and more entry dSLR are joining the wagon, so it's one of the show-off function you will need. However, I do find myself using it quite often, especially during some unplan moment. You will be glad it's able to record video sometimes. However, the file size is going to be very big, you are warned.

Justification 8:
It's a 12MP CMOS sensor and Gen2 processing unit within. CMOS is a little superior to the CCD that is used in entry level Nikon dSLR. The Gen2 is also a step higher in producing a much more vibrant photos comparing to the Gen1 or Gen1.5 processor. Although the quality would be similar for RAW prior to processing, but I'm a lazy snob. Spending hours to convert RAW and processing it is not my hobby. My hobby is taking photos, so I'll stick to JPEG for current time. At least the choice is there.

Other Justifications:
9. Bigger & Heavier Body. A pro & con to different people, but I got big hands, so D90 fit very nicely and feel very good.
10. 4.5fps. I've not appreciate this feature yet but I know it will be important someday when I'm going for sports event.
11. Perfect exposure & flash metering. The metering system within D90 is perfect, or matching the D300 system. This is told by most of the professional in the web, but I've not done any comparison myself. I just got to believe them for current time. Good to know =)
12. 11 points Multi-Cam 1000 AF Module. The 3D tracking utilising the module is working very well, and I wouldn't lost focus with my subject when on the move.
13. Pentaprism viewfinder at 96%. Pentaprism design is superior to Pentamirror. It allow the subject to be transmitted to our eyes without inverting it. There are also other advantages of pentaprism, go read it in wikipedia.
14. Plenty of fine tuning in the adjustment menu. I noticed the different when I'm playing with my friends D40 earlier, mine got plenty of adjustment, while the D40 is just like my A570IS. Why bother upgrading? or yeah, for the bigger sensor size and speed.
15. Auto ISO control up to 3,200. You wouldn't want 3,200 but usable range of 1,600 is pretty good.
16. An additional information viewer on top of the camera. I would say this small panel show me all the information I needed. Say goodbye to LCD and quick adjust over the top panel. I found the LCD too big and complex in getting what I need to know, so it's essential to me.
17. Finally, not to mention the quality is much better. I'm a beginner, so don't judge my photos ok =P

Final words: I have done extensive research on dSLR and I always believe purchasing is half the fun and the other half is in enjoying it. My initial plan is to get the Nikon D40 that is priced less than RM2k, but ended up getting the D90 over RM4k. The reasons of my decision is all listed above and mind you, these information in a single page took me a few months to gather and analyse. I understand my needs and I do not want to waste the money in upgrading the dSLR later, so I got myself a decent gear that can last a long time, hopefully. This is the most affordable and capable DX dSLR camera. I just hated the Canon, so don't ask me why. If I somehow decided to upgrade, it would be D700. Hope I can control myself =) Cheers.

Nikon D90 with AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR lens

And more photos for your viewing pleasure.


Raymond said...

hey.. still can find ar? the A570 IS? how much is it in the market now?

KVINLIM said...

Ray, A570IS obselete already. The cheapest option you can still go for Canon is the Canon Powershot SX120IS. It's priced at RM1,049 but cheaper should be available. Looks good, feels good, and lots of function like DIGIC4, 10MP, video, macro, 10x optical, 1.3fps, ISO1600, 3.0 LCD and etc.

cheaper option? A470 (RM449), fit for purpose. more expensive option? might as well take up the dSLR. need me to help reviewing those shortlisted camera? ready to help =)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
awien said...

i want one...

KVINLIM said...

go buy! there is a big discount now!

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