Nikon D90 Review: The Truth About the The Nikon D90

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The Nikon D90 is one of the most popular digital cameras to date with the cameras being used daily by photographers of all abilities, all over the world.  Although an older camera that was first introduced in 2008, the camera is still revenant in today’s every changing digital world, because Nikon was able to get the camera right the first time around and did not to tweak the camera with various upgrades every year.  While the technical specifications may be lagging behind newer cameras, the Nikon D90 still captures outstanding images in a fast, lightweight, user-friendly and economical camera body.

Nikon D90 | Amazon

Fusing 12.3-megapixel image quality inherited from the award-winning D300 with groundbreaking features, the D90’s breathtaking, low-noise image quality is further advanced with EXPEED image processing.

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03/10/2024 02:37 pm GMT

The heart of the D90 is the 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor in the DX format, which is the brand name that Nikon has given the cropped sensor format.  As with all cropped sensor cameras, the D90 uses a smaller sensor, which costs less to manufacture and is the key to cameras at this price point.  In the case of the D90, the sensor measures 23.6mm x 15.8mm.  While cheaper to manufacture, these smaller sensors are very capable of capturing outstanding images in a wide variety of lighting situations.

The main difference between the DX sensor and the full frame sensor is the crop factor of 1.5x used in these sensors.  What this means is that normal lenses are longer, when used on a camera such as a D90, than they would on a full frame camera, such as the D600 or D810.  An example of this would be the image captured on a 50mm prime lens on a D90 would be the same as an identical image taken using a full frame D600 or D810 using a 75mm lens.  It is important to note that cropped sensor cameras as not inferior to full frame cameras.  In fact many professional and wildlife photographers prefer cropped sensor cameras because it makes their existing lenses longer, allowing them to get closer to their subject.

At the time the D90 was introduced, 12.3 megapixels was a very high megapixel count with the professional grade Nikon D3, D3s and D700 having a similar megapixel count.  While today’s cameras have very high megapixel counts, many photographers today use lower megapixel settings, due to the size of the files required when shooting at high megapixels.  In short, 12.3 megapixels is capable of capturing very high quality images with Nikon’s most recent professional grade camera, the D4s shooting at 16.0 megapixels.

The D90 has a bright viewfinder that provides 96% coverage of the image captured on the sensor.  In the viewfinder, the photographer will find 11 auto-focus points, including one cross type point, all of which are evenly disbursed in the viewfinder.  While other cameras may have more, eleven auto-focus points provides sufficient  focusing options without the viewfinder being cluttered with dozens of points. Most photographers prefer a lower number of auto-focus points, because they can be distracting and take away from the composition.

The camera has a relatively fast shutter, ranging from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds.  Once the shutter, which is rated to a minimum of 100,000 actuations, is released, the image is captured on the sensor and is then processed to the single SD or SDHC memory card, using Nikon’s EXPEED 1 processor. Metering is done by the D90’s 420 pixel RGB sensor color matrix metering system.  The processing of the images is fast and the camera is capable of shooting JPEG or RAW images at speeds up to 4.5 frames per second.  The overall speed of the camera makes it suitable for sports and other action photography.

The camera has a more than acceptable normal ISO range of 100 – 3,200 and is expandable down to Lo-1 or ISO 50 or up to HI-1 or ISO 6,400.  In reality these ISO settings are very respectable and reasonable, despite some other cameras having higher ISO capabilities.  It is important to remember that there is a tradeoff when using high ISO settings as the noise reducing software in the camera tends to reduce image quality resulting in soft images.   The photographer has the ability to select the level of noise reduction that the camera uses as it processes images.

Photographers of all abilities and levels of experience will appreciate the ability to shoot using one of the advanced scene modes, which include close–up, landscape, night portrait, portrait and sports.  In these settings, the camera has optimized the camera’s settings for these types of shots, allowing the photographer to concentrate on composition.  In addition, the D90 has various traditional modes as well, including aperture-priority auto (A), auto, auto (flash off), manual, programmed auto and shutter-priority auto (S).  The advantage of this is that the photographer can grow with the camera as their skills develop.

The Nikon D90 has the unique distinction of being the first DSLR to incorporate video capabilities.  The video formats include HD 1,290 x 720 at 24 frames per second and VGA 640 x 424 at 24 frames per second.  The video function is intuitive and easy to use, with the video quality being quite good.

The D90 has a fixed 3.0” LCD display on the rear of the camera that shows images taken, as well as the camera’s various menus.  The display is bright and easy to read, even outdoors on a sunny day.  This is possible due to the advanced LCD screen, which allows 7 levels of adjustment.

As with other cameras of this caliber, the D90 has a built in pop up flash, which is capable of providing flash in low light situations and at times where fill in flash is needed.  Depending on how much the flash is used, the EN-EL3e battery will capture up to 850 images before being to be charged.  Optional accessories include the GP-GPS unit, which allow images to be geo-tagged.  However, the D90 does not have wireless of WIFI capabilities.

Photographers with no experience with Nikon cameras will find the D90 various dials and buttons, as well as the menu system, easy to navigate quickly.  The menu is well laid out and is quite intuitive.  Photographers with experience using other Nikon DSLR cameras will find the camera’s dials, buttons and menu very familiar!

While small at 5.2” x 4.1” x 3.0” the camera feels solid and well built.  The camera’s weight of 22 ounces provides a good compromise between weight and balance, as the camera handles well even with larger lenses attached.   Most photographers will find the camera easy to hold even for extended periods of time, due to the deep grip on the camera, which allows the camera to be firmly held without causing the photographer’s fingers to cramp.

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Nikon D90 has excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Nikon D90 | Amazon

Fusing 12.3-megapixel image quality inherited from the award-winning D300 with groundbreaking features, the D90’s breathtaking, low-noise image quality is further advanced with EXPEED image processing.

Buy at
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/10/2024 02:37 pm GMT

Nikon D90 Specs – At a Glance

Item Nikon D90
Year Introduced 2008
Format DX
Megapixels 12.3
Sensor Type CMOS
Processor EXPEED 1
Image Format JPEG or RAW
Sensor Size 23.6 mm x 15.8 mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes
Auto-focus Points 11
Modes Aperture-Priority Auto (A), Auto, Auto (Flash Off), manual, Programmed Auto With Flexible Program (P), Shutter-Priority Auto (S), Plus 5 Pre-Set Scene Modes
Metering 3D Color Matrix Meter
View Finder Coverage 96%
Live View Yes
Frames Per Second 4.5
ISO 200 – 3,200
Lowest / Highest Expandable ISO Lo-1 ISO 100 / Hi-1 ISO 6,400
Shutter Speed Range 1/4,000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash Yes
Card Slots 1
Card Type SD or SDHC
LCD Size 3.0”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed
Video Yes
Video Format  .AVI
Video Type 1,280 x 720 at 24 FPS
Internal Autofocus Motor Yes
Wireless No
Battery EN-EL3e
Unique Features Discontinued
Size Without Lens 5.2” x 4.1” x 3.0”
Weight Without Lens 22.0 Ounces
Manufactured In Thailand
Body Only or with Kit Lens Body Only and Kit With 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 VR
Included Accessories MH-18a Charger, DK-5 Eyepiece Cap, DK-21 Rubber Eyecup, CUC-E4 USB Cable, EG-D2 AV Cable, AN-DC1 Strap, BM-10 LCD Monitor Cover, Body Cap, BS-1 Accessory Shoe Cover, Software CD and Nikon ViewNX Browsing and Editing Software
Cost, Body Only Around $550.00** (For the latest discounts and prices)
Cost With Kit Lens N/A

*Information from Nikon’s website, including pricing.

** The D90 has been discontinued, although the camera is still widely available.

Final Take

The Nikon D90 is an outstanding camera and is still a highly sought after camera and in many ways is Nikon’s best digital camera to date.  Even with the advances in digital camera technology since 2008, the D90 is still relevant , as it is the right mix of the right technology at an affordable price.  The images captured by the D90 are second to none and this is why the camera is still around 7 years after it was introduced.  The D90 set the bar high and perfection is hard to duplicate!

Nikon D90 | Amazon

Fusing 12.3-megapixel image quality inherited from the award-winning D300 with groundbreaking features, the D90’s breathtaking, low-noise image quality is further advanced with EXPEED image processing.

Buy at
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/10/2024 02:37 pm GMT

The Camera Guide Team

The Camera Guide Team is a group of writers, shutterbugs, and professional photographers. We know the challenge of looking through different cameras or accessories. We want you to learn everything about cameras. We provide honest reviews, detailed guides, and helpful comparisons. We have everything you need. We are here to help you find the perfect click.

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