Nikon's top consumer contender, the 12Mp Nikon D90, was the first DSLR to announce its intention to shoot not just photos but 1,280 x 720 pixel, 24fps, 16:9-format video clips too.

Then Canon's higher-resolution Canon EOS 5D Mark II stole the Nikon D90's limelight.

Targeted at both enthusiasts and family users the Nikon D90 is lightweight and compact for its class. Our review unit came with a new 18-105mm f3.5/5.6G ED VR kit lens - the ‘VR' standing for Vibration Reduction - as, like Canon, none of Nikon's camera bodies feature built-in anti-shake.

The Nikon D90 does, however, come with an in-camera retouch menu, continuous shooting of up to 4.5fps and 11-point auto focus. Its results are sharp and naturalistic, with any telltale grain almost invisible at its maximum ISO6400 setting.

Other attractive features include: a 3in TFT screen with Live View, with its own clearly marked button and refreshingly clear 920k dot resolution; new portrait and landscape picture control settings; a scene recognition system, with a focus point that follows subjects via 3D tracking; a battery that delivers around 850 shots per charge; and the ability to display up to a whopping 72 thumbnails at once on screen when playing back images.

Like its bigger brothers the Nikon D300, Nikon D700 and Nikon D3, the Nikon D90 features HDMI output for hooking the camera up to an HDTV or monitor.

Video sound quality is strictly mono, which is something of a shame.

Another blow is that it records up to 5 minutes of footage at full resolution or up to 20 minutes at a lower resolution setting, rather than letting the user record as much video as can be stored on the available SD card memory.

(Nikon's UK spokesperson suggested on launch that this was down to tax laws rather than technical specifications.)

However, there is a silver lining in that users have access to a wide range of compatible and interchangeable lenses - the zoom and manual focus configuration of which can also be used when shooting video.

Nikon D90: Specs

  • 12.3Mp, 15.8 x 23.6mm, colour CMOS
  • ISO 100-6400
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec
  • Min Shutter Speed: 30 sec
  • EV 0-20 (ISO 100) exposure
  • white balance, face detection
  • JPEG, RAW + JPEG, NEF (RAW)
  • AVI video capture
  • supports SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
  • Pop-up flash
  • red-eye reduction
  • Hot shoe
  • self timer
  • optical viewfinder
  • LCD display, 920,000 pixels, TFT active matrix, 3in, colour
  • built-in microphone
  • Connector Type: 1 x USB, 1 x composite video output, 1 x HDMI
  • Expansion Slot(s): 1 x SD Memory CardNikon EN-EL3e battery
  • 132x77x103mm
  • 0.62 kg
  • 12.3Mp, 15.8 x 23.6mm, colour CMOS
  • ISO 100-6400
  • Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec
  • Min Shutter Speed: 30 sec
  • EV 0-20 (ISO 100) exposure
  • white balance, face detection
  • JPEG, RAW + JPEG, NEF (RAW)
  • AVI video capture
  • supports SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
  • Pop-up flash
  • red-eye reduction
  • Hot shoe
  • self timer
  • optical viewfinder
  • LCD display, 920,000 pixels, TFT active matrix, 3in, colour
  • built-in microphone
  • Connector Type: 1 x USB, 1 x composite video output, 1 x HDMI
  • Expansion Slot(s): 1 x SD Memory CardNikon EN-EL3e battery
  • 132x77x103mm
  • 0.62 kg

OUR VERDICT

All things considered, the Nikon D90 is a very capable camera. At its present asking price it offers fair value for the consumer interested in aiming their image-making sights higher.

Find the best price