Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Nikon D90: The World's First D-SLR With Video

Pre-Photokina, September 3,2008 A day after Canon announced the 50D, Nikon announced the D90,which features what Nikon officially calls the D-Movie Mode,which allows the D90 to capture beautiful 24 fame per second video at 1280x720 pixels, or 720p. Stop by Nikon's official D-Movie demonstration web page at

A few Nikon-provided specifications are as follows:12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS imaging sensor: Nikon's EXPEED image processing technologies, breathtaking image fidelity is assured.
Continuous shooting as fast as 4.5 frames-per-second: Fast 0.15ms power-up and split-second 65ms shooting lag
D-Movie Mode—Cinematic 24fps HD with sound: Record cinematic-quality movie clips at up to 720p HD (1280 x 720 pixels) in Motion JPEG format, enhanced by NIKKOR interchangeable lens quality and versatility.
Low noise ISO sensitivity from 200 to 3200: High signal-to-noise components and design deliver exceptional performance, even at high ISO setting.
3-inch super-density 920,000-dot color LCD monitor: High resolution, 170-degree wide-angle viewing guarantees confident image review and movie playback.

Suffice it to say, the D90 is the first d-slr to offer a video capture mode,and at an estimated street price of $999 US dollars, I think the D90 will sell very,very well in the niche formerly occupied by the now two year-old Nikon D80. The D90 is said to offer D300-like image quality,even at elevated ISO settings, and has a 12.3 MP effective capture size on a DX-sized or 1.5x sensor. The D90 is said to use the same easy to understand UI as the D40/D60 Nikons, and to offer similar in-camera retouching and image editing capabilities. "I want one!"

Canon's 50D is a 15.1 MP model,and a continuation of the 20D-30D-40D line of bodies from Canon. The 50D is slated to sell for $1299,and frankly, I think the D90 will knock the socks off of the 50D in this class/price range,with the Nikon slated for fall 2008 availability at $999. The Nikon will cost less, be 12.3 MP, offer great High-ISO performance,and will shoot 720P video at 24 fps. The video shot by the Nikon D90 looks GOOD! Google the web for samples.

The 50D's claim to fame is a 15.1 MP sensor and finally, a first-class LCD screen on the back, one that's finally comparable with those on the Sony's and Nikon's of this time frame. The 50D however, appears to me to have a strong family resemblance to the 40D,with a few improvements. It's lost .2 fps off the top firing rate of the 40D which was 6.5 fps,and this camera is at 6.3 fps, which is basically still in the same league. My question however is whether the 50D's AF system is as versatile as that found in the Nikon's D200, D300,D700,and D3; from what I've read between the lines in the Pop Photo coverage of all these cameras, the 50D's still just a little bit behind the Nikon camera in terms of overall focus system capability,configurability,and control (input control advantage going to Nikon and its larger multi-controller system).

I honestly have to agree with the Popular Photography testers who,despite admittedly being Canon shooters themselves, find the clear,single-purpose controls of Nikon's User Interface a bit better than Canon's multi-function system which uses four buttons,each of which has more than one functional role. My personal gripe is shared by the magazine's editors: a four-button control system with each button having more than one functional role means that one is not always _CERTAIN_ which button will perform _EXACTLY_ which function. My analogy-Canon uses a system where the brake,the gas,and the clutch pedals all swap function, depending on how you access those controls. Will the front control wheel change the f/stop,or will it change the shutter speed? That depends on if the camera is in Aperture Value mode or Time Value mode. The controls perform DIFFERENT functions,depending upon the Exposure mode the Canon is set to. With Nikon, the front wheel always moves the f/stop,and the back dial always moves the shutter speed. No guessing. It's a big,big difference.

Pre-Photokina, September 9,2008 The official press embargo on the Sony Alpha A900 full-frame 24.6 MP d-slr was lifted,and today Luminous Landscape and dPreview both have write-ups on the new big kid on the block. I've read both field test reports,and both reviews have high,high priase for the new Sony's operation and control system,as well as its build quality and its engineering,design and execution as a CAMERA that works well in the hands. Very well. Great viewfinder. A nice,well-sorted camera to use a bit of Brit-speak. A photographer's camera. A great-handling camera with very,very good resolution and a super-duper new flash unit. And maybe the best viewfinder image on the market,bar none. And the price of this five frame per second wonder? Announced at $3,000. Just like the Nikon D700. Three grand. Note, 24.6 MP is higher than the megapixel count of the former MP champ, the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III which has 22.7 MP. I've seen one side-by-side comparison of the new FF Sony and the FF 1Ds Mark III on one of the reviews,and using first-generation RAW conversion software for the Sony A900, it appeared to me to resolve roughly the same as the big Canon. The Canon is currently priced at $7895,while the Sony is priced at $4,889 less,at only $3,000. The Sony with grip added gets high praise from the two reviewers, and another hands-on professional photographer who attended a debut event featuring several A900's and a live model reported that he found himself ga-ga over the Zeiss 135mm f/1.8 prime telephoto.

As of Sept 9,2008, Canon has not revealed the 5D's successor camera, but Canon HAS had a teaser image of a Canon body, 99 percent obscured in shadow, with the taunting words "Destined Evolution" up on its USA website since September 5. What exactly "Destined Evolution" means will be revealed very soon I would imagine. More then.

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