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Nikon D90


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The D90 isn’t just another DSLR joining Nikon’s Editors’ Choice–winning lineup (although it certainly delivers the same superb image quality); it’s also the first DSLR in the world to record video. Although the recording itself is clumsy, the 720p video looks beautiful, and the 12.3-megapixel photos are even more so. And with fast all-around speeds, this mid-range DSLR is a winner.

Design and Interface

In an effort to make DSLRs less intimidating, some companies have unleashed some seriously lightweight models recently. Suffice it to say, in size, weight, price, and target user, the D90 is not one of those cameras: At 2.4 pounds with the battery, 18-105mm lens, and SD Card, you’ll definitely want to use the strap.

The good news is that the D90 feels sturdy in the hands. As always, Nikon’s rubbery ergonomic grip and thumb indentation make it easy to hold. And for a camera so advanced, you learn your way around pretty quickly. The mode dial and dedicated exposure, autofocus, and continuous shooting options are self-explanatory, thanks to their accompanying icons.

On the back, flanking the bright 3-inch LCD, which was brought over from the higher-end D300, are buttons for playback, menu options, white balance, and ISO, as well as a five-way navigational pad and button for switching between Live View and the optical viewfinder. We love the D90’s viewfinder, not just because it’s sharp, but because the rubbery lining makes it comfortable to press against our eye.

On the opposite side of the camera from the battery compartment and SD Card slot are power, A/V out, USB, and HDMI ports, the latter of which you can use to connect your camera to your HDTV and immediately watch clips. There’s also a port for the GP-1 GPS unit (price TBA), which allows users to geotag photos. Inside the camera, Nikon’s built-in sensor-cleaning system keeps dust off (this feature, too, trickled down from the D300).

Live View

The D90 has Live View, a standard feature in point-and-shoot cameras but, ironically, a premium one in DSLRs. This feature allows you to see the action in the LCD as you frame it and adjust settings. Unlike earlier DSLRs, we were able to focus just as easily with Live View as with the optical viewfinder. Taking pictures in Live View did cause shutter lag, however. Whereas the D90 snapped photos almost instantaneously when using the viewfinder, about 5 seconds elapsed between pressing the shutter and being able to take another picture. It snapped the picture soon enough, but then the picture lingers on the screen for a few seconds before the D90 readies itself for another shot.

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