Now that I’ve had a chance to do some shooting with the camera, it seemed like a good idea to come back and revisit this entry.
In short, I love this camera. Period. In fact, calling it a camera at all is a drastic understatement … It is a state-of-the-art computer with advanced optical and image capture capabilities that is a dream come true for a guy who started out with a Kodak Instamatic 126 camera.
All right … Most of my shooting life I actually worked with a Nikon FM (the stylish, although at the time optional, black body model), which I learned to make dance and sing through years of technical study, becoming fully acquainted with the camera’s quirks and eccentricities, and the occasional human sacrifice (kidding … just kidding.) I miss that camera … Sold it when I bought my N90s bodies and Nikon D lenses. Should have held on to it just for old times sake … kind of like that old baby blanket, now reduced to a towel, that Arthur Dent used to carry around, but I digress.
The D90 is as simple a camera to operate as you want it to be … throw it in auto mode and it’s a very expensive point-and-shoot camera … or as complex as you want it to be … lots of menus, sub-menus, command dials and modifiers. At the higher levels, a degree in quantum mechanics is still not necessary, but highly recommended.
As someone who spent around 30+ years shooting film, the biggest part of this whole thing was making the paradigm-shift to digital photography. Luckilly I work in an industry that helps facilitate that, but it still took a while to wrap my brain around some of the key concepts … Possibly my lack of enthusiasm for digital photography as a medium was because the D70 was still too far away from the kind of quality I was used to getting with Kodachrome 25 and my Nikon FM, that I just never felt the love.
The D90 is a completely different experience.
Using the D90 in conjunction with Adobe Lightroom, and some color correction skills picked up along the way, I’ve been able to create some really great imagery … most of it without having to jump into Photoshop to do anything approaching the wacky.
Now before you all start screaming about there being better cameras out there now … Yeah, sure. There are some great cameras out there now. The Canon 5D mk II, the 7D, the Nikon D3x, and D3s, or even last year’s, but still fashionable, Nikon D700. It’s all good stuff. But for someone taking a drastic leap into the 21st Century of Photography, the D90 is da’ bomb.
A few random suggestions for those in the same boat:
- Apple Aperture: Tried it, didn’t like it. Lightroom is the shizznit fo’ me.
- Shoot Raw (NEF), shoot it all the time … Your life will be better, you will get more chicks, and your hair will grow back
- Learn to love the EV override switch and stop talking about f-stops
- Don’t buy DX lenses – Eventually all DSLRs will have full size sensors, and you will have to buy again
- Buy Nikon Speedlights (SB-900 and SB-600) and get into CLS (Creative Lighting System), see my comment about shooting raw
- Don’t buy the most expensive CF cards … I’ve used three different “levels” of SanDisk cards and they’re all about the same
- Get some books on digital photography by good photogs, like Scott Kelby or Joe McNally … Reading Nikon manuals is about as much fun as a colonoscopy
I’m going to break one of those suggestions and buy a Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 zoom lens. I’m more into intimate, wide, shots, and Nikon’s 14-28mm 2.8D offering is about $1,100 more than the Tokina, and not nearly getting the kind of buzz the Tokina is getting. I’ll give it a try.
One thing Nikon could be doing better is building faster glass … Especially in the wide angle, and super-wide angle, zoom range.
Another thing Nikon could be doing is being more price-competitive with Canon. Canon has a bit of an edge right now in price, technology, and lens availability. I came close to jumping ship this year, and I know a number of pros who have made the leap. Wake up Nikon!
That’s about it for now. More later.
Got my D90 today and, after a mad dash to Best Buy for an SDHC card, went out an took some shots during lunch. Thought I’d just run off some quick thoughts.
Nikon shaved a little bit off the left-hand side of the camera body on the D90. It’s a bit smaller than the D70, which I don’t think is a plus. The smaller the camera, the less surface area to hold, the harder it is to keep it steady. Not a major deal, but I’ll probably add the dual battery grip at some point, just to add something to the form factor.
At 12.5 Megapixels, the D90 takes gorgeous photos at a level of detail that makes me feel like I’m not missing anything by not shooting film. The dynamic range captured by the camera’s DX sensor is amazing (I’m sticking a few photos from my Flickr account in here. Put it all together with my already great collection of Nikon glass (my 24-120mm f3.5-5.6 AF-D zoom is my weapon of choice for general shooting, although I’ve got some primes, a long zoom, and will be adding 85mm f1.4 and 20mm f2.0 primes as my next purchases), Lightroom 2 and CS4 and all things are possible.
I did a test with the video capture mode at 720p 24. This is going to require some more research and testing, but in “auto everything” mode, the rolling shutter lag causes major skewing problems with ANY camera movement. I get the feeling this is going to be for locked-down camera shooting only … but … It’s okay, I didn’t really buy this as a video camera. Also, the fact that it captures AVI files isn’t a big plus either.
Regardless, this is a sweet, sweet, camera and will serve me well until I can get a model with a full-sized sensor. I suspect both Canon and Nikon are just around the corner from developing new 24 Megapixel DSLRs with full-sized sensors that will also shoot great video (Note, I’m not including the over-hyped Canon 5D Mark II in this. Good camera, but I think they can do better, both in the sensor department and the form factor … The Mark II is also too small for a pro camera, IMO.)