Nikon D90

15
Sep
2008
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There has been a lot of talk about this new DSLR. Not because it is the replacement for the D80 but because it shoots 720p HD video using a DSLR sensor giving it the ability to achieve shallow depth of field easily.People are saying it’s the death of adaptors and smaller cameras. One day perhaps but not today. Stills wise it is a superb camera and there are many reviews about it on the web. I wanted to talk about the movie mode.

To access movie mode and record video you click the live view button, the lcd switches on which you use instead of the viewfinder and away you go. Very simple really. That’s the problem it is too simple, almost no controls. You can’t manually control the exposure (you can lock exposure by pressing the AE lock button once assigned to “hold” in the camera settings, something i didn’t know when shooting this). But the focus is manual only. You can digitally zoom in before rolling to check focus which is handy. No external mic input but there is a very low quality microphone built in..You can also only shoot in 24p mode. Not a bad thing, but 25p and 30p too would have been great!

I was pretty impressed for what it was, putting my 35mm lenses straight onto the body and getting shallow DOF without using adaptors is great, but I think we are a couple of years away before we see a camera like this with enough video features essential to any cameraman.

I still recommend a decent tripod when shooting in movie mode like a miller ds10 with a nice fluid head. A stills tripod just won’t cut it really!

Pros: Great image considering the limiations, 35mm DOF, price. Superb DSLR.

Cons: Rolling shutter is awful, as bad as it gets, no external mic input, only 720p, 5 minutes clip max implemented to prevent sensor from overheating although I can’t see why you would shoot for more than 5 minutes at a time with this anyway. Just button off and button on again and you have another 5 minutes.

Despite the cons I thoroughly recommend this camera, it is an amazing DSLR with a great new feature.  Sure it isn’t perfect but this is embryonic tech that is a hugely exciting development. What comes next will just get better and better!

Best advice to get round the exposure issues is use in manual mode with lenses with manual iris. Like the Zeiss lenses. A joy

Here is a quick knock together of a dozen or so shots I did near my house.

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Comments

  1. rol says:

    you don’t have to keep pressed the the AE lock:

    >>> enable the AE-L (HOLD) function: Menu > Custom Settings (Pencil Icon) > f (controls) >> Assign AE-L/AF-L Button > Ae lock (hold) > Ok

  2. Mark Dawson says:

    Phil, This is impressive stuff…who knows, in a few years time you will be shooting on a DSLR as your A camera!! Nice cameo(Hitchcock style)one too many though!

  3. pbloom says:

    thanks the AE lock tip, ammended.

    Mark, needed you there for another cameo. Makes up for lack of cameo in Windsor Waltz!

  4. Wow!!

    I think this video has convinced me to buy this camera…

    Thanks for the great review and footage.

  5. Gints says:

    Thank you for posting this. Excellent! Your work with the EX1 and 35mm adapter make you an excellent source for judging the D90 Movie Mode. The footage looks great. Since you do mention the rolling shutter and compression artifacts, I was hoping to see more obvious problems. If you excluded that footage, it would be great to see even a shot clip of the problem.

  6. Phil, can you explain a couple of the image glitches I saw? What was causing the jumps in the exposre? Also, this might have been my internet connection, but I was seeing some odd skipping in the video….ideas?
    dave

  7. Matthew Weed says:

    Beautiful stuff, Mr. Bloom. The gorgeous scenery doesn’t hurt. either.

    WHEN (not if) they fix the wobble, and get a better codec, it’s game over.

  8. Thanks for posting this Philip. I’ve been intrigued by the D90 since I heard about it. My wife is a photographer so it could make a good backup camera for her – plus it could be quite cool for traveling. We’re heading to the US and the UK next year and I’m trying to figure out how to film some tourist stuff (while I’m there without having to take all our gear … the D90 could be the answer. Except that my wife and I would have to share and that could be a problem ;)

  9. kubalsky says:

    Phil, DVXuser have a whole section on this camera now with some great threads on tricks to get better control.
    BTW, this is the fourth camera you’ve bought this year! Quite a collection you’ve got now. You must look like a Japanese tourist on holiday.

  10. andrew h says:

    I’m more excited by the mysterious announcement of the Red still/video camera. This video ‘feature’ seems more like the scaled version of my tiny Sony, a fun toy, but not very useful.

  11. pbloom says:

    the glitches were me not locking exposure as wasn’t really sure how to do it before. now I do!

  12. alex says:

    you forgot about the custom curves thing. that’s a very interesting feature.

  13. Jacob Lewis says:

    I’m holding out to see what Jannard, from RED, comes out with:

    http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2008/09/red-takes-aim-a.html

  14. yang says:

    Who cares about lack of auto focus? When you slap a lens on the Letus, you are limited to manual focus as well…

    For the footage you shoot, which are edited to music anyways, does the lack of dedicated mic input really matters? I’ve sold me Letus Mini recently.. DOF adapters’ days are over..

  15. Ansgar says:

    Phil,
    according to Canon, the new 5D Mark II will shot 1080p with 30p. I’m a proud owner of the “old” 5D. For around 2400 Euro, I probably will make an “update”

  16. Carlo says:

    Any chance you would be willing to share with us the details of your lens set that you used to capture these beautiful images? It’s quite a striking piece that you have put together, and I’d love to know what lenses you favored in creating it. Thanks!

    Carlo

  17. Bill Totolo says:

    Nice work as always. You have to love the idea of no spinning or vibrating gg, no grain pattern, no awkward support system. And the form factor makes you practically undercover.

    I’m very anxious to get my hands on one of these.

    Thanks for keeping us posted, Phil.

  18. kathleen says:

    wow! you’ve opened my eyes to new possibilities! I was going to buy a letus ultimate but as both a photographer and a videographer, this seems like an ideal solution when combined with the ex1. shallow depth of field and lenses that I can use for both still and moving images. also a much smaller and more discreet camera, much like the hvr a1 only tonnes better – for me! and I’ll also be able to use use both at once and sync them up! I’m going to wait for the canon d5 though cause I’ve already got some canon gear. thanks philip!

  19. kathleen says:

    wow! you’ve opened my eyes to new possibilities! I was going to buy a letus ultimate but as both a photographer and a videographer, this seems like an ideal solution when combined with the ex1. shallow depth of field and lenses that I can use for both still and moving images. also a much smaller and more discreet camera, much like the hvr a1 only tonnes better – for me! and I’ll also be able to use use both at once and sync them up! I’m going to wait for the canon d5 though cause I’ve already got some canon gear. thanks philip!

  20. Markus says:

    which lense did you use to shoot this?

  21. Vinz says:

    Phillip,
    nice demo, a colleague photographer just send me this link about the new eos 5D.
    http://www.usa.canon.com/dlc/controller?act=GetArticleAct&articleID=2086
    Maybe you already saw the demo. What do you think about this camera, same limitation as the Nikon one?

  22. WOW. I have a Sony V1E with SGPro and flip and I always wish It was smaller so I could take it on holidays with me along with my D200, Now I only need to take the D90 and what a price. Great photos and filmic video for holiday video blogs all from one great camera.

  23. Sean Fitzroy says:

    Agree with Yang, the manual focus issue is similar to the 35mm adapters. Also the microphone would be fine for syncing a clapboard to double system sound.

  24. Stephen Deboo says:

    Vinz, Christ I have just watched the Canon Demo reel. Christ he is good, and the camera delivered fantastic images. I put my D200 up for sale last night thinking of getting the D90 Now I am thinking of maybe selling the lenses as well and shifting over to the Canon what a great product yes its much more expensive and its a shame about the lenses but full frame 30fps with that quality.

    Red eat your heart out

  25. Philip Bloom says:

    The stuff looks great but the camera still has same limitations as D90 and only does 30p. Hang on to your Nikon lenses and lets see what Nikon brings out in next six months!!

  26. John says:

    Very nice shooting. Looks beautiful.

    Is there a full resolution clip available so we can really come to a conclusions about quality.

    Thanks

  27. Vinz says:

    You’re right Phillip, the next update will be better for sure, at Canon, a rumour says there will be an update of 5D Mark2 six months after his release, certainly the same thing at Nikon…
    I still have faith in my HVX-200 and my LEX… just need the SLR lenses!

  28. [...] man labiau patiko Philip Bloom klipukas, demonstruojantis Nikon D90 galimybes. Ar dėl to, kad autorius ne fotografas ar dėl poetiškesnio [...]

  29. Zander Bleck says:

    Philip you are truely inspiring… i plan on shooting my next music video with a mix of the D-90 and Sony ex3….. Would love to colab on a music video

    Zander Bleck

    http://www.zanderbleck.com

  30. Suwen Chee says:

    I have the D90 and a Letus Elite for my video. For the time being, Video is Video, Photo is Photo. Nonetheless, D90 still can do quite a bit, like this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaxneKNAevM. Sayless, I am impressed.