Nikon D90 HDR Camera Review

When the Nikon D90 came out a couple years ago it was a fairly revolutionary camera.

No, it was (and is) by no means the nicest camera on the market, but it began a new revolution in “prosumer” cameras that are bring unparalleled value to the sub $1,000 DSLR market.

For instance, the D90 was the first DSLR to feature HD video.  Now dozens of models have followed suit, and now many are raving about high end video capabilities on cameras like the Canon 5D Mark ii.

So all of that said, in 2011 is the Nikon D90 still a good investment? How does it handle HDR shooting?  What are the comparable options?

Keep reading and we'll answer all of those questions.

Quality and Performance

As I mentioned in my D5000 review, pretty much any of the Nikon DX cameras are going to have similar image quality.  Obviously, it will improve a little bit as you work your way to the higher end cameras, but generally speaking, they all have the capabilities to take excellent photos.  The D90 is certainly no different.

Immediately you notice this camera has a few high end features, that while for the most part may not be totally necessary, are certainly nice to have.

The D90 features a super sharp 920,000px screen that really is a giant step up from the screen used in older cameras and the lower end D5000 and D3100.  Will it help you take better photos? No. But on bright day, it can definitely help you to review them easier.

The other giant difference I've noticed between the D5000 and the D90 and above cameras is the built in autofocus motor.  When I initially bought my D5000 awhile back I didn't think this would be much of an issue.  And for people just starting out, it really isn't.  You'll probably stick with your 18-55mm and maybe 55-200mm basic lenses both of which have built in auto focus in the lens.

However, when you decide you want to start expanding your lens offerings, you may start to run into trouble.  The first time I had an issue was when I decided to invest in Nikon's spectacular 50mm f/1.8 lens.  You can find it for just over $100 and it's one of the sharpest lenses Nikon offers.

But there's no built in autofocus.

Thats a big difference between the D5000 and D90 – it will auto focus with the latter.  After spending a few days shooting with the D90 and this lens, I'm pretty sold that it's a spectacular sub $1,000 combination.

That said, image quality between the two cameras? Negligible at best.

The D5000 actually even has a few high end features the D90 is lacking, such as a quiet shutter mode, and an intervalometer.

Shooting HDR

So how does the Nikon D90 stack-up as an HDR camera?

Short answer? Extremely well.

It has a designated bracketing button on the exterior of the camera, and shoots at a solid 4.5/fps which makes it a fantastic entry level HDR camera.

Is it worth the $400 premium over the D90?  Maybe, maybe not.  If this is your first DSLR investment, and first foray into HDR, I'd say probably not. Their feature sets are similar enough that the D5000 is going to almost everything you need, and will do it in a more user friendly menu system.

That said, if you've got some HDR chops, have even a modest collection of lenses, or have been shooting for awhile, you may be better off with the D90.

However, if you're that person that dilemma probably isn't whether you go for the 5000 or the 90, but rather, the question is whether you make the jump up to Nikon's phenomenal new D7000.

However we'll save that debate for another day.  Bottom line? The D90 is an excellent HDR camera for intermediate photographers who don't want to break the bank with their investment.

If you'd like to get more interest on the D90, check it out on Adorama.


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  1. Nikon D3100 Review

    […] processor, which has superior low light performance to the D5000 and for that matter even the D90.  It’s also noticeably faster than either of those two cameras.  The build quality on the […]

  2. Robert Walker

    I have a Nikon D90 and so far I love it. I put the Tokina 11-16 lens on it for real estate interiors and landscape. I suppose one day I shall go into the FX full frame game when the prices come down a bit. Even Nokon’s cheap DSLR cameras do what most people want. The 90 uses the same sensor as the D300 did.

  3. Laura

    I have the D90, you should mention when you are talking about its HDR capabilities that it can only bracket up to 3 shots…great for starting out but the number one feature/reason driving me to upgrade in the next year…3 shots just isn’t enough and the workaround is annoying/time consuming.

  4. Bob Real Estate Photographer

    I am just starting to look at HDR and I like the artsy effect of landscapes. I need more formal natural looking HDR for real estate pictures. I have a Nikon D90 and D300 and I want to use the 90 for my all around camera. I like the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 ultra wide angle lens for interiors. I hear that Oloneo PhotoEngine is good for the natural look and Photomatix is the industry standard. Thanks for the info.

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