Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nikon D90 Review | Addendum

Nikon D90 Review | Addendum

In my main D90 review I didn't touch on the Nikon's LiveView and video capabilities. I wanted to focus on the important stuff.

Well, let me rephrase that. The video may be important to you. I expect it will become so to me, as I take full advantage of the -90 to grab video for our newspaper's website. But I didn't want to tackle that along with the regular photography stuff.

I had originally planned to give you the skinny on the D90 video by... posting a D90 video. Alas, even at the lowest quality setting a one minute clip was over 20MB large. I could compress a video, but that's a lot of work and wouldn't show you what the -90 is quite capable of, either.

To record video, enter LiveView, pull focus, and hit OK (the center button on the multi-selector). Hit OK again to stop. Push the shutter-release halfway before you hit OK to pull focus, because you're on your own once you pull the trigger and begin recording AVIs.

You get three flavors: 320:216; 640:424 and 1280x720 (HD). The first two are 4:3, while the 720p is 16:9. All are 24 fps, not 30. Unless you want to pull individual frames out of the AVI file for sports or news, those 6 fps don't matter, anyway. The D90 can shoot some good video for quick and dirty assignments -- great for someone like me, a PJ who needs occasional video for the newspaper website. I wouldn't want to use the D90 for much more than quick and dirty ditties, but having that capability is great. The sound, while monaural, is surprisingly good for having nothing more than a little grille in the front of the body. It works in a pinch or when you don't want to have to carry a Mini-DV, too.

HD clips are limited to about five minutes, at which point the D90 lowers the mirror to prevent sensor-overheat. That's fine; five minutes is probably more than enough, and a newsies like me, working for the web, probably won't be using the HD res but rather the 640. Those go out to about 20 minutes, longer perhaps.

You won't want to post the naked AVI's online. They're too big. As I mentioned above, the 1:04 minute clip I recorded as a review for this blog was over 20MB at the 320 res. I bet we'll end up using FLV -- Adobe Flash video format -- for our website.

The larger sensor of the -90 affords nice shallow DOF if you shoot wide-open (as with my 17-35mm f:2.8). But you'll either need to be stationary or have someone good pulling focus, as AF is disabled in video mode. But under good light and stopped down to where you've got a little depth to play with... I'd love to have the Sunex 5.6mm fisheye to play with in video mode. (Super-wides have fantastic DOF.)

One last thing about the video mode. If you're shooting a video and see something you need to get a regular photo of, just punch the shutter-release! You'll be stuck with whatever focus you were pulling in the video-record mode, but instead of a nasty video you'll have a real JPG (or NEF) of whatever. Once the photo is captured you return to LiveView, not videography.

Onto LiveView. It might be handy every once in awhile. I don't know when. Here's an idea (Nikon pay me if your dare): It sure would be handy if you could set the -90 to recognize the IR remote to start video when the camera is in LiveView, instead of just taking a photo. Who needs LiveView for a remote trigger photo? Hit the remote and the D90 could grab an autofocus and then roll video. Another click would stop it.

(Update: I ran that 22MB file through Flash and it compressed down to a little over 5MB, manageable for streaming. Maybe I'll post it when I get home from Thanksgiving vacation Sunday.)

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