Nikon D90 – Video Possibilities

4 09 2008

Nikon have recently announced their new mid-level Digital SLR camera. I was looking at buying the previous model, the D80, so when I heard about this I thought I’d wait a bit until it was out. 

It’s out now and seems to be getting a lot of interest. But most of this seems to be around the fact that it will be able to record in 720P High Definition video.

Now this is a first for a DSLR and it is this that’s getting people excited. A DSLR uses a sensor which is much bigger than a standard video camera. This, combined with an interchangeable lens and high ISO sensitivity could mean some interesting footage coming out of this camera. 

It should work better in low light & produce warmer pictures than a standard video camera, and get a more cinematic shallow depth of field.

In Nikon’s press release and website they have some interesting details about it. 

Click on the above picture and get to the Nikon website. 

Now In theory this sounds great, and it is probably a very significant advance for moving image. The use of equipment like this is more like very expensive pro digital film cameras costing extreme amounts of money. It heralds the start of very pro features like big interchangeable lenses and big sensors being available at a fraction of the current price. 

But – and there’s always a but. This is the first of its kind and there’s plenty of problems with it. The Nikon website videos have been compressed for the web and do not give an accurate picture of what the results will be like. They cover up a few problems, but the main one is the awful exposure adjustments while filming – an attempt to mimic the auto exposure on a video camera, but it gives an awful jump as it chases from one exposure to another. It looks like this is a teething problem and hopefully a firmware upgrade for the camera will fix this.

Click on the above image to download a raw version of the skater footage to see what I mean. Not sure who to thank for the source material, but thanks anyway.

The D90_orig.avi file is the original footage of the skater

The MJPEG-720p-2MBps.mov file is from a Red camera which the author compressed to the same rates as the D90 for comparison. If you don’t know what a Red camera is then get onto google.

There’s more raw footage from the camera, along with some examples of photos (what, it takes photos!?) at this site

On the many blogs about this people have noticed the antialiasing on the pebbles in the duck video. I say who wants to film pebbles anyway? I think the quality is good but not great – but this is an SLR first.

I’m still seriously thinking of buying one, but I’m waiting a month or so to see if they fix the dodgy exposure problem.

Fingers crossed.

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2 responses

5 09 2008
John

The new Nikon D90 sounds pretty nice. What do you think the best DSLR camera is? http://www.dslrcamerareviews.com This site lists some, but looking for other opinions. Thoughts? Do you think you are going to buy the D90, or wait to the bugs are worked out? Thanks

5 09 2008
creativevideomovingimage

I don’t know what the best is. For me it comes down to what I want and what I want to spend. I was recommended the Nikon D80 by a friend and although the D90 is a couple of hundred more than I want to spend, if the video function is going to get interesting results then I’ll go for it. Otherwise I’ll get a cheap D80 as these will be going at bargain prices (I hope). Apparently there’s more interesting releases from Nikon at Photokina soon (see nikonrumors.com for more gossip.

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