Nikon D90: HD video plus 12MP photography — sweet!

There’s long been a divide between DSLR users and those who prefer compact cameras — and we’re not talking about the divide where one side pops out a camera and quickly snaps a blurry jumble of off-colour pixels that could be anything while the other carefully assembles lenses tripods checks aperture settings and shutter timings before realising that the subject has grown bored and gone down to the pub.

No instead we’re talking about embedded video options within digital cameras. Pretty much since their inception most compact point and shoot digitals have offered video albeit at a quality that would make the average YouTube video look like a Blu-Ray disc by comparison. DSLR users it’s been reckoned have been too busy chasing the perfect photo to chase video itself and as a feature it’s been noticeably absent.

Nikon’s clearly pitching for the emerging market of users shifting upwards from compact digital cameras with its latest announced DSLR the Nikon D90. Its big selling point is the inclusion of video capture functionality and being a DSLR shakycam quality need not apply. The D90 is 720p capable (1280×720) for video recording at 24fps. While its asking price of $1549 for the camera body alone isn’t exactly peanuts it’s worth bearing in mind that you simply can’t buy a decent HD camcorder and a good DSLR for $1549; we’ve seen plenty of 720p-capable camcorders sell for around this price alone.

Nikon’s not a slouch in the camera market of course and while you may sit one side or another of the Nikon/Canon DSLR divide (or could be in Sony’s Alpha camp or a Pentax or Olympus user for that matter) there’s no doubting that the specifications of the D90 are mouthwatering alone. Goodies include facial recognition live preview 12.3 megapixel effective range automatic scene recognition a three inch 920K pixel display and ISO compatibility between ISO 200 to 3200 with an optional ISO 6400 equivalent for those who get off on digital noise. Nikon’s also making a play for the green crowd claiming that the D90’s a highly energy efficient little shooter with the capability for up to 850 shots inbetween recharges — although quite how video shooting would affect those figures isn’t yet clear. It’s also GPS capable albeit via an optional add-on module.

The D90 will sell sans lenses — it’s not surprisingly compatible with Nikon’s existing Nikkor DSLR lens line — for $1549 with a single 18-55mm lens kit costing $1649 and a twin lens pack (18-55mm and 55-200mm) costing $1899. There’s also an option for a single 18-105mm lens kit version which will sell for $1849.