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Wednesday, 27 August 2008


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5 year old D2h, 11 cross type AF points. D90, 1 cross type. D70, 1005 pixel RGB metering. D90, 420 pixel RGB metering.

At this progression, CAM 3500 (Nikon's top AF system), won't be available until after 2014 in a consumer/prosumer body. Their metering is going the wrong direction too, my D70 metered better than my D80. Anyone else notice this?

I am all for a movie mode, but isn't the most important factor, for a digital camera--after image quality--focus ability?

Nikon had a chance to really revolutionize the market but was afraid to cannibalize D300 and D700 sales, that's all I can think as to why their AF system is so outmoded. CAM 1000 is, quite frankly, garbage.

I know Nikon will sell these like hotcakes thanks to the "revolutionary" movie mode (I will stick to stills, thanks), but it does so at the expense of photographers, who could have greatly benefited from AF fine tuning, a metering upgrade, and an AF system upgrade.

When these prosumers try and shoot action and sports with this camera, or try and focus in low light, they are in for a big surprise.

Just my 2¢.

Between this and the u4/3, I think it will impact the Scarlett.

We'll see at 'Kina.

Last week Mike wrote:

"Twenty or 30 years ago, my [new-music radio host] friend Kim taught me that there's no such thing as 'that kind' of art—that within every genre there's the whole gamut, a lot of bad and a lot of average and maybe a little good, too. He'd say he couldn't 'hear' music he didn't understand, and he'd listen till he got it. When somebody says something like 'I hate abstract expressionism,' or 'I hate rap,' they only mean they've never looked into it and it's still something apart and outside. People who understand, differentiate. They see the landscape of that genre, the ups and downs, the ins and outs. Until you start to get the subtleties, you haven't yet really started to see."

After reading the flurry of overheated discussions yesterday about the amazing new Canon 50D - and while bracing myself for another round today about the amazing new Nikon D90, to be followed by numerous other amazing new cameras in the weeks before Photokina - it occurred to me that the philosophy described above not only "can" but "should" be used both ways. NOT differentiating can often be just as important if it aids in keeping one's eye on a larger goal.

After all, none of us can study *every* subject in the kind of depth it takes to competently differentiate that subject's internal distinctions, whether the subject is abstract expressionism, rap music, the internal politics of a foreign country, 18th-century English furniture, or digital cameras. Our limited time on this planet means we each have to choose which subjects are deserving of that kind of attention and differentiation. (Learning to do so is arguably the key to a meaningful life!)

It would seem obvious that photographers would choose to make one focus of those energies the tools of their trade - cameras - but it's not so simple. An overemphasis on the "means" in any pursuit can lead to a loss of perspective on the "ends" (cf. the expert on tree root patterns who never sees the forest).

For photographers who have actual lives and who want to create compelling images, the more energy and time spent worrying about tools, the less energy and time likely to be spent on creating with those tools. Obsession with the "tools of one's craft" can also mean forgoing seemingly unrelated but nonetheless important "cross-pollination" opportunities that can help one's craft, whether those activities involve reading, exploring, music, work, human interaction, volunteering, or creating things not directly related to photography.

To be more specific, it seems that every other camera introduction is breathlessly described as "revolutionary," not only by the manufacturers and bloggers (which is understandable, as both are trying to draw attention to their product) but also by a fair number of participants in photo forums. Obviously these new cameras can't ALL be revolutionary; some may have surprising innovations, but even they are more likely to be "evolutionary." (Perhaps the only truly "revolutionary" digital SLR was the first one, the 1991 Kodak DCS-100, which offered 1.3megapixels of resolution and sold for $30,000. Ever since, it's basically been a matter of gradually increasing resolution, features, dynamic range, and sensor size while gradually reducing camera size, image noise, and price.)

Thus while the open-mindedness to learning advocated by Mike's friend Kim (above) can often be a good thing, it might also be productive for photographers to exercise a little "closed-mindedness" when it comes to the almost-daily product announcements that precede photo-marketing shows like Photokina. Keeping some things "apart and outside" (to use Mike's words) of one's realm of scrutiny is not only inevitable but also desirable, and each week's new techno-wonder might reasonably be placed into that category. When energies devoted to thinking about new products begin to detract from one's photography - whether it's time spent reading endless reviews of a product one will never own, or a consequent dissatisfaction with one's current equipment to the point of leaving it in the bag - one should probably reevaluate one's priorities if one's ultimate goal is the creation of photographs.

Sometimes it's best for photographers to say of a newly announced camera, "Nice, but when all is said and done it's still just a camera," and go back to focusing on subjects, locations, destinations, light, images, and of course life itself. That's not at all to say that camera reviews (here and elsewhere) aren't important, helpful, and interesting - only to say that keeping them in perspective can genuinely help one's photography.

Wow, I am a canon user, and until now I didn't see any reason to think about that. But *720p movie capture* with this sensor size for roughly 1000 euro is just incredibly useful, sweet, and mindboggling.

I thought 'hm, maybe a bit lame' about the Canon 50D specifications. Now, compared to this they are way behind. Is Canon overlooking something?

Well done Chase! I bet Nikon loved that...

Sell the lifestyle and a camera or two while you're at it.

I'm sure all those "features" are great selling points to many people whatever they are and whatever they do. I just wanna know how robust the construction is?

The pics look rather nice (on my computer) and I swear I am starting to be able to notice the higher mega pickle cameras' resolution even in small web pics. A bit curious at some of the use of higher ISO in direct or mid day sun? Trying to prove a point maybe?

The future is now and it seems pretty bright these days.

Hmmm, how can I trade up my D80 for this without spending $$$?!!?!?

I'm impressed by the size and weight more than the other stuff, but the new features seem quite impressive in their own right. That doesn't mean I have any serious desire to switch. As Robert says, it's still "just a camera." I only pray that the Nikon D90 is successful so that Canon will be forced to up *its* game.

If you want a Canon with video, get a Canon XL video camera but please Canon leave it off the next generation 5D.

I'm not impress by what Nikon has done. I show to me a lack for focus on the core business.

At least we shall never see such nonsense from Leica, a true camera company.

"At least we shall never see such nonsense from Leica, a true camera company."

Yes, and look how well Leica is doing.

I'm not saying that I'd want video on an SLR, but something tells me a lot of customers do and at least Nikon is innovating.

If you don't want video, don't use it. It doesn't seem like it will hinder the D90's performance - although I was disappointed by the lack of the 51-point AF system. On the other hand, this is not an action camera and my D80 does quite well with action regardless.

I love Leica film cameras, but forsaking this Nikon or anything like it because it’s “gadgetry” is not something befitting a true camera company? Well, what did we get from that company? A problem-ridden, released too soon, faulty-designed, overpriced digital piece of neck candy that can't perform to the level of products made by people who don't "focus on the core business."

(BTW, before anyone waves the Canon MkIII as a counter, let’s say that’s what…1 in 15 was a clunker? Leica has a 100% failure rate so far on their digital-only bodies.) Oh, for those bodies branded by that “true camera company” that do perform - well, they're made by a jack of all trades electronics company. Welcome to the 21st century.

By the way, if Nikon were to focus on the core business, they'd be out of the camera business altogether. So would Canon.

Come to think of it, so would Leica.

I think Gordon is right on here:

"I'm impressed by the size and weight more than the other stuff,..."

I've got a D300 and love it, but it is a pretty big camera to take around on a daily basis.

With the D90, Nikon has taken the awesome D300 sensor, fantastic 3" rear LCD and a comparable viewfinder (there is no better viewfinder for an APS sensor camera) and put it in a smaller, lighter package. To me these are the most important things for a walk around camera. At $999 body only, I think this is a screaming deal.

I have a Nikon N90. Can this be upgraded to the D90?

And no I don't a DSLR yet, although my future will probably be filled 1's and 0's.


"I have a Nikon N90. Can this be upgraded to the D90?"

Sure Eric, it's completely upgradeable. Here are the action steps: 1. Sell N90. 2. Take N90 proceeds; add (considerably) more cash. 3. Buy D90.

Seriously, though, it wouldn't be a bad time to upgrade. The D90 is as mature now as the N90 design was when it was new. (N90 built on the particularly successful and very popular N8008 and N8008s; D90 builds on the particularly successful and very popular D70 and D80.)

Mike J.

"Leica has a 100% failure rate so far on their digital-only bodies."
Trolling at its finest!

a resp. to j. stovall:

You can't imagine what effect such a feature (720p movie recording) has on the independent movie/documentary/small feature scene. many people are drooling after large sensors with a depth of field as narrow as you get with this sensor (+ low light performance). canon xl isn't even in the same league as this. this is the league of 100ts of rental fee per day.

this nikon might have its biggest and serious impact on the independent documentary movie production market.

please canon put it on the canon 5DmkII

but that's just my guess anyway.

Naw, I'll just stay out of this mess. It's pointless.

But I will say that this is clearly Nikon's revenge year. Being squarely in the midst of one of North America's most tourist-dense areas I can tell you that Nikon "neckwear" is definitely this year's fashion statement among young men.

Jason: "Leica has a 100% failure rate so far on their digital-only bodies." Hey, thanks for the tip! I would have had no idea that both of my M8's don't work.

photgdave, how many other digital system bodies did Leica have that weren't Panasonic rebadgings? I see a camera that couldn't render black correctly and had to have a Rube Goldberg filter fix just to meet basic specs. Fail. One camera, one failure - 100%. Math at its finest, NOTHING MORE! Don't confuse that for trolling.

Hey, I want one of these. I've long admired the D80s balance of moderate size and weight on the one hand and important features like great image quality and finder magnification on the other. But for some time, it's been clear that a replacement ought to be on the way. Because compared to the D300, the D80 is old generation. I bought a D300 in spite of feeling it was a little bigger and heavier than I'd have liked. And I've enjoyed it. But I think the D90 will be my next Nikon body. It'll be more of an everyday companion sort of camera, and, wonder of wonders it can even shoot what looks to be high quality movies with, what for video cameras, is a BIG sensor. Sound and external mike interface is really not such a big deal because you can get good standalone sound recorders to deal with that end. I've been meaning to get more into movies and have been waiting for the Panasonic HMC-150 (touted on the DVXuser forum as the "next DVX", it'll bring serious quality 24fps HD recording down to a price tag of $3450 and let you record on standard flash cards using the better-than-HDV codec of high-bit-rate AVCHD). But hey, maybe the D90 will be all I need. Or maybe it will eventually be a great B-Camera for my movie shoots as well as a great second body for still shoots. I must say, I'm glad I switched back to Nikon for the D300 after five years with my Canon D60 (no complaints about that one either).

Is there a 5 minute limit on its video file size?

I thought this was what all the cool kids had:


Man, I'm glad I'm pretty clueless too............... :-)

Posted by Jason:
"I see a camera that couldn't render black correctly and had to have a Rube Goldberg filter fix just to meet basic specs. Fail. One camera, one failure - 100%. Math at its finest, NOTHING MORE! Don't confuse that for trolling"

All digital cameras have IR filters, the M8's just happens to be on the outside. And Leica gave us the filters.

Still waiting for my M8 to fail after 17 months. Nope ... nothing yet ... still a very fine, very functional camera. Fabulous for IR photography too.

When did this post get to be a referendum on Leica? Cut it out, guys.

Mike J.

A few thoughts on why I think this is more than a gimmick (some already stated within the thread I think).

I highly doubt that we'll see full-length videos shot with this camera, but the movie function is big enough that it will revolutionize (a) the stock video industry, (b) wedding/sports/nature photography


1. At this price point ($1K), you cannot find a video camera that will deliver the same level of image quality

2. You have access to a huge array of lenses of varying functions and quality. (imagine shooting video with the 50/1.4 wide open... wow...)

3. I'm just guessing here, but the movie function can potentially eliminate the need for high burst rates that wedding/sports/nature photographers depend on. Instead of shooting multiple bursts, you can film the thing and capture the best still afterward.

4. ...or at least it gives wedding/sports/nature photographers the option to shoot video *and do so almost instantaneously*

Of course, it still has limitations. Clips at highest quality (720p) are limited to 5 minutes. Lower quality are limited to 20 minutes. But for the uses I detailed above, I doubt you'll need more than 5 minutes at a time.

And of course you're limited by the size of your memory card. Still, carrying multiple memory cards is more convenient than carrying a second camera :)

My understanding is that the 5-minute video-clip-length limit has to do with sensor overheating.

Hmm more models than anybody could ever
think about.
The digital camera race is getting
bloody stupid!
And there are many pepole who seemingly have money to burn who want the latest and the
Me? Now have D40 which I forget how to use.
I'll stick with a film camera for now,
can't even understand why everybody wants
the newest toy, cause that's what they are.

Now to go out and start my DKW for a trip
into town.

Bryce, how about a picture of your DKW?
Joe D

And thinking that those of us speculating about video in the Pentax K20D (before its launch) were qualified "crazy people daydreaming"...

I'm glad to see the D90 has video. But I agree in that photography is what should be the, ahem, focus of this camera. In my book there is not a single gadget in the world that can make more than one thing right. And my good ol' audio dealer always advised me to avoid at any price the machines which combined radio + CD player + amplifier in a single box, even if they were manufactured by good audio companies: a box for every function was his advice. I guess the same applies for imaging devices.

But I guess I'm also a good ol' guy. ;)

Personally, I welcome video capability in DSLRs, though I won't be buying the first generation of such a device.

Apparently lots of other folks welcome the addition, too, or at least the idea.

The NYT column on the D90 by David Pogue (is it OK to mention him here, Mike?) was the #2 most e-mailed NYT piece (overall, not just from the technology section) earlier today and is currently at #4 - the day after Barak Obama's acceptance speech and hours after John McCain's surprise-veep announcement. Mind boggling.


Back in the day when "film" camera meant "movie" camera Leica made the very nice Leicina film cameras. They even sold a 6-66mm M mount zoom for them.

Back on topic, this d90 will disrupt the video business, and will be pretty cool for news photographers who also need to get video.

IMHO, the best viewfinders on APS-C sensor-sized cameras belong, by quite far, to Pentax cameras, which have been remarkably good since the very first instalment of them.

Funny, though, I don´t think this camera will change the market "per-se", it will change a profession.

I do think that what this camera will make -or the camera maker that most improves this feature on a medium-spec body, and I doubt Canikon will be them, for lack of sensor shift stuff- one of the journalists redundant.

Untill now, graphic journalists teams had at list a photographer AND a videographer -dare I say videographer, mr. Johnston?-. Those cameras [hybrids, not bridge cameras any longer] render one of them useless or redundant. This is the starting point when the *-grapher will be only ONE person in charge of all the graphic production.

The most of it will be when this kind of cameras solve all the techincal issues AND offer simultaneous video and photo capability [how, I have no clue].

Remember that Kodak was the first, but Canon got the treasure of "true" professional digital systems. Kodak got the idea, Canon made it workable.

PS: Even after all, Pentax people will not be that Limited [uppps] at all when naming the camera *ist D. It seems there will not be a photographer or videographer any longer. A *grapher will be better.

This combo [and Sony did avoid this in the R-1] has a big video problem: It does heavily deform rectangles.

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