The D80 was the top dog in the mid-level SLR yard for over a year, but it's got a little too long in the tooth to fend off the cheeky young pups.

And so in steps the Nikon D90, packing a couple more megapixels for a total of 12MP – the number Nikon seems to have settled on as the optimum, right up to the pro D3. The sensor is of the CMOS type rather than the D80's CCD.

It also has the obligatory Live View mode, for using the LCD as a viewfinder, like you do on a digital compact.

Movie maker

The headliner, though, is the addition of a movie mode – and not just the minimal VGA resolution, but 720p hi-def, no less.

As far as the basics are concerned, this is business as usual for Nikon. The build quality is reassuringly solid, the handling superb and the control layout is excellent. An improvement over the D80 is the positioning of the OK button in the middle of the D-pad, where it should be.

The LCD is an excellent 3-incher, bright and sharp with a screen protector fitted.

Picture perfect

Image quality again follows the recent Nikon trend of being detailed, having saturated colours and having minimal noise right up through the ISO range. If you're likely to take low-light shots without flash, this is the camera for you. Conversely, the flash is overly harsh.

The addition of Live View will please anyone who's into macro work or anything that requires extensive tripod use. The 3in screen is sharp enough to help out with focusing.

A little unstable

The movie mode will be seen by many as a non-core gimmick, and we have to admit that we would have preferred to see the addition of an image stabiliser. But there's no denying that it has a decent stab.

The D90 won't trouble a dedicated HD camcorder, particularly in the sound and control departments, but it's no disgrace, and there's a built-in mini HDMI socket for hooking up directly to a TV.

If you consider the video capture as just a bonus, there's very little to dislike about the D90. Seems there's a new top dog in the yard.


Stuff says... 

Nikon D90 review

An outstanding successor to the D80, with the bonus of HD video