Nikon’s New D90 Shoots Video, Includes GPS, Steals Canon’s 50D’s Thunder


Well no sooner is Canon out with their EOS 50D than Nikon creatively is out with their D90. The thing is though that for most consumers, at least at first blush, the D90 sort of blows the more expensive 50D out of the water.

The killer feature on the D90? It shoots video (1280×720, .avi format, HD720p). Yep, video, in addition to being a kick ass DSLR. And if video wasn’t a big enough bell and whistle for you it also includes GPS geotagging. As far as I know, this is the first DSLR to include both video and geotagging on the market today. Amazon lists the price for the new D90 at $999.95 here (but it’s out of stock). The Nikon press release confirms the camera at that price: “The D90 will be available throughout the United States beginning September 2008 at an MSRP of $999.95 for body only and $1299.95 for body and lens outfit that includes the new AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens.” (Note, that’s $400 *less* than the suggested retail price of Canon’s 50D which won’t be out until a month later in October).

Personally I’ve always felt that Nikon and Canon are an either/or sort of thing, sort of like Lightroom or Aperture for processing. Whenever someone asks me what camera they should buy I almost always suggest that they choose either a Nikon or a Canon system depending on their price point. Mainly I suggest these two systems because they are the two most popular DSLR systems and both have fantastic camera bodies and even more importantly a fantastic range of great lenses. Because they are both popular systems you are likely to run into other people/friends etc who are also using those systems and who can give you advice, share lenses, etc. But at least at the D90 50D price point, Nikon seems to once again blow Canon out of the water with this camera. The fact that the D90 includes both video and geotagging also means that it is likely that future Nikon DSLRs will also begin to include this technology. It also means that Canon is going to have one heck of a challenge when they finally release their 5D Mark II (likely at the photokina photo show in Germany next month).

Another really cool thing that Nikon did? They released the news on their new camera through Pro Photographer Chase Jarvis (that’s his YouTube video at the top of this post). It’s a hip well produced video with great music by the Blakes targeted squarely at the advanced amateur market (complete even with an iPhone ring that interrupts the video shoot at one point). How did Canon release their news on their new 50D yesterday? Through a dry, boring old Canon press release. Yeah, maybe, just maybe, some of the leaks through Photography Bay earlier were planted (screen grabs from a Chinese site), but Chase’s personal introduction of the Nikon D90 is so much cooler. It just goes to show you that Canon, their PR and marketing teams still just don’t get the web.

Anyways, the basics? (from Jarvis)

“- 12.3 megapixels (the same luscious chip that’s in the Nikon D300)
– D-movie function (that’s right, MOVIE function. 1280×720, .avi format, HD720p)
– High ISO/low-noise performance (Nikon’s ace in the hole. I shot this at 3200 and dug it.)
– 4.5 frames per second
– 3 inch, 920dot LCD with Live View
– Pop up flash with ‘commander’ mode to interface with Nikon’s lighting system
– GPS tagging”

Head on over to Jarvis’ site to get more of the details on the new camera. This one’s pretty killer.

Update: David Pogue from the New York Times chimes in on the camera here.

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  1. GPS-tagging? Wow. I want to see that in a Canon soon…

  2. Adam says:

    Nikon’s with the 10-pin connector have supported GPS tagging since at least the D2H (not sure about the D1’s or the D100), this is the first consumer Nikon to support it and Nikon just introduced their own GPS unit rather than needing a third party unit.

    Note the unit only uses the hotshoe to mount, the connector cable is separate (it plugs into the remote release port) so you can still get GPS without using the hotshoe. No word on an adaptor to the 10-pin port for higher-end Nikons, but it’s likely.

  3. gfurry says:


    You and I were on the same page today. Camera’s aside the launches weren’t even close. I blogged about it this morning here.

    FYI I don’t think the GPS is included. It is compatible with the new Nikon GP-1 GPS that works with the higher end cameras. Available in November

  4. Anonymous says:

    So, it shoots fewer frames per second, has a smaller ISO range, fewer megapixels, shoots 12bit versus 14bit, is plastic versus all metal, has only one cross type focus sensor versus 9, but it can shoot movies?

    This is a nice upgrade over the D80, but it’s not in the class with the 50D.

  5. TranceMist says:

    There’s a much higher quality version of the video on Chase Jarvis’ own blog.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Definitely a step up from the D80, but I still think I’ll hold out for the D700.

    I love my Nikon, sure, but I *still* think that Canon has way better glass, hands down.

    – fireinthesky

  7. Mark D. says:

    Great video! Thanks for posting. It makes me want to go out and buy one. That’s effective marketing. I am just starting out and have a D40.

    Thanks Thomas, great blog.

  8. Oh, now this IS an interesting camera. I’m a Canon guy myself, with my 5D, but this D90 and the absolutely genius marketing that’s come along with it, has really turned my head.

    But this is great, it’s good to see one of the big two break the mould for once, rather than just doing the same old boring incremental release. Looking forward to seeing the quality of videos produced on the D90.

    Do I feel another 5D sequel delay coming on whilst Canon scrambles to have some kind of wow factor in its next camera?

    A fascinating week, seeing how different Nikon and Canon have really become, but the really interesting thing is to see what happens next!

  9. Brad says:

    Eh, it’s just a camera…

    And in the end it’s the person behind it that counts…

  10. jon says:

    i mean really though. the prospect of “automatically” having a camera wherein you can switch out lenses easily, that still functions as a great still camera?!?!!!

    looking forward to playing with it.

  11. From the amateur perspective, this is, in a word, Awesome. I have been actively seeking a DSLR for well over a year, and I think I’m very glad I waited. HD Video is a real plus for me.

    On a completely geek tech note, are the brands of SD cards an indicator of quality, I’m pricing the 32GB cards now, and they seem to cover the gamut, $189 – $599 [No-name – brand Name], if so, who do I avoid, and who do I stick with?

  12. BeppeRdam says:

    The 50D is the one I was waiting to upgrade from my 400D. Personally, I don’t think people interested in this DSLR level are likely to change from Canon to Nikon and viceversa simply for few seconday options such as GPS or movie. What’s count is only the set of lenses already in your hand. If the new released model is not of your satisfaction you just wait the next one, as it’s happened to me when the 40D came out considering I have already 4 Canon lenses which values in total more than 4 bodies.
    In the end, the competition between Canon and Nikon is speeding up the introduction of improvments on cameras which makes me extremly happy. Well done to both!!

  13. feeby says:

    Some of Canon such as 50D and 40D do support GPS direct recording, but it needs a file transmitter.

    And now third part GPS is even better than gp-1. And with more features such as heading and logger. My Easytagger GPS can do a lot about geotagging.