By Joan T. Sherwood, Senior Editor
The most exciting feature of the Nikon D90 DSLR is the movie capture. With two or three button presses, in D-movie mode, you can begin recording video of up to 1,280x720 pixels (16:9), at 24 frames per second.
The first day I had the D90 in my hands I couldn’t stop coming up with ideas for the clips I wanted to shoot. Setting out the next morning, I took a set of 36 clips at the 640x424 frame (3:2) setting, which I subsequently edited into a 4-minute movie in the iMovie HD program.
It took a little studying of the program at Lynda.com to learn how to do what I wanted, but after that, the editing went pretty quickly. After just a couple minutes of keyword searching at TripleScoopMusic.com, I found the perfect music to accompany the video. The most difficult part was figuring out the settings and format to use to export the video for Web sharing. Automated YouTube.com compression went too far and yielded unattractive results.
The version below as exported from iMovie HD, is optimized for QuickTime, broadband, high quality.
Click here for MP4 file version saved for broadband, high quality.
Click through to see examples of 1,280x720 pixels (16:9) AVI files with no editing. Though none of these clips is more than 20 seconds, these are large files and will take to load before the play option is available. Right-click on the image and choose "Save link as..." to download to your desktop insted of viewing in your browser.
Below: 1,280x720-pixel AVI file, 18 seconds, 48.2MB
Below: 1,280x720-pixel AVI file, 11 seconds, 22.5MB
Below: 1,280x720-pixel AVI file, 14 seconds, 28.5MB
Below: 1,280x720-pixel AVI file, 12 seconds, 34.6MB
To take video with the Nikon D90, choose the frame size and sound options in the Movie settings menu, select a white balance setting, and 3-D Color Matrix Metering II will handle the rest. Nikon VR image stabilization kicks in automatically, which helps in low light situations. Lock exposure by holding down the AE-L/AF-L button while you shoot.
Autofocus is not available with movie recording; you can focus manually while recording, but the sensitive in-camera microphone will pick up the sound of the moving focus ring. You could elect to turn off the sound recording and capture a silent movie.
To begin recording, press the Lv (live view) button, press the shutter halfway down to focus and meter if needed, press OK and hold it steady. Press OK to stop recording and Lv to leave the live view mode. You can stay in live-view mode and press OK whenever you want to start and stop recording.
You can use Lv for up to an hour, but extended use can heat up the internal circuitry. The camera is designed to automatically shut off Lv before the heat causes damage. You can even record movies with Picture Control settings like Vivid, Monochrome or Portrait.