Nikon needs to save face.

Nikon needs to step up its game.

It's been a long time since the D90 came out, by technology standards, and still no firmware update. Still only 720p video on the D90 and the D5000, still only 5 minutes max recording time in HD. Still no audio input. Still no manual control of aperture (iris) or shutter speed. Still no Nikon branded accessories for shooting video.

Maybe Nikon doesn't realize what they have yet. Maybe they don't realize that along with the Canon 5dMkII, the D90 has the making of the perfect tool for visual journalists. Maybe they haven't been paying attention to the journalism industry. Maybe they don't want to admit that Canon has them 1-upped right now.
Nikon is like Mario. . they just got one-upped! Anyone?

The 5d MkII has revolutionized visual storytelling since its release. Despite the fact that the Nikon D90 was released first it is constantly overlooked because of a few simple things that Canon beat Nikon to the punch on.

1: 1080p recording.

From my experience as a journalist when the end product is online this isn't a huge deal, and admittedly, Nikon's files play a lot nicer with FCP and editing in general, but there is no reason Nikon should not have introduced a model that shoots full HD yet.

2: 5 Minute recording limit.

This one is not a huge deal unless you're trying to record an interview. Still, I constantly shoot 15+ minutes of near continuous video on the D90 by hitting record as soon as the video limit is reached, but I still miss small gaps. The camera clearly has the capabilities to shoot for longer, but NIkon has self-limited to prevent the camera from over heating, still, they were a bit over-zealous. A firmware update could expand the shooting limit to AT LEAST 12 minutes.

3: Manual exposure control in video

Canon and Nikon were on even ground for quite a while on this, then Canon introduced their firmware update allowing full manual control. Not only has the D90 been around months longer than the D90, the firmware update came quickly, and there are not even rumors of an update in the works for the D90. Nikon is really slacking here. It can clearly be done, so it should be done.

What Nikon needs to do to save face

I am an avid NIkon lover. I am devoted to their products and their quality has never let me down. But right now, they need to face the fact that they're getting creamed by Canon in the journalism market.

They can rectify this problem though, and save face, here's how:

1: Release new firmware for the D90 allowing manual control. Theoretically they could also include the option to shoot video for longer and at a higher res, but I doubt they would.

2: I doubt they would because the need to release the Nikon D90x. This camera would be built with a slightly more rugged frame, 1080p capability, and basically would be a direct competitor with the 5d MkII. To compete with a camera already on the market, Nikon needs to gray out the line between the D90 and D300 camera series. Make the D90x a camera with a built in vertical grip so it can operate that huge LCD for longer. Add time-lapse recording. Release a new remote that allows control of video and exposure functions. Implement in-camera VR for video capture, hell, throw a GPS recorder into the vertical grip and release the first DSLR with geotagged movies!

3: Of course that new camera will come with a premium price tag, leaving current owners of D90s who want to step up in a bind. That's ok, because Nikon can release the D90 video package. This would include an updated MB-D80 grip  for extended shooting and a buffer upgrade in the grip to capture video for longer continuous periods of time. The kit could also include a stabilizing system (smaller steadicam?) hot-shoe lighting attachments, and of course a way to use an external mic on the camera, perhaps through a USB link from the grip to the camera. The package can be priced around $500 and I don't know a journalist with the D90 who wouldn't buy it.

4: The D800. Nikon needs a full-frame camera that shoots video too. They need to expand the video line to all levels of cameras to reach saturation. There is no reason for any new DSLR to NOT have video recording capabilities. I don't care if "that market segment doesn't need/want video." This is a political move as well as a technical one. Nikon needs to dominate DSLR video.


  1. Well said, AJ. I'm surprised how Nikon beat everyone to the punch, and then let its video mode languish. I thought the D5000 would be improving on the video mode, but I guess they're saving it for the D300s?

  2. Anonymous2:49 PM

    yeah.. thank you for this thread