I never want to be on a shoot when the perfect picture pops up and I'm not ready or capable of taking it. I chose the N90s as my primary camera over an F4. Having used an N90s for six years--including shoots in Alaska, a high-altitude Andes trek in Peru, as well as a number of local, shorter, trips--I have strong opinions about what is good and not so good about the camera.
The N90s is a professional caliber, autofocus camera. It features a wide-area autofocus module CAM with predictive autofocus that can track objects that are moving quite fast. You can shoot single shots, continuous at 2 fps, or continuous at 4. A lot of marketing noise has been made about program modes. Personally, I've yet to find anything other than the standard auto program, aperture priority, shutter priority, or manual modes useful on any camera.
Besides these, the N90s includes seven additional modes: portrait, portrait with red-eye reduction, landscape, silhouette, sport, and close-up. An eight-segment matrix meter incorporates information about the focus point if you're using "D-type" lenses. Alternatively, you can chose Nikon traditional spot or center-weighted metering.
Exposure as well as autofocus can be locked by on-camera controls. ISO values from 25 to are automatically set from DX-coded film, with manual override and automatic override setting also possible. Flash metering uses five segments and can be TTL balanced, red-eye enabled, slow-synced, and synchronized with the rear curtain. Shutter speed, aperture, exposure mode, metering method, focus indicator, exposure compensation, flash ready, and frame counter are all visible, even to eyeglass wearers like me. And like all 35mm professional Nikon bodies, it uses AA batteries four.
A depth of field preview button is included, but no mirror lockup. The self timer is user settable from 2 to 30 seconds. Pick up the N90s and you're immediately struck by how substantial it feels.
Some might say "heavy," but it really isn't a heavy camera, just a densely packed, well-built one. The N90s is certainly heavier than the Minoltas I once used, but the build quality is also higher, with more gaskets and better buttons all around.
Hint : invest in an Optech strap--you'll feel a lot less of the weight around your neck. Some of the controls on the N90s fall naturally under the fingers, others don't. Caveat: I have rather small hands. The shutter release and auto exposure locks are right where I want them to be.
I can't say the same for the exposure compensation, autofocus lock, or metering method buttons, however. The exposure compensation button is a long reach from the shutter release for my index finger, although over time I've managed to get used to it. The autofocus lock involves using your ring finger pressing 90 degrees opposite of the shutter release mechanism, and is a small, hard-to-find button fortunately, you can put light pressure on the shutter release to do the same thing.
I've never managed to use it effectively. The metering method button is on the left side of the pentaprism, and this almost guarantees that casual shooters will have to take the camera away from their eyes to change metering methods. This button is too close to the eyepiece. All controls with multiple settings flash, metering, exposure compensation, ISO, mode, drive are set by holding down the appropriate button and rotating the knurled dial.
Since the viewfinder provides a wealth of information, generally you can change these settings without removing your eye from the camera. Again, however, it helps to use the camera enough to know by feel where each control is. This is certainly possible, and I've watched masters in the field change settings without ever looking at the LCD panel on the top of the camera. On a three-week shoot, the first week I'll still be groping to control the camera; by the third week, I've nearly got it mastered.
One nice touch is that program modes and settings you've made are remembered when you turn the camera off and back on.
This is both a blessing and a curse. If you're using the camera a lot, you'll find it a blessing. If you use the camera infrequently, you'll curse this feature. You go home. A month later you take the camera out to take a picture of the goddaughter. The camera will still have the exposure compensation set and be politely reminding you of this with a very discrete indicator on the LCD and in the viewfinder. It's easy to overlook indicators and start shooting with the compensation still active. So, rule 1 of N90s use is: always zero out any one-time settings before turning off the camera.
The corollary: always check the LCD indicators when you turn on the camera. As you would expect with a Nikon, mounting lenses, loading film, turning on the camera, and returning to the "idiot" settings are all straightforward. The camera back is opened by a two button lever on the side of the camera--it's near impossible to accidentally open the camera, and it's a one hand operation to open the back when you need to. I've never had a mis-load on the automatic film takeup, although I have had ISOs overridden due to my own mistake see rule 1, above.
I abused my N90s for a little over six years it was strapped to a goat's back, dropped, rammed into trees while falling down a hill, rained on, bounced around in a dusty vehicle over dirt roads, and much more. There are two very small scratches on the pentaprism that you can't see unless you're right on top of the camera.
And the rubber eyepiece accessory I bought refused to stay on fortunately, the eyepiece itself has a rubber gasket around its edge, so I'm not putting my glasses against metal or plastic as on some cameras. That's it. Thank you for this lovely review. It certainly is a very advanced camera for its age, and I look forward to shooting with it. You took all my feelings about the alpha 7 and put them into words perfectly.
Continuing with your gaming analogy, using the 7 is like getting your hands a weapon early on, that you were not supposed to find until the last levels. I feel nothing but confident every time I pull the 7 out, that the photo will be exactly what I want. A couple of years ago, after a sunrise shoot by the oceanside, I pulled the 7 out and put on a minolta 20mm 2. Perfect shot. I took another 20 with a digital camera, but I ended up discarding all of them.
I can not help but keep using the 7. Nice camera but cannot be fixed anywhere, I had it for a year, then I got error warning for aperture assembly malfunction common problem. I contacted Minolta repair companies in every continent. James Tocchio November 22, Share this post! All stories by:James Tocchio. Harry Lew November 22, at am. James Tocchio November 22, at am. Harry Lew November 22, at pm. Leo Tam November 24, at pm. Jim Grey November 22, at am. A handful of thoughts: 1.
Huss November 22, at am. WhiteWulfe November 22, at pm. James Tocchio November 22, at pm. That takes me back. Dave Rothschild November 24, at pm. Jeff Lawrence January 2, at pm. Leo Tam February 8, at pm. Definitely glass — nice and bright. Per Kristoffersson February 28, at pm. James Tocchio February 28, at pm.
Boris Kuznetsov June 12, at am. James Tocchio June 12, at am. CeritaT June 14, at am. James Tocchio June 14, at am. That lens is a beauty! A real nifty fifty. Pradheep Thavamani October 2, at pm. Leave a Reply Cancel reply. James Tocchio. You might also like.
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