Almost exactly two years after the D80 was announced comes its replacement, the rather predictably named D90. The D80 has been one of Nikon's quiet successes, and even today, despite being positively Methuselah-like in digital camera terms it continues to sell and often makes its way into our top 10 most clicked on cameras. Because it looks so similar to the D80 the D90 appears at first glance to be one of those rather subdued incremental upgrades, but dig a little deeper and you'll find there's plenty to keep Nikon fans happy.
First and foremost there's a new CMOS sensor, which Nikon claim produces D300 quality output at up to ISO 6400 and - one of several features to 'trickle down' from higher models - the same highly acclaimed 3.0-inch VGA screen as the D3/D300. Naturally it has Live View with contrast-detect AF and it would have been surprising had it not sported some form of dust removal system. More surprising is the inclusion of the world's first DSLR movie mode (720p HDTV quality, no less) and HDMI output, though as we'll see later it does come with some limitations. A lot of the core photographic spec is the same as or very similar to the D80, though there is a new shutter and an implementation of the 3D tracking AF seen on the D3/D300.
And it's not just the high end models that have lent features and technology to the D90; the user interface has been given the same user-friendly treatment as the D60, as have the retouching options. As it was explained to us the D90 is intended to appeal to the broadest audience of any Nikon SLR, from first-time 'step up' customers moving from a compact to serious amateurs wanting comprehensive photographic control without the cost and weight of a D300. Whether the D90 is as capable as its feature set suggests, we'll see as the review unfolds.