Why I think the D90 video sucks

Back of a D90 showing live view

Back of a D90 showing live view

I have been trying for a few weeks now to take some video of the girls with the D90. I have tried in a couple of homes now. It always looks poor. The reason… no auto focus. When I am trying to shoot indoors, I am always running out of light. I need to open up the lens giving me no depth of field. I used to have a old Cannon DV recorder. I don’t remember having that issue with that camera. I have a Epson Stylus 850 too, and while the video is smaller, doesn’t have the focus issue the D90 has.

So, I have the camera set, I put it into live mode so I can see the action on the back of the camera. I then spend the next few minutes asking the kids to hold still. The focus system on live view is the most ridiculous, frustrating, and useless piece of tech to be over hyped on a camera that I have ever seen. Unless you have something that is sitting/standing still, getting the green square “go ahead I’m in focus” indicator is an exercise in frustration. I was trying to get focus locked on one of my girls that was dancing in the living room, and it was often focusing on the wall behind her. She would move out of the little square, and it would lock onto the wall behind. I don’t care if it is phase detection, contrast detection, or some new futuristic sonar system, it just needs to be better.¬† Imaging Resource has more on live mode, and they are more positive, but the fastest focus times they found was 2.3 seconds. Not good enough.

This brings us to the low light issue. I am forced to use a large aperture with shallow depth of field. This means that the kids need to stay in the narrow focus plane. Ya right. The camera will not change focus when the video is capturing, so I have video where the kids float in and out of focus. Like I said before, I didn’t have this issue with a previous DV camera that only cost the price of one 3rd party lens for a DSLR.

Others seem to do OK. See video here. But, most of the video seem to be outside. I suppose that outside with a larger aperture and greater depth of field would help, but this just isn’t workable for video inside. Maybe you have a bank of flood lights you can use inside your house. Maybe you’re winters are not at -30 and dark at 4:30, but shooting outside in better light just isn’t an option right now. None of the light issue would help the ridiculously slow focus in live view though. I for one am quite disappointed. It seems like more of a gimmick than something useful.

D90 Movies

I took a couple of movies the last couple of days with the D90. Since you do it from live view, and focus from there first, I was also trying that out. I must say, it kinda sucked. I was indoors and was using f/2.8, but the focus was the slowest thing ever! I was pretty disappointed. I will have to try it outside sometime to see if it is better with more light, but so far, I am not impressed.

There were several times that I would try to focus and it would miss completely. I would then go out of live view, focus, then pop back in. It would still move around a bit, but would find it eventually. Then when you take a picture, it doesn’t happen right away. The mirror flips back, then the picture happens normally, then the mirror flips up again. Slow. Not a way to take pictures of kids.

The movies turned out OK, when I got the focus right. It would probably be easier with a smaller f-stop, but that is all I could work with indoors. It is nice to have something that takes video though.

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