Nikon D90 buffer upgrade for 1080 HD video

I received an anonymous email stating that beginning December 1st, the Nikon D90 will get a buffer upgrade that will cost around $30. The upgrade will allow 5 minutes of 1080 resolution HD video. It will also have upgraded firmware that will allow the new MP-7 microphone (?) to be plugged in via the USB port and get activated in the camera. A new microphone adapter to plug in any microphone will be also available.

If this was an $300 upgrade for the D700 (especially the microphone part), I would probably believe it, but for the D90? I don't know... What do you think?

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  • ene

    30$? seams too cheap to be true…

  • Anonymous

    I highly doubt it. The limitation of the video resolution (720p vs 1080) is due to the circuitry of the camera (processing power) it just doesn’t have the CPU power/design/encoder to handle 1080 efficiently and smoothly. Changing software and buffer memory won’t have much effect.

    Its only possible if they rushed the 720p implementation and didn’t put enough time and testing into encoding 1080 resolution, in which case the processor might be fine but just need new firmware to support the higher resolution.

    • rexyinc

      along the lines of what i was thinking also..

    • SSV

      It would be true if they are going to make real 1080. Not a problem to implement crappy one, like 720p in D90. Just upsample it a bit more – you have “1080”.

      I have D90, so I’d be happy if Nikon really would make new firmware to make D90 “hd video” a bit better. Actually, I don’t care about 1080, it would be more than enough if Nikon would make D90 720p looks like real 720p. But I doubt if Nikon actually needs it . So, instead of having better 720p we’ll have even crappier 1080.

  • Shu Leu

    “I don’t know… What do you think?”

    I think you’re so desperate to post things to this blog that you’ll post anything.

    • TC

      Unnecessarily harsh.

      • Jt

        He’s from canon…

    • Shu Leu: there will always be people like you and I am already used to comments like yours, so I don’t really know what to tell you. Unless you have a constructive criticism, I don’t really care what you think.

      • matt

        obviously he believes it might be possible somehow… otherwise he wouldn’t post it.

        • correct – I do not post every email I get. This one sounds plausible, because Canon recently released DSLR with full HD video and now Nikon is again “behind”. Nikon may pull something like that especially if they don’t have another DLSR with full HD coming any time soon. The other reason I posted this was to start a discussion and see what other people think.

  • Anonymous

    Never be a first adopter.

  • K

    $30 is an impossible price. A buffer upgrade means sending the camera to Nikon for a memory chip implant. This kind of service costs more than $30. See how much it costs for the D1X and D2X buffer upgrade, I think $200-$500.

    An optional microphone ? It’s been 3 months and they still haven’t delivered the GP-1 GPS.

  • S in Iowa

    It doesn’t sound that far fetched to me. The D90 is still priced a bit high. So maybe Nikon is rewarding the early adopters. I do wish they would add autofocus in movie mode though. I don’t understand why we can autofocus in Live View mode, even though it is slow, but not in movie mode.

    • NikonMan

      The internal microphone will pick up the nioses of the AF as they did on early Coolpix, an external microphone (if we ever see one) would likely fix this…

  • Pablov

    Would be really nice all those posibilites, but $30 seems too cheap to me.

    But, maybe possible, I don’t know the precise engineering inside D90.

    I completely agree with the 1st Anonymous comment.

  • anonymous

    who knows the memory already inside the camera but disabled.. It may required some circuitry work or software to enable the memory.

    I just wonder will all future d90 will have 1080 HD video?

  • Chris

    Sensor is still not full frame. You’ll never get the depth no matter what. Even with super HD. 4k

    • ivan

      talk is about movies.. one of the most popular movie formats is super35… that aperture is 24.89 mm × 18.66 mm (0.980 in × 0.735 in)…
      the sensor of the d90 is 23.6 x 15.8 mm…
      the standard Academy 35 mm film size of 21.95 mm × 16.00 mm (0.864 in × 0.630 in) what is even less than the framesize of the DX sensor…
      and one more thing: depth is not just dependend on framesize…
      i hate such posts indicating wisdom but offering just misinformation…

  • Bucky

    If they want to stay ahead, $30 might be cheap.

  • Bucky

    remember, the d90 can do 1080 hdmi out put!

  • anthonyt

    Exciting news for all even for me as a Canon user. Will be upgrading from my 400d soon perhaps in a month or 2. I wonder with the buffer upgrade will the rolling shutter issue be less ? and of course the video quality ? $30 seem kinda comical if you ask me… but with competition anything is possible !

    • Let’s just keep in mind that this is a rumor that may turn into an exciting news.

  • Tom

    1080 is far higher bandwidth than 720 and this woud require a complete overhaul of the system including the main processor. Memory and firmware just won’t be sufficient. Just at look at the compression artefacts there are already; the processor cannot even handle a more sophisticated encoder that would remove these; how the hell would it cope with 1080 ?

  • dslrfred

    Why is it that sustained 4.5 fps are reached only with JPG basic, size = small, and these approx. 360kB * 4.5/s gives quite exactly the same 1.6/s MB as those of the movie mode bandwith? It seems to me that exactly those 1.6 MB are the principal buffer and/or bandwith limitation of the D90, so it seems pretty unlikely to me that this can be changed by a simple firmware update.

  • Juergen

    There’s a questionmark ? missing behind the headline “Nikon D90 buffer upgrade for 1080 HD video” as it is unsure if there really will be a D90 buffer upgrade for 1080 HD video (personally I doubt it, but that’s another thing…).

  • Honestly I would much prefer to look through the viewfinder instead of Live mode while shooting movies – mainly because it is a more stable way to hold the camera and it is easier to focus manually through the viewfinder. Also I would love to have full manual control over exposure, neither of these seem like something that would be too difficult for Nikon to provide in a firmware upgrade since you can shoot pictures this way if you want to and honestly 1080 is good but doesn’t seem to match this level of camera. The microphone would be great but with five minutes clips an external audio source isn’t that bad or hard to sync up (though it is an extra step).

    • Anonymous

      the mirror that reflects the image seen through the lens up to the viewfinder blocks the sensor. The mirror has to go up and therefore disables the viewfinder while the sensor is exposed.

  • XNik

    I would think that it is more software upgrade. Like how DVD players up scaling existing quality. I dont think it will be true 1080 but more just scaling up.

  • Jimeye- You do realize that it would be impossible to make a SLR that exposes the sensor AND has the mirror down at the same time, right? Unless you wanna get into funky half-silver mirrors that split the beam or something. Also, I find my D90 (and my D70s) to be extremely difficult to manually focus through the viewfinder, and when I have achieved proper focus through the viewfinder, it is off significantly and consistently at the sensor with both cameras. For my D90 I use mostly manual lenses because those work best with D-Movie, and I’ve declicked them so that I have manual exposure controls with AE locked… even with stills I prefer to shoot them in LiveView, it is actually MUCH easier to focus than the cruddy consumer grade viewfinder.

    I don’t see a buffer magically giving the D90 1080p, the camera already has significant issues with 720p. Maybe there is a board that could be swapped and Nikon is out to define themselves as THE movie making DSLR, but there is no way that the fix will only cost them 30 bucks, at that price they would just be recooping the shipping and handling.

  • JeroenW

    If it’s true then it may be $30 but it will cost three times that in Europe and will not be available until the spring, if then!

    compared to the US our nikon service sucks and we hardly get any rebates or cash backs.

    • rcoward

      Good point. So, what if I take my D90 to the US and get the ‘upgrade’ fitted/reprogrammed/etc over there, would it invalidate my warranty here in the UK? Time to dig out the paperwork and email Nikon UK…

      I’m not as up to speed on my electronics as I should but I am sure you can reprogramme some chips to behave differently and even to run the firmware completely differently. So a Nikon firmware upgrade ‘could’ change the whole way in which the video works, assuming the hardware is ready to receive it. A $30 charge is also about right to do a firmware upgrade ‘in-store’ for the non-computer literates and scaredy-cats amonst us.

      I see the logic with a previous post suggesting Nikon rushed out the basic camera firmware in a bid to be ‘First’. If this is the case then there is a potential to expand the camera’s capabilities with subsequent firmware upgrades. Sony did it with the PSP – who’d ever thought that the PSP would have a Skype client built into the firmware when it was first released? And GPS, camera, etc on later upgrades…?

      For me the video is not a deal maker/breaker, but it would be nice to have a stereo mic input and AF. But really, if you want serious HDV then get a HDV cam. Otherwise, the D90 will be great for the occasional video clip(s).

  • The mic rumor may have credence. The rest I’d doubt. The price, however, seems unrealistically low. If one could plug in a shotgun mic it would yield some serious power. It would also negate the need for external audio gear which is complicated during editing.

    I’ve not gotten a D90 yet but will very soon. I have two films I want to make and my tiny Flip, though a brilliant family use camera, just won’t cut it for the hi-end I need.

    I’m getting excited now. I’ve watched most of the D90 films at and I’m getting a good idea as to its capabilities.

  • Bill

    I’m all for add ons and upgrades but… the upgrade from 720p to 1080p in this body seems far fetched to me. if they can do that why can’t they upgrade a D1x to a FF chip?
    Now, if they have some new fangled thingamajig to mount an external mic WITH a headphone jack then I’m game. Even if the video is 720p and the sensor is x1.5 crop.

  • Bill

    Ok, so this is my dream spec sheet for a new Nikon DSLR.

    12+ MP
    720p or 1080p HD video
    external mic jack
    headphone jack (very important for video)

    Is that too much to ask?

  • fz

    720p to 1080p…. i highly doubt it. however if they ‘just’ give us control over shutter and iso and minimise the stairstepping i would get almost euphoric!!! and i would appreciate such an update so much more than having 1080p with the d90’s actual movie controls. its such a nice dslr! but right now in moviemode you have to outfox your own camera (before it bites you) to get out some decent looking footage :-))…. and that kind of sucks imo!
    regards fz

  • editman

    I’m a D90 user since launch and used the movie function alot. Both in private and at work in proffessional production.

    Someone who says the bitrate wouldn’t work because the hardware can’t keep up do need to check what is going on when you film.
    I would point out the bitrate as being much of the limiting factor to poor picture quality but it’s the codec and it’s implementation that’s what’s to blame.

    If the D90 could run it’s maximum rate at all times we wouldn’t complain. If you look at the actuall bitrate you notice it goes from a poor 2000/kbps to a good 32000/kbps. And if you would output 1080i instead of 720p the bandwidth is almost the same.

    1080i or 720p at around 30000/kbps would be okey! You have to have a fast SDHC card but that’s okey.

  • chip

    1080i would be a down grade.

  • I also was an early adopter of the D90 and have had lots of experience with it’s video. It’s limitations firstly are in the 18-105mm it comes with as it’s too slow and requires lots of light. ( plus, due to the automatic nature of it, some f stops are not available) Using hacks such as the “Kholi” method you can acquire somewhat more manual control of the camera. Try a 50mm f1.2, 35-70mm f2.8 or similar if you want to be impressed. Manual control of the iris is a must even though you still have to hack the body into doing what you want (ie. using the AE lock prior to entering Live View while focusing in on different shades of exposed areas with different combinations of f-stops and exposure values ). This can and needs a firmware fix to simplify this process (Mainly just have a way to lock the iso in at 200). I’m also confident the codec can be improved to better deal with the camera’s stair-stepping as people have already done that with codecs written for FCP. The thing I worry about is the rolling shutter / bandwidth issue. I suspect there are two processors controlling different functions of video processing. Why would it be both 720p and 480p are afflicted with the same rolling shutter / bandwidth problems? Why can I zoom in during live view but not during recording? I suspect one processor (A) has the massive task of down sampling the images from the CMOS sensor and loading it onto the buffer, and another (B) processes the video file for saving to the memory card. So (A) is slow and causes rolling shutter and lack of overall bandwidth and probably cant be updated (B) isn’t quite perfect either because of stair stepping and poor compression. Fortunately none of the problems caused by (B) are noticed when watching LV from the Mini HDMI output on the body. An ideal firmware update should include an option also remove some of the camera settings printed over the live image so we could use a Gefen PVR or equivalent HDCP compliant HDMI recording device for external hard drive recording (also eliminating the 5 minute 720p limitation). This I know is possible, I know a firmware update could squeeze a little more quality out of the functions controlled by processor B. Lets keep our fingers crossed. Note: some of these problems also exist in the Canon EOS 5D video but are WAY less noticeable, see for yourself. Nikon you are advertising this thing to families as a good video camera it’s time to own up to your claim with some serious firmware updates.

    • I am seriously considering purchasing this camera (NIKON D90) for a ‘secondary camera’. I like the ‘still’ shooting portion of it obviously but I videotape weddings professionally for 30 years now and am wanting a second camera to shoot video that can be put in the back of the church. I use high end 3CMOS chip HD Sony video cameras. I need to have a camera that will ‘continuously’ record for at least 1 hour. I was reading about your 5 minute limitation on your D90. Does that mean that it automatically breaks up the video into 5 minute files or you actually have to stop the camera at 5 minutes during recording to let it do it’s thing before you can start the recording again? Like I said I am also wanting the camera for shooting stills for family as well as for my video production business. I am mainly wanting it for a stationary–rear mounted in the church camera that has A REAL LENS and not some cheap consumer video camera 150X digital cheap lens. My understanding is the the Movie Mode of the D90 Nikon can handle low light real well? That sometimes becomes a real problem at these weddings in these churches. Thank you–Gary

  • alain calliaipiedi

    Any recent news about this rumor?

  • fz


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