Nikon D5000 Review

The popular but feature-limited entry-level D60 and (now defunct) D40, as well as the mid-range D90, are being filled by the Nikon D5000.

In reality, it has the same 12 million-pixel sensor, AF, white balance, and metering technologies as the latter and includes an HD video recording option.

The ergonomic effect of the D60 and D40 is primarily seen in the D5000’s ability to access its core capabilities through a cutting-edge, approachable graphic user interface (GUI).

Design and Body

A bit of a change for Nikon, the D5000 is larger than the D40/D60 sized cameras while remaining smaller than the D80/D90 body design. And it’s not exactly what we’d describe as attractive. From a conceptual standpoint, the D5000 resembles a D90 most of the time but has a D60 body and an articulated screen added to the back. It appears that the designers used this as their guide for how it should look. It is covered in a plethora of lumps, bumps, and nubs.

The D5000 is similar to the D50 in many ways. It is surprisingly large compared to its contemporaries and, unlike previous tiny Nikons, has a feature set that will spark much discussion on whether to purchase this camera or the model above.

Easy interface

Importantly, this GUI is made to both displays and explain the primary shooting parameters.

For instance, experienced photographers would not give the terms “aperture” and “shutter speed” any thought, while newcomers can easily become perplexed by the terms.

In order to achieve this, the D5000’s rear panel displays an aperture blade graphic that opens and closes when the aperture value is altered, as well as full, fractional shutter speed displays.

The GUI is highly customizable, and it has the beneficial feature that the display rotates automatically based on how the camera is held. Oddly enough, the D5000 does not have the same eye sensor as the D60, therefore when the camera is brought up to the eye, the LCD status panel, which is turned on by default, does not turn off.

The status indicator is distracting and even a touch blinding while looking through the viewfinder, which is a tiny but irksome issue when taking pictures in low light.

Outstanding Live View

The viewfinder is obviously not the only choice with the D5000, as the new camera offers essentially the same highly effective Live View technology as the D90, with the long overdue addition of a fully articulated LCD screen.

Unlike the D90 and D300, its screen (which strangely has a hinge along its lowest edge) makes Live View a delight to use and gives you more freedom to shoot from uncomfortable high and low angles.

A “subject tracking” mode in Live View, which enables you to select a specific subject as the camera’s “target” for following around the scene, is new to the D5000.

The AF system is not truly activated until the shutter button is halfway depressed, therefore this function is not technically a “AF tracking” mode, but it is nevertheless highly helpful for off-center compositions and for shooting moving subjects.

Performance

Overall, there is good performance, and the camera always feels quick and responsive. In comparison to the Nikon D60, which wasn’t a slouch itself, processor power and buffering have been significantly enhanced, making the D5000, notably in the continuous shooting category, one of the fastest cameras in the “entry-level” segment. The Nikon D5000 seldom ever interferes with the action, even when it is in raw mode.

Image Quality

It’s fairly amazing how much of the D300’s technology has been downsized from an $1800 camera to one that costs less than $700 in just 18 months. The default JPEG settings may be a little too geared toward the D300 market, but they can be adjusted to give the bright, punchy output that former compact camera owners are likely to expect. The image quality is definitely good. With or without the helpful Active D-Lighting feature, the dynamic range and high ISO performance are both excellent.

Flexible AF system

Except for the inclusion of subject tracking, the AF system in the D5000 is the same as that in the D90, and as a result, it performed similarly well across the board in terms of responsiveness and accuracy.

However, it should be noted that the D5000 can only accomplish automatic focus with AF-S and AF-I lenses, whereas the D90 has an internal AF motor to enable AF with earlier Nikon lenses.

By clicking the “ok” button while in Live View mode, video recording is readily enabled, and 720p video clips with a maximum duration of 5 minutes can be recorded.

In video mode, no AF

Only manual focusing is available in video mode, and the D5000’s built-in microphone is extremely sensitive, just like the D90’s. Sadly, it can be a touch too sensitive and frequently picks up the sound of the lens zooming or focusing while recording video. Unfortunately, adding an external microphone is not a possibility.

The sensor in the D5000 is the same as that in the D90 and D300, and it doesn’t seem to have undergone any modification for the new model. The wide ISO range of 100-6400 (equivalent) is suitable for almost any condition, and the image quality is extremely good.

Nikon D5000 Specifications

Price (body only)• US: $ 729
• UK: £ 719
• EU: € 699
Price (with 18-55 VR)• US: $ 850
• UK: £ 799
• EU: € 799
Sensor• 23.6 x 15.8 mm Nikon DX-format CMOS sensor
• 12.9 million total pixels
• 12.3 million effective pixels
Dust Reduction System• Airflow control system
• Image Sensor Cleaning
• Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)
Image processorNikon EXPEED
A/D conversion12 bit
Image sizes• 4,288 x 2,848 (L)
• 3,216 x 2,136 (M)
• 2,144 x 1,424 (S)
File formats• NEF (compressed RAW)
• JPEG: Fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx. 1:16) compression
• NEF (RAW) + JPEG (any size)
• AVI Motion-JPEG
Movie• File format AVI (Motion-JPEG)
• Image size (pixels) 1280 x 720; 24fps, 640 x 424; 24 fps, 320 x 216; 24 fps
• Audio: Monaural on/off a selection
• Exposure: Determined with matrix metering utilizing output from the image sensor
• Exposure lock available
• Exposure compensation available in P, S, A, and M modes
• Maximum single clip length: 1280×720/ 5 minutes, others 20 minutes
Lens mount• Nikon F mount with AF contacts
• Approx. 1.5x lens focal length (Nikon DX format)
Usable lenses• AF-S, AF-I
• Other Type G or D AF Nikkor
• Other AF Nikkor/AI-P Nikkor• Type D PC Nikkor• Non-CPU• IX Nikkor/AF Nikkor for F3AF- All functions supported
– All functions supported except autofocus
– All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II
– All functions supported except some shooting modes
– Can be used in mode M, but exposure meter does not function; electronic range finder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster.
– Cannot be used
Auto Focus• 11 focus points (1 cross-type sensors)
• Multi-CAM 1000
• AF working range: -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100, normal temperature)
• Contrast Detect in Live View mode
• Manual focus [M], Electronic range finding supported
AF Servo Modes• Single Servo (AF-S)
• Continuous Servo (AF-C)
• Automated selection of AF-S or AF-C, (AF-A)
• Focus Tracking automatically activated by subject’s status in (AF-A)
Focus Point• Single point from 11 focus points
• Center point narrow or wide zone
• Live view: Contrast AF on user-selectable point anywhere within frame
AF Area Mode• Single point AF
• Dynamic Area AF
• Automatic-area AF
• 3D Tracking AF (11 points)
Focus LockFocus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing AE-L/AF-L button
AF assistAF-assist illuminator (range approx. 0.5-3 m/1.6-9.8 ft.)
Exposure modes• Program Auto [P] with flexible program
• Shutter-Priority Auto [S]
• Aperture-Priority Auto [A]
• Manual [M]
• Auto
• Advanced Scene Modes (Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up, Night portrait, Night landscape, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Pet portrait, Candlelight, Blossom, Autumn colors, Food, Silhouette, High key, Low key)
MeteringTTL full-aperture exposure metering using 420-pixel RGB sensor
• 3D Color Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses);
• Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to an 8 mm dia. circle in center of frame
• Spot: Meters approx. 3.5 mm dia. circle (about 2.5 % of frame) centered on selected focus point
Metering range• 3D Color Matrix Metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Center-Weighted Metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Spot Metering: 2 to 20 EV
(At normal temperature (20°C/68°F), ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens)
Meter couplingCPU (not AI)
Exposure lockLocked using AE-L/AF-L button
Exposure bracketing• 3 frames
• Up to +/–2.0 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps
• ADL (Active D-Lighting) bracketing: 2 frames (one with ADL, one without)
Exposure compen.• +/–5.0 EV
• 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps
Sensitivity• Default: ISO 200 – 3200 in 1/3 EV steps
• Boost: 100 – 6400 in 1/3 EV steps
Shutter• Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal plane shutter
• 30 to 1/4000 sec (1/3 or 1/2 EV steps)
• Flash X-Sync: 1/200 sec
• Bulb
• Time (optional Wireless Remote Control ML-L3 required)
• Tested to 100,000 exposures
Active D-LightingCan be selected from Auto, Extra high, High, Normal, Low, or Off
White balance• Auto (Using main imaging sensor and 420-pixel metering CCD)
• Presets (12) with fine tuning
• Manual preset
• White balance bracketing (3 frames in increments of 1, 2 or 3)
Picture Control• Standard
• Neutral
• Vivid
• Monochrome
• Landscape
• Portrait
• Storage for up to nine custom Picture Controls
Image parameters• Sharpening: Auto, 10 levels
• Contrast: Auto, 7 levels
• Brightness: 3 levels
• Saturation: Auto, 7 levels
• Hue: 7 levels
• Quick Adjust; 5 levels
• High ISO Noise Reduction (High, Normal, Low, Off)
Color space• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Viewfinder• Eye-level pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder
• Frame coverage Approx. 95% horizontal and 95% vertical
• Magnification Approx. 0.78x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity, –1.0 m-1)
• Eyepoint 17.9 mm (–1.0 m-1)
• Diopter adjustment –1.7 to+1 m-1
Focusing screen• Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark V screen with focus frame
• Superimposed on-demand grid lines over the viewfinder display.
LCD monitor• 2.7 ” TFT LCD
• Approx. 230,000 dots
• 100% frame coverage
• Brightness adjustment
LCD Live view• Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face priority is selected)
• Face priority
• Wide area
• Normal area
• AF tracking
Shooting modes• Single frame
• Continuous 4 fps (at shutter speeds over 1/250. 67 Large Fine JPEG, 11 RAW)
• Self-Timer
• Delayed remote, quick response remote (optional Wireless Remote Control ML-L3 required for remote shooting)
• Quiet shooting (doesn’t re-cock shutter until shutter button is released)
Self-timer• 2, 5, 10, and 20 s
Flash• Auto pop-up type (auto pop up in Auto, Portrait, Child, Close-up, Night portrait, Party/indoor, Pet portrait modes)
• Manual pop-up in P,A,S,M and Food modes
• Guide number of 17/56 (ISO 200, m/ft.) or 18/59 with manual flash (ISO 200, m/ft.)
• Guide number of 12/39 (ISO 100 equiv, m/ft.) or 13/43 with manual flash (ISO 100 equiv, m/ft.)
• Sufficient to illuminate the picture angle of an 18mm lens
Flash control• TTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 420-pixel RGB sensor are available with built-in flash and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-400
• Auto aperture: Available with SB-900, SB-800 and CPU lens
• Non-TTL auto: Supported flash units include SB-900, SB-800, SB-28, SB-27, and SB-22s
• Range-priority manual: Available with SB-900 and SB-800
Flash Modes•Auto, auto with red-eye reduction, fill-flash, auto slow sync, auto slow sync with red-eye correction, reat curtain with slow sync.
Flash Accessory ShoeISO 518 standard-type hot shoe contact; Safety lock mechanism provided
Flash Sync TerminalNo
Flash compensation• -3 to +1 EV
• 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps
Creative Lighting System• Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with SB-900, SB-800, or SU-800 as commander and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-R200 as remotes
Playback mode• Full-frame playback
• Movie playback
• Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images or calendar) playback
• Playback zoom (image size L up to approx. 27x, M up to approx. 20x, S up to approx. 13x) When one or more faces (up to 10) were detected with shooting, the faces are enclosed in white borders. When playback zoom is applied, different faces can be displayed by rotating the sub-command dial.
• Slide show playback
• Pictmotion
• Histogram display
• Highlights display
• Auto image rotation
• Image comment (up to 36 characters)
Retouch functionsD-Lighting, red-eye correction, trim, monochrome, filter effects, color balance, small picture, image overlay, NEF (RAW) processing, quick retouch, straighten, distortion control, fisheye
LanguagesChinese (Simplified and Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish
Connectivity• USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) Mini-B connector
• PTP transfer protocol
• NTSC or PAL video output
• HDMI video out (version 1.3a, Type C mini connector provided)
• Remote control / GPS terminal
Storage• SD (Secure Digital) memory cards, SDHC-compliant
Power• Lithium-Ion EN-EL9a (Approx. 510 shots, CIPA)
• Included battery charger MH-23
• Optional AC adapter EH-5a with EP-5 connector
DimensionsApprox. 127 x 104 x 80 mm (5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in.)
Weight (no batt)Approx. 560 g (1 lb. 4 oz.) without battery, memory card, body cap, or monitor cover
Operating environmentTemperature: 0 – 40 °C / 32 – 104 °F, Humidity: under 85% (no condensation)
Box contentsRechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL9e, Quick Charger MH-23, USB Cable UC-E6, Audio/Video Cable EG-CP14, Camera Strap AN-DC3, Eyepiece Cap DK-5, Rubber Eyecup DK-24, Body Cap BF-1A, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1, Software Suite CD-ROM (Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area)
Optional accessories• *Remote Cord MC-DC2, *GPS Unit GP-1, Photofinishing software Capture NX 2, AC Adapter EP-5/EH-5a, Magnifying Eyepiece DK-21M, Eyepiece Correction Lens DK-20C, Eyepiece Magnifier DG-2, Eyepiece Adapter DK-22, Right-Angle Viewing Attachment DR-6, Semi-soft Case CF-DC2, Wireless Remote Control ML-L3, Sync Terminal Adapter AS-15, Camera Control Pro 2

Conclusion

The Nikon D5000 wants to be many different things to many different people. It replaces the D60 as an offering meant to entice upgraders from prior entry-level DSLRs and also offers a warm hand-up to DSLR ownership for compact camera users wishing to get more active in their hobby. Additionally, it does both jobs fairly well overall.

It is a very capable camera thanks to the features and technologies carried over from the D90, but the differences in its feature set—low-res LCD, smaller viewfinder, single control dial, fewer direct-access buttons, smaller battery, and more constrained lens compatibility—should prevent it from overstepping the boundaries of its bigger brother.

Nikon D5000 Price

Pros & Cons

Good For
  • outstanding image quality
  • user-friendly control system
  • high ISO performance is very impressive
  • good dynamic range and tonal response
Need Improvements
  • For most forms of photography, contrast detect autofocus is too sluggish, which is frequently the case with DSLRs.
  • somewhat reliant on many button presses for control
  • JPEG output by default soft (shoot RAW for best results)
  • Lack of an AF motor limits lens options, yet the majority of common lenses function.
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The popular but feature-limited entry-level D60 and (now defunct) D40, as well as the mid-range D90, are being filled by the Nikon D5000. In reality, it has the same 12 million-pixel sensor, AF, white balance, and metering technologies as the latter and includes an HD...Nikon D5000 Review