Nikon D5000 Review

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Nikon D5000 Digital SLR Camera
The Nikon D5000 is Nikon’s second digital SLR to offer video capture and its first to incorporate a tilt/swivel LCD display. The D5000 has a compact body with a 12.3-megapixel DX format CMOS sensor, a full range of shooting modes and exposure controls, and 720p video at 24 frames per second.

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Nikon D5000 Studio Test Photos
studio_icon.jpg ISO 100 (Lo 1) Sample >>
ISO 200 Sample >>
ISO 400 Sample >>
ISO 800 Sample >>
ISO 1600 Sample >>
ISO 3200 Sample >>
ISO 6400 (Hi 1) Sample >>


Nikon D5000 at ISO 3200 - Iceberg!

    Nikon D5000 Pros

  • Wonderful image quality!
  • Vari-angle tilt-swivel LCD monitor
  • Bonus video mode
  • Information Display screen
  • Compact size and light weight
  • Auto focus system is much better than the D60′s
    Nikon D5000 Cons

  • No auto focus in movie mode
  • Vari-angle LCD can’t be used for self-portraits on a tripod
  • Exposure compensation button is a little awkward
  • People with big hands or who like big cameras may find it too small and light
  • Lack of dedicated buttons for white balance, AF, ISO, etc.
Nikon D5000 - front and back


Introduction
I got a sneak peak at the Nikon D5000 at the annual PMA tradeshow in March. I was excited when I saw the Vari-angle LCD display. I love being able to adjust the position of a camera’s LCD and think it’s great that Nikon is finally offering this valuable feature. It’s especially useful for photographers who use Live View or shoot video.

The D5000 has the same excellent 12.3-megapixel sensor as the Nikon D90 that was introduced last fall. Since the D90 received so much praise for low light image quality, I was really looking forward to using the D5000 for night photos and other low light photography. I’ll give you a preview now and say the D5000 did not let me down. I’ve shot a wide variety of subjects with it, including a wedding, food (bacon-related, of course), some mountain biking and a little architecture. The more I use it, the more I like it.

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next pageNikon D5000 Camera Features >>

Introduction Features & Design Camera Experience Image Quality Conclusion

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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of PhotographyREVIEW.com and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • thien says:

    The inclusion of the pop out display makes this camera very intriguing… Is this going to be standard for Nikons moving forward?

  • Photo-John says:

    Thanks for the comment, Thien. I was hoping they’d be using it on every camera from here on out. But the two new cameras Nikon just announced don’t have it. The new D3000 is positioned below the D5000 so maybe they left it out for that reason. And the new D300s is basically a D300 with some internal upgrades. So they didn’t make any body changes. It’s probable that we see more implementation in the next generation. I expect Nikon is looking at the D5000 as a test for the Vari-angle LCD.

  • derek says:

    My Canon Powershot point-n-shoot has a movie mode and can’t re-focus once it filming begins. A little frustrating if the subject changes position or I want to zoom in/out. Not that I expect my inexpensive simple point-n-shoot to be rich with features, but do other DSLRs with movie mode have the same problem?

  • Photo-John says:

    Derek, right now all digital SLRs with movie modes have the same problem. Nikon just announced a new model, the D300s, which will allow auto focus while you’re filming. How well the auto focus works is the next question. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s as usable as a dedicated digital video camera.

    The Panasonic Lumix GH1 and Olympus E-P1are DSLR-like and they both offer auto focus during video capture. I haven’t used the Panasonic yet so I don’t know how well the auto focus works. But the continuous auto focus on the Olympus E-P1 is pretty useless during video because it hunts too much and the motor makes noise that’s really obvious if you’re filming with sound.

  • Anand says:

    Hi John,
    Would i be able to use my existing manual SLR lenses – a Canon 35-70mm and a tamron 70-300 mm telephoto lens on the Nikon D5000 ?
    I currently use a manual SLR- canon EOS Rebel

    Thanks
    Anand

  • Photo-John says:

    Anand-
    There are two problem with what you propose – most digital SLRs these days have proprietary lens mounts. So, aside from third-party lens makers like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina, you will only be able to use Nikon lenses on a Nikon camera body. Further – with the D5000 and other “entry-level” Nikon DSLRs, you are limited to their AF-S lenses, which have a built-in auto focus motor. So if you decided to buy a Nikon camera, you would also have to buy Nikon lenses. The kit lens that comes with the D5000 is a very good one, though – likely better than your Canon 35-70mm and Tamron 70-300mm.

    Since you already have a couple of Canon EOS lenses, I would recommend you take a look at the Canon Digital Rebel XSi. It’s sort of the Canon counterpart to Nikon’s D5000. It also has video and you will be able to use your lenses with it. However, lenses have come quite a way in the past few years and you will probably be better off sticking with the Canon 18-55mm IS kit lens, if you decide to go that route.

    Thanks for posting a comment!

  • Anand says:

    Thanks a ton John – your info truly helps.
    Infact i was toying with the Canon XSi and the Nikon D5000 – but for the above dilemma! And now i am torn between choosing from the Canon XSi and their latest 500D – the T1i. I am looking for a DSLR with Video capabilities.
    Secondly, i am very interested in macro photography : Please suggest me a reasonably inexpensive NON-NIKON lens.
    Thanks in advance
    Cheers,
    Anand

  • Photo-John says:

    Anand-
    I’m glad you mentioned the Canon T1i. That’s actually the camera I meant when I mentioned the XSi. The XSi does not have video, but the T1i, does. I’m not a real macro shooter so I don’t know that I’m the best to make a recommendation. You should take a look at and maybe post on our Narure & Wildlife photography forum. Those guys are the experts on macro photography. I think there’s a Tamron lens a lot of the macro shooters like. Here’s a link to the Nature & Wildlife photography forum: http://forums.photographyreview.com/forumdisplay.php?f=48

  • Wendy says:

    FYI – There’s is a service recall on a number of the Nikon D5000′s.

    I just purchased one, and had to immediately send it back to Nikon for repair. UPS seems to have lost it for the time being, but that’s another story.

    Here’s the related link:

    http://www.nikonusa.com/Service-And-Support/Service-Advisories/D5000-Service-Advisory.page

  • Dwayne says:

    So, you cannot manually focus while shooting video with any of these new age digital SLR’s with video capabilities? Is that absolutely true? I though they were competition for the HVX and the like, but if this is the case nevermind..

  • dSLR Amateur says:

    You can manual focus while shooting in video mode (make sure it’s set to M or M/A).

    It does not autofocus if you move around.

  • AdamD says:

    Hello John,

    I was wondering, does Nikon Inc. just send you these things (crap) or is there a form that you have to fill out or what. If so, how can I get one?

    Thanks.
    Adam.

  • Photo-John says:

    Good question, Adam. If it was just a form to fill out, everyone would be doing it. Build a good Web site and drum up lots of traffic and then ask Nikon for a loaner and see how it goes :-)

    They don’t just give them away, either. I get them for a few weeks and then we send them back. No camera freebies to be had.

  • Kalai Singapore says:

    Hi John Thats a very useful essay!

    I wanna buy my 1st DSLR & I prefer D5000 after reading your page.. do you recommend this for a beginner? Is D5000 controls are easy to learn?

    Thx
    Kalai

  • Jon says:

    I love my D5000 DSLR camera! I am having trouble finding the right tripod. The flimsy ones are too flimsy, and the bigger ones have too big of a mounting plate which interferes with the swivel-tilt screen. Other than that, I love my camera. I constantly have it with me, and look for things to take cool pictures of, or try to figure out how to set a picture up properly. I could not settle for the D3000. It had to be the D5000, and I am happy to have made this decision.

  • Zetton says:

    You can use just about any Nikon lens – or any other manual lens with an adapter. While it’s true that it doesn’t autofocus, like the D90, the images that come out of this thing are gorgeous – even in low light. These cameras are being adopted, increasingly, by independent filmmakers. But – no, it’s not an appropriate tool for zooming around with shaky cam at your kids birthday. However, adapt your style… Think of it as “moving stills”…

  • Vilmarie says:

    Hi!
    What can you tell me about the battery?? I am going to Europe this summer and I don’t want to be out of battery during the day.

  • Cassie says:

    Hey guys, my dad got the Nikon D5000 as a retirement pressie and gave it to me as he knew my Canon 30D was playing up. I am used to Canons and not familiar with Nikons but have used it alittle bit and love it. The only thing is i have a few people booked me to do thier wedding photography and need to invest in a decent telephoto lens and tripod for the Nikon. Any advice on which ones to go for that are good and reliable which dont break the bank??? For the lens i would ideally like one with a wide aperture (i.e F2.8) and the tripod not too bulky & with an easily adjustable ball head. Any suggestions or advice????

  • python says:

    Nikon D5000 is a good camera, the pictures is somehow a little bit darker compared to D90 though.

    For some sample pictures of D5000, you can visit http://dslrjourney.blogspot.com

  • Pbriya says:

    Hi…I’m a photography enthusiast. I have been shooting with compact so far, but now want to expand my horizons and buy a good DSLR. I am not into video, so that is not at all a deciding factor for me. Am torn between the D90 with 18-105mm kit lens and the D5000 with 18-55mm kit lens. I have these questions and am hoping for answers:
    1. Does it make sense to go for d90 despite the fact that It is an older model and more expensive than D5000.
    2. Is it more important to get a more expensive body? Or would I be equally well equipped with a cheaper body and more cash in hand to expand my repertoire of lenses?
    3. Is D90+18-105 kit lens equivalent to D500 + 18-55 kit lens and an extra lens (perhaps the 55-200mm VR nikon)?
    4. Do I need autofocus built into the body if I do not have a set of older lenses that do not have autofocus?
    5. What are the other accessories I must have?
    Waiting for an answer. Really want to buy myself a dslr soon ….

  • Bob says:

    Can I use older nikon lens on my D5000. The older lens are strickly manual.

  • Jared says:

    I began an interest into photography about 1 year ago and have since been using a very much outdated (now) Fujifilm S5700. I bought it mainly for it’s video features, (even they’re not the best) but soon took an interest into photography when I started seeing some good results from my pictures. However, this Christmas I want to update my camera into something that is really going to allow me to go further. Also a camera that won’t need replacing and won’t be outdated within 2 or so years. So my question today is; Is the Nikon D5000 a good camera bought with the 18-55mm lens kit, or for my needs, will I need to invest into a larger lens in the near future?

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