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Nikon D5000 Digital SLR review




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Nikon D5000 Digital SLR


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Digital SLRs have become very popular over the past few years, thanks to the ready availability and comparatively low cost of good quality entry-level models. It's possible to get a decent DSLR with a standard zoom lens for under £300, less than the cost of some compact cameras. However these entry-level models are often quite limited, with only basic features and controls more like those of a compact.

As a result there are a lot of keen photographers out there who are starting to find their beginner's models a bit restrictive, and are looking to upgrade to something offering more versatility and control. The price level between £450 and £550 is hotly contested territory, with cameras like the Canon EOS 500D (review coming soon), the Olympus E-620 and the new Sony Alpha A380. Against this opposition Nikon has launched the D5000, a new mid-range 12.3-megapixel DSLR loaded up with every must-have feature that the camera industry has apparently decided we can't live without.

The D5000 fits into Nikon's range above the new entry-level D3000, but below the £630 D90. It manages to combine most of the D90's features into the lighter body it shares with the D3000, adding a flip-and-twist articulated 2.7-inch monitor. Although the body feels a lot smaller than the D90 there's actually not much in it. The D5000 is slightly narrower but a couple of millimetres taller and deeper. The body is strong plastic over a metal chassis, and the build quality and finish are of Nikon's usual high standard. It feels light but robust, and is a comfortable camera to hold. The right-hand side controls are sensibly placed, and in common with most Nikon DSLRs there is a row of buttons on the left of the monitor.

The D5000's flip-and-twist monitor is somewhat unusual. The hinge and pivot is at the bottom, and so the screen hinges downwards. It can be rotated so that it points forward underneath the camera, or twisted right around to protect it against the camera body. Somebody didn't think their cunning plan all the way through though, because with the camera mounted on a typical SLR-sized tripod - one time when a tilting live view monitor is particularly useful - the monitor hinge fouls the tripod mounting plate, and can't be tilted down by more than 90 degrees, which obviously limits its usefulness in this situation. A side-mounted hinge would have been a lot more flexible, but that would have meant a re-think of Nikon's traditional control layout.


September 12, 2009, 1:10 am

Blimey, this camera must have hit every branch of every tree in the ugly orchard.. It has got to be the ugliest digital SLR ever made, and that includes the infamous Olympus E-300.

And to think, Nikon used to get Giugiaro Design to design it's film cameras..

leonid 82

September 12, 2009, 2:45 am

Hi Cliff,

I wonder howcome your D5000 review blasts the ISO Performance, while every other review site is praising High ISO Performance for this camera. This was the case with even Nikon D90. Going by the results of your review, Nikon cameras underperform in your hands!! Any reasons...

Cliff Smith

September 12, 2009, 5:40 pm

I'm sure I have no idea why some sites would be talking up a camera that Nikon is sure to be advertising heavily in the run up to Christmas...

I try to take all my ISO test shots under consistent lighting conditions, lit by a north-facing window and a Lastolite reflector, but it seems to be true that the exposure meter used in the D90 and D5000 doesn't like my tabletop studio set-up; I have no idea why. I tried it on all metering options with similar results.


September 13, 2009, 2:03 am

I'm looking forward to your review of the Canon EOS 500D. It's very similar to the Nikon D5000 and in direct competition with it. Is it significantly better than the D5000? Significantly worse? So far the professional reviews I've read judge it a stand off.


September 13, 2009, 4:38 pm

I'm no expert but doesn't noise "expose" itself more when the image is underexposed like in these shots? If you correct the poor auto-metering would these image ISO problems be reduced? If it was the same shutter speed as another SLR at the samee ISO setting then that would be a more accurate test...I think.


September 14, 2009, 5:11 pm

I agree with Gingerscot. Each cam has its own quirks and when you use it for any prolonged time only then you can appreciate its capabilities. This cam seems to give preference to faster shutter speeds and in turn produces under-exposed images when used in full auto-metering mode. I could be wrong tho, this is my observation based on this review and no hands-on time with this particular cam. Could be it's just all down to not using latest firmware? Anyway, problems like this is something that anyone using it for longer than just taking few test shots could easily compensate for with setting it to one's needs and conditions. There's setting for this in any and all D-SLRs I know of. It would hardly matter much to me personally. If anything, I'd prefer it default to faster shutter speeds in most circumstances that I wouldn't have time to change cam's settings. Slight (1 step, by what I make of test shots) under-exposure in full auto mode in a cam with such dynamic range is hardly something worth taking much notice or giving it lesser score for IQ. Nice kit lens BTW :)

Luan Bach

September 14, 2009, 10:39 pm

Nikon DSLR auto modes has always the tendency to under-expose, compares to Canon, to maintain highlights. If you want straight out of the camera images then you'll need to add 1/3 or 1/2 stop compensation.


September 18, 2009, 8:03 pm

I tried my friend's D5000, it wasn't too bad. I didnt have my old D80 along side it but I felt it was either as good OR better than it in terms of Noise Control. Only thing I felt was the AF speed of the camera compared to my old D80, it was slower.


October 19, 2009, 11:21 pm

Thanks for this review. Enjoyed the perspective. Haven't tried the D5000 yet, and am already a big fan of the D90-this review makes me think it might be a nice travel camera. Also just read Peter Burian's mostly positive field test of the D5000 on Photocrati--he seemed to like it--though not as much as the D90, I think :)


October 19, 2009, 11:22 pm

One minor technical thing-- is there any way that you can make your reviews more scrollable so your fans don't have to keep clicking (and reloading) every page? Maybe I'm the only one who finds that a little annoying...


April 12, 2010, 9:16 am

Looking very charmy, but am allready use nikon D3000.



September 4, 2010, 7:20 pm

Hi, can this camera support class 10 SDHC ? or SDXC


October 31, 2013, 1:13 am

Interesting to note that the D5100 has a SIDE HINGE on the viewfinder!!

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