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Nikon D5000 Digital SLR - Nikon D5000 Digital SLR

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Nikon D5000 Digital SLR


Our Score:


If we can ignore that one annoyance the D5000 is otherwise a very capable and well designed camera, striking a careful balance between complexity and accessibility. The automatic settings such as the many scene modes and the superb AF system can be relied upon to produce good results in almost all circumstances, but for more experienced users it offers a wide range of manual control and custom setting options. It scores a perfect bulls-eye on its target user, combining the simplicity of an entry-level camera with the features of an advanced semi-pro model.

The hardware is all good quality too. The monitor is a little bit small for a DSLR at 2.7 inches and only 230k dots, but the viewfinder is larger and brighter than most of its rivals, with a good data display and an optional grid overlay. The shutter is rated for 100,000 cycles, and has a maximum speed of 1/4000th of a second, and the pop-up flash is decently powerful, with a guide number of 17 at 200 ISO. The D5000 uses the same Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus system as the D90, with 11 focus points including one centre cross-type sensor, and rather than relying on the flash it has a powerful AF assist lamp with a range of several meters.

Like most of its rivals the D5000 is limited to a contrast detection AF system in live view mode, with a single focus point, although this point can be moved around the frame. This is considerably slower than the viewfinder phase detection AF, and even slower in low light, but it does mean that the D5000 can operate virtually silently shooting in live view with the mirror up.

The video mode is also the same as the D90, shooting at up 1280 x 720 resolution at a TV-friendly 24fps. Sound is monaural only, recorded by an on-board microphone which is not particularly directional, recording sounds behind the camera as almost as loudly those from in front. It also has the same major drawback as the D90; there is no autofocus while recording, so you have to pre-focus and then try and keep your subject in focus manually, which is obviously difficult if you're shooting hand-held and trying to follow a moving subject.


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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