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Nikon D5000 Digital SLR - Nikon D5000 Digital SLR

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Nikon D5000 Digital SLR


Our Score:


It's the D5000's performance that really sets it apart from the entry level toys. It starts up almost instantly, and like all the best cameras it can take a picture within a fraction of a second of flicking the switch. In single-shot mode it can take pictures as fast as you can press the shutter button. In continuous shooting mode it can manage over 4fps in JPEG Fine mode, although it does start to slow down after approximately 30 shots. In Raw mode it's a fraction slower, and the buffer fills up after approximately 14 shots. The speed with which it empties again is very dependent on the speed of the memory card being used, although it doesn't appear to see class 10 cards as any faster than class 6.

The movie quality is very good, and there's no doubt that shooting video through a high quality Nikon lens does produce some very nice results, but the hit-or-miss sound quality and lack of autofocus limit its usefulness.

A number of reviewers have raved about the D5000's image quality, but to be honest I wasn't overly impressed by it. Don't get me wrong, there's no problem, it's just not significantly better than any other mid-level APS-C DSLR that I've tried recently, such as the Sony Alpha A330 or even the Olympus Pen E-P1. The D5000 can certainly take a nice photo, and there's no doubt that the new AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lens is utterly fantastic, producing corner-to-corner sharpness with no distortion or chromatic aberration at any focal length.

The Active D-Lighting system is excellent, effectively increasing the dynamic range by about one stop under and two over, and it wasn't at all bad to start with. As a result the D5000 produces pictures with rich well-saturated colours that still have detail even in the brightest areas. In fact they look a lot like they were shot on colour slide film.

The only real problems I found with the D5000 were somewhat inconsistent light metering, varying by as much as 1EV on consecutive shots of the same scene, and significant noise at ISO settings of 800 and above, at least when using the default settings. High ISO nose control is adjustable via the main menu, but to get anything approaching acceptable image quality at 1600 ISO it has to set to maximum. 3200 ISO is pretty rope even so.


The Nikon D5000 is a well made and well equipped mid-level camera ideal for those upgrading from an entry-level DSLR and looking for more features. Performance and handling are excellent, autofocus is quick and reliable, and image quality is very good under most circumstances. Video mode has no AF and the monitor opens the wrong way, but other than that it's a good little camera.


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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