Nikon D5000 Review
The Nikon D5000 is on top of our list of best entry-level DSLRs, and for good reason. Whether you buy the kit lens, or the body only, the cost is under $1000, and offers outstanding photo quality, good performance, and enough features to play with.
Holding the D5000 in our hands, there is a plastic feel to the exterior, but this is pretty common with entry-level cameras. Instead of stainless steel, Nikon chose to build the D5000 with polycarbonate. It's not cheap by any means, but you will need to be careful when handling it because of the plastic material.
The control layout is nothing fancy, and similar to the D60, its predecessor. They did get rid of some direct access buttons, opting to put most of the functionality in the LCD display. The mode dial is located behind the shutter button, with the power switch surrounding it. Like most cameras in this class, there's no depth of field preview button.
The display on the D5000 is one of the more noticeable features: you are able to flip the LCD screen down (and only down). This allows the user to take photos at different angles, like overhead or at waist-level, while being able to look at the subject on the display. Other Nikon models have the screen able to flip the side; it depends on how you angle the camera to use the flipped screen. The screen is 2.7 inches, smaller compared to its competitors. However, colors are sharp and accurate and the screen is visible under the light.
The display itself is interactive; it allows you to change settings like shutter speed, image size and quality, white balance, ISO sensitivity, focus mode, flash mode, and more, under the same menu. The display also lets you know if there is no SD card present and if the subject is too dark. Objects on the display can rotate according to the camera as well.
Live view is of course supported, and it's activated by pressing the live view button located in the back, to the right of the LCD display. The implementation is fairly typical, except that you can just focus in contrast-detect mode (other cameras let you choose between between phase-detect and contrast-detect). Using contrast-detect, it can be a bit slow to focus, taking at least a couple of seconds. Nonetheless, it does its job if you're not in a rush. You can also opt to use face detection, which will focus on faces.
Of course, the main attraction is not the LCD screen, but the images the camera captures. We think the D5000 delivers excellent images with good exposure, and excellent color accuracy. The colors may not be as bright and vivid as some other cameras such as the T1i, as Nikon choose to stick with more technically accurate colors. You can easily change this through the color settings if you wish to have that punchy, bright color effect.
The noise profile for the D5000 is rock solid. We were able to shoot good photos with very little noise up to an ISO level of 1600. We were even able to use some photos shot in ISO 6400 for certain situations. However, the lack of an in-body focus motor means you'll have to spend more on lenses to enhance your photo quality. For a novice, the image quality of the D5000 kit lens will be more than enough though.
The D5000 also delivers pretty good performance: it can power on and shoot in 0.2 second, has a lag of 0.3 second, and has a 0.7 second lag in dim environments. Shooting and saving JPEGs and RAW took .5 seconds, with flash enabled, that number jumps to .9 seconds. Continuous shooting speed measured at 4 fps (equal to the D90), which puts it the best of its class. We were pleasantly surprised at how fast the autofocus system was. We had no problems capturing shots of moving objects like running kids, and pets. Battery life is good - after 500 shots, you'll need a recharge.
Lastly, D5000 allows video recording. It records in HD in 720p at 24 frames per second. As with most cameras that record at low fps, you'll need to have good control of the camera to produce a clip with little or no blurriness. There's also a five minute cap for each video. There isn't a direct video mode; you use what's called Live View mode. When you get to that screen and press OK, the camera will begin recording. You'll need to manually set an autofocus while recording, but it does not continuously autofocus. Furthermore, the video will produce a wobbling effect when you walk and film, a problem that is seen in several basic built-in video cameras. Unless you're keeping the camera still for a short period of time, the video won't be very useful.
- 12.3 megapixel DSLR that can record videos
- 2.7 inch LCD Screen that flips down
- Dimensions of 5.0x4.1x3.1 in, weights about 19.8oz
- HD Video up to 720p at 24 fps
- Continuous shooting speed up to 4 fps
- Many auto exposure scene modes like silhouette, food, party, beach/snow, etc.
- Light sensitivity ranges up to ISO 6400 (extended)
- In-camera retouching image editing
- Built in image sensor cleaning
- 11-point Autofocus System
- Flip down LCD screen allows you to take pictures at different angles
- Sharp, high-quality photos
- Great picture-taking for any setting despite lighting and movement
- Shooting speed almost as fast as D90
- No in-built motor, almost necessary to buy extra lenses
- Video feature isn't useful
- View finder may be confusing
- No autofocus in video more
- Easy to change focus points when taking pictures
At its price below the $1000 range, we'd say that this is a pretty solid choice for novice photographers and those who want to make the transition from a point-and-shoot to an entry-level DSLR. It is great for fast subjects, speedy shooting, dim and bright settings, and for photography as a whole. The design could use a little work, and if you don't have any plans to record anything serious and are focused on just performance + image quality, the D5000 is an excellent camera.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
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Prices last updated on: Sun, 23 Apr 2017 16:37:48 PDT