Nikon D5000 digital SLR
Satisfying stills with HD thrown in
Review You’ve got to hand it to those marketing bods who are constantly on the lookout for a gap in the market. Not so long ago, digital SLRs were neatly divided into high-end/entry-level models, but now, consumer DSLRs come in a variety of specifications aimed at specific groups of users. Nikon’s D5000 is a good example. It’s described as an “upper entry level” DSLR, which means that it offers more than a budget DSLR, but just a little less than a mid-range model. So does the D5000 fill a gap or fall between two stools?
Nikon's D5000 DSLR
Despite its model number, the D5000 sits firmly between Nikon’s D60 and D90 models, and Nikon clearly hopes that potential D60 buyers might be tempted to trade up to the D5000. However, the company also clearly desires that potential D90 purchasers will not be persuaded to trade down to the D5000 – hence, the carefully selected features and specifications.
The D5000 offers HD recording and Liveview operation and it uses the same 12.3Mp (effective) 23.6 x 15.8mm DX Format CMOS sensor as the D90, as well as the same 11-point AF system. Naturally, the D90 has a few cards up its sleeves, including a Pentaprism-based viewfinder, a 3in LCD screen composed of 920,000 dots, slighter faster continuous shooting speed (4.5fps compared with 4fps) and a built-in autofocus motor.
By contrast, the D5000 uses a pentamirror system, a smaller 2.7in screen with just 230,000 dots and utilises a lens-based AF system. However, the D5000 does have something the D90 lacks – an articulating LCD screen that swivels up to 270 degrees – more on this later.
The D5000 is available as a body only or kit option. We reviewed the latter that came with an 18-55mm f/3.5-f.5.6 AF-S NIKKOR lens but, of course, you can use a variety of Nikon lenses with this camera. However, the D5000 only supports all functions on AF-S and AF-I-type lenses. For the rest, there are varying degrees of compatibility but, suffice to say, if your lens doesn’t have a built-in AF motor, you’ll be limited to manual focusing.
LCD quality could have been better
The general layout is quite familiar, as you can see from the product photos. The D5000 uses SD/SDHC cards, a lithium-ion battery, and has mini USB, mini HDMI and accessory ports – the latter can be used with an optional GPS unit for geo-tagging shots.
@ Phil Atkin
I agree with Bad Beaver on this - el Reg do a pretty damn decent job reviewing all things electronic. If you want a full super-review with loads of sample shots etc, try www.dpreview.com
They are about 25 pages though, so el Reg's are fine for a first look!
Start up time
"...the D5000 can fire off its first frame in less than two seconds..."
Did you actually test this? Nikon DSLRs, like most makes I assume, can fire shots virtually from startup. I know both of mine allow a shot as soon as you flick the switch to on.
DPReview lists off to first shot time as <0.1 seconds which sounds about right to me.
Hint: you don't have to wait until the info screen appears to be able to take a shot.
Re: "it's price is quoted as the same as the D90 - so I cant really see why it's being described as an 'entry level' model."
It seems to be selling most places for about £200 less than the D90 (the D5000's only £608 on Amazon for instance), which shows what nonsense these recommended prices are (you'd expect the older camera to be cheaper, for one thing). Although also in the D90's favour is that it has a kit lens with a longer zoom range: 18-105 vs 18-55 for the D5000.
It looks like Nikon USA is issuing a recall for a lot of the first production run of the D5000 -- basically some of them can't be switched on due to a power control chip failure. People seeing this happening on their cameras can return them immediately for repair and there will be a systematic recall for all affected cameras based on serial number starting next week.
Video on DSLR
The common reaction to Video in DSLRs is "why did they bother?". Can I just stress that there is a market for entry-ish level DSLRs with Full HD video. I am that market, and in a straw poll of one, 100% said they would purchase one.
Unfortunately the jump in price between a superzoom (with Full HD) and a DSLR with Full HD was double the cost, so this time around I opted for the former. But next time round it will be my turn with the DSLR.