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I found the Nikon D5000 to be a most interesting camera with an impressive feature list. It sits between base-level and top notch models, so it should have wide appeal.
The camera uses a DX-sized 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor and 12-bit analog-to-digital conversion, backed up by Nikon’s EXPEED image processing system. The same sensor is found in the Nikon D90: 23.6×15.8mm and producing an effective picture angle of 1.5x, so an 18-55m kit lens equates (in 35 SLR terms) to a 27-83mm zoom.
Using Vibration Reduction (VR), the D5000 is claimed to give you effective and steady support for three halving levels of shutter speed; if you’re shooting with the zoom set to 55mm, this indicates you can safely use 1/50 second where formerly you would be tied to 1/400 second.
Maximum image size is 4288×2848 pixels so expect a 36x24cm print from one of its images or enjoy heavy cropping if your initial framing was too loose. Image capture is in Nikon’s proprietary NEF (RAW), JPEG or NEF+JPEG at the time the file is written to the memory card.
Many will be delighted to find the D5000 can shoot a continuous run at 4 fps, for as long as you depress the shutter button.
The Nikon D5000 has an appealing D-Movie function: you can shoot video at 24 fps and record clips of 1280×720 pixels — 16:9 aspect ratio — but not full High Definition. If you need a lower res for emailing the camera can also shoot at 640×424 or 320×216 pixels. The maximum run of video totals a 2GB file, producing a run time of five minutes for each 1280×720 clip.
The arrival of movie shooting with a dSLR is spoilt a little because only matrix metering is used, so be careful of any extra dark or bright areas in the scene that may confuse the camera’s system.
The normal, minimum ISO setting is 200 but you can drop it down to ISO 100, 125 or 160 via special ‘Lo’ notches. Top sensitivity is claimed at ISO 3200 but this can be raised by accessing ‘Hi’ notches to take you to 4000, 5000 or 6400.
Nikon’s Live View is tops in the D5000. You can enjoy subject tracking AF, which locks onto a subject and holds focus, even if it momentarily exits the frame. Three other AF modes include Face priority AF (up to five faces), wide area and normal area AF.
In the exposure department you can use auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority and manual modes; there are also 19 scene modes.
Some of the interesting tricks the D5000 can do are in-camera retouching, distortion control, an HDMI output, SD/SDHC cards, in-camera noise reduction for extended exposures and high ISO settings.
The sophisticated dust reduction system is activated on power-up as well as creating an airflow that directs dust away from the sensor.
But the Nikon’s big feature is a vari-angle 6.9cm LCD, hinged at its base, viewable flush against the camera back, from the side, from above or beneath. I found it terrific, with the screen laid out beneath me, when the camera was tripod-mounted.
In my ISO tests the quality and definition at ISO 100 and 400 were little short of superb. ISO 1600 was also excellent and useable. I was surprised at how the ISO 4000 shot retained all the attributes of the lower settings, with a little more noise but still ‘treatable’ in Lightroom but not too well in Aperture. Sadly, ISO 6400 was one of those ‘if you must get the shot’ situations … with pronounced artefacts that I could not remove.
Colour quality and definition of images shot with the D5000 were beyond criticism.
Image Sensor: 12.3 million effective pixels.
Metering: Digital ESP, centre-weighted; spot.
Sensor Size: 23.6×15.8mm.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed: 30 to 1/4000 second.
Memory: SD and SDHC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4288×2848, 3216×2136, 2144×1424.
Movies: 1280×720, 640×480.
File Formats: NEF (RAW), JPEG, AVI Motion JPEG.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 3200.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 120.5x70x35 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 560 g (body only).
Price/Availability: The Nikon D5000 comes in a variety of configurations including (click for prices at Amazon where the D5000 is currently on special) Nikon D5000 Body Only, Nikon D5000 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens and Nikon D5000 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Lenses