Nikon D5000 DSLR Review

Nikon D5000 DSLR Review

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.

Nikon D5000 Review

Nikon D5000 Features

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.

Nikon D5000_18_55_SLup_fr34r_l.jpg

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.

Shop mannikins 1.jpg

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.


ISO test shot madder at ISO 100: f8 at 1/30 second

ISO test shot madder at ISO 100: f8 at 1/30 second

 ISO test shot made at ISO 1600: f8 at 1/640 second

ISO test shot made at ISO 1600: f8 at 1/640 second

 ISO test shot made at ISO 6400: f8 at 1/2000 second

ISO test shot made at ISO 6400: f8 at 1/2000 second

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.

Nikon D5000 Specifications

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

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Scott Morgan August 11, 2012 04:11 pm

    This camera does not power on. I've sent it in to be fixed as part of a recall and I was able to turn it on the day I got it back and the next day it was broken again.

    Now they say it isn't edible for a recall and they want $180 just to look at it.

    The flash door doesn't pop up either. DO NOT BUY THIS CAMERA!!!!! (Or any other Nikon's for that matter.)

  • Siapih June 28, 2011 04:24 pm

    thanks, for share..
    i like camera Nikon..
    and review Nikon D5000 DSLR is very good.. thanks

  • Actionshots December 11, 2010 09:03 am


    Just a beginner looking for a new camera wanting to take sporting action indoor and outdoors, looking at Nikon d5000, canon d550 and the A33 sony. Want something that is simple and easy to use but takes great shots. Any suggestions. Thanx

  • Purna Nanda December 1, 2010 05:47 pm

    Hello "Nikon D5000" .

    I have the same problem too in my D5000. Completely lost power, would not turn on at all even with reset. My camera worked for 6 months though.

  • Nikon D5000 November 26, 2010 06:33 pm

    I loved the camera out of the box. However, it died the second day I had it. Completely lost power, would not turn on at all even with trying to reset and use fresh batteries. Very similar to the 2009 recall that was supposedly fixed (this model was not included in Nikon's recall range.)

  • melvin September 18, 2010 03:12 am

    for landscape,night life and travel photography which DSLR would u recommend...Nikon D90 or D5000....
    please help

  • Manuel Perez June 29, 2010 02:34 pm

    As some have suggested here , the Nikon D90 and the Nikon D5000 are not the same cameras.They are totally different cameras system with different consumers in mind.I'am not saying that the D5000 is not as good as the D90 , on the contrary it's photographic capabilities are excelent but its arsenal of usability is aim at a different type of photography lover. it's on board lens focusing motor,capability to change setting on most of its operating buttons not having to navigate the menu to change settings,its viewfinder,pentaprism instead of pentamirror,high resolution screen in order to better see what you have just photographed , its Creative lighting system and many other features gives the whole setup a more upscaled approach to photography.The D5000 is a great camera but to say that they are the same camera with just a mere difference is not admitting the obvious

  • Ibrahim Ismail May 9, 2010 10:06 pm

    I have a problem here, I have a SLR film camera PENTAX ASAHI ME - which is technical details are below - and I'm looking for an upgrading and I'm actually thinking about DSLR PENTAX K-x. The problem is that I have 4 lenses for my old pentax and I don't know if there mount will bw suitable for the PENTAX K-x or not, I mean the question is : IF I GET DSLR PENTAX K-x, WOULD IT POSSIBLE TO USE MY OLD LENSES ??!! ( The technical details of the lenses are below )
    The other problem is if the mount is not suitable so what do you suggest for me in a budget of 700 $ : Nikon D5000, Nikon D3000, Nikon D60, Nikon D40, Pentax K-x ( which is most reasonable for me and Nikon D5000 !! ) ???
    Please find the technical details of the camera and lenses below .

    SLR Film camera PENTAX ASAHI ME
    - Camera Name Pentax ME
    - Manufacturer Asahi Optical
    - Place of Japan
    - Date of 1977~1981
    - Focusing System Single-lens reflex with pentaprism eye-level
    viewfinder 0.97x magnification; 92% coverage
    - Lens mount K-mount (bayonet)
    - Shutter Focal plane shutter 8 sec ~ 1/1000 sec X-sync @ 1/100 B +
    - Metering System Through-the-lens (TTL) CdS cell - centerweighted Aperture
    priority metering with ±2 exposure compensation
    - Flash Standard hot-shoe and PC sync connector
    - Film type / speeds 135 type (35mm standard film)
    - Battery type 2 x LR44/S44 (standard watch batteries)

    - MC SOLIGOR zoom macro 85-205 mm c/d f:3.8 D62 (No. 3810349)
    - VIVITAR MC tele converter 2x-22
    - SMC PENTAX 1:2.8 24mm (No. 6888060) ASAHI OPT. Co., JAPAN
    - SMC PENTAX 1:1.2 50mm (No. 1454700) ASAHI OPT. Co., JAPAN
    - SMC PENTAX-M 1:3.5 135mm (No. 6717988) ASAHI OPT. Co., JAPAN

  • ZILL NIAZI April 27, 2010 05:36 pm

    Dear Feroza,

    Try viewing through the viewfinder and take picture. See if it works. I don't know which region are you from but the camera could temporarily malfunction due to condensation. In that case, leave the camera at room temperature from a few hours to a couple of days and see if it works after that. Also, recharge your battery for 8-hours, in case the last time you drained it to the last drop.

    If none of the above helps, then take the camera to the Nikon dealer with the warrenty card.


  • feroza April 24, 2010 12:11 am

    my D5000 was working fine and then all of a sudden, the live view screen went black and when i clicked, no pictures were being taken out. I switched it off, removed the battery and hte mem card and re inserted etc and still it is not taking any pictures and the Live view is staill a black screen.

    Please help.

  • kapG April 19, 2010 05:23 am

    Is d5000 good for pro wedding shots..
    a friend told me that if im planning to be a pro photographer i should get at least a d90
    but some says it all depends on the skills and the lens
    i still have 2 weeks before getting my dslr
    needs help please

  • Renato April 7, 2010 08:26 pm

    Hi all, i bought a D500 last december and now learning how to use all features and i was wondering why on D5000 when enabling the grid (either on Live View or View Finder) is divided in 16 squares, while D200 or others is in 9 squares to use the rule of third concept when doing composition.

    Nikon D5000 framing gridexample:

    Other framing grid cameras used for rules of third like D200:

    Any way to change this feature on D5000 ?


  • amotorkat March 22, 2010 03:38 am

    Both are good cameras for a beginner. Ive seen a lot of people upgrade quickly from the D3000 to a D5000 or even D90.

    Both the D3000 and D5000 are easy to use for a beginner, and the D5000 has so much more for not much more money. I enjoy the CMOS sensor on the D5000, it out performs the D3000 CCD sensor and the ISO results are great on the D5000.

    Back in December of last year, I was asking the same question you were, and I could not be more happy with my decision on getting the D5000. Now that Im starting to get much better with it, I know I will be upgrading to a pro line in the future.

    Let us know what you end up getting and share some pictures :)


  • del March 21, 2010 05:55 pm

    should i get a D3000 or D5000? as i am a beginner... dunno which will be easier on me.. =/

  • Amotorkat February 28, 2010 04:33 am

    That is normal for liveview use. The camera has to process the "live" image so there is a delay. The viewfinder is all optical so nothing to process, which means no delay! I think AF-S mode helps a bit in liveview. I would recommend using the viewfinder.

  • Julie February 27, 2010 05:54 pm

    Has anyone had a problem with the live view feature on the D5000 not focusing as fast as if looking through the view finder. I'm trying to take pictures of kids and find the live view feature to be slow. Just wondering if all D5000 are like this or just mine. Love the camera otherwise.

  • Kathy February 26, 2010 03:45 am

    I just upgraded from a D40 to the D5000 and am hopelessly in love with my new baby. It takes amazing pictures and it's easy to use. LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!

  • amotorkat January 20, 2010 07:44 am

    I bought the D5000 about one month ago. I love it. The only feature missing, and a big one in my opinion, is the DOF(Depth of Field) button! There are some common settings that I like to change quickly without using the LCD to change in P, S, A, and M modes, but am unable to. Ive learned to deal with that.

    Overall, I think its a great camera for entry through intermediate level shooters. Of course, you can get a ton more with another camera, but you will pay for it.

  • luciferscage January 6, 2010 08:06 am

    @ flores - If your D5000 is focussing correctly on autofocus but you're getting out of focus pictures on manual focus it would suggest to me that you have not set up the dioptre control on your viewfinder, i.e. what appears to you to be in focus in the viewfinder is actually out of focus on the camera's sensor. To set up dioptre control see p25 of the camera's manual.

  • Flores January 1, 2010 08:03 pm

    This camera is a bit slow in auto focus, have to wait couples of seconds. I have a problem with a manual focus. Every time I compare the result between manual and autofocus, the manual focus result always a little bit blur even if VR is active. Any advice for me?

  • bigred December 19, 2009 03:31 pm

    I have the d5000 and im loving it. I was ask to do a wedding in April and im needing some advice on what lens to use and anything else to help me prepare.

  • Haj October 31, 2009 01:08 pm

    so the D5000 is a step up from the D60? I'm kinda in Tollboy's situation. I'm using the D60 now and I am outgrowing it... sort of. I need cleaner and a wider range of ISO... hopefully.

  • maite October 24, 2009 10:16 pm

    Could anyone comment on NikonD3 professional ? versus all the others ?
    Please ?

  • ZILL NIAZI October 24, 2009 04:45 pm

    I purchased my D5000 on October 16, 2009 and I have been loving it ever since. The images are very crisp, well saturated and vibrant than ever. Everything about this camera is just lovely. I have not been able to use all of its functions so far, once I do that I would be able to come up with a detailed review.


  • tina October 15, 2009 05:27 am

    I just got my D5000 over the weekend and I love it. I upgraded from a DPS and found it very easy to learn how to use. It has all the functionality that I need or want. It is a bit lighter weight than the D90 which is a plus for me. I spend the afternoon at the zoo and was able to easily carry it around all day. All of the functionality of the D90 for slightly less cost and a bit lighter weight. The picture quality is excellent and as a new DSLR user, making use of older lenses is not an issue. I think this is a great camera.

  • caroline October 14, 2009 01:34 pm

    I just purchased the D5000 and I also have a 70-300mm lens. I seldom use it because the lens is so heavy, do you find you have trouble using that lesn while the camera is on a tripod? If not do you have a specific brand of tripod you use?

  • Brian October 12, 2009 02:27 am

    mom2nikki, I have owend the D5000 for about 2 months now, so just let me say, you are making a good choice! As for accessories, not knowing what your camera will come with, it would be hard to say. I would start with a good flash, like the Nikon SB600.

  • James October 12, 2009 02:21 am

    I will say this I love it i have now shot a Wedding with it, several Family Portrait sessions and I have photographed the Balloon Fiesta with it.......I love takes awesome photos.....Get an accessory flash and get an extra lens I have a 70 - 300mm I love it works great you will fall in love with.....I know I did......

  • mom2nikki October 11, 2009 02:06 pm

    I am plannin on buying a d5000 and its gonna be my first DSLR.Any suggestions on accessories??

  • Adrian Falzon October 6, 2009 11:41 pm

    Currently I have a Nikon D100 with a 28mm to 300mm Cosina lens. I am opting to switch to the Nikon D5000. Is it a good move or shall I stick to the Nikon D100?

  • maite October 4, 2009 11:48 pm

    Very sorry...I am correcting error in typing...On my last or previews email to you I wrote I have a Nikon D300 this is not correct.........I have a Nikon D3...professional.
    thank you...

  • maite October 4, 2009 11:41 pm

    I enjoy so much your info.....I am a beginner....have a Nikon D300....could you give me your criteria and details in comparison.....some times is very dificult to take a good picture or the correct one....i don't know enough and get lost on numbers....that is ISO...f and the rest. and some times there is not enough time to remember where ti set the camera on a determined shot. By the there a list or a routine set up for this....tha may be i coud have as a guide ?
    Thank you very....very much.

  • Mark October 3, 2009 09:36 pm

    My wife bought this camera shortly after it came out and has been using it for wedding photography all summer long.

    pros: nearly identical features to the d90..

    cons: the features i find to be deal breakers are the fact that there is no auto-focus motor in the body, so all lenses need their own focus motor... which limits the number and types of lenses you can buy and use with it.

    the flip screen really has only two uses, taking really awkward shots and protecting the screen from scratches when it's not in use.

    after using it for so long and seeing it being used for so long i would give two recommendations:

    1. Never use the live view function, it drains battery power like nobody's business. @ James.. i think this is the problem that you're having because my wife has just taken nearly 1500 full resolution photos with it one one battery with no "resolution degradation"

    2. If you can, buy the D90. It's the one that will give you more bang for your buck over the long haul, cause the lenses won't be a problem to buy for it.

    however if you cannot afford to buy a D90 then this camera is the perfect alternative... such as it was in our particular situation.

  • Nazeer October 3, 2009 04:11 pm

    I am looking for all comments about D80..

  • chantal smuts October 3, 2009 03:09 pm

    Hi, I have just bought the d3000 for my first SLR camera, I hope this was a good first buy. Has anyone got some tips for me on how to get good long distant shots seeing i have a 70mm-300mm lens? Will this lens be sufficient enough for now?

  • ZILL NIAZI October 2, 2009 03:50 pm

    I own a D40 and I am thinking of an upgrade. I am seriously considering D5000. I would appreciate if someone could tell me the real pros and cons of D5000. You can advise me after checking the level at which I photograph... it is a beginner's level

    Thank you all for your wonderful assistance through this thread.


  • Glenn October 2, 2009 08:35 am

    I have just ordered my D5000 and it should be delivered tomorrow. This is my first digital camera - wife and kids have theirs but not me - and I decided that I would go all out. I hope that I will not be disappointed.

  • Tommy McDonell October 2, 2009 07:54 am

    We have this camera with the 18-55 lens and a higher lense. However, if you want to do bird photography (because you are an artist) or butterflies or whatever, this may not be the camera for you. I have a Nikon P90 and it takes closeups that are clean, clear and bright. Perhaps it loses a pixel here or there, but the pictures are good.

    So, consider why you want the Nikon D5000, before you buy it.

  • James October 2, 2009 05:00 am

    I have this camera D5000 I absolutely love it some of the feature are just awesome....I don't particular care for the Video hello its a camera not a video camera It does take outstanding Photos I was really worried I was going to have issues with you but I shot my last Wedding with it and It was a very large Wedding at that It held up.......I heard rumors like the battery wouldn't last completely false It lasted took over 700 Photos but towards the end of the Wedding the Photos gradually get smaller in size I don't know why that it is or if it is to save battery power? Anyway Overall Performance was Excellent I would highly recommend it.....Photomasters from Albuquerque, NM

  • Tom October 2, 2009 04:32 am

    Personally, the CLS (Creative Lighting System) is much more valuable to serious photographers than the Video capabilities. The D40 does not have that capability. The D60 & D5000 requires the use of either a SB800 or SB900 Speed Light for use as the commander flash mounted on the camera. This requires the purchase of a second flash for wireless off camera lighting.

    The D80, D90, 300, etc..., etc... use the built-in flash as the commander flash and you only need to purchase one flash to use the off camera wireless lighting system. The built-in flash can be setup to only control the wireless flash(s) without effecting the exposure of the subject. Or you can use it as a low powered fill light with a diffuser, such as the "Puffer" (I don't remember who makes it).

    Since learning this method with my D70 & D90, I very seldom ever shoot photos with the flash mounted on the camera, or the pop-up flash as the main lighting source.

    My recommendation would be to wait until you have the money to purchase a higher grade camera that includes this feature. You won't be sorry you did. The D90 would be the best choice as it has nearly all the features of the D300, plus it has the HD Video feature that is becoming popular. I've had fun using it on my D90, but it's not really of much use to a still photographer.

  • ROD B. FERMIN October 2, 2009 03:40 am

    have to find out when i get hold of one I can compare to my two NIKONS d90 & d200.

  • jessebekas September 30, 2009 06:24 am

    @ Terry Thomas

    Nikon knew that a lot of aspiring filmmakers are going to start buying DSLRs to shoot low budget projects on because of base affordability and the ability to change lenses, again, inexpensively.

    Almost all film (and video shot to look like film), is recorded at 24 frames per second giving it the dreamy effect that 60i, and to a lesser extent, 30p, just don't rival.

  • Brian September 30, 2009 02:35 am

    Yashvin, I can tell you from personal experience, I own the D5000, that it would be an excellent choice! As JP said, more features, advanced focusing and as said in the article the same CMOS sensor as the D90.

  • Tollboy September 30, 2009 01:13 am

    I was using the D60 for awhile and actually upgraded to the D5000. I am not sure what Chuck is talking about, the size of the d5000 is the exact same as the d60, in fact if someone was looking at them head on and the labels were not on the cameras I do not think you could tell the difference.
    The D5000 to me is a cheaper alternative too the d90 with a cheaper price tag. It does all the same things except it does not have a motor for auto focusing so you need an AF-S lens, and the body is thick plastic rather than the metal feel of the d90 other than that it is the same camera.
    @Yashin I am very happy with the d5000, I found with the d60 as I got familiar with the camera and photography I quickly outgrew it and wanted a camera with more features (focus points, video, auto bracketing)and the d5000 fits the bill perfectly.

  • erica September 29, 2009 11:09 pm

    @Yashvin (and Chuck)

    I think Chuck is right on the money. If money is an issue, go with the d40. If not, d90 all the way. Just remember the d40 and d60 don't have a built-in focus drive motor which means it can auto focus only with lenses which have their own drive motor (AF-S and AF-I lenses). So, if and when you buy a new lens, make sure it says "AF-S or AF-I". Hope this helps.

  • Tom King September 29, 2009 10:48 pm

    Thanks Darren! I have been using a D50 for about four years now and would like to upgrade to a model with better ISO options. Your review is very helpful. Keep up the good work!

  • OsmosisStudios September 29, 2009 10:28 pm

    Darren, I think it's time to review your numbers. @55mm, the magic shutter speed would be 1/55, or 1/50-1/60. I have NO idea where you got 1/400 from.

  • Danferno September 29, 2009 09:02 pm

    1/400 at 55mm? Damn lol.

  • chuck September 29, 2009 06:25 pm

    1/400 at 55mm?! LAME!!! Didn't read any further. Go back to school :)

    Yashvin: if money is of any importance, get a D40-kit for ~$430, it's the best value for money. If not, get a D90 body and 18-200 - you'll be set for quite some time. The ones you're considering aren't any good: D80 is old crap with broken MATRIX meter (if money's really tight and you want a semi-pro camera - get a D70s off ebay) while D5000 is needlessly expensive and bigger than D40.

  • Terry Thomas Photos / Atlanta September 29, 2009 06:14 pm

    That's weird. 24fps is for movie film. The video STANDARD is 30fps. What were the Nikon engineers thinking?

    Speaking of engineers and designers: don't go weird on us and allow ultra high or low ISO settings but call them strange names. Just tell us what they are in numbers we all know. We are grown-ups & can handle it.

    Is there a PC synch port? The presence or absence should be on the list of specs.

    Terry Thomas...
    the photographer
    Atlanta, Georgia USA

  • JP September 29, 2009 05:22 pm


    The D5000 has more features, a more advanced focusing system and cleaner image quality than the D80.

  • Yashvin September 29, 2009 02:53 pm

    I am actively looking for a DSLR and will be choosing between The D80 or the latest D5000.
    What do you advise?
    btw, I will be purchasing the camera from Australia itself :)

    FYI, I am an amateur photograph, currently using a Fujifilm S5600, posting my shots mainly to my photoblog.

    From Mauritius.