Last update (Sep 16, 2009): Nikon D5000 review by Thom Hogan.
This post is a compilation of Nikon D5000 digital SLR camera professional and user reviews, owner opinions and experiences, tests, conclusions, ratings and feedback.
Full attribution is given by linking to the source and where available, the author’s homepage or photo gallery.
In Thom Hogan’s review of the Nikon D5000, the image quality of the camera was rated as excellent. Thom says:
State of the 12mp art. Enough said.
He even prefers it slightly more than his D90:
Despite some of my criticisms, I actually think I like my D5000 a bit more than my D90. The critical decision point is whether you find the positionable LCD of use, I think, versus the handful of D90 features that the D5000 doesn’t have. For me, only the autofocusing with non AF-S lenses, the 930k dot LCD, and commander mode of the internal flash on the D90 are things that might tip me towards the D90 over the D5000. The D5000, on the other hand, has slightly better JPEGs at high ISO values and that positionable LCD going for it.
George Schaub says:
I am often disappointed in the control layout and ease of making changes in the field with this class of camera, but I cannot say that about the D5000. In an interior shot I wanted to test the effects of higher ISOs and NR (Noise Reduction) levels, and changing both was made easier by the system always reverting back to the last setting after a decision was made, not back to step one where you had to re-plow through the menu to get where you need to go. In fact, the My Menu option allows you to register up to 20 setups, or to recall the last 20 setups you made. This is like having the “Recent” list available in Photoshop or Word that has helped me find more than one file after I had closed it and accidentally saved it to some obscure folder.
This article also has the best explanation of the D5000’s overlay feature, and George shows how to perform the operation on two images, one sharp, and the other one out of focus.
Overall rating score: 4 / 5 stars, and the verdict states:
Overall, the D5000 is a good, solid D-SLR and one that’s an equal match to the EOS 500D / T1i, with the added bonus of costing less and featuring a pull-out screen. If you’re upgrading for a compact and want something that’s easy and fun to use, it should be on your shortlist.
Terry White has the following conclusion for the GP-1 unit:
The Nikon GP-1 does exactly what it’s supposed to. Basically you plug it in and shoot. It’s nice and small and also lightweight. Easy to carry in your pocket, let alone a camera bag and since most people only have one DSLR, you’ll only need one cable or the other. There is also a pass through port for the MC-DC2 Remote (cable release). I haven’t found the accuracy to be any better or worse than my other GPS’s.
Rating Score: 4 / 5 stars, and Tom Royal, the reviewer writes:
Our test photos were perfectly exposed with pleasing colours, and an option in the camera’s menus can attempt to automatically correct for perspective – this works surprisingly well and is ideal for those who don’t have suitable editing software.
Great write-up by Terry, covering areas such as how to edit the video clips, the image quality of the D5000, and using GPS geotagging with the camera.
Scott’s Nikon D300 and gear didn’t make it with him to Tuscany for a photo shoot cum vacation, so he had to purchase a Nikon D5000 kit, and a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor lens to take photos on that trip.
He thought he’d immediately sell the D5000 on eBay upon his return, but says:
If there was one thing I hadn’t planned on it was this; I fell in love with the D-5000. In fact, I’m keeping it. I was absolutely shocked at its high ISO performance. I took shots, hand held at 1250 ISO in a square in the town of Siena, and when my brother and I looked at them that night—full screen on my computer, you could barely see any noise at all. It was like ISO 400 on my D300. I was just amazed!!!! So, I pushed that thing up to 1600 ISO any ol’ time, and I was shooting at night handheld without a second thought.
He’s now decided to sell the D300 instead.
The D5000’s most distinctive feature is its 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot, tilt-and-swivel LCD screen—a first among Nikon cameras. The display provides surprising clarity given its image depth (the D90’s LCD clocks in at 920,000 dots). It doesn’t articulate and swing out; but it does flip out and down, and it can turn around and inward for protection. Although I would have preferred a greater range of motion, I still loved the freedom and enhanced creativity that the movable screen provided. The camera’s compact size and light weight also enable users to make the most of unusual camera angles, such as shooting overhead or close to the ground.
Melissa awarded the D5000 an overall rating score of 4 out of 5 stars.
Overall Rating Score: 8 / 10, and the review states:
A new feature present on the Nikon D5000 is a quiet shooting option that dampens noises made by the camera to aid in night shooting or wildlife photography. It works by operating the mirror in the same way that some kitchen doors have buffers to stop you accidentally slamming them. It snaps up at the usual speed then slows as it reaches the top. It’s a slower process and because of this the shutter can’t be dampened so that makes the usual noise. Overall it is a much quieter action and Nikon have really done well to think of that idea that could help a lot of photographers.
“On the other hand and if pressed, the camera very slightly underexposes, perhaps to help better preserve highlight detail by default? But the combination of Active D-Lighting and effective metering mean the D5000 performs admirably. In terms of final image quality, the DX format (that’s the APS-C sized chip) CMOS sensor provides a better signal to noise ratio and helps get the most from your shots at higher sensitivities. Colour is very good, the Standard colour setting providing neutral results by default.”. Rating score: 9/10.
“Camera performance is very good in nearly all respects. While officially it takes the D5000 around 1.6 seconds to start up and complete its dust reduction sequence, you can press the shutter release button to stop that process and take your first photo a lot quicker. If you’re shooting with the optical viewfinder then you can expect to wait for 0.1 — 0.4 seconds at wide-angle to around 0.5 — 0.8 seconds at full telephoto (at least with the kit lens). Low light focusing was good, with focus times staying under a second in most situations, thanks to the camera’s blinding AF-assist lamp. As I mentioned, live view autofocus performance is poor in good light, and miserable in low light. It’s not for action shooting, that’s for sure. Shot-to-shot delays are minimal, as you’d expect. The D5000 has an impressive continuous shooting mode, able to take up to 9 RAW or 100 JPEGs at 4 frames/second. Battery life was best-in-class.”
“If you plan on purchasing the Nikon D5000 for its video abilities, you’ll truly appreciate the new camera’s variable-angle LCD, which as they do on traditional camcorders, makes shooting video far less awkward when shooting from angles other than eye level. This convenient tilt feature also comes in handy when shooting stills from angles difficult to preview using the camera’s viewfinder.”
“The D5000 can also fire off continuous bursts of up to 63 JPEGs (or 11 RAW) versus 25 JPEGs (or 7 RAW) for the D90.”
He’s also made a overview video of the D5000.
“The Nikon D5000 is a great performer throughout the ISO range. There are no problems at ISO 100, 200,400 as well as ISO 800 and 1600 are also perfectly fine for most scenes. However, at ISO 3200 the noise level is starting to spoil the game, but it’s still usable in some situations, while ISO 6400 is definitely out of race.”
“Something the D5000 does exceptionally well is work quietly. When I first shot it, I noticed how quiet it was, and a week later when I found the D5000’s Quiet Mode, I was astounded! It’s far quieter than any other SLR, and is at least as quiet as the LEICA rangefinder cameras.”
Katrina Putker, the reviewer notes the following about the D5000:
On the whole, the D5000 denies its chunky looks and feels quite comfortable to shoot with and control. It rests securely and naturally in hand and is quite lightweight (at approximately 560g) considering the powerful punch it packs as a higher-end entry-level DSLR.
An overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars was assigned to the camera.
The following is a summary of the more interesting aspects of DCI’s D5000 review.
Product Tour: Page down until you see a table comparing the prices, dimensions and weight of the D5000 vs. competing cameras.
DCI has the best comparison presentation I’ve seen so far, with neatly laid-out graphics and text that clearly show the differences among the cameras from all angles.
Color: Again, DCI has the best presentation I’ve seen when it comes to comparing the color output of various cameras.
The D5000 turns in a strong result that’s equal or better than the Canon T1i / 500D, but loses to the Canon Rebel XS / 1000D in some tests.
Noise: Overall, the Nikon D5000 came out with the best results among the various cameras.
Overall we like the Nikon D5000, but with several reservations. Most of our performance tests yielded very good results, particularly when it came to image noise (both in stills and video), and it does a nice job shooting in less-than-optimal lighting. It handles high-contrast scenes well too. We tend to be sticklers about image sharpness, though, and here the camera didn’t meet our high expectations.
Mike Perlman, the reviewer, was full of praise for the D5000’s build and image quality.
On the camera’s construction, Mike says:
Incidentals aside, the Nikon D5000 was one of the most solid and architecturally intuitive models we’ve seen in this class all year.
The Nikon D5000 cranked out the best image performance in its class, and we can safely deliver this news after putting a good flogging to the Pentax K2000, Canon Eos 500D and Olympus E-620.
He has assigned an overall rating of 90% to the D5000, and this is his conclusion:
The Nikon D5000 proceeded to kick ass in every category we tested it in, so it was no mystery that this was the entry-level DSLR to beat for 2009 after our journey. We loved the D5000’s advanced interface and external controls were plentiful. This is a DSLR that has a little something for every shooter, though the heavy artillery was there when we wanted to pull out the big guns. The flip-down LCD was a major help in tight shooting environments, though the camera was a bit bulky.
PhotographyBay has a great demonstration on using the intervalometer feature on the Nikon D5000 for interval shooting / time-lapse / stop-motion photography.
Eric also explains, step-by-step, how he made the movie from the resulting still photos.
The interval shooting feature is available on the newer, higher-end models such as the Nikon D3X, Nikon D3, Nikon D700 and Nikon D300, but curiously, Nikon decided not to include this piece of functionality in the Nikon D90.
Gordon Laing, the reviewer, shares a couple of interesting points in this review.
The D5000 is easily the biggest and heaviest of the three.
Gordon finds the D5000 to be more comfortable to hold than the Canon T1i and likes the on-demand alignment grids in the viewfinder, but the viewfinder magnification, Live View detail, menu navigation and methods for changing of settings is superior on the Canon.
On page three, Gordon shows an interesting experiment to test the D5000’s capability to automatically make corrections for the barrel distortion seen on Nikon 18-55mm VR images shot at 18mm focal length.
Real-world image resolution of the three cameras were compared, and the Canon T1i with the supplied EF-S 18-55mm IS kit lens comes up short against the D5000 with the 18-55mm VR. Under studio conditions though, the advantage of Canon’s extra megapixels shows up clearly.
The high-ISO comparison test produced a surprising winner, and Gordon says:
At first glance it’s easy to say the Nikon D5000 comes out on top, but it’s important to remember the Canon’s higher resolution means its artefacts will appear slightly smaller when images from it and the Nikon are reproduced at the same physical size. But even with that taken into consideration we’d say the D5000 still takes the lead here, with cleaner images across its range and essentially the same degree of real-life detail when the conditions and settings are favourable. It once again proves having more Megapixels isn’t necessarily better unless you’re shooting charts at low sensitivities.
The crops show that the Canon T1i / 500D image starts to noticeably lose saturation and definition at ISO 800 and above.
Gordon’s final verdict?
The D5000 is the latest in a long line of impressive DSLRs from Nikon, delivering great image quality and a powerful feature-set that represents a significant upgrade over its predecessor, the D60. Like many of today’s new DSLRs, the D5000 borrows a great deal from a higher-end model in the range, in this case the D90, but repackages it in a more affordable form factor with at least one key advantage in its favour.
…and I have to say it is every bit as good as the D90, plus has better AWB (I get more correct colours under artificial lighting than the D90).
Melissa J. Perenson, the reviewer, assigned a score of 82 / 100 (Very Good) to the D5000, and lists the following advantages and disadvantages of the camera.
- Tilt and swivel screen.
- Compact size.
- Video doesn’t autofocus.
- Battery life unimpressive.
User opinion by mkryzan
Further on, he also finds that the D5000 balances well with his larger, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR and Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR Nikkor Wide Angle Telephoto Zoom lenses.
Mat Gallagher, the reviewer at What Digital Camera, assigned a score of 90% to the Nikon D5000, and has the following verdict:
I feel overall the D5000 is a victim of the price increases and had the camera been launched £150 cheaper, setting it halfway between the current D60 and D90 street prices, there would be no questioning of its merits. However, it is unfair to measure new model launch prices against street prices on established models, as prices within the first few months can change rapidly and this camera was never meant to be a competitor for the D90. Price issues aside this is a stunning piece of kit. It’s worth scouring for a good price but you should definitely have this camera on your shortlist.
Mat has a video review of the D5000 at YouTube — click to view in HQ.
They’ve also had a hands-on preview of the D5000 earlier, visit their article on the video clip, or view it below.
Ben Baird, the reviewer, concludes:
All in all, the Nikon D5000 is a well thought-out DSLR with something for everyone. Its 720p video recording mode is not as versatile as that of the Canon EOS 500D, but the addition of extra features, like the innovative Scene Recognition System and articulated LCD screen are enough to make the Nikon D5000 a very desirable camera.
Reference: Canon EOS Digital Rebel T1i / 500D / Kiss X3.
Antoine’s likes the D5000 enough to put up his Nikon D90 for sale, and shares some feedback on the new camera.
His reason for selling the D90? He wanted a smaller and lighter camera. Another bonus is that the shutter sound on the D5000 is quieter than on the D90, sounding very much like the shutter on the Nikon D40.
It seems the D5000’s viewfinder, while smaller than the one on the D90, is friendlier to glass wearers.
Also interesting is the fact that the D5000 feels much smaller than the D90, contrary to what the specs suggest.
Moonman52’s impressions of the LCD screen on the D5000
Despite the fact that the D5000’s LCD screen being of lower resolution than the one on the D90, he had to look hard to notice the difference, if any. Specifically, the LCD screens on both cameras were “… bright, sharp and contrasty with excellent color correction …”.
Engadget’s Impressions of the D5000
The most interesting portion of the review dwells on the rear, articulating LCD display on the D5000, in particular:
The 2.7-inch Vari-angle display (230,000-dot color LCD) definitely pales in comparison (in terms of resolution, anyway) when placed beside the D90’s 3-inch, 920,000-dot color monitor. But what it lacks in pixels, it makes up for in versatility, brightness and utility. Without question, the D5000’s monitor is stunning. Colors are remarkably sharp, brightness is superb and visibility in broad daylight is absolutely outstanding.
… and …
Nikon even thought to provide a remedy for the missing top-mounted LCD by implementing a highly detailed, wonderfully laid out GUI on the Vari-angle screen that shows off a smorgasbord of statistics.
The following image, copyright Engadget, shows off the rear LCD of the Nikon D5000 in vertical orientation.
Engadget ends with a solid recommendation to purchase the D5000 over the Nikon D60, and says:
Either way, the D5000s a runaway winner for the price; indeed, the tough part won’t be deciding on whether you should buy this, but if you should spend a bit more on the D90.
Nikon D5000 unboxing and test shots by Kadath
Lucky Kadath is among the first owners of the Nikon D5000, and has posted up a gallery of photos showing the unboxing of the D5000, and a test pictures from the new camera.
My favorite shots of the D5000 from that set are:
Read more of Kadath’s comments and first experiences with the camera, and a related post on FredMiranda.
Please note that most, if not all of the photos taken by Kadath were shot in the Adobe RGB space, and the images will look washed-out and dull if you’re not viewing them on a color space-aware browser. You could download the images and open them up in a color space-aware application such as Adobe Photoshop.
On the intervalometer functionality, Sam Posten (aka Kadath) confirms that the feature works in the exact same manner as on his Nikon D300:
Confirmed, it has the exact same Interval Shooting menu as my D300.
I’m impressed with it. I feels and shoots like my old D200. The image quality is first rate.
NHT has the following summary at the end of his long and informative post:
After spending all day with this camera, I can see Nikon has another winner on their hands. Most people who came in to the store liked it too, and everyone like the tilt-screen LCD. This is going to be a big seller for us. I’ll see about getting some picks up, once the weather improves.
Overview of the tilt-swivel LCD screen and AF (Autofocus) operation in LiveView mode
Dan Havlik, the reviewer, says:
Despite its small size, the D5000 is a powerful, feature-rich camera. Along with all the previously mentioned specs, the D5000 can capture still images at a fairly fast speed of 4 frames per second, making this a solid choice for Soccer Moms and Soccer Dads wanting to capture their kids in action.
The D5000 also has some new and unusual scene modes. Dan cites an example:
While some scene modes on digital cameras can be overkill others are actually quite helpful for picture taking. For instance, while shooting the famous “Little Red Lighthouse” under the George Washington Bridge, I turned on the camera’s Autumn Colors mode which helped boost the red in the Lighthouse without oversaturating the sky behind it.
Amazon has more owner and user reviews on the Nikon D5000. The D5000 garnered an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars from 42 owner reviews when I last checked on Sep 16, 2009.