Nikon D5000 review: Nikon D5000

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Rotating, articulating LCD screen. HDMI output. Quiet shutter release. Wireless flash control built-in. Good colours and image quality. Excellent noise control.

The Bad Screen resolution relatively poor. Often underexposes. Small viewfinder.

The Bottom Line Judged on its own merits, the D5000 is a great digital SLR for those wanting something a bit better than the entry-level D60 model, and equals or betters a lot of the performance specifications of the D90.

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Design

The D5000 takes a bit of a different step to the previous digital SLRs from the Japanese brand. From the front the camera looks the same as older models like the D60, but cast your eye around to the back of the unit and things begin to look a little different. The first thing you'll no doubt notice is the 2.7-inch LCD screen, which pops out (more on this later), and the button configuration has been tweaked slightly from older models.

At the side of the camera sit ports for AV out, HDMI out and a GPS connector. The camera is designed nicely for one-handed shooters who like to capture from the hip, as your right thumb doesn't fall accidentally on any button or dial by accident. That said we still miss the front control wheel that's found on higher-end Nikon dSLRs; instead you have to make do with just one wheel at the back. The four-way control pad is generally intuitive to use even if it feels a little flimsy at times.

Features

There are a lot of comparisons that we can make between the Nikon D5000 and the Canon EOS 500D , so we'll get them out of the way first and then concentrate on the camera's performance on its own. They share a lot of similar features, the most significant being their ability to capture high-definition video (D5000 at 720p though) and that they both sit a bit better than entry-level model. The Nikon has to make do with just 12.3 megapixels compared to the Canon's 15.1, but it does win points for having the rotating LCD screen that pops out and underneath the camera body. This is slightly different to the articulating screens we're used to seeing on other dSLRs like the Olympus E-620 , which come out from the side of the camera.

With the 35mm DX lens attached (Credit: CBSi)

That said, the D5000's version is quite useful for tricky shooting situations. It's not perfect though, because if you have the LCD screen facing out from the camera and you lean in to use the viewfinder, the screen won't turn off automatically when you put the camera to your eye — not great for night-time shooting as you'll temporarily blind yourself. There's a dedicated button to turn off the screen, but we prefer the Canon version which has a sensor to detect when to switch the screen off accordingly.

The kit 18-55mm lens is a little more cumbersome than we would have liked, but if we were buying the camera, we'd just go for the body-only option and pair it with the 35mm Nikkor DX lens instead. That said, the 18-55mm Nikkor is a very nice lens, with good clarity and sharpness across the frame and little chromatic aberration noticeable.

Performance and image quality

The first thing you are likely to notice about the D5000 is the incredibly quick start-up and shot-to-shot time, with the camera being ready to shoot within 0.5 seconds of switching it on. The rest of the performance follows suit with the D5000 holding its own against other cameras in its class. Shooting speed is something that the Nikon excels at, being able to capture 4 frames per second. For most situations like shooting fast moving kids or sports photography the camera will cope well.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot Raw shot-to-shot time Shutter lag (dim light) Shutter lag (typical)
Canon EOS 500D
0.2 
0.4 
0.6 
0.3 
Sony Alpha DSLR-A350
0.6 
0.9 
0.6 
0.3 
Nikon D5000
0.2 
0.5 
0.7 
0.3 
Olympus E-620
1.4 
0.5 
0.8 
0.4 
Nikon D90
0.2 
0.6 
0.9 
0.4 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Nikon D5000
4 

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Where to Buy

Nikon D5000

Part Number: CNETNikon D5000

Typical Price: $1,499.00

See manufacturer website for availability.