Editor's note: We mistakenly wrote that the D5000 included a wireless flash controller in this review's summary. We have removed this information.
The Nikon D80 lasted a long time at the top of our entry-level dSLR list, and the D5000 has been an eagerly awaited replacement for that just-under-$1,000 kit segment. And there are plenty of significant changes in this model. Nikon switches to a CMOS sensor instead of the CCD it's been using in its entry-level models, in this case, the same 12.3-megapixel version that's in the D90. Plus there's the new (to Nikon's dSLRs) flip-down-and-swivel LCD, and an improved AF system--the same 11-point AF system as the D90--that distinguish it clearly from the cheaper D60. But, as frequently happens, this poses quite a bit of competition for the more expensive D90. Especially since it has a newer version of the Expeed image processor (with improved Auto Active D-Lighting and face-priority AF) and enhanced Live View AF, along with a connector for the optional GP-1 hot shoe GPS. It also supports direct wireless upload when you use an Eye-Fi card.
The D5000 is available in two configurations, at least from Nikon: body only and a kit with the 18-55mm VR lens. I wouldn't be surprised if a dual-lens kit with the additional 55-200mm lens eventually showed up as well.
Constructed of polycarbonate over stainless steel, the 21.6-ounce D5000 weighs a few ounces more than the D60 and competing Canon EOS Rebel T1i but about 4 ounces less than the D90. It feels plasticky, but not cheap--pretty typical for its price segment--although the SD slot cover does seem a bit flimsier than usual.