This leaves us in two minds about the camera. On the one hand, it's a reasonably priced, tasty little dSLR with something for everyone. On the other, that very price and feature set place it higher in the food chain than Nikon seems to think. Promotional materials show care-free kiddies gambolling around an adventure playground with the D5000, but how many parents are going to gamble £800 for HD kidcam footage? Give the little cherubs an indestructible £170 Flip Video MinoHD and let them see if they can break that.
Pricing doubts aside, the D5000 is a pick'n'mix of all sorts of Nikon goodness. It has the same sensor as the D90, a 12.3-megapixel CMOS, with an Expeed processor doing the thinking. There's an 11-point autofocus system and, like the D90, 720p video.
We weren't able to shoot any test shots with the pre-production models, but we were able to get to grips with the controls. There are a number of different status displays available on the screen, each simpler than the last. Scene modes and other shooting options display with sample images to show what the effect will be and how your photo will turn out.
This has freed Nikon to add more complicated scene modes and options, which can be explained simply to new users by the sample image. The idea is to inspire dSLR newbies to explore the more technical-sounding of the 19 scene settings, such as high and low-key lighting modes.
Other features include a variety of fun things to make and do when you've snapped your snap. Picture-editing options include a soft focus mode that detects faces and smoothes skin tones while blurring the rest of the picture in a pleasing manner. Perspective outline makes a line drawing out of your image, and perspective control corrects, er, perspective. Again, we weren't able to test these on the sample model, but look out for our forthcoming review, in which we'll be testing the chuff out of them.
One thing that could be simpler is the video function. While Canon has added a dedicated video button to the EOS 500D, Nikon still makes you lock focus and hit the OK button, which isn't that intuitive as far as we're concerned.
What you do get is a neat twist on the live view screen. Click through our photos for more.