Nikon D5000 Preview

The D5000 is the latest addition to a series of very compact consumer DSLRs from Nikon, following the D40, D40x and D60. Based on the features and price, the D5000 seems to be an update to the D60 (January 2008), which in turn replaced the D40x (March 2007). In other words, the product cycle in that chain is merely about one year.

New Features


The newest feature on the D5000 is a swivel LCD monitor, which is a first among Nikon DSLRs. The D5000’s LCD can swing downward and rotate by 180 degrees. In conjunction with the live view feature, the subjects being photographed can view themselves in the LCD while composing the image in this “self portrait” mode. The swivel monitor is also convenient for composition while holding the camera from a high, overhead position or a low, ground-level position. In its normal up position, the LCD can face the photographer just like conventional DSLR LCDs on the back. It can also be rotated so that the LCD screen is hidden for maximum protection during transportation.

Similar to several new DSLRs introduced in the last 6 months or so such as the Nikon D90, the D5000 can capture D Movie (HD video) clips. Video will certainly become a standard feature on future consumer DSLRs.

Sensor and AF System


Compared to its immediate predecessor the D60, the D5000 maintains features such as Active D-Lighting and auto sensor cleaning. The sensor is improved to a 12.3MP one that can capture up to 4 frames/second between ISO 200-3200 with extended ranges from Low 1 (ISO 100) to Hi 1 (ISO 6400), which is the same sensor as the D90 and similar to the one on the D300 (the D300 can capture 8 frames/second). Therefore, most likely the D5000 will also have the same outstanding low-light, high-ISO capability.
The auto-focus system is the 11-AF-point Multi-CAM 1000 similar to the D90 as well as older DSLRs such as the D200 and D80. That is a clear improvement from the very basic Multi-CAM 530 system with 3 AF points on the D40 and D60.


In order to keep the cost down and the size small, Nikon does not provide the following features on its compact consumer series DSLRs including the D5000:

  • There is no built-in AF motor so that the D5000 can only AF with lenses that have their own motor, such as Nikon’s AF-S lenses and 3rd-party equivalents. Older motor-less AF lenses will become manual-focus only on the D5000.
  • The D5000 can only meter with lenses that have a built-in CPU chip, which includes all Nikon AF lenses, PC-E lenses and some manual-focus P lenses.
  • The pop-up flash on the D5000 cannot be a Nikon Creative-Lighting System (CLS)commander as those on the D700, D300, and D90 can. If one needs to control remote flashes in a CLS setting, one must use either an SB-800 or SB-900 in the hot shoe or use the dedicated SU-800 commander.
  • Nikon provides no vertical-grip/battery pack option for its compact DSLR, probably for good reasons, but that is a drawback for some.


All in all, the D5000 seems to be a much improved D60 and is fairly close to the D90 in terms of features and price; the sensor and AF system are completely identical between the D90 and D5000. The swivel LCD monitor should be a welcome addition and may become a standard feature on future DSLRs.

Pricing and Availability

The Nikon D5000 will be available at the end of April 2009 in the following combinations. By ordering from our partners, you help to support

  • nikon_D5000
  • nikon_D5000-kit1
  • nikon_D5000-kit2

The Official Press Release

MELVILLE, N.Y. (April 14, 2009)—Nikon Inc. today introduced the new D5000, a digital SLR camera with a host of features and capabilities that deliver superior performance and image quality along with amazing versatility for photo enthusiasts and those new to digital SLR photography. Leveraging Nikon’s expertise and innovative technologies found in its pro-level D-SLRs, the 12.3-megapixel D5000 enables users to capture exceptionally stunning images and High Definition video with remarkable ease.

Whether consumers are progressing from a point-and-shoot digital camera or looking to upgrade their current digital SLR and elevate their photographic expression, the D5000 serves as an ideal solution. First time D-SLR photographers will appreciate logical and easy-to-use controls, while creative enthusiasts will appreciate the D5000’s robust combination of features, technologies and performance. The D5000 boasts a versatile 2.7-inch Vari-angle LCD monitor that encourages shooting with a fresh perspective, Nikon’s revolutionary D-Movie Mode and expanded automatic Scene Modes, delivering superior Nikon innovation in a compact, user-friendly design.

“The Nikon D5000 represents a cornerstone in Nikon’s D-SLR line, marrying simplicity and instructive features with superior technology and HD video, allowing the user’s ability and creativity to grow—with the camera,” said Edward Fasano, General Manager for marketing, SLR System Products at Nikon Inc. “While its easy-to-use design will attract first-time D-SLR photographers, the D5000’s rich feature set and high performance will also appeal immediately to more experienced enthusiasts. The D5000 is sure to inspire creativity and originality.”

Broadened Creativity and Adaptability

Photographers can easily compose stunning images on the Vari-angle LCD monitor that they can view in a normal position fitting securely within the camera back, or swung out to be rotated or tilted. The monitor can also be stowed with the LCD panel tucked against the camera back to protect the screen when not in use. This tremendous freedom of movement, along with four Live View autofocus shooting modes, affords users the opportunity to shoot from a multitude of imaginative angles. Easy one-button Live View activation now features Subject Tracking autofocus (AF), which automatically locks onto a moving subject. Even if the subject leaves the frame and returns, Subject Tracking AF maintains focus, making the D5000 ideal for capturing fast moving children and pets. In addition to Subject Tracking AF in Live View, the D5000 features Face Priority AF, which automatically detects up to five faces in a scene and focuses on the closest subject; Wide Area AF, which offers a large AF area for optimal hand-held shooting; and Normal Area AF, which provides pinpoint accuracy when shooting with a tripod.

The D5000’s D-Movie Mode allows users the exciting ability to record HD movie clips (1280 × 720) at a cinematic 24 frames per second with sound. Photographers will appreciate the quality produced whether creating vacation clips or intertwining still photographs and movies in a post-production creative montage. Additionally, the D5000 is compatible with a comprehensive assortment of AF-S NIKKOR interchangeable lenses to provide users with the ability to capture perspectives not possible with typical consumer video recording devices. When using any NIKKOR VR lens, D-Movie clips benefit from Nikon VR image stabilization, which automatically activates during recording to deliver added sharpness and image stability. VR image stabilization also extends the D5000’s performance in low-light situations. D-Movie clips are recorded onto an inserted SD or SDHC memory card and saved as Motion JPEG AVI files for easy editing with widely available video editing software.
Further bridging the gap between point-and-shoot cameras and more advanced D-SLRs are the D5000’s 19 automatic Scene Modes, which free users to capture beautiful images without having to manually adjust camera settings. With the broad range of automatic Scene Modes, including Sports, Portrait, Candlelight, Silhouette, Autumn Colors and more, D5000 is the perfect camera for anyone looking to make inspiring images in challenging photographic conditions.

The D5000 also incorporates a comprehensive set of in-camera editing features to make the most of captured images without the need of a computer. The D5000 also introduces several new Retouch features, including a Soft Filter effect, which applies a smooth appearance to faces or the entire image; Perspective Control, which helps correct distortions in perspective often encountered in photographs of architecture; and Color Outline, which creates monochrome outlines of objects in images by eliminating color and tonal gradations. The D5000 saves each of these edited images as a separate JPEG file, ensuring the original image is left unmodified. With Nikon’s exclusive Picture Control Settings, photographers can quickly select various image appearance profiles that include Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape settings. In addition, Picture Control provides the ability to create and store up to nine user-defined custom profiles to reflect each user’s personal preferences for hue, color saturation and image sharpening.

Extensive playback options allow users to review their photos in groups of four, nine, or 72 thumbnail images. Alternatively, users can select the Calendar View to easily group and select images by date. These playback features can be viewed either on the Vari-angle LCD or an HDTV with HDMI connectivity available via a dedicated HDMI port on the camera.

Proven Image Excellence

Consumers will immediately appreciate the benefits of the D5000’s 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor coupled with Nikon’s exclusive EXPEED image processing system, which delivers highly detailed images with vibrant color reproduction and low noise across a broad ISO range. The D5000’s normal ISO range extends from ISO 200 to 3200, allowing for superior shooting in low-light conditions. Additionally, the D5000’s ISO range can be expanded to a Lo 1 setting of ISO 100 or a Hi 1 setting of ISO 6400, furthering the opportunities for previously impossible shots.

Nikon’s exclusive 3D Color Matrix Metering II, in conjunction with the EXPEED image processing system, contributes to the D5000’s ability to capture breathtaking images by instantly evaluating the exposure elements of each scene and comparing it to an onboard database of information from more than 30,000 images. These split-second calculations allow the D5000 to ensure the right exposure—even when conditions are extreme. To push creative boundaries even further, the D5000 allows picture-takers to also use Center-Weighted and Spot metering for added personal control.

Smooth, Swift and Quiet Operation

The D5000’s 11-point auto focus system utilizes Nikon’s exclusive Scene Recognition System with Face Detection to help create the best possible images in a variety of shooting environments. Nikon’s 11-point AF offers best-in-class speed and accuracy, helping to ensure sharp focus, shot-after-shot. Single-point AF is suggested for static subjects, Dynamic-area AF for moving subjects, Auto-area AF for spontaneous shooting and 3D-tracking with 11 AF points for maintaining accurate focus on a subject moving throughout the frame.
Paired with Nikon’s AF-S Nikor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR image stabilization lens and the ability to shoot at four frames per second, the D5000 easily captures moments other cameras miss. Nikon’s VR image stabilization lenses reduce the blurring in images due to camera shake, allowing photographers to shoot hand-held at as many as three full stops slower than would otherwise be possible.

The new D5000 also features the innovative Integrated Dust Reduction System, which offers both an electronic sensor cleaning when the camera is powered on and/or off and the Airflow Control System, which directs dust away from the sensor with every snap of the shutter. These functions work to clear image-degrading dust from the sensor’s optical low-pass filter, helping to ensure spot-free images. In addition, the D5000 features a Quiet Release Mode that reduces the mirror cycling noise for discreet shooting in sensitive situations, such as weddings and other ceremonies.

System Expandability

Photographers and enthusiasts alike can also appreciate the D5000’s system expandability, as the camera can work in conjunction with a variety of Nikon accessories including a broad assortment of Nikkor AF-S interchangeable lenses. While the D5000 offers a versatile built-in flash, the camera is also compatible with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System and capable of Advanced Wireless Lighting when using the SB-900 Speedlight or the SU-800 Wireless Commander. For those looking to document their photo excursions with geo-tagging, the D5000 is compatible with the optional GP-1 GPS Unit, which automatically records latitude, longitude, altitude and time information when a picture is taken.

The D5000 also works seamlessly with Nikon’s powerful Capture NX 2 image editing software (available for purchase separately), for more advanced photographers seeking greater control over their post-capture images. Capture NX 2 simplifies the path to beautiful images with easy-to-learn editing tools and a highly versatile and elegantly simple interface, which streamline editing procedures.

Pricing and Availability

The Nikon D5000 will be available at the end of April 2009 in the following combinations. By ordering from our partners, you help to support

  • nikon_D5000
  • nikon_D5000-kit1
  • nikon_D5000-kit2


Original text ©2009 Shun Cheung.

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    • I have badly missed, in my D60 which I otherwise appreciate, an automatic multi-exposure function. By this I mean that the camera fires three shots in immediate sequence, 1 step overexposure, 1 step normal and 1 step underexposure. Such a feature is essential for hand held HD photography. The manual adjustment in the D60 is very "fiddly", resulting in misalignment in the corresponding three pictures. Does the new D5000 include this essential feature????
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    • Emil, What you're describing is called "Exposure bracketing"; yes, the D5000 can do three-exposure bracketing. From Exposure bracketing • 3 frames • Up to +/–2.0 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps ADL (Active D-Lighting) bracketing: 2 frames (one with ADL, one without)
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    • I have been planning and saving for D90 since it came in the market. Is it a good buy over D90. I like about the D90 is the ready to use controls buttons which i think are missing from D5000. any suggestions.
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    • At last, a Nikon DSLR with an articulated LCD screen. I've missed that for a long time as a D70 user.
      Frankly, I don't care too much for the video, probably I nice gimmick (on all DSLRs) but when I come to select my next DSLR body, its video recording capabilities will not be a factor.
      I wonder if Canon will follow this soon.
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    • Not sure about the swivel LCD. Had one with my Canon G3, and though it was useful, I am not sure if I would want to use it with an SLR. I suppose for the target audience this may be a nifty feature. My G3 LCD finally died on me after 4 years of abuse - too bad I can't get it fixed. The wife loves that camera!
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    • Nikon D5000 vs D90

      First of all, I used a D90 and a D5000 side-by-side and two things which surprised me were that the D90 didn't feel a whole lot more solid and that the D5000's smaller viewfinder wasn't really much smaller. (I also tried out a Canon T1i which was noticeably less solid than either Nikon, but more robust than earlier models, like the XS.)

      The best thing about the flip-out screen is you can face it into the camera and ignore it (and not get it scratched). I don't hold with the view that it would be better if it flipped out to the side, but I do think it would have been better if it were hinged at the top.

      Continuous shooting seems very quick (you can see it at: Nikon D5000 video review), and you can keep going for a long time (longer than the D90) in JPEG mode.

      What I miss most of all from the D90 are the viewfinder, control dials, and high-resolution screen.

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