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Summary:
- Outstanding (absolutely stunning) image quality, especially in low light and difficult lighting (high dynamic range) situations
- 19 point-and-shoot auto modes great for beginners new to D-SLR
- Extremely easy-to-use menu system
- No compromises feature set not stripped of high-end features
- Bright vari-angle screen with LiveView for hard-to-reach shots, but don't consider this a replacement for the viewfinder for most situations
- Nice compact body easier to travel

D5000 vs. Nikon D60:
- Dramatic improvement in low-light and difficult light image quality
- Improved auto white balance (but still not perfect)
- Slightly bigger (taller and deeper) body, slightly heavier
- 11 autofocus points, 3D matrix metering, Auto D-Lighting
- Faster continuous shot performance (4fps vs 3)
- Up to 63 JPEG/11 RAW images in continuous burst mode (the D60 can capture up to 100 JPEG/9 RAW images)
- RAW+JPG with choice of JPEG compression
- Full feature set including bracketing
- 13 additional auto / scene presets
- Additional in-camera editing including perspective control and fisheye
- Slightly smaller viewfinder, but adds optional grid line support
- LiveView with HD Movie Mode
- Multi selector supports diagonal movement instead of 4 directions
- Quiet shooting mode reduces shutter noise in quiet situations
- support for optional Nikon GPS unit
- HDMI output
- same outstanding 18-55VR kit lens

D5000 vs. Nikon D90:
- Equivalent image quality, altho D5000 tends to underexpose capturing all detail vs. D90 tendency to overexpose high contrast shots
- D5000 LiveView mode adds subject tracking
- Easy to use auto / scene presets along with context sensitive help
- More sophisticated interval shooting and time-lapse mode
- Additional in-camera editing including perspective control and fisheye
- Significantly more compact, lighter body
- No autofocus motor in body for older or more professional lenses
- No top LCD; must use back display to review settings
- No depth of field preview
- Lower resolution screen than D90 but vari-angle allows you to compose hard-to-reach shots
- Slightly slower continuous shot performance (4fps vs 4.5)
- Up to 63 JPEG/11 RAW images can be captured in continuous burst mode (the D90 burst is limited to 25 JPEG/7 RAW images)
- Quiet shooting mode reduces shutter noise in quiet situations
- .78x Pentamirror viewfinder vs. the D90's brighter .94x Pentaprism
- Single command dial means more access to Menu for changing settings
- Built-in flash cannot command external flash units with Nikon Creative Lighting System
- No option for extra battery grip
- Kit lens only 18-55VR vs 18-105VR
- D5000 adds Airflow Control System in addition to dust reduction system
- Better value, especially body only

Detailed Review:

Having bought my first D-SLR (a Nikon D60) last November, I was intrigued with the announcement of the D5000. At the time of my D60 purchase, I was considering the D90, but after holding both in person, I chose the D60 for its the much smaller form factor, lighter weight, and much lower price tag. I have been largely happy with the D60, although its low-light performance while dramatically better than my old point-and-shoot camera still wasn't fantastic.

Given the D5000 uses the same sensor and imaging sensor as the D90, but in a smaller lighter case, I decided to upgrade. And I must say I'm exceptionally pleased with the D5000.

What is to like over the D60?
1) Stunning Image Quality even in Low Light, without a tripod or fast lens

The D5000 takes exceptional pictures, especially in low-light and in challenging lighting scenarios. The D5000 is the first camera I've owned that can take a picture at night and capture everything (and in some cases more than) my eye sees. And this is in Automatic mode (flash off), without a tripod, using an average-speed (f3.5-f5.6) Nikon VR lens. Truly impressive.

I went back and took the same night shots in the same settings with the same Nikon 16-85 VR lens and the results are noticeably better on the D5000 vs my D60. The difference between the D5000 and D60 is almost as dramatic (in low light) as the difference between my D60 and point-and-shoot camera. I've posted a few example images to illustrate.

Images captured even at ISO 1600 have exceptional detail and very low noise. Even when you zoom to 100% the D5000 renders these tough shots beautifully.

Highlights are controlled and not blown-out, while even low-contrast areas of the picture are captured.

2) Ability to capture details in challenging light, automatically

The D5000's ability to capture all details of an image, even at night, with areas of highly contrasting lighting is even more impressive than it's low-light performance. As some have noted, the D5000 has a tendency to slightly underexpose these pictures to preserve detail. (The D90 tends to over-expose these shots, illustrating that the D5000 is not entirely a "D90 in a small case".)

In one example (posted to the customer images), a night-shot of the famous Castro Street theater the D5000 captured the bright neon signs, architectural lighting of the facade, and even the mosaic tile and billboards in the very dimly-lit entry. All again in automatic mode, no tripod, F3.8 ISO 800. When I post the sample pictures they will tell the story better than I could ever describe.

I can only think that this performance is related to a combination of improvements over the D5000: 11 autofocus points, 3D matrix metering, next-generation Active D-Lighting, latest Nikon EXPEED processor.

3) No-compromises feature set that is still easy to use for the beginner

One thing that annoyed me about the D60 was its lack of some features (eg. bracketing) intended to "dumb the camera down". The D5000 has every control you would ever want, yet its menu system remains extremely easy to use even for a beginner.

Example features the D5000 offers that are not available on the D60:
- RAW-JPG ability to select JPEG quality (Std,Basic,Fine)
- bracketing (useful for HDR post-processing)
and I'm sure there are many others I have missed.

The D5000 also includes a number of additional SCENE modes (a total of 19) for the beginner used to point-and-shoot simplicity. Everything from Night Landscape, Sunset, Food, Pet Portrait, Sports, and more.

4) Useful Live View and Vari-Angle Display for those hard-to-reach shots

A first for Nikon, the D5000 includes a "vari-angle" articulated LCD. Despite the specs on paper (230,000 pixels vs the 920,000 pixels on the D90) the screen quality is outstanding - very bright and easy to see even in sunshine.

Using the Live View mode, you can take pictures in hard-to-reach angles such as above a crowd, or looking up from a low angle, or taking a self-portrait. What doesn't work so well in Nikon's implementation is that the hinge is on the bottom of the camera, so if you're using a tripod your choices are limited.

New to the D5000 LiveView (not on the D90) is subject tracking, which keeps focus on a moving subject within the frame.

As others have pointed out, the D5000 LiveView autofocus performance is very slow. The more that I have used it, I must say that LiveView performance is probably worse than your point-and-shoot camera. Some other owners on the Nikon forums have reported complete failure of LiveView autofocus, although on my D5000 it works.

As it is, I compose 99% of my shots in the viewfinder, which gives you the super-fast response of a DSLR in the first place. For me the ability to use LiveView in hard-to-reach situations is a nice feature.

What could be improved?
- Well, first of all, the video is more of a marketing idea - the sound is monoral, you can't change auto-focus once you start recording, and the video has the infamous "jelly effect" when moving from side to side
- Although the case is much smaller than the D90, it's still over 1/4" taller than my D60, and doesn't feel nearly as comfortable in my hands.
- The tilting screen is great, but the bottom-hinge design is of limited effectiveness when using a tripod.
- Live View autofocus is very slow for a D-SLR (even worse in some situations than a compact digital camera)
- Auto White Balance just doesn't get it right with certain lighting. But it's easy enough to correct with a custom white balance (if you have the time when taking the shot) or post-processing the RAW image. I just don't understand why my $300 Canon SD870 does auto-white balance so much better.

All in all, however, the outstanding image quality especially in low-light, and features offset the very minor areas that could be improved. For that, the D5000 gets my 5-star vote.
review image review image
2424 comments| 301 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 8, 2009
I got this camera back on July, its serial number is inside the range of the recall. But mine havent failed yet after 2 months of full time use.
So I just wont send it to repair until it fails, crossing fingers here though. Anyway if it ever presents a problem I will just send it to Nikon since it has full warranty and Nikon's policies are to repair the unit no matter the time or when it fails, could be a lot of time, they will repair it fast for free.

Ok now to performance, this camera performs as good as the D300 or D90 step up brothers IQ wise. High ISO performance is top notch, a few reviews over the net show that it has less noise than D300.

This little consumer grade camera will do just about everything than other more expensive DSLR's. Like full manual settings, high exposure shots, D-Lighting, in camera editing, etc, etc.

The little screen is just perfect, the size and weight too. The menu is user friendly, everything it has looks like a true 2009 model. 5 stars, cant find a flaw.

This camera lacks an integrated autofocus motor, but that feature is for use of older lenses and some exotic ones. So it has 87 variety of Nikon and aftermarket lenses to choose from,
that is one of the reasons I bought this camera, saving money discarding a feature that I wont ever use since Iam new to phootgraphy and Iam just starting making my own lens collection, with only new AF-S type of lenses that come with their autofocus motor. It doesnt have a top LCD display but I really dont like them, they look old. They are usefull, but really not a need.

It has the video feature, wich it isnt as a camcorder quality but way better than a Cybershot, and its a DSLR so I wont go deeper about its video performance, wich anyway is HD 720p, for short clips is perfect.

The 4FPS continuous shot is quite good, not professional but works pretty good, almost no different or noticeable than the 4.5FPS on the D90.

The thing I like most, is the lightweight, coupled with my 70-300vr its ironic how light it is next to a ton of weight from other cameras with heavier lenses.

Cant go wrong with this little camera. This is a great choice if is your first DSLR, or if its your 2nd body. Because if you are serious about photography, for more money u can get a more solid, body with more features, that are usefull for the professional photographer. But for everyone else, this 12.3 MP sensor is the same as the D300 or D90. The Image quality brings a tear to the eye, Period!
0Comment| 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 30, 2009
If you're looking at this camera, my guess is you've done your home work and figured out that if you want a good DSLR on a budget, your choice is pretty much down to D5000 or Rebel. I came to that conclusion fairly quickly but making that decision was not easy. On paper Canon had better specs for the price but both cameras looked close ...

There are numerous reviews comparing those cameras. Most of them are long, detailed and come to the same conclusion - both cameras are good - not really helping much at the end. So here I'll try to keep it focused and tell about the key differences which helped me to set my mind.

1. Low light shooting. Recently I went to a party and a friend of mine gave me his Rebel. What I didn't realize before is in order to autofocus the Rebel needs to pop up flash and fire it a few times. Of course, it's not at full power, but still it ruins everything because you can't take a picture without distracting people. You catch some interesting face, point, shoot and those few flashes totally distract the person. Nikon has a white lamp, it's enough to focus but most people won't get distracted. So if you plan to take pictures of people in party like set up - Nikon gives you an advantage. (well, to be fair you can get an external flash which has a lamp for autofocus assist, but we are talking about the cameras here)
2. Tilting LCD. Rebel has bigger and better LCD. However, I'm not a paparazzi, but time to time i need to shoot over a line of people in front of me (parades, street performance, small crowded room etc). With the tilting LCD you can raise the camera above your head and still be able to frame the picture. I found that very useful and Nikon has an advantage.
3. Extra preset modes. Probably like the most people I used to keep the dial on "Auto" most of the time. And it worked ok most of the time. But I never could quickly figure out how to take a picture of my daughter blowing birthday candles or perfect sunset or something white on white etc. So when I tried the extra "Scene" preset modes on Nikon, I was really surprised how much better can those pictures be comparing to the "Auto". Try them out and keep in mind Rebel doesn't have many of those modes.
4. Feel. Nikon has very solid feel in your hands. Maybe it's subjective, but I do like this feeling.

So overall, Rebel does have a lot of specs slightly better than Nikon. It's smaller, lighter, the screen is bigger and has better resolution, it has more megapixels. Yes, it's all nice to have but this is a choice between good and even better. However Nikon offers some things Rebel just doesn't have (see above). So I bought Nikon and feel happy about it.

A few side notes. The cameras are getting better and better and in a couple years you'll be able to buy a much better camera for the same price. The lenses and flashes on the other side are not changing much and hold value really well. So if you have a choice, try to buy the best lense (and for an expensive lense don't forget to buy a protective filter) and flash you can afford and maybe save some money on the body and upgrade it in a couple years if some new cool technology pops up.

Hopefully my review will help you to decide one way or another.
0Comment| 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 12, 2010
I did a lot of research before I decided to go with D5000 - including going to BestBuy and other camera stores and handling the camera to make sure it feels right. In the end I got the best deal through Amazon (even though a D5000 kit at Costco had an unbelievable deal). I choose not to buy a kit because I wanted specific lenses with the camera. I wanted one lens that I can travel with without the need to change lenses and another that I can use primarily in doors in low light conditions. I got the Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM IF Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras and Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras lenses. I also got a Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Flash for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras and an Eye-Fi 4GB Pro SDHC Wireless Flash Memory Card EYE-FI-4PC to wirelessly upload pictures to my laptop (D5000 has built in support for Eye-Fi SDHC cards). Last week Eye-Fi came out with Eye-Fi 8GB Pro X2 SDHC Class 6 Wireless Flash Memory Card EYE-FI-8PC that has more features and almost the same price (bummer!). I also got UV filters for both lens to protect the expensive lens glass.

The cameras I compared before buying were, Nikon D90, D60, Canon Rebel iTL, xTi, etc.

I have used it for two weeks now with great results. Camera is very easy to use, I still have not looked through the manual and have been able to find advance setting easily. The auto-focus with both the lenses is very fast (faster if using the view-port than using LiveView). I still have not been able to find a camera case that I feel good with - that is compact enough to easily carry around and I can get my essential accessories in.

One big factor for me for selecting this camera was the swivel lens. Being a big guy, I run into scenarios where I do not have clear line of sight to the subject I am capturing and have always wanted the ability to move the camera higher or away from my body to take great shots and the swivel LCD does a great job at it. My tipod mount has not had any problem with restricting the swivel movement, but I have seen it at a store, where the tripod mount was huge and restricted the LCD movement.

Again - overall highly recommended camera.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 18, 2009
Having had the D5000 for a few months now, and having used it with a few different lenses, I figured I'd better chime in here, in hopes of pushing this one's rating just a bit higher. It's certainly deserving. One of the reasons this camera got a bunch of bad reviews all over the place at first was because of the recall. Definitely a bummer. But by the time I received mine, the problem had been dealt with, and I received a perfectly working model. So how is it?
In a word: fantastic. I've owned one other dSLR in my life, and it was a Canon, and it was a while ago. Needless to say, this was a HUGE step up for me.
In getting truly serious about my photography, this camera has been the tool I've dreamed of having for a long, long time. It's fast, light, takes wonderful pictures, and is reasonably priced to boot. The menu system is well laid out, and there's a very useful info button if you want the quick-and-dirty of what a particular setting does. I've used this camera with Nikon, Sigma, and Tamron lenses, and with all of them it has just performed seamlessly. Of course, now that I know everything there is to know about this camera, it only makes me want a D3X that much more. But parting with 7k for a camera is more than a little crazy, especially at my level.
So my parting advice is this: if you really, really know what you're doing, you'll probably be a little disappointed and somewhat limited by this camera. While it does an admirable job at higher ISO's, it's no $7000 camera. In fact it's no $3000 camera. Meaning that you will see noise at the higher settings, plain and simple.
But if you're not expecting miracles, then this little gem of a camera might just surprise you with a few.
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 26, 2010
This is a great little camera. I was so excited to get it - it was really easy to use and has so many features to play with. I flipped through the manual in no time and was able to feel completely knowledgeable about it and comfortable with using it for the first time. When I was considering buying it, I was also considering the D90. I kept going back and forth trying to figure out which camera was for me and I chose the D5000 because of the cheaper price. I have been getting into photography more and more and really wanted a second body (I also have the D50, which is also a great camera). So this camera seemed like a good option before I started thinking about spending thousands of dollars on a professional camera. I actually used the D5000 to shoot a professional job and it worked like a charm. However, I recently bought a new lens that did not have the Auto Focus button on it, meaning, if your camera doesn't have the auto-focus motor built inside, then you are going to have to manually focus with these types of lenses. I knew this when I bought the D5000 and wasn't concerned because I figured I'd stick with lenses that had the auto-focus button and since that was the wave of the future, why would I need old lenses? Well, I was wrong, I needed this one particular lens and I was surprised when I was reminded that it wouldn't auto-focus with the D5000. It would auto-focus on my D50, but the D5000 was so much faster and the most important functions for me were speed and focus. So the lack of auto-focus motor is a deal breaker for me. I am exchanging it tomorrow for a D90, which has all the features the D5000 has and more. It is a semi-pro camera and has the in camera auto-focus monitor and very high ISO capabilities. I will also be paying the $200 difference that I didn't want to pay in the first place, but at least I know I'll be happier with the D90. Don't get me wrong, I am not giving the D5000 a bad review - I'm just saying, make sure you know what's missing. If auto focus is at the top of your priority list for a wider selection of lenses, then don't get the D5000. Spend the extra on the D90. If you're looking for a camera that's super lightweight, easy to use, takes great pictures and has a million bells and whistles (not to mention the cool graphics on the LCD screen that I really will miss, but are really not necessary - just visual fun), then go for the D5000.
11 comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 10, 2010
I just recently purchased the D5000 and have had this camera for over two months. I've been searching for a digital SLR to replace my SLR (Nikon N90) and fill the gap from my point and shoot (Canon IS970). I have been doing photography as an amateur for 20 some years now and have to say that the D5000 fills what I need perfectly. I was a bit perturbed about the reports in this forum about the problem with the Nikon and further still about support from Nikon in reporting the problem. In the past I have not had any problems with Nikon products (maybe lucky?) and they have had great support from their dealers for any questions that I had. If you have a problem with a Nikon product, you have a wealth of choices in terms of support - you can go to a local Ritz or Penn Camera in the Mid-Atlantic if you are not satisfied otherwise. There are a couple of things I was surprised about:

1) While I can use my older Nikon Lenses, they no longer work in AF. You need the new lenses that support the new style of DSLR AF.
2) You cannot use the older Flashes - it flashes too strongly for the CCDs/CMOSes and are not compatible with the new mounts. You will need to buy one specifically for these DSLRs.

Either of the above is not a problem since purchases should be forward compatible from here on out...

My buying thought process was the following:
1) Quality pictures
2) Quality build and company support
3) Compatible with old lenses (to save money)
4) Ease of use

#1 was readily solved. This camera is excellent in picture quality - I've been very satisfied with the pictures from high to low ISO with some understandable graininess at 3400 ISO. The CMOS sensor used in the D5000 is the same one as in the D90. Also, the 11 AF points are the same as the D90 and not the 3 point in the D60... The build is excellent. It is smaller than the D90, about as light as the D60, and feels solid. The past issue with the lockup is long done, I think. I've taken about 2000 pictures so far and no lockups and on a single battery with the builtin flash (but not continuous - probably about 20% with flash). I had a bunch of old lenses from my N90 that I really wanted to save money with. I can still use them but not with autofocus. I went ahead and bought new lenses anyway except for my 75-300mm Tamron Zoom lens. It's just a great form factor for that lens (light and small with a minimum barrel length of 2.5inches). The camera is also incredibly easy to use - it reminds me of how easy my N50 was. The learning curve on the N90 was a little steep which I suspect the D90 is as well. I can use the D5000 as easily as I can use the Canon IS970, which I think says a lot - and without having to use the manual. For getting the right depth of field using Aperture priority, I did need to look that up in the manual...

I think the D90 is a great camera and there are more features to it than on the D5000, but the D5000 hit the right spot in what I needed - a really good DSLR that is easy to use, light, and give me enough options to take some serious photography when I want to.

So 1,2,and 4 outweighed 3 - I could live with 3 since the only thing I lost was AF. Buy this camera and rememeber to buy a decent flash - if you are a beginner, you will run into the lens barrel shadow that all SLRs/DSLRs have with anything beyond an 18-50mm lens...
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on April 24, 2015
I have yet to try it but from what I see it my be what I was looking for. I got it mainly to use on my telescope. When we get a clear evening again (NW weather) I'll be able to see if it works better than my other DSLR camera. Tried it after getting a lens for it. It worked great even being a used camera. It has some interesting features. Lots to explore and see what there is to use. Very clear photos.
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on July 15, 2009
I'm excited to own such a cute camera. The LCD moveable screen is a HUGE plus for me. I'm becoming VERY advanced in photography and the practice of checking after EVERY image is becoming a thing of the past for me. I like to focus on photography while I'm working so closing up that LCD screen helps me to concentrate on the job at hand. The resolution is blowing my mind. Simplicity is awesome. I love simplicity. The MAJOR reason I got this camera is for good low light performance and it REALLY stands out there. I don't see any noise in my images even at ISO 3200. I can't wait to create a few 20+ inch canvas prints from this camera's images.
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on April 17, 2015
Bought this as a replacement for our oldest daughter who took a nasty fall and managed to actually break a Nikon camera. Plenty of megapixels and easy to use in manual mode. If you do your part, this Nikon will do its and you'll have excellent pictures.
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