I have never written a camera review before but I am going to give it a shot. Why? because the Nikon D5000 really did nothing other than continue to surprise me. I am going to say that my very first camera was a Nikon D50. I will talk comparison between that camera and my current D700 which is similar to the D300 / D300s.
Feel / Body:
The Nikon D5000 is between the D50 and D90. Although closer to the D50 the but not as big as the D90 it still has a comfortable grip. If I had to choose this or my current body I would choose the D700 just for the small fact that the Dxxx series cameras actually fill my hand. The D5000 body is very solid like the D50 but has a small inlet near the finger tips to help keep a solid grip. I originally purchased an extended warranty with the D50 covering any kind of accidental damage but after several years of abuse the D50 never failed me. I dropped and slammed the D50 beyond the point a consumer DSLR should ever go. So because of this I don't judge the hard plastic body, I know Nikon makes them well.
Conclusion: I love the camera as a whole but this and (mainly) the lack of an AF motor drive would keep me from leaving my other camera at home.
Buttons / Layout:
This was truly the topic that inspired me to write a review. Every single button on this camera has the best feeling buttons I have ever pressed. Sounds lame yes but when you have used several cameras of different brands you just know quality when they are pressed. When compared to my D50 there are quite a few changes, I used the D50 for 3 years straight. The buttons on the D5000 are all upraised and firm not flat and mushy. This may just be the inner geek screaming inside but I would love for all of you to check out the camera first hand.
Menus on the Nikon are light years ahead of what the D50 had. There are really really easy modes on this guy to take beautiful images without a single brain cell. Scene modes and all sorts of options. Settings are all easily changed via the option menu while viewing the LCD.
Conclusion: I have not a single thing to complain about. All as I had wished.
The display on the D5000 is a first for Nikon. A swivel display on a DSLR? Nikon? Really? I have always thought the feature was cheesy and not worth it, I thought the same about live view. The two together though make for an amazing team. The colors on the display are exactly what I see on my computer monitor and very accurate. I love that I can fold the screen inward to protect the screen while it is not in use. The way I use the display the most is flat so I can look down on it from above while using live view.
I do this quite often because I shoot video with the camera quite often and when people walk past me they have no idea I am shooting video. I appear as if I am just looking down at my camera, they dont expect a small little screen to be between my chest and the camera. Think of all the people you would scare off with a camera w/ big lens pointing at people when it is held to your face. If people have no idea they are being recorded they act as usual which is what you want to capture.
Conclusion: Forget about the video portion, the display alone allows you to capture scenes you would have never have thought possible. Capturing people on camera unaware makes a lot better image.
I don't have to get into this but as everyone knows the D300, D300s and D90 have amazing colors. I was shocked the first time I used the D300 and saw the incredible skin tones that came out of it. The D5000 has the same sensor as the others. Every time Nikon introduces a camera with the same sensor they always make the sensor / algorithms tweaked to produce overall better images. So I will expect in the right hands better images with the Nikon D5000 than the original Nikon D300.
Conclusion: I love the sensor and have since my very first D300. I don't expect anything but stunning sharp images from this camera.
Compared to my D50 4 years ago with almost usable ISO 1600 this camera just blows it and the competition away. I have seen several very usable ISO 6400 images from this camera before any post production. Images are sharp at the higher ISOs and like all recent Nikons the noise is very film like (grain) and not chromatic like previous cameras. Noise now adds a feel and not so much of a distraction. Please check out the samples I will include of some non edited straight from the camera JPEGs at ISO 6400.
Conclusion: The camera has very clean grain like images which do not distract the viewer.
All the images I have shot with the camera so far have all been manual focus. Why? Well the D5000 does not allow AF with older Nikon Prime lenses without AFS built into the lens. I bought the camera for video and because all video on the camera is MF I did not mind. When taking images using manual focus it is harder due to the prism not being as bright as what I am used to but completely doable as the images will show below. The 18-55 kit is a great lens and I would defend it any day (a lot of my landscapes were taken with it... SHHHH).
Conclusion: If you don't mind MF with your old lenses or do not own any this is the camera for you. Like I said I mostly shoot video with the camera so this does not matter to me.
I wrote this review because I want to share how much I love the camera. It is just a pleasure to use. I purchased the camera and the 18-55mm kit lens brand new on ebay for $660. I bought just to use exclusively for video, crazy? Sure but like the D50 I purchased a consumer camera to see if Photography as a hobby would catch on... guess what it did. I hope the same goes for this. If so I will surely be upgrading to some future Full Frame Nikon body with video :)
With every camera it has it's pros and cons, in the right hands this camera can produce amazing images easily confused with cameras 3-4x the price.
- Amazing proven sensor
- Excellent HIGH ISO
- AF with AFS lenses and 11 Point system is quick
- Very quiet shutter
- Feel of the body and buttons
- Swivel Display
- MF with old screw drive Nikon lenses
- Small prism can be hard adapting to for Pro Users
- I always want a bigger grip, this is a consumer camera so it's size is expected.