Best Buy
  • Price: £625 . £800

  • Company: Nikon

  • Pros: Class-leading results in low light; video alongside stills is a first for a digital SLR; fairly priced; kit lens is reasonably sharp and image-stabilized.

  • Cons: Video isn’t Full HD quality and sound is mono; recommended lens requires extra spend.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 10 out of 10 We rate this 10 out of 10

This camera is reviewed as part of our group test of Digital SLR HD Video Cameras

A well-constructed model aimed at both hobbyists and family users, the D5000, with its 12.3 million effective pixels, does direct battle with Canon’s 500D. It’s also Nikon’s least expensive HD video contender, sitting below the D90, which was the first digital SLR to incorporate video alongside stills capture.

The AVI file format, Motion JPEG video resolution is 1,280-x-720 pixels at a true-to-life frame rate of 24fps – in truth, more HD Ready than Full HD, and identical to that of its predecessor. Also like the D90, the D5000 produces mono sound.

Nikon markets the D5000 as a ‘perspective changer’. You record movies by selecting the camera’s Live View mode using a dedicated button (marked ‘Lv’). This flips the camera’s mirror mechanism out of the way, so the view through the lens is displayed in the 2.7-inch, 230,000-pixel monitor, rather than smaller optical viewfinder above. The image on screen is cropped to 16:9 ratio, to indicate how footage will look in replay.

Unusually, the D5000’s LCD screen rotates 90 degrees in one direction and 180 degrees in the other, to provide greater flexibility when it comes to framing subjects. This is useful for shooting over the heads of a crowd or low to the ground, when getting an eye level with the viewfinder would be otherwise impossible.

You can also turn the screen to face inwards to the camera body to protect it when carrying the camera around.

In terms of user friendliness, a dedicated movie mode or Record button would have been handy – instead, recording starts with an unassuming ‘OK’ button at the centre of the D5000’s multi-selector pad. Maximum movie length is five minutes at full resolution, or 20 minutes for 640-x-424 or 320-x-216 pixel options in 3:2 ratio.

Video clips have a smooth, almost filmic quality to them, a better lens lifting them above what we’ve previously seen from point-and-shoot compacts. For this price, it looks like a very sensible option.