By Elias Plastiras PC World Australia | on April 27, 2009
Price: 626 . 696
Pros: Excellent Live View implementation; useful scene modes and shooting hints; comfortable to use; fast shot-to-shot and burst mode performance
Cons: No dedicated aperture dial; no shortcut for ISO setting; videos were jumpy.
Many digital SLRs have been launched over the last six months, but Nikon’s D5000 is the first to take a clear lead over its rivals.
The D5000 is an entry-level digital SLR that has plenty of advanced features, yet it also features shooting guides and in-built scene modes. It's a camera that can be tailored to any shooting situation, and inexperienced photographers should find it simple to use. Essentially, what you are getting in the D5000 is a camera that incorporates technology such as Live View from the Nikon D90 (read our review of the Nikon D90 here) and marries it with user-friendly features from point-and-shoot and advanced compact cameras.
Nikon's newest digital SLR has a compact body that is 12.5cm long, 8.3cm wide and 10.5cm tall, and it weighs 0.6kg without a lens. Inside, it has a 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor and an EXPEED processor. It can be paired with any F-mount lens, but it's best suited to autofocusing AF-S and AF-I type DX-format lenses; you can attach anything from a fisheye to a 300mm lens. To get you started, Nikon supplies the D5000 in a single or a dual lens kit. The single lens kit has an 18-55mm image stabilised lens, while the dual lens kit has the 18-55mm lens as well as a 55-200mm image-stabilized lens.
To really get the most out of the D5000, you will want to learn all about exposure settings and what effect changing the shutter speed, aperture and ISO will have on your photos. However, if you don't want to learn about them all just yet, you can use the 19 scene modes to good effect. They really do a good job at selecting the right settings depending on your environment. Also, if you choose to shoot in the semi-manual aperture priority or shutter priority modes, the camera has built-in hints that can let you know if a scene is too dark or too bright, allowing you to change your setting.
You can frame photos either by using the optical viewfinder or the 2.7in LCD screen. Live View is perfect for the times when you need to frame images at low or high angles: the LCD screen flips open and swivels so that you can take all sorts of angled shots and self-portraits with relative ease. It's a high quality screen, which helps with focusing. Because the screen flips out downwards instead of sideways, it doesn't hinder the position of your left hand while shooting.
The Live View implementation on the Nikon D5000 is excellent. It's better than what we've seen from Canon and is as good as what we've seen from Olympus. Automatic focusing functions are quick and clear on the screen and shot-to-shot performance is very quick (though the camera's shutter feels like it takes an eternity to close, even at high speeds). Because of the Live View mode, you'll have no problems using this digital SLR in the same way as an advanced compact camera.
The only problem you'll have is viewing the screen in very bright conditions; in these situations you'll want to use the optical viewfinder. Also, the battery will be drained much quicker if you use the LCD screen extensively. Because the Nikon D5000 does not have a dedicated window for displaying its settings (like a mid-range D-SLR has), you'll have to refer to the LCD screen more often than not in order to view and change settings.