Top positive review
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Simply Stunning !
on 23 July 2009
With a holiday to southern Ireland coming up that'll probably be the last family holiday before my eldest wants to start going away with friends instead, I wanted to be sure I come back with some great photos. My 8 year old Nikon Coolpix & much older still F601 just don't cut it anymore and I've fancied getting back into photography with a decent digital SLR for some time now.
Many evenings of trawling through reviews, spec sheets and sample photos, and I settled on the D5000. I chose it over the D60 because of some significantly better features (such as the 11 area Auto Focus and more flexible D-Lighting), and in preference to the D90 because I wanted some spare cash for accessories like a graduated ND filter kit. Other makes such as the Canon 500D just didn't match the Nikon for picture quality and that's the prime criteria for me.
I'm absolutely over the moon with my choice. Although the almost absurd array of features and settings was daunting when I first switched it on, after reading the manual (all 200 pages of it, I made a rare exception in this instance and it proved to be time well worth spending) I very soon found the D5000 to be surprisingly quick and easy to use. Changing any setting such as the ISO, metering, exposure compensation or AF area etc takes a split second. All of the key settings are displayed on the LCD during normal operation and a quick press of the "i" button lets you tab through them and make adjustments (it even remembers the last one you accessed which is really handy if, say, you want to change to spot metering for 1 photo then back to centre weighted afterwards) so it's rarely necessary to go into the menu itself.
I've always found Nikons to be solidly built, my Coolpix was dropped onto a solid floor on a couple of occasions with not even the barest hint of a scratch let alone significant damage, and the D5000 feels equally robust (not that I'm intending on doing a drop-test on it !)
Power up is instantaneous and there's no noticeable shutter lag, it's just as quick as my old non-digital F601 when it comes to grabbing it off the table and taking a quick snap (in fact the AF is vastly quicker and more reliable on the D5000 with the 18-55 VR lens than my old F601 was), and with a SanDisk 20MB/s SDHC memory card it rattles off continuous RAW shots at a rate faster than I'll probably ever need it to
Picture quality is fantastic, razor sharp detail and bright vivid colours. I just wish computer monitors came in 4288 x 2848 native resolutions because the camera produces way more detail than even my 27" 1920 x 1200 monitor can display and I have to zoom out to 44% to fit a whole photo on screen !
At it's default setting exposure was a tad dark for my liking, but a quick adjustment to the exposure compensation sorted that, in fact there's more than enough scope to tweak just about anything to suit your own individual taste. After going through all of the menus to familiarise myself with what was available I was staggered at the range of features crammed in to this camera. To give just 1 example - I used to have an 8 point star filter for an old camera, you don't need one for the D5000, it's available as one of the in-built filter effects called "cross screen", not only that but you can choose from 4,6 or 8 points, 3 different filtering amounts, 3 different angle settings, and 3 different point lengths. It produces a very effective result too.
Only very slight downside I have found is a bit of blooming creeping in to shots that are fairly over-exposed, but I doubt it would have been noticeable printed at A4 size and I'm sure a bit more care with exposures would eliminate that.
I've read that pictures are even sharper and more detailed still with the Nikon 50mm F1.4 prime lens, that's something I just have to see so it's been added to my future shopping list
I can't comment on its video capability because I haven't tried it and don't intend to (it doesn't auto focus in video mode for starters which makes it pretty much pointless in my view). That's my only real gripe actually - I have a Camcorder that takes excellent HD video with the added ability to take photos that are ok but not fantastic (so I don't take photos with it), and now a camera that takes excellent photos with limited video facilities bolted on. I really wish manufacturers would leave these pointless gimics off because no doubt we're paying extra for it. Please just concentrate on the specific area that the thing's designed for !!
All in all, I'd recommend the D5000 to anyone looking for a decent dSLR for under a grand, if it proves as reliable as my Coolpix has been then I'll be getting plenty of enjoyment out of it for many years to come.