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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nikon D5000 - Observations, Likes and Dislikes After A Couple Weeks Of Shooting With My D5000

Nikon D5000 with kit lens
So I've been shooting with the Nikon D5000 for a few weeks now, and I thought I'd comment on some of the things I've noticed shooting with it as well as some of my likes and dislikes.

First of all, the D5000 is a great little DSLR. It's small, compact, and lightweight, which are more appealing features than I initially thought they would be. The size and weight is a welcome change from my Nikon D300. After a long period of shooting, my neck isn't sore and neither are my hands (something I often find after a long day of shooting a wedding).

I initially thought I'd miss the weight and size of the D300 when shooting with the D5000, but that hasn't been the case. I think a lot of us are pre-conditioned to think that heavier and beefier equals better build quality, more rugged construction, and more of a PRO camera. Frankly, I haven't found that to be true with the D5000. It's a well built, solid DSLR.

In a surprise turn of events, one of the biggest features I thought I'd like on the Nikon D5000, in fact, the D5000's most unique feature, the vari-angle LCD, isn't something I'm that crazy about. The vari-angle feature is really only useful when you're using Liveview, and I hardly ever use Live View because it's just too slow for 95% of what I shoot (i.e. people and events... stuff that moves).

The D5000's LCD is actually one of the things I like least about the camera. I find it to be too small and too low resolution, especially compared to the bigger, higher resolution LCD on the D300. Given the choice between a smaller, low resolution, vari-angle LCD like the D5000's, and a larger, higher resolution LCD like the D300's, I'll take the larger, higher resolution LCD any day. Now give me a larger, higher resolution, vari-angle LCD, and I'll keep the vari-angle feature. :-)

I still miss the front command dial that's missing on the Nikon D5000, although I've gotten used to the toggle button and using the single dial. It's not a big deal, but it's enough of a point that I thought I'd mention it. Given the choice, I'd have one on the D5000.

The batteries are a minor annoyance for me on the D5000. I like to have cameras that use the same batteries, but the D5000 takes the EN-EL9 / EN-EL9a instead of the EN-EL3e that my D300 takes. I suspect this won't be an issue for most D5000 users, as the target market for this camera is likely to own the D5000 as their only DSLR. For PRO shooters like myself, having to carry another set of different batteries and another different battery charger is a negative. That said, battery life has not been an issue with the D5000. I'm getting very good usage out of a single EN-EL9a and don't have any complaints in that department.

(On a side note, I've also picked up a Nikon D90 which does use the same EN-EL3e batteries as my Nikon D300, and it's so much nicer to be able to carry a few extra batteries that fit BOTH cameras. More on my Nikon D90 experience later!)

Another feature that I find myself missing more than I thought I would on the D5000, is the ability to use auto focus with AF and AF D lenses. As you know, the Nikon 50mm f1.8D is one of my favourite Nikon lenses. It's fast, super sharp, weighs practically nothing, BUT you can't auto focus with it on the Nikon D5000 (or the Nikon D40 or D3000 for that matter). I've played with it on the D5000 using manual focus, and I'm not really all that into it. I guess I'm just an auto focus kinda' guy.

If you like manual focusing, Thom Hogan makes an interesting point in his D5000 review. He suggests that the D5000 is the new Digital FM for those who miss that much loved Nikon classic. Thom says "[i]t's remarkable how small and convenient the combination is (D5000, 20mm, 30mm, 58mm). FM users will find it the equivalent to, say, carrying an FM2n, a 28mm, 50mm, and 85mm lens. All these lenses are optically quite good." So if you loved your Nikon FM2, perhaps the D5000 and a few primes is the DSLR for you!

I'll be posting some more photos from my D5000 as I continue to evaluate if it will be staying in my camera bag. Having recently added the Nikon D90 as well, I have to say I'm leaning towards it over the D5000, but both DSLR's are great cameras and will appeal to different users for different reasons.

The D5000's big feature, the vari-angle LCD, doesn't do much for me, and I miss having the larger, higher resolution LCD and ability to auto focus with AF and AF D lenses (i.e. non AF-S).

Image quality is virtually identical between the Nikon D300, Nikon D90, and Nikon D5000, so that's not a deciding factor.

What remains to be seen is if the small size and weight of the Nikon D5000 outweigh the missing better LCD and crippled auto focus. Time will tell, and I'll let you know what I end up deciding.

More on the Nikon D5000...

First Impressions After Shooting The D5000 For A Few Days

Shooting The D5000 At ISO 3200


Camarillo Brillo said...

I have owned a D60 for over two years and a D90 for just over a year. The D60 is a fine camera, it's only real drawback for me is the 3 focus points as opposed to the D90's 11. I have a bunch of old pre AI/AIS lenses and this is why I keep my D60 around.
I am considering a D3100 or a D5000 to replace my D60 since both these cameras will mount the pre AI/AIS lenses safely.
Since you have owned both the 3100 and 5000 which one would you get?
Thanks for all the hard work you've put into this blog...
PhotoHop from Flickr...

Matt Ballard said...

Hi Camarillo,

Based on the information you've given, I'd go for the Nikon D3100 to replace your Nikon D60.

The D3100 is a great little camera and has superior image quality to both the D90 and the D5000. It also has the same 11 point AF as the D90.

Let me know what you decide, and how your decision works out!



Anonymous said...

I've been reading your reviews of the Nikon D5000 - I am new to photography and have a challenge shooting indoor swimming. I currently just have the kit lens. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with the low lighting and action shoots that I am encountering?

Matt Ballard said...

Dear Indoor Swimming D5000 Shooter,

Your biggest problem is speed... specifically the speed of your lens. You need to get something a lot faster than the kit lens to shoot action indoors.

Something fast like the Nikon 50mm f1.4G will do it, or if price is a concern, have a look at some of the Sigma f2.8 lenses.

Another option would be to add some off-camera light with a remote flash. Try aiming it with a snoot or a gridspot. You'd be amazed how well this will work.

Good luck!