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Nikon D5000


1. Simplified Controls: To achieve a reduction in size and present a less intimidating design, the D5000 omits a top-mounted display and has fewer buttons overall than up-range Nikons. The LCD is the primary interface for controls and settings. 2. Live View Access: One feature that does merit a dedicated button on the D5000 is Live View. Depress this button to toggle Live View on and off. When in Live View, a click of the OK button just below it switches to video capture and starts and stops recording. 3. Built-In Flash: The D5000’s pop-up flash has a guide number of 40, and for greater flash output, the camera also offers a hot-shoe for using accessory flash. It’s compatible with several Nikon Speedlights for i-TTL metering, but the camera itself can’t be used as a commander unit for the Nikon Creative Lighting System.

Nikon D5000

ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: $759 (w/18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 VR lens)

Nikon’s D5000 offers many of the best features of the often-sold-out D90 in a more compact package that sells for around $250 less.

For starters, it features the same excellent 12.3-megapixel, DX-format sensor as the D90, the same 720 HD video capability as the D90 and even the same 11-point AF and 420-pixel metering systems. You also get the D90’s 200-3200 ISO range (with expansion to ISO 100 and 6400). Nikon cameras perform extremely well with low light and for indoor scenes without flash, and the D5000 doesn’t disappoint here for a camera in this class.

AF-NIKKOR LENSES: The D5000 can use all current AF-Nikkor lenses, but provides autofocusing only with AF-S and AF-I Nikkors, which contain AF motors (the D5000 body doesn’t contain a focusing motor).

FAST FRAME RATE: With one of the faster frame rates in this price range, the D5000 can take stills at a pace of about four frames per second.

WIDE EXPOSURE-COMPENSATION RANGE: While some midlevel and even pro D-SLRs provide only +/-2 or 3 stops of exposure compensation, the D5000 (like all current Nikon D-SLRs) provides +/-5 stops: You never have to switch to manual mode to get a good exposure.

IN-CAMERA RETOUCHING: You can make some basic enhancements to your photos in the camera—no computer required. Options include perspective control, red-eye correction, soft filter and monochrome conversion.
One feature that distinguishes the D5000 is the 2.7-inch LCD monitor that tilts and swivels for comfortable viewing at almost any angle. If you haven’t used a camera with such an LCD, it may seem like an unnecessary novelty; but once you experience the improved visibility and compositional flexibility of this LCD, it’s hard to go back to one that’s fixed in place.

For better exposures in tricky lighting, Nikon’s Active D-Lighting technology helps retain details at the extreme ends of the tonal range. The processing involved is applied only to those areas of the scene that need it for natural tonal gradations. Active D-Lighting has two modes: auto and a bracketing mode that captures one shot with D-Lighting enabled and one without, so you have the option to choose which looks better when you review the images later.

Design is a subjective thing, but there’s something about the D5000’s curvy corners that makes it a pleasure to hold. One of the drawbacks of smaller camera bodies is that they can feel awkward in larger hands. The rounded edges of the D5000 compensate for this to a degree, allowing a more natural grip.

STANDOUT FEATURE: The D5000 is the lowest-priced D-SLR to feature HD video—the same 720 HD video as the D90. Record HD clips up to five minutes in length or 20-minute standard-definition videos.
VERDICT: Dollar for dollar, this is one of our favorite cameras in the sub-$1,000 range. Excellent still-image quality, plus HD video and good all-around performance.

Nikon D90
It shares so much in common with the D5000, why spring for the D90, with an estimated street price of $949 for the body only? One reason is that the D90 has an integrated focus motor, which as noted, the D5000 lacks. That means you can use a larger range of Nikkor lenses and still have autofocus capability. The D90 also adds a top-mounted backlit display of camera settings, and generally feels more rugged and durable.
Nikon D3000
Also new from Nikon is the very affordable D3000, which retails for about $599 with an 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 VR lens. A starter SLR, the D3000 omits HD video capture, offers slightly less resolution (10.2 megapixels versus the D5000’s 12.3) and fewer scene modes. It’s still a reasonably good performer, with three frames per second continuous shooting and Active D-Lighting. Overall, it’s a solid offering for first-time SLR buyers on a tight budget.


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