Nikon introduces another model tier to its D-SLR range primarily to compete with Canon’s highly successful EOS 400/450/500D dynasty. Paul Burrows tries out the ‘entry-level plus’ D5000.

Underneath the D5000’s compact bodyshell is quite a lot of the D90, including its 12.9 megapixels CMOS sensor, 11-point AF system and an HDV recording capability.

We’re now at a point in the D-SLR world where the model ranges – at least from the leading brands – match those that were available at the height of the 35mm camera’s popularity. Canon now has a line-up of eight models and, with the arrival of the D5000, so does Nikon (although the D40 will shortly disappear from the Australian market where, rightly or wrongly, six megapixels no longer cuts the mustard).

This stratification not only signals a maturing of the market – which, when you think about it, has happened remarkably quickly – but greatly widens the D-SLR’s appeal. Making new converts to SLR photography is now a major objective of all the manufacturers as they seek to expand beyond the enthusiast sector which, like it or not, is comparatively small. And while there have been some exciting developments in enthusiastlevel models, what’s happening in the lower ranks is arguably a lot more significant right now. Canon says that its EOS 500D is one of its most important new models for some time – and that’s from the company that has recently given us the 50D and the 5D Mark II – and so, not surprisingly, Nikon is placing an equal amount of expectation on the not-so-broad shoulders of the D5000.

As the D60 is now the base model locally, the D5000 is the next cab off the rank and, as such, it’s going to be challenged to meet quite a wide range of user requirements – affordability (compared to the D90), enhanced performance (compared to the D60) and a level of features that’s not too daunting for the novice and not too ‘no frills’ for the more experienced user (who, for instance, may now be ready to step up from a D40/D40X or even a D60). This is a fairly demanding design brief – and the EOS 500D is under similar pressure – but Nikon has been on a roll since the D3 and D300, and the forwardthinking has been steadily trickling down its D-SLR range.

Middle Ground

Put simply, the D5000 is a D60 with the D90’s innards including the HDV recording facility, but this is a bit of an oversimplification as it has an all-new bodyshell – that’s actually slightly larger and heavier overall – and it lacks quite a few of the pricier model’s higher-end features (depth-offield preview being just one).

The differentiation between the D5000 and the D60 is quite marked, but it does have quite a lot in common with the D90 and, being both smaller and cheaper (by $200 with the same 18-55mm VR ‘kit’ lens), has the potential to encroach into the latter’s sales territory. What may well stop this happening, however, is that the D5000 continues Nikon’s policy of eliminating the focusing motor from the bodies of its lowerlevel D-SLRs. Consequently, AF operations are only possible with AF-S type motorised lenses which won’t be a problem for newcomers to the system, but may well deter anybody with earlier AF-Nikkors. In this regard, the D90 is still ‘old school’ and, incidentally, the entry-level model for anybody with non-SWM lenses. It’s also true to say that the D5000 has more of a budget camera look and feel about it which may not appeal to anybody who prefers a camera with a bit of heft. That said, it’s still a well-built camera with a strong polycarbonate shell and a stainless steel lens mount and, interestingly, a shutter assembly tested to 100,000 cycles. Making such claims is rare with lower-end D-SLRs – as many users simply never get close to taking that many exposures – but we suspect this is because the D5000 has the D90’s shutter unit so it’s an extra selling point.

Incidentally, are you wondering where the four-digit model number came from? So are we, but we suspect this camera might well have been going to be the D500 until Nikon got a whiff of the 500D and added an extra zero at the last minute. Pity, because ‘D500 versus 500D’ would have made a great headline.

The rear panel control layout is also extremely tidy. Nikon has kept the ‘button count’ low to make the camera appealing to first-time D-SLR buyers.
The camera/capture related ‘hard’ controls are kept to a minimum. Main mode dial provides direct access to the standard scene/subject modes, but another 13 are available when the control is set to ‘SCENE’.

Size And Speed

Also shared with the D90 is the ‘APS-C’ size – or DX format in Nikonese – CMOS-type sensor with a total pixel count of 12.9 million. Naturally, there will be comparisons with the 500D’s resolution of 15.5 megapixels, but more isn’t necessarily better if it involves smaller-sized pixels compromising image quality and, besides, the roughly 2.5 MP difference isn’t going to translate into much in real terms.

The D5000’s sensor’s effective pixel count of 12.3 MP delivers a maximum image size of 4288x2848 pixels and, with JPEG capture, there’s a choice of two smaller sizes and three compression levels which Nikon annotates as 1:4, 1:8 and 1:16. RAW files are captured as 36-bit NEFs. RAW+JPEG capture is possible with any size/ quality compressed file attached. The sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 200 to 3200 with ‘boost’ settings either side for ISO 100 and 6400.

This CMOS sensor is mated with a dedicated version of Nikon’s ‘Expeed’ high-speed image processor, enabling a host of number-crunching features such as scene recognition and face detection AF plus continuous shooting at up to a nippy 4.0 fps (only marginally slower than the D90). Sensor cleaning is performed via ultrasonic vibration of the low-pass filter (LPF) on the front of the image module, but Nikon works to minimise the amount of dust actually getting that far via a vent arrangement which is designed to create a more vigorous airflow inside the mirror box. Active cleaning is performed automatically whenever the camera is switched on or off, but can also be manually activated. Incidentally, image stabilisation in the Nikon D-SLR world is done optically via VR-equipped lenses and the D5000 is packaged with the 18-55mm VR standard zoom (although it can also be purchased as a camera body only should you wish to specify another lens).

New Angles

To keep it compact, the D5000 has a penta-mirror type optical viewfinder – while the D90 has a full pentaprism which gives a higher magnification – but it has an adjustable-angle LCD monitor screen to maximise the functionality of live view.

The tilt/swing monitor is a first for a Nikon D-SLR and, unusually, it pivots from the base of the camera rather than from the side. However, like any adjustable monitor, it can be folded away with the screen facing inward which protects it most effectively during carriage or storage.

Live view on the D5000 is achieved conventionally by locking up the reflex mirror and opening the shutter which both must then be recycled to enable an exposure to commence. However, Nikon has abandoned the even clunkier ‘Hand Held’ mode for autofocusing in live view (which used the conventional AF sensors) so the D5000 has to rely entirely on contrast detection measurements derived from the imaging sensor. This system is pretty slow too, although there’s a choice of face-priority and wide-area modes (in reality, not actually all that wide) plus a new tracking capability which has the potential to be useful with active subjects such as children or pets… even if the instruction manual does warn “Some time may be required for the camera to initiate focus” which could well defeat the purpose of the facility anyway. Consequently, in many situations focusing manually is the best option with live view, especially as part of the subject can be magnified (by up to about 6.7x on the D5000) to enable quite precise fine-tuning.

The D5000 joins the growing ranks of compact D-SLRs which use the SD/SDHC memory card.
Connections are provided for HDMI (bottom) and USB cables (middle), and accessories including a hardwired remote controller and Nikon’s GP-1 GPS unit (both optional extras of course).

Making Movies

A recent spin-off from the live view facility is video recording and, in this regard, the D5000 is a clone of the D90 which means it records highdefinition video at 1280x720 pixels (i.e. 720p and a 16:9 aspect ratio) and 24 fps for a maximum duration of five minutes. In comparison, the EOS 500D records at ‘Full HD’ resolution (i.e. 1920x1080 pixels) at 20 fps and is constrained only by the 4.0 GB file size imposed by the Windows file size limitation. Nikon says the D5000’s movie file size limitation is 2.0 GB.

Once the D5000 is in live view – which is simply as case of pressing a button marked ‘Lv’ on the camera’s back panel – movie clip recording is started and stopped by pressing the ‘OK’ key set within the four-way controller. During recording, a ‘REC’ indicator is shown in the monitor screen along with timer which counts down. In practice, five minutes is a very long time for one ‘take’ – it would subsequently need severe editing – and the five-minute timer resets each time recording is stopped. Focusing can only be adjusted manually during video recording and exposure compensation applied up to a maximum of +/-3.0 EV. Alternatively, the AE lock can be used to prevent the exposure changing. However, the camera always automatically defaults to Matrix multi-zone metering in the video mode while the white balance and also the ‘Picture Control’ mode (which governs saturation, sharpness, brightness, contrast and hue) are preset. Handily, if a VR-series stabilised lens is fitted, the stabiliser is automatically engaged during video recording. Twenty-four fps is actually the movie film frame rate (full motion video records at 25 fps) and is used by Nikon to give the footage a more ‘filmic’ look… which it does, especially if you play around with the white balance or even use B&W and toning effects via the ‘Picture Control’ menu. If you’re tempted to think that movie clip recording is just another gimmick on D-SLRs, you’ll soon change your mind once you start experimenting with the facility and start discovering what’s possible, especially given the choice of lenses available.

Colour And Contrast

But, back to still photography. As is now the case on all Nikon D-SLRs, the D5000 offers a choice of the just-mentioned ‘Picture Control’ modes which are designed to give a particular pictorial ‘look’… a bit like the different palettes of colour films such as Fuji’s Velvia, Astia or Provia.

As on the D90, there’s a choice of six presets labelled ‘Standard’, ‘Neutral’, ‘Vivid’, ‘Monochrome’, ‘Portrait’ and ‘Landscape’ which gives a rough idea of their main applications. Each provides a preset combination of sharpness, contrast, brightness, colour saturation and colour hue, and each of these parameters can then be manually fine-tuned. This can be done one-by-one or via a ‘Quick Adjust’ function which adjusts a number of the parameters simultaneously; for example, the saturation, sharpness and contrast in the ‘Vivid’ mode.

In the ‘Monochrome’ mode – which is obviously for B&W capture – the colour-related adjustments are replaced by a set of contrast control filters (i.e. yellow, orange, red and green) and a choice of toning effects. Here the D5000 retains the full range of colours and densities available on the higher-end models and even the pro-level D3-series cameras. Up to nine edited or customised ‘Picture Controls’ can be stored (under a new name if so desired) or new ones can be created in the supplied Nikon ViewNX software (or the more capable, but not supplied Capture NX2) and then downloaded to the camera’s ‘Manage Picture Control’ submenu.

JPEGs can also be processed for dynamic range expansion via Nikon’s ‘Active D-Lighting’ which analyses the image for brightness and contrast and then applies the required amount of underexposure to ensure more detail is preserved in the highlights. At the same time the shadows are selectively brightened to prevent the loss of any information. The D5000 follows the D90 in having a choice of low, normal, high or extra high settings, plus an auto mode which varies between all of these depending on the range of brightness levels encountered. There’s also an ADL bracketing function which captures one frame with ADL at work (at the set level) and one without. Importantly, Active D-Lighting can be switched off as the extra image processing required will slow the camera down or, alternatively, non-active ‘D-Lighting’ processing can be applied post-capture. Incidentally, with Active D-Lighting… er… active, the contrast and brightness parameters in the ‘Picture Control’ presets can’t be manually adjusted.

Image stabilisation is provided via Nikon’s opticallystabilised VR type lenses and the D5000 is packaged with the 18-55mm VR zoom. The twin-lens kit adds the 55-200mm VR telezoom.
The D5000 has the same menu system Nikon now uses across its full range of D-SLRs and it remains one of the best in the business.

Edit Sweet

D-Lighting is one of a number of editing functions available in the D5000’s ‘Retouch Menu’, and Nikon has been steadily adding to what has become quite a powerful tool in its D-SLRs.

The D5000 gets even more functions – bringing its total to 17 – with the new additions, including ‘Perspective Control’ and ‘Colour Outline’… both of which are fairly selfexplanatory. The list also includes ‘Straighten’ (up to plus/minus five degrees), ‘Distortion Control’ (corrections based on data derived from the lens CPU), ‘Fisheye’ (with up to tens levels of effect), ‘Colour Balance’, a host of filter effects (among them skylight, warm, soft and cross screen) and B&W or sepia conversion. In all cases, the original file remains and a new version is created and saved. RAW files can also be converted to JPEGs and, usefully, just about any capturerelated setting that’s available on the camera can be applied to the copy. As on the D90, there’s also a ‘Quick Retouch’ option which allows for some colour and contrast adjustments (plus D-Lighting correction if needed) to be quickly and easily applied in one ‘hit’.

The image review options include three pages of shooting data, a highlight warning and a thumbnail accompanied by either image data and a brightness histogram or a full set of RGB histograms. The playback modes include 4/9/72 thumbnail pages plus a calendar-based thumbnail display and a zooming function which magnifies the image by up to a massive 27x. The playback zoom also has a face detection function which highlights any faces in the image and allows them to be immediate displayed (without changing the zooming ratio).

In The Mode

Also significantly expanded on the D5000 is the choice of scene modes which is no doubt designed to make the converts from compact cameras feel right at home. The list runs to a total of 19 modes – accessed by turning the main mode dial to ‘Scene’ – and some of them are quite interesting such as ‘High Key’ and ‘Low Key’ – which obviously adjust the brightness levels accordingly – ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Blossom’. However, included in this 19 are the ‘standard’ set of subject programs which have their own individual settings on the main mode dial.

The D5000 also has Nikon’s “Scene Recognition System” which works in conjunction with the imaging sensor and the metering’s 420-pixel RGB sensor to optimise the focusing, exposure and white balance for the subject as determined by the distribution of brightness levels, composition and the colour content… all referenced back to a stored database of image patterns.

Beyond all this automation though, there’s still plenty of scope for dealing with exposure control manually. The standard set of exposure modes is supported by program shift, an AE lock, compensation up to +/-5.0 EV and auto bracketing over three frames with up to +/-2.0 EV variation. All exposure-related settings can be made in either one-third or half stop increments. The D5000’s shutter has a speed range of 30- 1/4000 second with flash sync up to 1/200 second. Of course, there’s a built-in flash, but a key difference with the D90 is that it can’t operate as the commander unit for a wireless TTL flash set-up. This effectively puts such operations beyond the D5000 because it’s a good deal less expensive to buy the D90 than the second or third accessory Speedlight flash unit needed to make the set-up workable. Nevertheless, the D5000’s built-in flash still offers a useful range of features and uses the 420-pixel metering sensor for i-TTL exposure control which, in particular, enables better balanced fill-in flash. There are also slow-speed sync and rear-curtain sync modes plus a -3.0/+1.0 EV correction range and flash bracketing over either two or three frames and up to +/-2.0 EV of adjustment (but it does also lack the D90’s ‘modelling’ strobe function).

The ‘Active D-Lighting’ function has an additional ‘Extra High’ setting (as on the D90) for dealing with extreme contrast. ADL analyses the image for brightness and contrast and then adjusts the exposure level accordingly, brightening the shadows where necessary.
All the white balance settings – which includes 11 presets – can be fine-tuned in the blue-to-amber and green-to-magenta ranges
The information display can be varied in design and colour scheme. It also provides direct access to a wide selection of camera/capture settings and displays ‘plain English’ warnings such as the one shown here.

The D5000’s “3D Color Matrix Metering II” – which is a down-specced version of the 1005-pixel system on the pro cameras, but in reality no less capable – is supplemented by centre-weighted average or spot measurements, the latter representing just 2.5 percent of the total imaging area. Although everybody does it, it’s hard to make a convincing argument for continuing with the averaging meter (after all we spent decades trying to find a better system), but the spot mode can be a very effective way of dealing with the challenges of exposure control with digital capture.

Better Balance

The Matrix metering’s RGB sensor also performs the white balance measurements and the D5000 boasts an impressive list of 12 presets of which six deal with the different types of fluorescent lighting that are becoming more common as incandescent sources are phased out. So, for example, there are presets for sodium vapour lamps, mercury vapour lamps and four types of fluoro tubes. Nikon is the only D-SLR manufacturer offering this range of settings on its lower-level models and it’s to be commended because it reduces the need to make a custom setting.

Of course, there is a custom measurement function (which can be based on a captured image), but all the presets – and the auto WB for that matter – can be fine-tuned in both the blueto- amber and green-to-magenta colour ranges. There’s also a WB bracketing function with an adjustment in the blue-to-amber range of up to plus/minus three levels.

Autofocusing is performed by the same 11- point system that’s used in the D90 and which employs a central cross-type array surrounded by a combination of either vertical or horizontal line arrays. The focus points can be manually selected, but there’s also a back-up in the form of the ‘Dynamic Area’ and ‘3D Tracking’ AF modes which will automatically switch points if the subject subsequently moves. Of course, there’s also a standard auto point selection mode which uses all 11 points and bases its deliberations on closest-distance priority.

Switching between the single-shot and continuous AF modes can also be performed either manually or automatically, and the latter has a predictive function to compensate for shutter lag.

In general terms the D5000 has a pretty extensive features list, but it’s curious to see what Nikon decided to omit – depth-of-field preview, for example, or the ability to fit an optional battery grip (both of which the EOS 500D has) – and include; a variable-delay selftimer, on-demand grid lines (in both the optical viewfinder and with live view), compatibility with Nikon’s optional GPS unit and RGB histogram displays. Obviously part of this is the need to create sufficient differentiation with the D90, but it also makes the D5000 a bit of contradiction in terms of who its potential appeal either to firsttimers or to more experienced D-SLR users.

In The Hand

Being a compact D-SLR, the D5000 concentrates all its external displays in its LCD monitor screen with a choice of designs and colour schemes.

The standard ‘Classic’ display is the conventional arrangement of alphanumerical read-outs, but the ‘Graphic’ display employs icons to provide a visual representation of the aperture and shutter speed settings. The former is, not surprisingly, represented by an opening and closing diaphragm while the shutter speed is indicated by a series of LCD bars around its perimeter – more bars equates to a faster speed. A graduated background colour – the choices are black, blue or orange for the ‘Classic’ and green, black or brown for the ‘Graphic’ – and large, well-fined icons make both displays very easy to read. The orientation is automatically switched when the camera is held vertically, and you can also configure the display format to match the camera’s exposure mode… for example, ‘Graphic’ when the scene modes are selected and ‘Classic’ when the standard exposure modes are selected.

However, these displays are more than just a collection of read-outs as they also have an ‘interactive’ element. Firstly, if a warning appears along the top of the screen, pressing the ‘?’ button brings up a fuller explanation of the problem and, more usefully, what to do about it. You are alerted to the availability of this by the appearance of a ‘?’ symbol in the lower left corner of the screen and it’s also available in the menu system so virtually every function and setting is supported with an explanation of what it does just the push of a button away.

As on the current Olympus D-SLRs, the D5000’s info display also provides direct access to a wide selection of camera settings. This is achieved by pressing the ‘i’ button and then it’s possible to navigate with the four-way controller (or “multi-selector” as Nikon prefers to call it). Again, the help function is available and, after selecting the desired function which is highlighted by the cursor, pressing the ‘OK’ key brings up the settings accompanied by a representative image.

Arrayed down the right-hand side of the display are the settings for image quality (size and compression level), white balance, ISO, drive mode (including the self-timer modes), AF mode, AF points selection mode, metering mode, the Active D-Lighting settings and the AEB settings. Along the lower edge are the adjustments for flash modes, exposure compensation, flash compensation and the ‘Picture Control’ modes. Turn the D5000 on its side and the two groups of settings are arranged at the bottom of the screen. In most cases, of course, this method of camera control is an alternative to using the menu system or the relevant hard keys, allowing for speedier on-the-fly adjustments. A couple of functions – notably the drive and metering modes – are exclusively set via this method, eliminating the need for hard keys which makes sense as spare real estate is at a premium on the D5000’s compact bodyshell.

The camera’s menu system is the same as Nikon has been using for quite a while now with a progressive click to the right taking to the submenus and settings with the ‘OK’ button serving as the enter key. There are six ‘chapters’ for playback, shooting (i.e. the capture settings), the custom functions, set-up, the editing functions and ‘Recent Settings’ which is a sort of selfrefreshing ‘My Menu’.

The D5000 is definitely one of the smaller D-SLRs on the market, but it still has a goodsized handgrip that feels very comfortable. The control layout is quite straightforward with a main mode dial, a thumb-operated input wheel and a trio of function buttons on the top deck; and the multi-controller plus the playback-related buttons on the rear panel. It certainly won’t phase the experienced SLR user and looks user-friendly enough for the D-SLR first-timer.

The bottom-hinged variable-angle LCD monitor screen works well in terms of permitted an unhindered two-handed grip and also makes the camera easier to handle in the vertical orientation. It’s great for both waist-level (or lowangle) and overhead shooting plus, of course, simply adjusting the screen to give the best viewing angle.

All of this applies to hand-held shooting, but problems may be encountered when the camera is on a tripod particularly if it has a quick-release mounting plate system of some sort. In some instances, most notably on many of the popular Manfrotto models, the quick-release lever or possibly even the plate itself will prevent the screen from being tilted – thereby preventing it being rotated too – when the camera is attached to the tripod.

Speed And Performance

The quoted speed-related specs for the D5000 are reasonably impressive for what is still essentially an entry-level D-SLR. In the 35mm SLR days, 4.0 fps was pretty respectable even on a mid-range model and the EOS 500D ‘only’ does 3.4 fps (still more than fast enough for many users, of course).

We initially tested the Nikon with a Class 4 speed SDHC memory card and this clearly held it back – a sequence of 18 JPEG/large/fine frames was captured in a best time of 4.792 seconds to give a shooting speed of 3.75 fps. With a higher speed Class 6 card installed, a sequence of 24 frames was captured in 6.003 seconds, representing a shooting speed of 3.998 fps… in other words, as near as makes no difference to the quoted 4.0 fps. It’s also worth noting that the test file size was around 6.25 MB which is a little larger than the 5.9 MB size on which Nikon bases its specs. Our timing rig is designed to stop the clock when there’s a hesitation between frames which, of course, means the camera has slowed, if only slightly. This means that you can go on shooting beyond the 24 maximum-quality JPEGs with the D5000, but the overall frame rate will be much slower. The specs say that the buffer capacity with JPEG/large/capture is 63 frames, but we couldn’t get anywhere near this with our tests (even with everything that involved any additional image processing switched off). That said, it’s hard to envisage too many situations where you’d want to shoot sequences much longer than 20 or so frames.

Continuing Nikon’s run of high performers, the image quality is excellent and a convincing argument that 12 MP probably represents the ideal balance of resolution and high-ISO capabilities for the ‘APS-C’ format. The D5000 test images – captured as JPEG/large/fine files – were nicely crisp with good levels of detailing across the tonal range, accurate colour renditions (even with some tricky ‘metallics’) and very smooth gradations. Noise levels are very low up to ISO 1600 and, while some chroma noise was evident at ISO 3200, it wouldn’t prevent you from using this setting if it was necessary. Both the 11-point AF and 420-point metering are already proven performers and now bring their overall reliability and accuracy to the D5000.

As with the D90, the HDV image performance is also superb, but the sound quality is awful and there’s nothing you can do about it as the camera lacks an audio input for an external microphone. The D5000’s built-in mono mic just isn’t up to the job – it has a very small audio dynamic range – and it picks up more handling noise than anything else. Unfortunately, then, this really emasculates the video recording capability and means that – if you’re serious – you’re going to have to go to the trouble of creating separate soundtracks… which sort of defeats the purpose of having the facility in this first place. Let’s hope Nikon gets this message very soon and the next D-SLR with video recording can be fitted with an external mic (mind you, the EOS 500D is similarly constrained so only the 5D Mark II addresses this issue at present).

The Verdict

Has the Nikon magic which started with the D3 and D300 in 2007 finally trickled down to the budget end of its D-SLR range? Traditionally, Nikon has always better understood what’s needed in the higher level SLRs and, when building to a price, its thinking has sometimes been a bit muddled. To some extent this is still true of the D5000 which, depending on who the target audience is, either has features it doesn’t really need or lacks the ones that it does. On balance, it’s more an enthusiast-level camera than anything else, but it’s missing a few of the things these users generally take for granted. Conversely, it’s probably too much camera for the first-timer who would most likely be quite content with a D60-type model boasting the 11-point AF system and all those subject modes. However, working in the D5000’s favour is its superb image quality and the fact that it offers a lot of appealing features – such as the long list of in-camera editing functions – with largely intuitive operation. It’s unquestionably a very good camera, but it’s in the rather unique – and certainly unenviable position – of facing stiff competition both from within (the D90) and from without (the Canon EOS 500D). What may well endu up winning the day for the D5000 is that, in the end, it’s a thoroughly likeable camera that gets the job done efficiently and effectively every time.

NIKON D5000 $1699*

Type: Entry-level+ digital SLR with Nikon F (D-type) bayonet lens mount
Focusing: Automatic via 11-point wide-area system using phase-detection type CCD sensor with a central cross-type array. Focus points may be selected manually or automatically. One-shot and continuous modes both with a predictive function. Sensitivity range is EV -1 - 19 (ISO 100). AF assist provided by built-in illuminator. Contrast detection autofocusing provided in live view mode.
Metering: 420-pixel RGB ‘3D Color Matrix II’, centre- weighted average, spot (3.5mm/2.5%), and i-TTL flash via 420-pixel sensor. Metering ranges are; 3D Color Matrix II and C/W average = EV 0 to 20, spot = EV 2 to 20 (f1.4/ISO 100).
Exposure Modes: Continuously-variable program with shift, shutter-priority auto, aperture-priority auto, metered manual, i-TTL auto flash and manual flash. Plus 19 scene modes.
Shutter: Electronically-controlled, vertical travel, focal plane type, 30-1/4000 second plus ‘B’. Flash sync to 1/200 second. Exposure compensation up to +/-5.0 EV in 1/3 or ½ stop increments.
Viewfinder: Coverage = 95% vertical/horizontal.
Magnification = 0.78x (50mm lens at infinity). LCD displays and LED focus point indicators. Standard focusing screen has AF zones and on-demand grid lines. Eyepiece strength adjustment provided.
Flash: Built-in with a metric guide number of 17 (ISO 200). Auto, fill-in, red-eye reduction, front/rear sync and slow speed sync modes. Flash compensation up to -3.0/+1.0 EV in 1/3 or ½ stop increments. External flash units connect via hotshoe.
Additional Features: Auto exposure bracketing (three frames), AE lock, flash compensation, all exposure adjustments in 1/3 or ½ stops; variable delay self-timer (two to 20 seconds), exposure delay mode, audible signals, remote control terminal, 23 custom functions.

DIGITAL SECTION

Sensor: 12.9 million pixels CMOS with 23.6x15.8 mm imaging area. Sensitivity equivalent to ISO 200-3200 (extendable to ISO 100 and 6400).
Focal Length Increase: 1.5x.
Formats/Resolution: Three JPEG compression settings and lossless compressed RAW files. Three JPEG resolution settings; 4288x2848, 3216x2136 and 2144x1424 pixels. RAW images are captured at 4288x2848 pixels in 36-bit colour. RAW+JPEG capture is possible (all JPEG compression levels).
Recording Media: One SD/SDHC memory card slot.
Continuous Shooting: Up to 24 frames at 4.0 fps in JPEG/large/fine mode, up to 11 frames in RAW mode. Movie clips captured at 24 fps and 1280x720, 640x424 or 320x216 pixels with audio. Motion JPEG compression and AVI format.
White Balance: TTL measurements using 420-pixel RGB metering sensor. Auto/manual control with 12 presets and one custom setting. White balance fine-tuning available for AWB and all presets (blueto- amber and green-to-magenta) plus white balance bracketing (up to three frames).
Interfaces: USB 2.0, video (PAL/NTSC) and HDMI.
Additional Digital Features: HD video clip recording (up to five minutes), live view mode (with full AF), live view with level indicator, variable angle 6.86 cm LCD monitor (230,000 pixels resolution) with histogram displays (brightness or RGB channels) and highlight alert; LCD monitor cover, ‘Active D-Lighting’ for contrast control, six ‘Picture Control’ modes (standard, neutral, vivid, portrait, landscape and monochrome) with fine-tuning (colour saturation, sharpness, contrast, brightness and hue), nine user-defined ‘Picture Control’ modes, sRGB and Adobe RGB colour spaces, long exposure noise reduction, high ISO noise reduction, Auto ISO function, image comments input (up to 36 characters), auto image orientation, adjustable image display time, auto playback, thumbnail display (four or nine), playback zoom (up to 27x), in-camera editing functions (D-Lighting, red-eye correction, trim, B&W, filter effects, colour balance, straighten, distortion control, fish-eye effect, colour outline, image resizing, image overlay, perspective control, stop motion movie, side-by-side comparison and RAW-to-JPEG conversion). Optional GP-1 GPS unit can be fitted.
Power: One 7.2 volt, 1080 mAh rechargeable lithium- ion battery pack (EN-EL9a type). Optional MB-D80 battery grip accepts two EN-EL3e type packs or six AA-size batteries.
Dimensions (WxHxD): Body only = 127x104x80 mm. Weight: Body only = 580 grams (without battery pack).
Price: Body only = $1499. With AF-S 18-55mm f3.5- 5.6 VR zoom = $1699. Twin lens kit adds 55-200mm f4.0-5.6 VR zoom and sells for $1999.
Distributor: Nikon Australia Pty Ltd, telephone 1300 366 499 or visit www.nikon.com.au