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.