Nikon D5000 Review

 
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Nikon D5000 Performance


Timing and Performance

Very good speeds for a consumer digital SLR.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~0.4 second

Time it takes to turn on and capture a picture. (Short enough that it's hard to measure.)

Shutdown

~0 second
(2.2 seconds with sensor cleaning)

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
2.5 seconds after 20 large/fine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
5 seconds after 10 RAW files*
6 seconds after 7 RAW+JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Fast startup and shutdown times, fast enough that they're difficult to measure. Enabling sensor cleaning increases shutdown to 2.2 seconds, but you can cancel this at any time by pressing the shutter button or a menu button. Buffer clearing times are quite good, but depend on the image quality, size and speed of the memory card.

Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

0.1 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to play

1.1 second

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

0.7 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching times are very good, though Record-to-Play is a bit on the slow side.

Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus
Single-point AF
Optical Viewfinder

0.276 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. All AF timing measured with Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens at wide-angle. (The D5000 does not support autofocus with our screw-drive AF reference lens, the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG.)

Full Autofocus
Single-point AF
iTTL flash enabled
Optical Viewfinder
0.288 second
Time to capture while forcing flash to fire. (Metering pulses from flash sometimes slow shutter response.)

Full Autofocus
Auto-Area AF
Optical Viewfinder

0.351 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Prefocused
Optical Viewfinder

0.085 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Continuous AF
Optical Viewfinder
0.172 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual Focus
Optical Viewfinder
0.174 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".
Full Autofocus
Live View
2.30 seconds
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, using contrast-detect autofocus in Live View.
Prefocused
Live View
0.542 second
Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button, in Live View mode.

Full autofocus shutter response is good at 0.276 second. Enabling the built-in flash increased full AF lag just slightly to 0.288 second: That small an increase is excellent. Letting the camera choose the autofocus point increases full AF shutter lag to 0.351 second. "Prefocusing" the camera by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the final exposure results in a lag time of only 0.085 second, also good. Manual focus was slower than prefocused, at 0.174 second.

Lag times in Live View mode are a lot slower, as only contrast-detect AF is supported on the D5000. Full AF in Live View required a very long 2.3 seconds on average to achieve focus, and lag varied a lot between iterations. (Contrast-detect AF needs to adjust the lens slightly out of focus first, then back in again, to be able to tell that it's achieved proper focus.) Lenses with fast focus motors seem to make only a minor difference. When prefocused, Live View shutter lag is much faster at 0.542 second, but still over 6x slower than prefocusing with the optical viewfinder.

Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/Fine JPEG

0.49 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 1 second to clear.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.52 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots, 2.5 seconds to clear.

Single Shot mode
RAW + Large/Fine JPEG
0.56 second

Time per shot, averaged over 12 shots, 7 seconds to clear.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.25 second (4.04 frames per second);
>20 frames total;
2.5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots (buffer capacity was more than 20 shots). Nikon claims a 100 JPEG burst length.

Continuous mode
RAW

0.25 second (4.04 frames per second);
10 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 10 frames.

Continuous mode
RAW + Large Fine
JPEG

0.25 second (4.03 frames per second);
7 frames total;
6 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over buffer length of 7 frames.

Flash recycling

4.7 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle times in single-shot mode were quite fast, at 0.49 second for large/fine JPEGs, 0.52 second for RAW frames, and 0.56 second for RAW + LF JPEGs. Continuous mode speeds are also quite good, our measured speeds coming in slightly better than the camera's rated 4 frames/second in all modes, at about 4.04 frames/second. Measured buffer depths were more than 20 frames for large/fine JPEGs, 10 frames for RAW mode and 7 frames for RAW+JPEG. (Note that in our cycle-time testing we shoot a target consisting of a fine-grained digital noise pattern, designed to be very hard to compress. This gives us worst-case buffer capacity numbers: You're likely to see greater buffer capacity when shooting more normal subjects.)

The flash took about 4.7 seconds to recharge after a full-power pulse, which is a bit slow, but not surprising with the relatively small lithium-ion battery.

Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

7,509 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds are very fast.


Bottom line, the Nikon D5000 is reasonably fast in just about every aspect of its operation. While it's a bit slower than the D90 overall, it improves on the D60's speed in virtually every respect, despite the increase in resolution. Continuous modes are fast enough for most moving subjects, and shutter lag and cycle times are pretty fast as well. The one exception is autofocus in Live view mode: It's definitely not a "sports" mode.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Average battery life for a lithium-ion SLR design.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery,
(CIPA standard, Optical Viewfinder)
510

The Nikon D5000 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Although battery life is okay, we recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Nikon D5000 accepts SD or SDHC memory cards, and does not ship with a card.

Image Capacity with
1GB Memory Card
Fine Normal Basic RAW RAW
+
L/F JPG
4,288 x 2,848
Images
(Avg Size)
138
7.4 MB
274
3.7 MB
540
1.9 MB
68
15.1 MB
44
23.3 MB
Approx.
Comp.
5:1 10:1 19:1 1.2:1 -
3,216 x 2,136
Images
(Avg Size)
244
4.2 MB
476
2.2 MB
924
1.1 MB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
5:1 10:1 19:1 - -
2,144 x 1,424
Images
(Avg Size)
540
1.9 MB
1046
979 KB
1962
522 KB
-
-
Approx.
Comp.
5:1 9:1 17:1 - -

We strongly recommend buying a large capacity SD/SDHC memory card at least a 1GB card, preferably a 4GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings, or when shooting RAW files and/or HD video. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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