Nikon D5000 18-55 VR Kit review

Ben Pitt
11 Aug 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

There's plenty to like in this SLR but its convoluted controls mean it's worth spending more on the D90.



23.6x15.8mm 12.2-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 765g

The digital SLR market is busier than ever, with Canon, Olympus, Sony and now Nikon each offering three models under £1,000.

The D5000 sits between the smaller, lighter and cheaper D60 and the pricier, bulkier, feature-packed D90. Its 4fps continuous shooting speed also nestles between the two.

The D5000 inherits the D90's live view mode for composing shots on the screen. Autofocus becomes hopelessly slow in this mode, so the viewfinder is more practical, but live view is handy when shooting at awkward angles. It helps that the 2.7in LCD screen can tilt up and down or twist right around for self-portraits - a first for a Nikon SLR. The screen's 230,000-dot resolution is disappointing at this price, though.

The D5000 also shares the D90's video-capture mode. Videos are recorded at 1,280x720, and the big sensor excels at low-light video capture. However, clips are limited to five minutes, focus is fixed and the exposure lurches awkwardly in variable lighting. As with the D90 and Canon's EOS 500D (What's New, Shopper 259), the video mode is an interesting extra but won't replace a dedicated camcorder.

Other features shared with the D90 include an HDMI output and an 11-point autofocus system. The latter proved to be reliable but was a little lethargic in low light. It has the same 12.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, 100-to-6400 ISO range and automatic removal of chromatic aberrations, which reduces multicoloured fringing in areas of high contrast.

Other features are more in line with the D60. The kit lens is the same basic 3x zoom model, and the camera's lack of a focus motor limits the choice of other lenses. The viewfinder is smaller than the D90's, and with barely any single-function buttons on the camera, key settings must be adjusted via the menu system. The D60's dual-function button, which caused us much frustration, is split over two buttons here. However, the D90's commands are far superior, as are the controls on Canon's EOS models.

Image quality was superb. Colour reproduction was excellent, with skin tones that struck a pleasing balance between realism and flattering warmth. The kit lens and chromatic aberration removal produced significantly better corner sharpness than Canon's 500D and its kit lens. These two cameras were level pegging for noise, with both turning in excellent results at ISO 3200.

The D5000 is almost a superb camera but its control system lets it down. We prefer it to Canon's 500D, but the Nikon D90's better controls, bigger viewfinder, higher-resolution screen, wider lens compatibility and 5.8x zoom kit lens make it worth the extra £120. Bargain hunters should go for Canon's 1000D.

Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels12.2 megapixels
CCD size23.6x15.8mm
Viewfinderoptical TTL
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Optical zoom3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent27-82.5mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,288x2,848
Maximum movie resolution1280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality24fps
File formatsJPEG, RAW; AVI (M-JPEG)


Memory slotSDHC
Mermory suppliednone
Battery type7.2V 1,080mAh Li-ion
Battery Life (tested)510 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, mini HDMI, GPS input, remote input
Body materialplastic
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables, neck strap

Buying Information


Camera Controls

Exposure modesprogram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture rangef/3.5 to f/22 (wide), f/5.6 to f/36 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution)100 to 6400 (equivalent)
Exposure compensation+/-5 EV
White balanceauto, 6 presets, manual
Additional image controlscontrast, saturation, sharpness, brightness, hue, high-ISO noise reduction, long-exposure noise reduction, Active D-Lighting
Manual focusYes
Closest macro focus28cm
Auto-focus modes11-point, face detect, 3D tracking
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket

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