It’s been more than six months since I purchased my first Digital SLR camera, the Nikon D5000, a camera that recently won the reddot design award 2010.
If you’re looking for in-depth Nikon D5000 reviews, check out these great ressources. They do a much better job at reviewing cameras, than I would ever be able to 🙂
What I would like to talk about in this post, is my own experiences with the D5000 as being my first DSLR camera.
Pros & Cons
I bought the Nikon D5000 because I wanted to do more with my photography than what a point & shoot pocket camera would allow me to do but I also wanted a camera that could record in HD, meaning I no longer had to carry around a digital camera and a video camera. D5000 does come with HD video recording, but only a mono microphone which is quite bad and no option for connecting an external microphone – a huge downside, if you’re into video. But, the actual video recording is acceptable, though it will only record up to 5 minutes at a time, after which you need to start a new recording.
Another major downside with video recording is the lack of autofocus. You have to focus manually. Or, you can autofocus before you start recording, but once you’re recording, it’s manual focus. I guess you have to buy a semi-pro or pro DSLR camera if you want autofocus while video recording and/or option of external microphone – such as the great Nikon D300s.
The most important thing about the Nikon D5000, is its ability to take pictures. On that account, I think it’s perfect for my needs, so far. Being an entry-level DSLR camera, it does lack some features, such as “commander mode”, meaning you can’t fire an external flash wirelessly and still use TTL. If your flash gun supports it, you can set it to fire when it sees another flash (like the built-in flash on D5000) but you’ll have to fire the flash in manual mode, no TTL.
Besides the lack of a commander mode for flash(es), it also lacks high-speed flash sync (probably a feature of semi-pro and pro DSLR’s) and a few buttons to do certain things, rather than having to do them through the on-screen menu, like on the D5000 because it doesn’t too many dedicated buttons.
On the plus side, D5000 has a very helpful menu. You can press the “?”-button in most places and it will explain the setting to you, really helpful if you’re new to DSLR and I still use it on a regular basis.
As I said, D5000 certainly covers my needs for photography at this stage, what it lacks are mostly things that I can do without for now, but I might want at a later time, if my photography hobby doesn’t fade away. I don’t expect that will happen anytime soon, though. Taking pictures is great!
Having a decent camera is only half the show. You need some great glass (lenses) to go with it, or your pictures will suffer (optical). I have a whole bunch of lenses, more than I need, but I just went bonanza and purchased what I thought I needed over a short period of time (some of them were second hand lenses to cut down on the costs), instead of keeping my head cool and figure out what I enjoy to shoot the most and buy lenses that would fit my needs better. Don’t do the same mistake as I did. Hold your horses when going lens shopping 🙂
However, the lens I use the most is probably the Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens. It covers a wide focal length and it has built-in vibration reducation. It’s quite heavy but it’s a great walkaround lens, because it will go as wide as 18mm and as close as 200mm. I also enjoy very much my Nikkor 35mm prime, it doesn’t have zoom, but it’s a great fast lens at f/1.8 – and it’s very small to fit on the camera, as well.
Another big lens is the Tokina 12-24mm wide angle, great for city and landscape – or people/animal pictures if you want to distort them (make their noise/head much bigger than rest of their body).
For macro photography, I have Tamron 90mm which is also known as the “Portrait macro lens”, because it’s also great for portraits. Actually, I also have the cheap Tamron 70-300mm lens which I don’t use that much anymore, I found that pictures I take with the Nikkor 18-200mm at 200mm using VR, looked better cropped, than Tamron 70-300mm at 300mm did. To find out how much 18mm and 300mm is, when zooming in, check out this post: Zooming In With The Tamron 70-300mm & Nikon D5000.
I better end this post now before it gets too long and too boring for anybody to read. The bottom line is, I’m very happy with my Nikon D5000 and I often have it with me. In the more than 6 months I’ve had it, I managed to shoot almost 9,000 pictures – that’s an average of 50 pictures per day. Now, some of those frames are used for time lapses, which requires a fair amount of frames, the one you’ll find below, took 182 pictures to shoot. It’s my first attempt at a time lapse so I did lots of things wrong, including taking too long delays between frames.
Needless to say, most of the pictures I shoot, I delete afterwards on my computer. It’s better to shoot a subject two or three times, especially when shooting something living. You don’t want to ruin a perfect shot because somebody blinks in that exact moment you’re pressing the shutter release button. Instead, shoot plenty, there’s no film cost – it’s digital so it’s free.