updated 11:55 pm EDT, Mon April 13, 2009
Nikon tonight unveiled a long-awaited update to its entry digital SLRs with the D5000. The camera claims a pair of firsts: it stands as the first Nikon DSLR of any type to use a swivel LCD and can use it to either provide settings or a new live view mode to compose shots from off-angle. Video is also new to the class and, as with the D90, lets photographers record 720p video with sound that can be previewed over HDMI output.
In step with the movie upgrade, Nikon has boosted the sensor resolution to 12.3 megapixels and also extended the light sensitivity, which now reaches up to ISO 3,200 in normal shooting and up to ISO 6,400 in an extended mode. The camera designer has also solved a longstanding problem with its entry DSLRs by jumping the number of autofocusing points from just 3 to 11, adding 3D tracking for moving subjects, and allowing bracketing. Automatic sensor dust removal is now part of the design.
Since it still caters to beginners, the D5000 has automatic features borrowed from higher-end point-and-shoot cameras such as scene recognition and presets for monochrome or other shooting modes. Active D-Lighting is taken from the D90 and helps restore details to shadows as well as reduce the likelihood of blown-out highlights.
Nikon expects to start shipping the camera in May and will price it at about $850 mated to an 18-55mm VR lens kit. Body-only pricing is estimated at $730.
A new 10-24mm f/3.4-4.5 lens is also launching today and is built for very wide angle shots such as macros; an internal focusing system prevents the lens from tapping a close-up subject. It should be available at the same time as the D5000, will work with any DX-mount camera that supports AF-S, and should cost $900.