The Nikon D5000 is a great starter camera in the under $1,000 range. It has the electronics of the much more expensive D90 but it is far superior to the older D60.Nikon uses a CMOS sensor instead of the CCD it’s been using in its entry-level models. This is the same sensor that is used in the much more expensive D90. It has a flip-down-and-swivel LCD which allows stowing the panel to prevent damage while at the same time allowing easy visibility regardless of the angle of the shot.The auto-focus system is the same 11-point AF system as in the D90 with a newer version of the Expeed image processor (includes the Auto Active D-Lighting and face-priority AF, plus enhanced Live View AF) along with a GP-1 hot shoe GPS. It can also upload over wireless with the Eye-Fi card.
The D5000 is available in two configurations from the factory: body only and a kit with a 18-55mm lens. This is the same lens that ships with the D60 kit. The D90 kit comes with a much better lens, but that’s one of the reasons for the price differential.For a “low-end” camera, it sure feels solid to hold, and it has the same feel as the other D-line Nikons. It has no top-mounted display, but that is not really a problem due to the swivel display design. The display is very vivid and bright, even in full daylight. It is not as high-resolution as the D90, but it is much brighter. The colors are also very sharp.The graphical user-interface is great. The layout is very intuitive and the system will alert you if you are missing your SD card, if the subject is too dark, image quality level, ISO, white-balance, focus-mode, image size, exposure, f-stop and much more. Like all DSLR’s, navigation of the controls takes some training, but with this model it is mostly intuitive.The internals of the D5000 are the same as the D90. 12.3 megapixel sensor in both, 11 area TTL auto-focus on both, ISO 200 – 6,400 on both. There is no focus motor on the D5000 but the image quality from the D5000 is very close to the D90.
This camera shoots video, but it won’t auto-focus in video mode and it won’t shoot video for more than five minutes. This means it is relatively useless for video. If you are looking for video, don’t consider this camera – get a real video camera.Bottom line, this is a great first camera for the neophyte. If you just want to take some good pictures, this camera will be all you need. If you are going for portraits and landscapes and multiple lenses, spring for the D90.