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Nikon D5000 Digital Camera Review$729.95
The Nikon D5000 records video using the Motion JPEG codec. While most consumer HD camcorders use HD, AVCHD, or another form of MPEG-4 compression, the Motion JPEG codec is more commonly found on digital still cameras that can record video. M-JPEG is a bit outdated and it isn't nearly as efficient as, say, AVCHD. Still, it is an older codec, so it should be compatible with most video editing software. M-JPEG footage is also not quite as difficult to work with as AVCHD, which can be a strain for older computers to handle. Video shot with the Nikon D5000 are saved as AVI files.
In comparison, the Canon Rebel T1i uses an MPEG-4/H.264 compression system and its video clips are stored as MOV files. The Sanyo VPC-HD2000 also uses an MPEG-4/H.264 compression. The Canon HF S100, as with most consumer HD camcorders, uses the AVCHD compression.
The Nikon D5000 has a maximum clip size of 2GB, which is roughly five minutes of video recorded at the camera's highest quality setting (1280 x 720). Once a clip reaches this length, the camera will automatically stop recording. You can continue to record, as a separate clip of course, by pressing the record button again. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content
The most important thing to know about the Nikon D5000's video controls is the fact that the camera cannot autofocus while video is being recorded. You can autofocus the image before recording begins (by pressing the shutter button halfway down, just like you do with still images), but once you start recording you must manually focus everything. The Canon Rebel T1i does offer an autofocus option during recording, but it's implemented horribly. When you try to autofocus while recording, the camera lens moves and changes exposure just as if you're autofocusing a still image.
There is no dedicated video mode on the Nikon D5000. Instead, video can be recorded in every shooting mode on the camera. This means all the scene modes and mode dial settings available for still images on the D5000 are also available for video. To record video, the camera must be in Live View mode, which engages the LCD. From there, the small OK button on the right side of the camera begins video recording. One of the problems with this setup is the fact that the camera's LCD does not display a 16:9 aspect ratio until video recording has already begun, at which point two gray bars appear at the top and bottom of the screen to show the correct aspect ratio. This means if you're planning on shooting in 1280 x 720 you have to start recording before you can even frame your shot.
As we stated before, there is no autofocus capability on the D5000 while video is being recorded. Auto exposure, however, does function while you record, although it doesn't work very well. The auto exposure system is choppy and appears to adjust levels in a step-like fashion rather than with smooth transitions. Auto exposure is always engaged while video is being recorded (even in Manual mode) and the only way to turn it off is to press the AE-L/AF-L (auto exposure lock) button. In a confusing move by Nikon, video mode always uses matrix metering, even if another option is selected.
The D5000, much like the Nikon D90 before it, has a confusing system of manual controls available for recording video. Using scene modes and various settings on the camera's mode dial is easy, but adjusting specific controls like aperture or exposure is awkward and unclear. In Live View mode, all the D5000's settings can be adjusted, but only a few of them actually have an effect when recording video. This makes for a confusing trial-and-error system and requires that the user has a good deal of experience with the camera before the quirks of video mode are fully understood.
Zoom on the Nikon D5000 is entirely dependent on the attached lens. The kit lens (AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm) offers a 3x zoom, which is controlled using the large ring on the middle of the lens. There are numerous other lenses available for the D5000, many of which offer different zoom ranges than the kit lens. As with manual focus, zooming can be performed while video is being recorded.
Manual focus is fairly simple on the D5000—it is entirely controlled with the focus ring on the camera's lens. Anyone who has used a DSLR camera before probably has experience manually focusing with a lens ring, and the experience is no different for video. Remember, however, the camera has no autofocus capability once video recording has begin, so the only way to change focus while you're shooting is by using the lens ring.
When we talk about awkward manual controls on the Nikon D5000 we're referring to exposure and aperture adjustment for video recording. Adjustments to exposure can be made when the camera is in aperture-priority, shutter-priority, or program mode. Exposure can be increased or decreased from +/-3 in intervals of 1/3. The thing is, the camera continues to auto adjust exposure if your lighting condition changes as you shoot. You must lock the exposure by pressing the AE-L/AF-L button (auto exposure lock) if you want to maintain a specific exposure setting. Exposure adjustments can be made while video is being recorded.
Direct control over aperture is even trickier on the D5000. The camera will allow for it, but you need to exit and re-enter Live View mode before an aperture change will take effect. For this reason, direct aperture adjustment cannot take place during video recording.
Changing the shutter speed on the Nikon D5000 has no effect when you record video. It can be rather confusing because the camera lets you think you are adjusting shutter speed (the numbers change), but there is nothing to tell you that the change isn't compatible with video mode.
All the white balance presets available for shooting still images will also function for recording videos on the D5000. The same goes for the custom picture controls and the picture control presets. ISO controls have no effect in video mode, but, as with shutter speed, the camera gives the illusion that ISO can be adjusted for video recording.
The audio features on the Nikon D5000 are severely limited. While the camera can record audio along with its video clips, the internal microphone captures monaural audio only and its placement on the front of the camera results in numerous problems. The mic picks up a variety of unwanted sounds, ranging from the rotating of the zoom lens to the noises associated with adjusting exposure or focus. There are also no connectivity options for attaching an external microphone. Essentially, the D5000 isn't going to get you quality audio and you'd probably be better off ignoring its audio capabilities altogether.