Since I get a lot of requests from our readers to provide a comparison the two entry-level DSLRs – Nikon D3000 and Nikon D5000, I decided to post a quick “Nikon D3000 vs D5000” article to highlight the key differences and provide my recommendations.
Nikon D3000 is the most basic entry-level DSLR in the current line of SLR digital cameras by Nikon. It was released in July of 2009 and replaced the Nikon D40/D40x/D60 entry-level DSLRs. Nikon D3000 sports a 10.2 megapixel CCD sensor with an 11 point autofocus system. The Nikon D5000, on the other hand, can be classified as an “upper-entry-level DSLR” and it sits between Nikon D3000 and D90. It was released in April of 2009 as a new product line with a 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, the same sensor that is featured in the semi-professional Nikon D90 DSLR. The Nikon D5000 is also the first Nikon DSLR that has a tilt and swivel LCD, which is supposed to be helpful for capturing video and images at different angles.
Here are some of the key differences between Nikon D3000 and D5000:
- The biggest difference is the sensor. Nikon D3000 has a 10.2 megapixel CCD sensor, while the Nikon D5000 has a superb 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor. Not only are you getting more pixels with the Nikon D5000, but you are also getting much better handling of noise in high ISOs. While Nikon D3000 is limited to 100-1600 ISO range (max ISO 3200 in “Hi” mode), the native ISO range for the Nikon D5000 is 200-3200 (max ISO 6400 in “Hi” mode). This makes Nikon D5000 better for low-light photography than Nikon D3000.
- Nikon D5000 has Live View and HD D-Movie Mode to record videos, while Nikon D3000 has no movie/live view support. You can record videos at 320×216, 640×424 or 1,280×720 pixel resolution in AVI format on Nikon D5000.
- Nikon D3000 has a 3 inch LCD screen with 230,000 pixels, while Nikon D5000 sports a smaller 2.7 inch swivel LCD screen with the same number of pixels that is certainly handy for shooting videos.
- D3000 has no exposure bracketing mode, while the D5000 can shoot in 2 or 3 brackets in 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 1 or 2 EV steps.
- D3000 is a little slower than D5000 – it can capture three frames per second, versus Nikon D5000’s 4 frames per second.
- D3000 has an easy to use “Guide” mode interface and Nikon D5000 doesn’t.
- D3000 comes with a 18-55mm VR lens and cannot be bought without the lens, while you can purchase Nikon D5000 body-only.
- D3000 only has 6 scene modes that automatically adjust exposure and other camera settings, while the Nikon D5000 has 19.
- The battery life on both cameras is almost the same, with Nikon D5000 having a slight edge at 510 frames versus 500 on Nikon D3000.
- D3000 is a smaller camera that measures 126 x 94 x 64 mm, whereas D5000 is 127 x 104 x 80 mm.
- D3000 is 75 grams lighter than Nikon D5000, which weighs 560 grams body only.
- D3000 has a slightly better viewfinder magnification (0.8x) than Nikon D5000 (0.78x).
- More options for “Active D-Lighting” in D5000: “Auto, Extra high, High, Normal, Low, or Off”, while D3000 is just “On/Off”.
- More retouching options on Nikon D5000 than on Nikon D3000.
- D3000 has no automatic chromatic aberration correction.
- Nikon D5000 allows “fine, normal and basic” for shooting RAW + JPEG, while D3000 only has RAW and JPEG basic.
- Nikon D3000 has no “Custom Settings” menu.
- There is a new “Q” (Quiet Release Mode) in D5000 that is absent in D3000.
So, which camera should you go for, Nikon D3000 or Nikon D5000? Due to a large difference in sensor technology used in these two cameras, Nikon D5000 has a much better image quality when compared to Nikon D3000. Do not forget that the Nikon D5000 has exactly the same sensor as the sensor in Nikon D90 (which is a semi-professional camera). So, essentially, you are getting a semi-professional sensor in an entry-level body! In addition, ability to record videos is always nice and you cannot do that on the Nikon D3000. True, the LCD screen on the Nikon D3000 is larger and better than the screen on Nikon D5000, but that is probably the only advantage D3000 has over D5000 worth noting and it is not a big deal anyway.
If this is your first DSLR purchase, just spend a little more and buy the Nikon D5000 – you will not regret it.
The Nikon D5000 with a Nikon 18-55mm VR lens is currently selling for approximately $750, whereas the D3000 with a Nikon 18-55mm VR lens is selling for $550. If you weigh in all the differences, specifically: sensor type, movie mode and bracketing, those features are worth much more than the $200 difference between the two.