It is just the beginning of the year and we are already getting treated with some huge announcements, thanks to the CES show that is taking place in Las Vegas. One of the biggest and most anticipated announcements is surely Nikon’s flagship DSLR, the Nikon D5. Many sports and wildlife photographers have been waiting to see what kind of a beast Nikon would unveil in its new generation, top-of-the-line DSLR and it looks like the D5 is indeed a performance monster that sets a new benchmark in a number of ways. First, the AF system received a complete overhaul. While Nikon has been shipping a 51-point AF system since the original D3 series cameras (with tweaks in between), the new D5 literally triples that number to a staggering 153! That’s right, the brand new AF system will feature a total of 153 AF points, 99 of which will be cross-type. Compare that to the 15 cross type points we see on the current Nikon D4s and you will quickly realize just how huge that number really is. And for those who shoot with long lenses coupled with teleconverters, the number of focus points available to use at f/8 will be expanded from 11 to 15 AF points. That’s just the start – check out all the other impressive specifications of the new D5!
Take a look at the new AF system points and their coverage:
Without a doubt, the D5 will shine in low light situations. Its central AF point is now sensitive down to -4 EV, while all other AF points are sensitive to -3 EV! That’s insane – no other camera in the world can do this!
Second, the Nikon D5 also gets a completely new RGB metering sensor with a whopping 180,000 pixel sensor – twice the resolution of the previous metering sensor on the D4S. So we can expect the D5 to not only provide better metering performance, but also far better precision in tracking subjects with continuous autofocus. Brand new AF system with 99 cross-type sensors, -4 EV sensitivity plus 180K metering sensor are going to provide incredible AF performance that we have never previously seen on any DSLR.
Third, we get a modest increase in resolution, thanks to the brand new 20.8 MP full-frame CMOS sensor. It is not a huge increase over the previous-generation 16.2 MP sensor, but that’s still an impressive jump considering how many frames per second (fps) and how much bandwidth the new D5 pushes compared to its predecessor. As John Sherman pointed out in his article, 16 MP is already plenty for most photography needs, so unless you really need crazy high resolution for ultra-detailed prints, 20.8 MP will be more than sufficient. The slight resolution bump will also give better options for cropping when the subject cannot be approached any closer.
Nikon is not just giving more resolution – the new D5 has a native ISO range of 100 to 102,400 and can be expanded to insane ISO 3,280,000. You’ve read that right, that’s 3.3 million ISO! Compare that to the D4S with its native ISO of 100-25,600 (expandable up to ISO 408,600) and you will see why the new numbers look astonishing in comparison – that’s two full stops of difference on base ISO. Now this does not necessarily mean that the images will be much cleaner at those crazy high ISOs, but still, we can expect this new sensor to give us the cleanest output to date. I cannot wait to put the D4S against the D5 in a comparison and see what the images from the two look like! Exciting times indeed…
What about shooting speed, you might ask? Well, that’s another area the D5 improves on – 12 fps with continuous AF / AE tracking and 14 fps with fixed focusing. Basically, if you are photographing a fast-moving subject that constantly moves outside the plane of focus and you need to continuously track the subject, you will be limited to 12 fps. But if the subject stays within the same focus plane, you could lock focus on the subject and shoot up to a whopping 14 fps! That’s very impressive, considering that the camera now pushes more data than ever. But how good fast fps really is, if the camera bogs down too quick due to buffer issues? Well, fear not – the D5 won’t slow down even a bit! Nikon promises up to 200 frames in 14-bit losslessly compressed RAW files, which should be enough to shoot for at least 14 seconds before the buffer fills up – more than you will ever need. To be able to achieve such speeds, Nikon had to completely redesign its processing engine, which is why the new D5 now comes with a brand new EXPEED 5 processing engine.
The Nikon D5 will also be a phenomenal tool for professional video work. With integrated 4K video recording capability, the camera will be able to shoot 4K UHD video at 3840×2160 resolution at 30 frames per second. This feature will be extended to the camera’s built-in time-lapse movie capability.
Next, Nikon is finally about to figure out what to do with the memory card slots. Thank God, we will no longer see the co-existence of XQD and CF cards – you will have to choose either one. That’s right, the D5 will come in two variants – one with dual XQD slots and one with dual CF slots. It seems like the D5 is Nikon’s last experiment to see which route to take in the future when it comes to memory card formats. Personally, I really see no reason to pick CF over XQD, since XQD is superior in pretty much every way. It is smaller, easier to insert / remove and it does not end up bending any pins – it is far more practical compared to CF in my opinion. CFast is fast enough in terms of sheer writing speed, but the format just needs to go from such high-end cameras, it is about time. So if you wonder which one to get, XQD is the way to go…
Nikon has also modified the D5 layout compared to the D4. A few of the buttons have been reshuffled for better ergonomics and a new function button has been added to the back of the camera. We will write about these changes in the upcoming post comparing the two cameras.
While the LCD size is the same at 3.2 inches, the resolution has been increased significantly – the D5 now features a 2.36 million dot LCD to yield crisp images. And that’s not all – the new LCD is also touch-enabled!
Everything else is fairly standard. The shutter speed goes up to 1/8,000 and the viewfinder coverage is 100%, with a 0.72x magnification. The USB slot got upgraded to USB 3.0. The battery has not changed, it is still the same EN-EL18a type. Weight-wise, the version with dual XQD slots will weigh approximately 1,405 grams, while the CF version will weigh approximately 1415 grams.
The Nikon D5 is expected to ship in March of 2016 and it will retail at $6,499.
Official Press Release
Below is the official press release from Nikon:
LAS VEGAS, NV (January 5, 2016) – Today, Nikon Inc. announced the latest in the acclaimed series of flagship FX-format professional DSLR cameras, the Nikon D5. Far surpassing mere evolution, the D5 boasts a myriad of powerful new imaging innovations, including a Nikon-developed 20.8-megapixel CMOS sensor, an all-new 153-point AF system, 4K UHD video capture and EXPEED 5 image processing to give photographers the best balance of performance, precision and low-light ability. Nikon has also announced additional products, including the WT-6A Wireless Transmitter and the exciting new SB-5000 Speedlight, Nikon’s first radio frequency (RF) controlled flash.
“The D5 doesn’t simply get the shot that others might miss– it helps get the shot that others just simply cannot,” said Masahiro Horie, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc. “With these new products, it becomes evident that photographers who choose Nikon cameras and NIKKOR lenses are equipped with an unrivaled system to surpass even the most demanding imaging expectations.”
The Nikon D5 once again redefines what a DSLR is capable of capturing, and is engineered with the ideal balance of resolution, low-light ability, system speed and processing power. The resulting camera body is truly worthy of the flagship moniker, giving professional photographers and multimedia content creators an indispensable tool to make their creative vision a reality with superior image quality. The D5 introduces many technological firsts for Nikon and offers many new features that share a common goal: to get the shot, no matter what.
New Features Include:
- Astounding Low-Light Performance – The Nikon D5 offers an unprecedented native ISO range, from 100 to 102,400, reinforcing the D-series reputation as the leader of low-light image capture. A veritable new world of shooting opportunities awaits, as advancements in noise reduction and processing help capture low-noise images with fantastic fidelity that were previously impossible. The D5 tames the shadows, whether shooting a newlywed couple’s candle-lit first dance or sports with minimal lighting. The D5 also realizes unprecedented image quality in the high-sensitivity range between ISO 3200 and 12800 — the range favored by sports photographers. In addition, the D5 affords the ability to use higher shutter speeds with minimal illumination, letting photographers capture stunning images that are sharper, clearer and more colorful than ever before. As an added benefit, the next generation autofocus system performs in near darkness, acquiring focus in as little as EV-4 illumination. For extreme low-light ability, the ISO range is expandable from 50 (Lo-1) to a staggering ISO 3,280,000 (Hi-5), offering near-night vision capability that’s well beyond the visibility of the human eye. This extreme sensitivity is a benefit to photojournalists as well as for surveillance and security applications, letting users get shots others cannot see without a flash. This vast ISO range is also available to those capturing 4K UHD video, opening up new possibilities for multimedia and spot-news capture.
- Exhilarating Image Quality – The Nikon D5 delivers on the promise of stunning image quality with the adoption of a new, Nikon-developed 20.8-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor. The camera is designed to achieve the optimized balance between the large full-frame sensor size, resolution and the new EXPEED 5 image processing engine. Users can be confident that images will have enhanced sharpness and clarity, faithful skin tones and the unequaled dynamic range that Nikon pros have come to love. EXPEED 5 also helps to enhance noise reduction, letting photographers take full advantage of the D5’s immense ISO range. When paired with legendary NIKKOR optics, the D5 is truly a tool to help photographers capture the sharpest images possible with astounding clarity and radiant colors.
- Powerful Performance – Nikon’s EXPEED 5 engine also serves to dramatically enhance camera performance, delivering low noise, high-speed image processing and offers the additional processing power needed for 4K UHD video. For professional sports and wildlife photographers, the D5 is capable of capturing images at 12 frames-per-second (fps) with full AE and AF, helping to ensure that the decisive moment is caught in crystal clarity and absolute sharpness. Users can also shoot at up to 14 fps with fixed focus and exposure and the mirror locked up, ideal for remote capture. Because the action won’t take a break, the extended buffer lets users shoot for up to 200 frames of 14-bit lossless RAW/NEF files + JPG fine*. The new processor is also 25% more efficient with up to 3780 shots per charge.
- Fast Acquisition, with Precision – An exciting addition to the D5 is an all-new AF system with Nikon’s first dedicated AF processor. The Multi-CAM 20K AF sensor module offers superior AF performance with 153 AF points, including 99 cross-type sensors – triple the AF points from Nikon’s previous flagship, the D4S. Of these 153 points, 55 AF points/35 cross-type points are selectable by photographers to quickly and easily frame any shot. The system is configurable in 153, 72 and 25-point coverage when used with Continuous AF, allowing for stellar AF tracking performance of even the most rapidly moving subjects throughout the frame. Fifteen of the AF points are also functional up to f/8, further aiding those who require extreme telephoto capabilities, including wildlife photographers. This all-new AF system is coupled with a new 180K pixel RGB metering system and Advanced Scene Recognition System, helping to achieve optimally balanced exposures and accurate white balance in even the most challenging light.
- Rugged Reliability and Unsurpassed Usability – Downtime is never an option, so professionals need a camera that is going to be reliable and augment a demanding workflow. The Nikon D5 delivers with rugged construction and robust weather sealing, coupled with a familiar yet enhanced Nikon interface. A new 3.2” 2359K dot XGA LCD adds touchscreen functionality, allowing the user to easily pinch, zoom, swipe and scrub in playback, and also enter text faster than ever before. Being the champion of low-light, it is only natural that additional buttons and dials illuminate for enhanced visibility, while two additional Function buttons have been added for increased customization. The camera also features a Quick Release Mode setting for rapid access to release mode settings. Additionally, a new shutter and mirror sequencing mechanism nearly eliminates blackout time and mirror slap for bright, consistent views during high-speed shooting– realizing truly confident tracking of fast, erratically moving subjects that were previously difficult to achieve. The D5’s shutter itself is tested to 400K actuations for maximum durability. When paired with the WR-R10 wireless remote controller (transceiver) and WR-A10 Wireless Remote Adapter, the D5 is also able to interface with Nikon’s newest Speedlight, the RF controlled SB-5000, for new possibilities in lighting control.
- Rapid and Flexible Workflow – Further enhancing speed, the D5 is able to utilize the superior read and write speed of XQD memory cards, which are up to 35% faster than CF cards. To appeal to a wide variety of photographers, the D5 will be available in two versions; with either dual XQD card slots or with dual CF card capability. For maximum efficiency the camera is also capable of shooting smaller RAW Size S or M file types (12-bit, uncompressed), for greater flexibility when transferring batches of files from the field, while retaining image integrity. Photographers can also use the built in 1000 Base-T 400MBps Ethernet connection for image transfer, with speeds up to 1.5x faster than D4S.
- Multimedia Powerhouse with 4K/UHD Video – The Nikon D5 is the first Nikon DSLR capable of capturing 4K UHD video (3840×2160 at 30p), letting users create stunning ultra-high definition video with beautiful clarity and color. Multimedia content creators can also use the D5 to create 4K time-lapse videos in-camera using the Time-lapse Movie function, and can create 8-megapixel still images from frame grabs. A great addition to any production environment, the D5 includes all of the most popular pro-level features of the Nikon D810, including Full HD 1080p video at a variety of frame rates, uncompressed HDMI out, simultaneous live view and headphone/microphone connections. Additionally, the D5 adds a feature to smooth exposure transitions using the Auto ISO function as well as exposure compensation to create natural-looking exposure transitions in video.
New Radio Controlled SB-5000 Speedlight: Lighting with No Limits
The Nikon D5 is optimized to work with the newest flagship Speedlight, the SB-5000, illuminating new possibilities in creative lighting. A first for Nikon, the flash operates via radio frequency and will operate without a direct line of sight for a range of up to approx. 98 feet (30 meters). This new-found flexibility lets photographers place lights in different rooms, around corners and work seamlessly in bright ambient light with maximum efficiency. When paired with the WR-R10 and the D5 or the D500, this Speedlight can control up to six groups (A-F) or 18 Speedlights for truly advanced wireless lighting. It is also possible to perform Advanced Wireless Lighting using either radio-controlled (up to three groups) and/or optical-controlled units (up to three groups) by simply attaching a conventional, optical-control Nikon Speedlight or the SU-800 Commander (as a master or commander unit) and a WR-R10 (as a commander) onto the D5.
The new smaller SB-5000 Speedlight also has a radically new design that includes its own internal cooling system, which prevents overheating of the flash panel from consecutive firings. As a result, the SB-5000 can fire consecutively for longer than conventional models, without flash cool-down time between bursts, and can fire up to 120 continuous shots at 5 second intervals. Controls have also been streamlined and refined, with the addition of an “i” button for access to frequently used settings. The design also integrates versatile bounce ability, with the flash head capable of tilting down to -7° or up to 90°, and rotate horizontally 180° to the left and right.
New WT-6A Wireless Transmitter
Nikon has also announced the WT-6A Wireless Transmitter for use with the D5. An ideal solution for professional image transfer, the WT-6A can transfer with speeds of up to 130 mbps wirelessly and supports the fast IEEE802.11ac standard. The connectivity distance has been extended to approximately 656 ft. and can be used to transfer images to an FTP server or to a computer. When in HTTP mode, the unit can be used to operate camera controls, begin Live View shooting or start/stop HD video recording.
Price and Availability
The Nikon D5 DSLR will be available in March for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $6,499.95. The Nikon SB-5000 AF Speedlight will be available in March for the SRP of $599.95. The WT-6A Wireless Transmitter will also be available in March, with the SRP of $749.95. For more information on these new Nikon products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.