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Nikon D5 Comparison Review

The Nikon D5 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was revealed to the public in January 2016 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 20.7 megapixel.

camera

Is the Nikon D5 a good camera? The D5 has a Camera Elo of 2471. This rating puts the D5 among the top 20 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the D5 ranks among the top 50 percent. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 4-star performance rating.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D5
Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses
20.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/30p Video
ISO 100 - 102 400 (50 - 3 280 000)
Optical viewfinder
3.2 LCD, 2359k dots
Fixed touchscreen
14 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed body
3780 shots per battery charge
160 x 159 x 92 mm, 1 415 g

Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size of the Nikon D5 vis-à-vis a credit card. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Nikon D5 vs credit card front
D5 versus credit card top view
D5 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Nikon D5 alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D5 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499ebay.com
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999ebay.com
3.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450ebay.com
4.
 
Nikon D6 160 mm 163 mm 92 mm 1270 g 3580 Y Feb 2020 6,499 amazon.com
5.
 
Nikon D7500 136 mm 104 mm 73 mm 720 g 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 amazon.com
6.
 
Nikon D500 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 amazon.com
7.
 
Nikon D7200 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D4S 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D610 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 amazon.com
10.
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D3X 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Nikon D5 was launched in the US market at a price of $6,499. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Nikon D5 features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Nikon D5 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Nikon D5 sensor measures

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of alternatives.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
3.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
4.
 
Nikon D6 Full Frame 20.7 5568 37124K/30p25.314.3288695
5.
 
Nikon D7500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386
6.
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
7.
 
Nikon D7200 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387
8.
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
9.
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
10.
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
11.
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D5 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the D5 can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the D5 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.72x. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D5 and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Nikon D5optical Y3.2 / 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0/s n n
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y3.2 / 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0/s n n
3.
 
Leica SL4400 Y3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0/s n n
4.
 
Nikon D6optical Y3.2 / 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0/s n n
5.
 
Nikon D7500optical Y3.2 / 922 tilting Y 1/8000s 8.0/s Y n
6.
 
Nikon D500optical Y3.2 / 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0/s n n
7.
 
Nikon D7200optical Y3.2 / 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0/s Y n
8.
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0/s n n
9.
 
Nikon D610optical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0/s Y n
10.
 
Nikon D4optical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0/s n n
11.
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One useful feature of the D5 is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

Connection comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Nikon D5Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0---
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmono / monoYYmini3.0---
3.
 
Leica SLYstereo / monoYYfull3.0Y--
4.
 
Nikon D6Ystereo / monoYYmini3.1Y-Y
5.
 
Nikon D7500Ystereo / monoYYmini2.0Y-Y
6.
 
Nikon D500Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0YYY
7.
 
Nikon D7200Ystereo / monoYYmini2.0YY-
8.
 
Nikon D4SYmono / monoYYmini2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D610Ymono / monoYYmini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D4Ymono / monoYYmicro2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D3XY- / ---mini2.0---

It is notable that the D5 has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Further information on the features and operation of the D5 can be found in the free online Nikon D5 Manual or on the Nikon support site.

Expert reviews

While the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D5. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).

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Review Scores
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D5....4/589/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499ebay.com
2.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II....4.5/589/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999ebay.com
3.
 
Leica SL4/5..4/584/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450ebay.com
4.
 
Nikon D6....4/5..4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2020 6,499 amazon.com
5.
 
Nikon D75004.5/5+ +4.5/586/1005/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 amazon.com
6.
 
Nikon D5005/5+ +4.7/591/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 amazon.com
7.
 
Nikon D72004/5+ +..84/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199ebay.com
8.
 
Nikon D4S5/5......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499ebay.com
9.
 
Nikon D6104/5+ +..87/1004.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 amazon.com
10.
 
Nikon D4........4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999ebay.com
11.
 
Nikon D3X......86/1004/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

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Nikon D5 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the D5.

What is the technology behind the imaging sensor in the D5?

The camera has a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor at its core.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Nikon equipped the D5 with the EXPEED 5 image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the D5?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 50-3280000.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Nikon D5?

Nikon mentions a shutter rating of 400 000 actuations for the D5. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the D5 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 400 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my D5?

Nikon embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your D5 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the free online shutter count finder app.

Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?

No, the Nikon D5 has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The D5's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.

Which battery does the D5 use?

The camera gets its power from the EN-EL18a (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Where can I find the best deals for the D5?

Grey imports from Asia, as found on ebay, are often very attractively priced. However, these cameras come without a warranty from Nikon.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities with other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Nikon D5
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2016
    Launch Price USD 6 499
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 35.9 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 858 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 20.7 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5 588 x 3 712 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.44 μm
    Pixel Density 2.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 102 400 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 3 280 000 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 5
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 88
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 25.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 12.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2343
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.72x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 2359k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 14 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy400 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer Built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL18a power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)3780 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 160 x 159 x 92 mm
    (6.3 x 6.3 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 1 415 g (49.9 oz)

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