Nikon D5 vs P900
The Nikon D5 and the Nikon Coolpix P900 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2016 and March 2015. The D5 is a DSLR, while the P900 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (D5) and a 1/2.3-inch (P900) sensor. The D5 has a resolution of 20.7 megapixels, whereas the P900 provides 15.9 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D5 and the Nikon Coolpix P900? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D5 and the Nikon P900 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon P900 is considerably smaller (43 percent) than the Nikon D5. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D5 is splash and dust resistant, while the P900 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the P900 has a lens built in, whereas the D5 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D5 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D5 gets 3780 shots out of its EN-EL18a battery, while the P900 can take 360 images on a single charge of its EN-EL23 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D5 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. The power pack in the P900 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|2.||Nikon P900||140 mm||103 mm||137 mm||899 g||360||n||Mar 2015||599|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Nikon P950||140 mm||110 mm||150 mm||1005 g||290||n||Jan 2020||799|
|5.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|6.||Nikon P1000||146 mm||119 mm||181 mm||1415 g||250||n||Jul 2018||999|
|7.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|8.||Nikon B700||125 mm||85 mm||107 mm||565 g||350||n||Feb 2016||499|
|9.||Nikon B500||114 mm||78 mm||95 mm||541 g||600||n||Jan 2016||299|
|10.||Nikon L840||113 mm||78 mm||96 mm||538 g||590||n||Feb 2015||299|
|11.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|12.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|13.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|14.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|15.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|16.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|17.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The P900 was launched at a lower price than the D5, despite having a lens built in. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D5 features a full frame sensor and the Nikon P900 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the P900 is 97 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 5.6. The sensor in the D5 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the P900 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 20.7MP, the D5 offers a higher resolution than the P900 (15.9MP), but the D5 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.44μm versus 1.33μm for the P900) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the P900, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the P900 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.9 x 18.6 inches or 71 x 47.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.4 x 14.8 inches or 56.8 x 37.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.3 x 31.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon P900 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D5 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 102400, which can be extended to ISO 50-3280000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon Coolpix P900 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|11.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|12.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|13.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|14.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|15.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|16.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|17.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D5 provides a higher video resolution than the P900. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the P900 is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the P900 has an electronic viewfinder (921k dots), while the D5 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D5 and Nikon P900 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the D5, but is missing on the P900 is 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.The P900 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D5 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D5 and the Nikon P900 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D5 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the P900 uses SDXC cards. The D5 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the P900 only has one slot.
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 Nikon Coolpix P900 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D5 has a hotshoe, while the P900 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D5 (unlike the P900) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the P900 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the D5 and the P900 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The P900 was replaced by the Nikon P950, while the D5 was followed by the Nikon D6. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D5 and the Nikon P900? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (20.7 vs 15.9MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (3780 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 10 months after the P900).
Advantages of the Nikon Coolpix P900:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D5 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (140x103mm vs 160x159mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the D5).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in March 2015).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5 is the clear winner of the match-up (25 : 15 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5 and the Nikon P900 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D5 and the P900 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|2.||Nikon P900||..||..||77/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2015||599|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Nikon P950||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jan 2020||799|
|5.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|6.||Nikon P1000||..||+||73/100||3.5/5||3.5/5||Jul 2018||999|
|7.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|8.||Nikon B700||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2016||499|
|9.||Nikon B500||..||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2016||299|
|10.||Nikon L840||..||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Feb 2015||299|
|11.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|12.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|13.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|14.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|15.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|16.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|17.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D5 vs Nikon P900
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D5||Nikon P900|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||24-2000mm f/2.8-6.5|
|Launch Date||January 2016||March 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 6,499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D5||Nikon P900|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 23.9 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||858.01 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.1 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20.7 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5588 x 3712 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.44 μm||1.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.42 MP/cm2||56.73 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 102,400 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 3,280,000 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 5||EXPEED C2|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||88||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.3||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2343||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D5||Nikon P900|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||921k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2359k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D5||Nikon P900|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||14 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XQD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D5||Nikon P900|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D5||Nikon P900|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3780 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
160 x 159 x 92 mm
(6.3 x 6.3 x 3.6 in)
140 x 103 x 137 mm
(5.5 x 4.1 x 5.4 in)
|Camera Weight||1415 g (49.9 oz)||899 g (31.7 oz)|
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