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Nikon D5000 versus Nikon D3000

The Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D3000 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2009 and July 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D5000 has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the D3000 provides 10 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D3000

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D3000 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D5000 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D3000
Compare D5000 versus D3000 top
Compare D5000 and D3000 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3000 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Nikon D5000. Moreover, the D3000 is markedly lighter (9 percent) than the D5000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5000 nor the D3000 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D5000» 5.0 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 20.8 oz 510 n Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
Nikon D3000« 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 18.9 oz 500 n Jul 2009 599- i Nikon D3000
Canon XSi« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799- i Canon XSi
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D5200« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 500 n Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200
Nikon D5100« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.8 oz 660 n Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
Nikon D3100« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 550 n Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
Nikon D60« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 500 n Jan 2008 629- i Nikon D60
Nikon D90« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 24.8 oz 850 n Aug 2008 1,299- i Nikon D90
Nikon D40X« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D40« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 470 n Nov 2006 499- i Nikon D40
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3000 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the D5000, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D3000

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D5000 and Nikon D3000 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the D5000 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixel, compared with 10 MP of the D3000. This megapixel advantage translates into a 11 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the D5000 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 6.11μm for the D3000). Moreover, it should be noted that the D3000 is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 months) than the D5000, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.

D5000 versus D3000 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the D5000 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the D3000 (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.4 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Nikon D5000» APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872Nikon D5000
Nikon D3000« APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.156362Nikon D3000
Canon XSi« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2848-21.910.869261Canon XSi
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684Nikon D5600
Nikon D5200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.213.9128484Nikon D5200
Nikon D5100« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.513.6118380Nikon D5100
Nikon D3100« » APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967Nikon D3100
Nikon D60« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.511.456265Nikon D60
Nikon D90« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773Nikon D90
Nikon D40X« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.411.451663Nikon D40X
Nikon D40« » APS-C 6.0 3008 2000-21.011.056156Nikon D40
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D5000 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D3000 does not. The highest resolution format that the D5000 can use is 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D3000

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D5000 and the D3000 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D5000 and Nikon D3000 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Nikon D5000»optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5000
Nikon D3000«optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D3000
Canon XSi« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n Canon XSi
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5600
Nikon D5200« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5200
Nikon D5100« »optical n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 4.0 Y n Nikon D5100
Nikon D3100« »optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D3100
Nikon D60« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D60
Nikon D90« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 4.5 Y n Nikon D90
Nikon D40X« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
Nikon D40« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Nikon D40
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80

Both the D5000 and the D3000 write their imaging data to SDHC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Nikon D5000»Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D5000
Nikon D3000«Y-----2.0---Nikon D3000
Canon XSi« »Y----mini2.0---Canon XSi
Nikon D5600« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYYNikon D5600
Nikon D5200« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5200
Nikon D5100« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D5100
Nikon D3100« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D3100
Nikon D60« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D60
Nikon D90« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Nikon D90
Nikon D40X« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D40X
Nikon D40« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D40
Nikon D80« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D80

Both the D5000 and the D3000 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5000 was replaced by the Nikon D5100, while the D3000 was followed by the Nikon D3100.

Review summary: Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D3000

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D3000? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5000:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 10MP) with a 10% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.6 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 720/24p movies.
  • More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2009).


Advantages of the Nikon D3000:

  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (3 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5000 is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

D5000 08:03 D3000

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D5000 or the D3000 handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D5000»HiRec75/1004/55/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749- i Nikon D5000
Nikon D3000«Rec72/1004/53.5/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599- i Nikon D3000
Canon XSi« »HiRecHiRec4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799- i Canon XSi
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
Nikon D5200« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2012 749- i Nikon D5200
Nikon D5100« »HiRec76/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Apr 2011 749- i Nikon D5100
Nikon D3100« »HiRec72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599- i Nikon D3100
Nikon D60« »80/100HiRec4/5rev4.5/5 Jan 2008 629- i Nikon D60
Nikon D90« »HiRecHiRec4/55/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299- i Nikon D90
Nikon D40X« »79/100HiRec4/5rev4/5 Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D40« »81/100HiRecrev5/54.5/5 Nov 2006 499- i Nikon D40
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80

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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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