Nikon D5000 vs D90
The Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D90 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2009 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.
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 D5000 and the Nikon D90? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5000 and the Nikon D90. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures 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 D90 is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Nikon D5000. Moreover, the D90 is markedly heavier (19 percent) than the D5000. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5000 nor the D90 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 compare the optics available 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 would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon XSi||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||524 g||500||n||Jan 2008||799||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|6.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D60||126 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||500||n||Jan 2008||629||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D5000 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 42 percent) than the D90, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the D5000 and the D90 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the D5000 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 months) than the D90, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The Nikon D5000 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The Nikon D90 offers exactly the same ISO settings.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (720/24p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D5000 and the D90 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 viewfinder in the D90 offers a wider field of view (96%) than the one in the D5000 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D90 has a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.51x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D5000, the Nikon D90, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon XSi||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5/s||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D5200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D60||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the D90, but is missing on the D5000 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 D5000 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the D90 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D5000 has 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D5000 and the D90 write their files to SDHC cards.
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 D5000 and Nikon D90 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D90||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon XSi||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 40D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D5600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Nikon D5200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D60||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the D5000 and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D90 was replaced by the Nikon D7000, while the D5000 was followed by the Nikon D5100. Further information on the features and operation of the D5000 and D90 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D5000 Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D90 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D5000 better than the Nikon D90 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D5000:
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex 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.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 113g or 16 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (42 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 7 months after the D90).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D90:
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (96% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.63x vs 0.51x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (850 versus 510) out of a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2008).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D90 emerges as the winner of the match-up (8 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 D5000 and the Nikon D90 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D5000 or the D90. 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 ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon XSi||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||799||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||4/5||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|6.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D60||..||80/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2008||629||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1300D vs Nikon D90
- Canon 77D vs Nikon D90
- Canon G1 X Mark III vs Nikon D90
- Canon SX70 vs Nikon D90
- Canon SX730 vs Nikon D5000
- Fujifilm X-A3 vs Nikon D5000
- Fujifilm XP140 vs Nikon D90
- Leica M-E Typ 240 vs Nikon D5000
- Leica V-LUX 1 vs Nikon D5000
- Nikon D5000 vs Panasonic GH1
- Nikon D5000 vs Sony HX99
- Nikon D600 vs Nikon D90
Specifications: Nikon D5000 vs Nikon D90
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 D5000||Nikon D90|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2009||August 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 749||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D5000||Nikon D90|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.8 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.88 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.53 μm||5.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||720/24p Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 3,200 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||72||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.7||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.5||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||868||977|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D5000||Nikon D90|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D5000||Nikon D90|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||4.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDHC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D5000||Nikon D90|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D5000||Nikon D90|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||510 shots per charge||850 shots per charge|
127 x 104 x 80 mm
(5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||590 g (20.8 oz)||703 g (24.8 oz)|
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