Nikon D5000 Digital Camera Review$729.95
Motion is definitely something you have to take into consideration when using a DSLR camera to record video. The Nikon D5000 captures video at 24p and it doesn't have any alternate frame rates or video recording modes. This 24p recording is, perhaps, the biggest difference between the D5000's video capability and that of a traditional camcorder. Most camcorders record using a 60i frame rate which captures an interlaced image at 60 fields per second. Footage recorded at 24p has a much different look and speed than 60i video. 24p is slower, can appear a bit choppy or jittery to some people, and more closely emulates the aesthetic of film. So, when you use the D5000 to record video, you need to understand that it won't give you the fluid motion of traditional video—it will produce something entirely different. Whether this is a good or bad thing really depends on your own personal preference and what you plan to do with your final footage. Some people love the look of 24p video, while others can't stand it. When viewing the YouTube links, keep in mind that they have been heavily compressed during the upload process.
Overall, the Nikon D5000 didn't record very good motion. Its 24p recording was nowhere near as smooth as traditional 60i video and the footage had a good amount of artifacting. There was also some interference present on the right pinwheel that made the black stripes appear jagged (somewhat resembling lightning bolts). Since the D5000 records using a progressive 24p mode, the image didn't have much trailing and blur was kept to a minimum in our testing. The Nikon D5000 also had a terrible rolling shutter problem, which is something we also noticed on the Nikon D90 last year. When shooting any quick pans or jerky motion with the camera, the entire frame appears to wobble like a blob of Jell-O. This problem is also found on the Canon Rebel T1i and is something that seems to plague DSLR cameras, while it is barely an issue with most HD camcorders. The rolling shutter issue is a result of the large CMOS sensors found inside these DSLR cameras and its relationship with the camera's processing. Check out this link for more information. More on how CamcorderInfo tests motion.
The Canon Rebel T1i can record video at 30p in its 720p mode, but it can only capture 20p when using its full-HD 1080p setting. Strangely, the Rebel T1i includes neither a 60i mode nor a 24p mode for recording video. The 20p recording is so slow that it resembles a slow-motion setting more than a regular record mode. There are upsides to the Rebel T1i's video motion, however. Artifacting was not as prevalent as on the Nikon D5000 and trailing was also very low because of the progressive frame rates. The Rebel T1i also didn't have the frequency interference problem with the black and white pinwheel that we noticed with the Nikon.
The Canon HF S100 offers two alternate frame rates in addition to its regular 60i recording: a 24p and 30p record mode. The modes aren't natively progressive like they are on the Nikon and Canon Rebel T1i DSLRS. Instead, they are captured in a 60i wrapper and then converted into 24p or 30p using a pulldown system. Purists will likely notice some differences between the true progressive frame rates on the D5000 and the downconverted offerings on the Canon HF S100, but despite these technical differences the effect is basically the same.
The Sanyo VPC-HD2000 is a very interesting camcorder for a number of reasons, but one of the most significant is its capability of recording full HD video at 60p—a natively progressive 60 frames per second mode. This gives the camcorder's video a very smooth look, yet at an entirely natural speed. The camcorder also has a 60i and 30p record mode, but it does not offer a 24p setting. As a side note from all this frame rate discussion, we should mention that the Nikon D5000 showed less artifacting in its videos than both the Canon HF S100 and Sanyo VPC-HD20000. It's 24p mode also looked more natural and smoother than the 24p option on the Canon HF S100.
The Nikon D5000 measured a horizontal video sharpness of 575 line widths per picture height (lw/ph) and a vertical sharpness of 625 lw/ph. These are good numbers for a camera that has a maximum video resolution of 1280 x 720, but compared to full-HD camcorders it isn't very impressive. High-end consumer HD camcorders routinely measure upwards of 700 or even 800 lw/ph in our video sharpness test, which means they can capture significantly more detail than the Nikon D5000. The Canon Rebel T1i, which has a full-HD 1080/20p option, was able to record a horizontal sharpness of 650 wl/ph and a vertical sharpness of 775 lw/ph. The Canon HF S100 and Sanyo VPC-HD2000 also had better video sharpness than the Nikon D5000. More on how CamcorderInfo tests video sharpness.
Low Light Sensitivity
Like all DSLRs the Nikon D5000 has a huge CMOS image sensor that is far larger than what you get on a consumer HD camcorder. This large sensor should, in turn, give the camera a significant boost in low light situations. Surprisingly, however, the D5000 didn't do as well with low light sensitivity as we expected. The camera wasn't bad, it needed only 11 lux of light to reach 50 IRE on our waveform monitor, but this isn't the kind of performance that is really noteworthy. Numerous consumer camcorders had better low light sensitivities than the Nikon D5000, especially when using alternate frame rates like a 24p or 30p mode.