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The D5000 is still in fairly exclusive company, being one of the first large-sensor cameras to offer movie recording capabilities. In common with the D90, the D5000 offers 720p at 24 frames per second.

Sizes • 1280 x 720 (24 fps)
640 x 424 (24 fps)
320 x 216 (24 fps)
Audio 16-bit Mono, 11 kHz (Internal Mic only)
Format AVI (Motion JPEG)
File size ~2.3 MB/sec (HD)
Running time 5 min in HD, 20 min all other modes

The results are impressive when compared to the output from compact cameras - though wouldn't stand up to the kinds of scrutiny we apply to still images. However, because the sensor (and its readout method), probably wasn't designed specifically with movies in mind, there are some interesting effects that can be induced. The readout of the sensor means movies are created with a rolling shutter (horizontal lines of the image are scanned, one after another, rather than the whole scene being grabbed in one go). The upshot is that verticals can be skewed if the camera (or the subject) moves too fast - the top of the image has been recorded earlier than the bottom, so moving vertical lines can be rendered as a diagonals.

However, there's no real change over the D90 so the video mode still feels like a first attempt. Aperture (and hence depth-of-field) must be selected before entering Live view mode, so the video adjusts its exposure using variable gain, rather than by adjusting shutter speed or aperture. This automatic exposure can result in rather 'stepped' exposure changes - the aperture is locked so the problem seems to stem from amplifier stepping (clearly visible as the bus passes in the first video). Autofocus is also only available prior to recording, using the distinctly sluggish contrast-detect mode, so once the 'rec' dot appears, you'll be left having to focus manually.

The resultant movies are good considering that the D5000 isn't primarily a video capture device, capturing a lot of detail and playing smoothly. The large sensor means the performance in low light is very good, though we do see some slight banding in very dark situations.

The sound recording has a fairly low sampling rate (11 kHz, Mono, compared to the 48 kHz, Stereo sound recorded by most dedicated video cameras), collected through an internal microphone (with no option for an external one), that tends mainly to record the sound of the camera operator.

Overall the movie mode feels like an extra feature that's been added on, rather than being a fundamental reason for the model's existence. Seen in that light, the movie mode is a nice little feature to have and one that will, no doubt, be put to interesting use by would-be cinematographers.

Movie mode displays

There are only two settings that apply to movie mode - frame size... ...and whether the mono sound is on or off.
You can either use the whole screen to set up your shot or, by pressing [i], show the information panel (pictured). Pressing the magnify button allows you to zoom in and check fine focus.
Once you're in focus and happy with the white balance/exposure press OK in Live View mode to start (and stop) movie capture. During playback the four-way controller provides fast-forward/rewind, pause and stop controls. The built-in speaker means you can listen to the soundtrack (if recorded).

Sample video (with moderate motion)

1280 x 720, 24 fps. AVI (motion JPEG) file. 6 sec. 16.2 MB

Sample video (showing rolling shutter effect)

1280 x 720, 24 fps. AVI (motion JPEG) file. 3 sec. 7.1 MB

Sample video (showing shallow depth of field)

1280 x 720, 24 fps. AVI (motion JPEG) file. 8 sec. 13.8 MB


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