My Nikon D5 Review (or at least a first look!)
I jokingly posted on facebook the other day that I needed to stop petting my Nikon D5 so that I could actually go out and shoot with it. But it really wasn’t all a joke because this is truly a beautiful-looking camera, and it feels, from an ergonomic perspective, more comfortable to hold than even before. That being said, I have been having a LOT of fun shooting with it, too ; ) So, here is my Nikon D5 review, showcasing just a bit of what it is capable of, even in the loosest of scenarios.
There has been a bunch of hype around the D5 and much of it has been around the incredible ISO levels it is capable of capturing quite well. I decided to put it to the test in a largely uncontrolled environment – literally, just taking a few shots around my house and neighborhood. Spoiler: oh my goodness, it so does not disappoint. Do note that every image shared here, even those shot at slow shutter speeds and high ISO combinations, were all shot handheld!
Let’s start pretty simply. This is an image I photographed of my daughter, clearly about to be attacked by a variety of assorted animals living just above her, all while she was innocently about to go to sleep. As you can see, she looks exhausted, like she does every night when she’s about to go to sleep ;).
The “trick” with this photograph, though, is that there are no lights on in her room, only light coming in from the hallway while I am standing in the doorway taking this photograph – as well as some moonlight coming in through the window. The reason it looks a lot brighter is because I’m shooting this at an ISO of 8000. There is no additive light. The full specs are as follows: 1/160th, f2.5, ISO 8000:
It progressively gets better. Here is a shot of my son. I also checked in on him, while he’s clearly near sound asleep (ahem). In this image, the only light is coming from a dimmed setting from the bathroom light, just off his room, which he is looking towards. This was shot at 10,000 ISO, also with no additive light. The full specs are 1/40, f1.4, ISO 10,000. It is actually a little over exposed, as you can see there is some loss of detail in the highlights on his teeth. I couldn’t believe that I would even have to think about over-exposing an image in this dark of a room while I was getting this type of image quality out of the camera.
To really play with the Nikon D5 ISO capabilities, I dimmed the bathroom light fully and cranked up the ISO to 51,200 – and I achieved this rather bright capture, again with no additive light, in a very dark room. Full specs are: 1/100, f1.4, ISO 51,200!
Okay, so now I just started feeling a bit spoiled with what I could do with this camera. I checked in on my oldest who was also going to be sound asleep, just like her sister and brother (because we are great parents, and they always listen to everything we say, all the time). Even though she was in slumberland, she oddly was also holding up an iPhone and FaceTiming with her friend. So weird.
Note: the only light in the room AT ALL was the light from her phone. Her blinds and door are closed, and her overhead light is off. It’s DARK in there. But this is what I was able to capture at 64,000 ISO. I couldn’t help but notice that the clarity of the image was even more dramatic with just the pop of light from the phone, which was even dimmed, so she could better act like she was sleeping. And the color capture at 64,000! The full specs of this shot are: 1/125, f1.6, ISO 64,000:
And, seriously, because the quality of this image is slightly insane when you consider it was shot at 64,000, I’m just going to paste one of these specs directly in here – just for fun:
And, lastly, a “super” uncontrolled shot. This is a photograph taken on our back porch, a candid shot taken of my husband in conversation with friends, so also with movement, in extraordinarily low light, with a slow shutter speed, handheld – which normally means full blur. Note: there is only some very slight ambient light coming from a small string of lights lining the porch, no additive light whatsoever. Just to compare, I took the same shot with my iPhone and am sharing them side by side here. I tried to do the exact same pop of brightness and “auto color” function to them both. I got a boost in the D5 photo, which was shot as a jpeg – I could only get to this with the iPhone before it completely fell apart. The specs on the D5 shot are: 1/40, f1.4, ISO 40,000:
I could go on and on about the ISO; it’s seriously stunning. And one of my favorite redesign aspects of the D5 is that the ISO button is now an easy-to-reach button on the top of the camera, which makes perfect sense, as it will be utilized so much more often.
There’s a LOT more to the camera than mega high ISO capabilities, though. The speedy capture rate is now even more blazingly fast than ever. It’s not just the fantastic shutter capabilities, but the frame rate for raw files is pretty nutty, especially when using the XQD cards (more on that here: http://www.nikonusa.com/…/what-is-xqd-and-why-should-i-use), which have faster transfer rates than any other memory card. But with frame rates of 12 shots per second and literally up to a couple hundred shots in a single burst … bejeebus, you can do so much with that.
Here are some fun shots of some of our awesome neighbor kids – and one of mine – throwing water balloons at each other. Again, there is no additive lights on these, no strobes, no controls of any kind (other than shooting in full manual mode, of course). You can not only see the balloons break as they hit their targets, but you can see them just before they break, as they break, after they break – every part of it in sharp detail and strong focus. Oh, and that’s another big shift with the Nikon D5, the super sharp, redesigned focusing system. I also cropped in on a few of these JPEG (Oh, and yes, these were all shot as jpegs, except for the last two images shown in this post!). The “20.8MP Fx-format CMOS image sensor and ExPEED 5 image processing” does its job superbly.
Lastly, there is the gorgeous image quality, which includes fantastic color and way RICH toning right out of the camera. I shoot everything in a neutral picture control, and these two shots only got a quick boost in photoshop after they downloaded (and downloaded quickly – thank you, XQD’s). These were the only two images that were shot in RAW:
So, there you go, a quick Nikon D5 review, although there will be much, much more to come. With a full workshop this week in our studio (all were sold out, next upcoming has just opened and is scheduled for early October!), an editorial shoot, new Beautiful Together work and a handful of portrait sessions all coming up very soon, this camera will get quite the workout. And I am quite happy about that, as it is just a fun camera to use. I look forward to sharing more soon!