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I bought the D5000 2 weeks ago after deciding that I wanted an upgrade from the Nikon digital coolpix cameras that I have had in the past. I tried out a number of DSLR cameras and chose the D5000 based on its 12.3 mega pixels and its vari-angle monitor (great for self portraits!)
Since buying the camera, I have tested it out rather thoroughly and I have to say, I'm ecstatic with its performance and image quality. Using the auto point and shoot mode, the camera's auto focus is lightening fast which makes the subject of your photograph sharp. The live view feature also helps you to capture a high quality picture with very little effort. One thing that had concerned me about buying a DSLR was the amount of time it would take to prepare a shot. I didn't want to be struggling to adjust settings for a quick snap, but the auto mode takes care of this.
The 19 scene modes are also very helpful for photographers like me who are just getting started with DSLRs. There is a scene selection for nearly any mood or setting imaginable. This means that the D5000 adjusts exposure and focus automatically.
Lighting has always been somewhat problematic for me. I always found it difficult to capture 'natural' lighting. I would always end up with faces washed out by the flash or landscapes that were far too dark. The D5000 offers fantastic lighting solutions. Firstly there are a number of different flash settings that are easy to switch between. But the D5000 also offers D-lighting, which prevents over exposure and other lighting problems. It can even be applied after the photo has been taken.
I love the in-camera editing features. You can adjust everything from colour to size without the aid of a computer of fancy editing software.
Some features which I hadn't come across before, such as the ISO and exposure compensation are remarkably easy to adjust. Each feature is displayed on the LCD and if you press the 'i' button you can access a number of menus to change these settings to your taste. I had to read the manual very carefully to understand what all these settings did, but the clear explanations were very easy to follow!
The camera also has a video mode, which I am yet to try out, so can't comment on it yet.
Overall, I believe that this camera is value for money and would suit a photographer wanting to move away form amateur compact cameras, but not wanting to spend a small fortune!