A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Nikon’s new flagship DSLR the  D5 

February 4 2016

by Philip Northeast

Nikon recently announced the upcoming release of their new flagship DSLR camera,  the D5, that includes a Nikon developed 20.8-megapixel CMOS sensor,

Nikon design their top of the range DSLR’s as photojournalist tools. Nikon’s aim is to produce a camera that will capture a moment whatever the light or subject speed.

“The D5 doesn’t simply get the shot that others might miss– it helps get the shot that others just simply cannot,” said Masahiro Horie, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc.

Making the most of those fleeting opportunities is more important to  photojournalists than ultimate image quality. The Nikon D5 compromises on image quality to achieve remarkable low light and fast shooting speeds. Not the best image quality, merely excellent.

Nikon has concentrated on three main areas to achieve the get the picture anytime capabilities of their  D5 DSLR .

D5 front

Nikon D5 front view

Extreme ISO 

The Nikon D5 features an increased ISO range compared to the already impressive D4 it replaces. The D5’s normal ISO ranges from 100 to 102,400. But for extreme low-light photography, the ISO range is expandable to a staggering ISO 3,280,000 (Hi-5), offering near-night vision capability.

In the expanded range photographers can expect some digital noise in the pictures. But this is for situations where  you just have to accept the low light conditions and do the best you can.  Nikon says the D5 has good noise performance in the ISO range from 3,200 and 12,800 that are important for photographing  sports.

This exceptional low light performance is why the top Nikon has relatively modest megapixel count. Using fewer megapixels for the same size digital sensor means the pixels are larger and can capture more light. This is especially valuable when light is scarce.

D5 back

Nikon D5 rear view

In low light, the electrical signal from the pixels is correspondingly low, and it gets harder to tell the pixel signal from the inherent background signals, or noise, produced by the system.

Awesome autofocus 

The Nikon  D5 has an all-new autofocus (AF) system with their first dedicated AF processor. Nikon says the Multi-CAM 20K AF sensor module offers superior AF performance, particularly keeping fast-moving subjects in focus.

Most autofocus systems need plenty of light to work with and the maximum aperture of the lens can be a limiting factor in autofocus performance. This limitation usually occurs in extreme telephoto lenses that have modest maximum aperture sizes and  when a teleconverter is used to increase the overall focal length.  This  also decreases the effective aperture of the combined  lens system with the amount depending on the multiplication factor of the teleconverter.

D5 top

Nikon D5 top view

The new Nikon autofocus system will work with maximum apertures up to f8. This is aimed primarily at wildlife photographers who often need extreme telephoto systems to photograph dangerous or cautious subjects.

Lightning fast large card storage

Larger image files is one consequence of more megapixels. These larger files take longer to write to memory cards, that also need to be larger to store the same number of digital photos. This prompted the recent introduction of the XQD memory cards, offering the capability to rapidly store the larger image files from high-end digital cameras.

Photojournalists need to capture live action as it happens, especially  when  there are no second takes or it is not a posed photo opportunity. This is no time to be waiting for images from the camera’s memory buffer to be written to the storage card to create space for they next burst of pictures.

Nikon offers a Nikon D5  model with two slots for Compact Flash cards instead of the XQD for those photographers still using the old cards.

The Nikon D5 can be pre-ordered from Adorama:

D5 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body (CF Version)  $6,496.95

D5 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body (XQD Version) $6,496.95


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