Blog Nikon D5 Camera Review: The Ultimate Performance Machine for Professionals

Nikon D5 is the flagship camera of Nikon’s DSLR lineup, designed for photojournalists and professional photographers who demand the absolute best in terms of image quality, speed, accuracy, and versatility. This camera is built to perform under the toughest conditions, delivering stunning stills and 4K UHD videos with incredible speed and precision. In this article, we will dive deeper into the Nikon D5’s features, performance, and what makes it stand out in the crowded camera market.

Written by Victor Chan | Updated: Mon May 01 2023

Nikon D5 article cover photo

Key Features

Jan 05 2016


21 megapixels


Sensor TypeFull frame

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Overview of the D5

When it comes to performance cameras, Nikon D5 is a true game-changer. This camera represents the pinnacle of Nikon’s engineering and technology, delivering a masterclass in speed, accuracy, and image quality. Whether you are a professional photographer or a videographer, the Nikon D5 is designed to exceed your expectations and deliver stunning results in any conditions. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Nikon D5 camera, its features, and why it is considered the ultimate performance machine for professionals. So let's gear up and explore what this camera has to offer.

Nikon D5 Pros and Cons

Now, we will look more closely at our review of the Nikon D5 camera. We will see what it can do and compare it to other cameras like it. We will tell you what's good about it and what's not so good. This way, you'll know if it's the camera for you!


Exceptional low light performance
12 fps continuous shooting
153-point AF system
20.8 MP full-frame sensor
4K UHD video recording
Durable and weather-resistant body
Wide ISO range (100-102,400)


Expensive price point
Heavy and bulky body
Limited touchscreen functionality
Requires XQD memory cards
Limited battery life (3,780 shots per charge)
Limited dynamic range compared to competitors
Limited lens options with built-in VR technology

Build and Construction

Body and dimensions

Nikon D5

Weather sealed
Dimensions160 x 158.5 x 92mm

Weather Sealing

The Nikon D5 camera is equipped with environmental seals that make it resistant to weather, preventing water and dust from entering the camera. If you enjoy outdoor photography and need a camera that can handle extreme conditions, the D5 is an excellent choice.

Design and Handling

Main design features

View FinderOptical (pentaprism)
Screen TypeFixed Type
Screen Resolution2,359k dots
Body typeLarge SLR

Suitable for:

PhotographyAbove Avg.
VideographyAbove Avg.
TravelAbove Avg.

LCD Screen

This camera has a fixed type 3.20" screen, with a display resolution of 2,359k dots. This makes the Nikon D5 not as suitable for those looking for a vlogging camera as you cannot view yourself while shooting selfies easily. The camera also features a touch screen, which adds to its ease of use.


D5 includes a optical (pentaprism) viewfinder with no electronic viewfinder of resolution with a coverage of 100% and a magnification of 0.72x. This feature enhances the camera's suitability for outdoor photography in bright conditions.

Image Quality

Nikon D5 has a 21MP sized CMOS sensor. You can shoot at maximum resolution of 21 pixels. Nikon D5 has a native ISO range of 100 - 102400 which can be boosted to null - 3280000. It can also save files in RAW format which gives you a wider room for post processing.

Key Features

Jan 05 2016


100 - 102400

ISO Range

SensorFull frame
Extended ISOnull - 3280000
Max resolution5588 x 3712 pixels

DXO Sensor Scores


88 / 102

Color Depth

25.1 / 26.5

Dynamic Range

12.3 / 14.8

Low Light ISO

2434 / 4505

DXO mark sensor scores

The DXOmark rankings indicate that the Nikon D5 camera has excellent color depth performance, which refers to the number of colors the sensor can distinguish. Additionally, its dynamic range is also above average, allowing it to retain medium amounts of details in both bright and dark areas of a scene. The camera's low light ISO performance is below average, which is an important factor to consider if you plan to use it in dimly lit indoor environments or at night. Overall the image quality of the D5 is above average

Crop Factor

Camera crop factor (or focal length multiplier) refers to how a camera's sensor size affects the apparent field of view of a lens. Crop factor is determined by comparing the size of a camera's sensor to that of a full-frame sensor, which is a standard reference size for camera sensors.

Size comparison

Medium FormatFull FrameAPS-C (Sony, Nikon)

Crop factor calculator

Crop factor


Full frame equivalent


This camera: Full frame



Connectivity, storage, battery

StorageDual CompactFlash or dual XQD
Battery Life3780 shots
Battery ModelEN-EL18a
Wireless Connectivity


The Nikon D5 supports Dual CompactFlash or dual XQD with 2 slots for storage. Having dual SD card slots on the Nikon D5 is highly advantageous as it mitigates the risk of losing footage due to memory card malfunctions. This feature is particularly beneficial for wedding photography and other professional settings.


The Nikon D5 uses the EN-EL18a model of battery pack. This is rated for 3780 shots shots which is high. If you intend to take photos or record videos for an extended period, it might be a good idea to bring along additional batteries.

Photography Features


The Nikon D5 does not have a built-in flash, but it does offer a flash shoe that allows you to attach external flashes. This provides more versatility in your lighting choices.


The Nikon D5 boasts a maximum mechanical shutter speed of 1/8000s, which is ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects in bright environments, such as in sports photography. Faster shutter speeds enable you to freeze the action and capture every detail, making it easier to get the perfect shot.

With a continuous mechanical shutter speed of n/a or an electronic shutter speed of n/a, this camera is not capable of capturing the perfect moment more easily, making it not as suited for wedding, sports, and wildlife photography. Higher shutter speeds make it easier to capture fast-paced action, ensuring that you never miss the perfect shot.


The Nikon D5 includes two autofocus (AF) systems: contrast detection and phase detection, with 153 number of focus points.

While contrast detection is generally more accurate and precise, phase detection autofocus is faster and more effective in most situations, particularly when photographing moving subjects.

Phase detection autofocus works by dividing the incoming light into pairs and then analyzing how they intersect on the camera's sensor. This method allows the camera to determine not only if a subject is in focus but also the direction and distance needed to adjust the focus to achieve perfect sharpness.

On the other hand, contrast detection autofocus works by analyzing the contrast of an image and adjusting the focus until the highest contrast is detected. While this method is very accurate, it can be slow, especially in low light conditions or when photographing moving subjects.

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What is the sensor size of the Nikon D5?

The Nikon D5 features a CMOS sensor

Is the Nikon D5 weather sealed?

Yes the D5 does have weather sealing.

When was the Nikon D5 announced?

The Nikon D5 was announced on Jan 05 2016

Does the Nikon D5 have in-body image stabilization?

No the D5 does not have in-body image stabilization that can compensate for camera shake, making it easier to shoot handheld in low light conditions.

What is the ISO range of the Nikon D5?

The D5 has a native ISO range of 100-102400, which can be expanded to ISO null-3280000 for even greater sensitivity in low light conditions.

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