Nikon has really outdone themselves. Their single digit line of cameras has always been the pinnacle of performance in the camera world. From the game changing D3 (one of Nikon’s first full-frame bodies), to the D3x, the highest resolution camera available at on point, to the D810, Nikon has pumping out great cameras for years. The Nikon D5 is the next iteration of that quality.
One of the biggest issues that a photographer can have is a camera’s inability to see what we see. Film was certainly close, especially with careful attention in the darkroom. Digital, however, has always been far from the dynamic range that our human eyes have. Of course, the photo world found many ways to cope with this and ‘cheat’ by combining exposures and using graduated filters and the like. This is where the D5 really steps in though.
There is more than dynamic range that defines image quality. ISO performance has long been the issue of photojournalists, sports photographers, and music photographers. The higher your ISO gets, the more noise (and loss of detail) will become apparent. Prior to the D5’s release, 12,800 was about the highest that you could safely go on a full frame camera. Even at this level, the image had deteriorated and would be used only for more photojournalistic purposes. With the D5 I was able to capture images at 102,400 ISO that were entirely useable for this concert. I certainly wouldn’t deliver an image at that ISO for portrait or fashion work, but I doubt I would find myself anywhere near that level of sensitivity for that line of work. Here are a few samples from the concert that I photographed with the D5.
The lighting was changing constantly as the show went on and the tempo changed. I left the D5 on auto-iso and let it do it’s thing. These images below were shot at ISO values as low as 3200 and as high as 102,400. With a little clean-up in Lightroom, the files are incredibly clean. In many of the black and white images, I added grain in Lightroom.
At the end of the day, I don’t think the D5 was needed to shoot this concert. In fact, I brought my D3 along with me and used it side by side with the D5. The D3’s images looked great as well. What the D5 was able to do, however, was focus fast, see in the dark, and deliver images that felt as close to the real thing as I’ve seen from a camera. Where the D3 was adequate, the D5 was plowing through every technical obstacle I’ve ever encountered with a camera. I would feel quite comfortable taking the D5 anywhere, for any job, knowing it will perform despite the most challenging conditions.