REVIEW : The Nikon D5

The King - Nikon's D5

The King - Nikon's D5

No matter what camera I look at, regardless of features, specifications and incredible functions, one very subjective thing has enormous impact on how I feel about the camera and my personal ability to use it effectively.  That very subjective thing is how the camera fits me.

So let me get this out of the way right up front.  The D5 is different from its predecessor the D4s.  While being subtly different, the camera just FITS.  I am prone to use and am drawn to pro bodies for a number of personal use case reasons, but I have come to believe that one of them is that the people who design pro bodies spend a lot of time thinking about how the camera is going to fit the hand of the shooter, where that shooter may often times be working under pressure.  So five stars right away to the ergonomic designers of the D5.  Rarely do I pick up a camera that so perfectly fits my hand. 

The D5 is not a tiny body, but it is a very well balanced body.  Things are in the right place, such as the back focus button that falls right under my thumb, the depth of field preview that's simply an extension of my middle finger to activate, and an eyepiece presentation that hits my eye, without mashing my nose against the touchscreen and cramping my wrist into arthritic pain.  My shooting buddy Isabel is a D4s owner.  She's also considerably smaller than I am and when she grabbed the D5 away from me on its arrival, her first comment was how great the camera fit her hands.  Did I mention that she has small hands?  I've heard so much tripe about how pro bodies cannot be well handled by people with small hands.  If such stories were true, they are not true this time.

Interestingly, when I, in my enthusiasm, mentioned to some fellow photographers that I would be evaluating the Nikon D5, a couple were interested in a smackdown competition with the Canon 1Dx Mark II.  I own a 1Dx Mark II.  It is an awesome camera, Canon's best in my opinion. but please look elsewhere for a smackdown, it's not what I do.  I test a camera on its own merits.  Others gave me the tut tut shake saying the D5 is too expensive for normal humans.  I believe that a person's use cases drive the investment that the individual chooses to make.  I will cover the costing in the specifications section, because it is a legitimate consideration, but not the only one for the serious amateur or working professional. 

The Camera

The D5 is Nikon's top of the line offering.  The immediately apparent use cases include, working under severe stress, the need to shoot under varying states of light, much of it horrible, the need to be able to focus and shoot quickly and the need to track rapidly moving subjects.  These use cases immediately bring to mind photojournalism, sports, and dangerous wildlife as potential scenarios.  The D5 has a 20.8 megapixel sensor.  For those chasing the megapixel rabbit, this doesn't sound like much, but the sensor is perfect for the use cases for which the D5 is designed.  It's got more than enough pixel depth to deliver a native print size of 12.4" x 18.6" without any pixel expansion.  That's more than sufficient for most purposes, and when processed, your range goes up substantially.  By using larger pixels, and contrary to some other manufacturer's assertions, you do get better a better signal to noise ratio at very high ISOs as more power is pushed to the pixels to increase their sensitivity.  I have seen the same ads that you have, but there is tiny print somewhere that always references in camera noise reduction.  Apples to apples, this sensor is designed to shoot in crappy light and does fantastically in good light as well.  Nikon says you can hammer the ISO to 3.2M at setting Hi 5, and you can, but let's be honest, it's not a production setting.  What is far more important is how usable ISO 102400 actually is.  There are times when someone just has to get the shot, crap lighting be damned and the D5 can do it.  When working in crap light a camera also has to be able to function, and the D5 delivers autofocus down to EV -4 and metering efficiency down to EV -3.  If that sounds like bafflegab to you, it means really really dark.

Shutter speeds top out at 1/8000 and the camera can do the counting for you down to 30s.  There is, of course, a bulb mode for longer exposures.  Flash sync is a respectable 1/250 of a second, but when used with Nikon strobes, Hi Speed sync is available up to the max.  Speaking of strobes, Nikon allows you to set 2nd curtain sync in the camera and doesn't care if there is a speedlight on top of the camera to make it active.  This is a very important function to me in my use cases, and one of the areas where Canon still has their head in the sand.  The documentation does caution that rear curtain sync may not operate properly with studio strobes.  It worked for me in a couple of quick tests using Profoto's AirRemote on the D5.  As with other recent Nikon bodies, you can decouple exposure compensation for ambient light from exposure compensation for flash.  I am happy about this, as I prefer to manage light independently.  I think I get the point of making the default all encompassing, but I don't like it.  The caveat remains that any flash exposure compensation done in camera is added to any done directly on the flash.

The D5 tops out at 12fps.  Anyone who has shot regularly and well in high speed continuous knows such a camera is capable of filling cards fast and causing a lot of time to be spent at the editing desk culling.  In my tests, including jet aircraft, I found no limitation at all by having "only" 12fps.  I understand that makers are continually looking for higher and higher burst rates, a recent announcement being up to 30fps with many buts attached.  I find this amusing because the long gone and much missed Nikon F2 AS with the fastest motor shot ONLY 6 fps, burning through a 36 exposure roll of Tri-X in just over six seconds.  There was even a 250 frame back for the camera for those who couldn't take their finger off the button.  Less spray and pray friends, the D5 delivers the goods without driving you into Photo Mechanic to cull for the rest of your life.

Plenty of I/O including streaming HDMI, USB3, Ethernet, microphone and headphones

Plenty of I/O including streaming HDMI, USB3, Ethernet, microphone and headphones

The D5 is very connectable.  It delivers clean HDMI out, a nice and fast USB3 connection for tethering and direct connection, built in Ethernet as another tether option and in keeping with its video capability a port for an external microphone and a headphone jack for audio monitoring.

As one would expect in pro gear, there are no scene modes or style treatments, other than the standard Nikon picture styles options when shooting in JPEG.  These can be useful for shooters who need to get their images on the wire in some semblance of ready to go in pressure situations such as at the recent Summer Olympics in Brazil.  I confess that I never shot the D5 in any JPEG mode.  I only shot it in 14 bit RAW, in both the uncompressed and lossless compressed file storage modes.  Lossless compressed results in smaller files and faster downloads, but you lose a bit of time in decompression.  The in camera bus is USB3 so data moves nice and quick.

I've been very vocal about manufacturers that put two different type of card slots in the same camera.  To be blunt, it ticks me off.  Nikon went smart on the D5.  You can order yours with either dual CF card slots, or with dual XQD slots which is how my evaluation unit arrived.  If I were buying, I would future proof myself by choosing the dual XQD slots.  Unlike the highway robbery that is still CFast, XQD cards are now more reasonably priced and more readily available.  I already use XQD cards in the Sony FS7 pro video camera, and when shooting 4K, that throughput is mandatory.  The other benefit of shooting XQD for stills is a near bottomless buffer.

The D5 initially was limited to very short clips of 4K video.  Nikon announced that they would address that even prior to first customer ship, so on receipt, I updated the firmware on the D5 to support that fix.  You can record 4K to the CF card, but CF just cannot handle full bandwidth 4K in real world shooting.  Another reason I would always recommend the XQD variant.

The focusing system is enhanced for the D5.  The manual explains how many points can be active for which lenses, with and without Nikon teleconverters.  There are a total of 153 focus points, where 55 of them are user selectable, and the rest used by programmed focus functions.  99 of the focus points are of the cross type, meaning that they detect contrast in two axes instead of one.    There are three primary focus modes, Manual, AF-S and AF-C.  Focus mode selection is shown in the frame in the viewfinder. 

Choosing focus modes is very simple.  Press in the button on the lower left side of the lens bezel and then rotate the main select ring to choose between Single Shot and Continuous AF.  In Single Shot mode, rotating the second selection ring (the back one) while holding the button pressed up front gives you a choice of single point, group which is basically a cross and Auto which means the camera decides which points to use.  If you choose Continuous with the front wheel, the back wheel gives you many more choices including Single Point, Dynamic 9 Point, Dynamic 25 Point, Dynamic 72 Point, Dynamic 153 Point, 3D Tracking and Auto where the camera decides.  When used in AF-C, the camera will automatically engage Predictive Tracking to try to follow a subject leaving a focus area, when the shutter button is depressed halfway or either of the AF-ON buttons are used.

AF-S is pretty easy to understand but the Dynamic settings are enhanced and very powerful.  Basically here's how it works.  Dynamic autofocus is available in the continuous mode, AF-C.  While not named the same way, they are quite akin to the CASE methodology delivered by Canon in the original 1Dx.  The 9 and 25 point dynamic modes are ideal for moving subjects whose motion path is relatively predictable.  Think of a racing car on a track as an example.  The 72 point dynamic mode allows for subjects that may move erratically.  A good example would be a player in a football game.  153 point dynamic mode is designed for fast moving subjects that are hard to contain in a specific area of the frame, think birds in flight for example.

3D mode is the same as in the past.  If the "tracked" subject leaves the selected focus point, the camera tries to change focus points to keep up.  Tennis players moving side to side are a decent example.  In this mode, if you lose the subject, release the focus hold and set it again to reenable the tracking capability.

High ISO Performance

When Nikon announced the D5 and specified the value of the Hi5 ISO, the world of photography gave a collective WTF?  Over 3 million ISO?  What does that look like?

I'm not the first to show you, but I have a sequence here of the same scenario shot starting at ISO 100 all the way to ISO 3,276,800 at one stop increments.  The image is of a Datacolor Colour Checker beside long time model Sondra on an apple box with a medium neutral grey backdrop.  Lighting is from a Westcott Spyderlite TD-6 continuous light in a Bowens softbox above and a Lastolite reflector below.  The D5 was mounted to a Really Right Stuff tripod and the lens, the same 24-120 I had for the entire test was about midway in the zoom range.  My initial aperture was f/11, but I got to the point where I needed to close down to f/22 to keep from overexposing having hit the maximum shutter speed of 1/8000.  The final two images were at f/22 and with a Tiffen 1 stop Cinema ND and a Tiffen 2 stop Cinema ND respectively just to get the image on sensor without overexposure.  All the images were shot in RAW format and imported to Adobe Lightroom directly.  Upon import, Lens Corrections were applied.  I removed the default Sharpening from all the images manually and because there was a proper colour checker in the image performed a manual white balance on every image.   Thus any colour casts you see are AFTER eyedropper white balancing.

As you can see from these images, the D5 holds it together very nicely to 51200.  At 102400 we start to see a slight magenta cast that the white balancing process did not fully correct.  Manual intervention made the image usable.  The noise becomes brutal very quickly and in my opinion Hi 2.0 through Hi 4.0 are unusable in a practical sense.  That does mean though that you could likely work on the 102400 and 204800 images and get something quite usable from them, which is actually pretty incredible.

As I mentioned prior to the gallery, I white balanced each image with the eyedropper tool.  This is the latest version of Lightroom and so can read the D5 RAW format natively.  I did not try Nikon's own RAW converter as I have had issues with it before, and it may do a better job on the really high ISO images.  The increasing hard magenta cast was consistent throughout all my testing, even with JPEGs right out of camera, so I suspect this may be a side effect of these very high ISOs.  I did not spend much time trying to clean up the highest ISO image because at that point the noise overpowers what's left of the image anyway.  I said once that Nikon's Df was the Prince of Darkness because you could lock the ISO at 25600 and it would always do a great job.  In my opinion, the D5 beats it out.  I shot high school football under stadium lights last year with my 1Dx at ISO 25600 for most all shots.  The D5 would give me one more stop of reach, similar to what I can now get out of the 1Dx Mark II.  It's easy to dump on the image quality at 3M ISO.  That's the wrong approach I think, instead imagine what you can do now at 102,400 that you could never do in the past.

In The Field

Consistent layout on the top deck and not cluttered with extra controls

Consistent layout on the top deck and not cluttered with extra controls

The D5 control layout is pretty consistent to its predecessors.  The layout is easy to learn and sticks in memory very well.  The top deck is also not cluttered with tiny buttons labeled Fn.  I understand the value of programmable controls, but some other cameras have made the top a minefield of surprise actions.  Once the camera is to eye, I don't want to have to drop it to figure out where a control is or if I am hitting the right one.  That's how shots get missed.  The LCD is bright and easy to read and a simple tug to the right on the power switch activates the lamp.  As on the D4s, the diopter adjustment is of a locking type so does not get changed by accident as happens to me with most other cameras.

I had a couple of challenges with the first review unit, and it was swapped out right away.  Any product can have problems, and mine were minor.  Nonetheless Nikon acted fast and with professionalism, no finger pointing at all.  This is what a professional needs to see and experience.  It's one of the big reasons that many pros shoot Nikon by choice, support matters.

One of the challenges of shooting as many cameras as I do, is that I confuse myself.  The D5 menu system is good, but as I say about all menu systems, could benefit from some User Interface work.  It is engineering accurate, which from time to time does not equate to high usability.  I'm not a big fan of reprogrammable buttons beyond some basic changes and managed to fumble finger a couple of settings killing off exposure bracketing during a shoot pushing the camera to HDR mode, which of course would not work as I was shooting solely in RAW.  It's likely a benefit for most, but frustrating when you've done something and do not know what.  I do wish that there was an easily accessible display on the LCD that could give you a lookup of what the current button settings were.

The camera has a ton of functionality, so I did what I always do, which is to pull a PDF version of the manual into iBooks so it's on my phone and tablet for quick search.  Nikon has improved their documentation a lot in the last few years, and for the most part I found it very usable.  I read it through completely before beginning shooting and got through it without drugs so good work comment to the team.  I understand the demand for small physical books, but would suggest larger paper books, with more white space, more complete indexes and more charts (such as what functions each button could have - for fumblers such as myself).  Nikon does have a digital app for manual reading as well.

The battery and charger look the same as the D4s and you can interchange batteries (hooray!)  This is a small thing but shows commitment to pros and long time users.  Truth to tell, despite shooting the D5 a lot, I could not kill the battery, so my conclusion is that the CIPA rating of 3780 shots on a charge is achievable.

Focus is fast.  Very fast.  I found it even faster and more accurate in ugly situations than even the excellent D4s.  Folks always ask what they get for the relatively high cost of a D5.  Blinding fast and accurate focus is one of the deliverables.

The D5 holds up well in horrible shooting situations as well.  For one of the tests, I was assisting some folks who were doing a night shoot of a dancer on a trampoline with strobes to freeze baking flour in the air.  If you've ever done a powder shoot, you know that the powder goes EVERYWHERE.  If there is dampness in the air (there was) the detritus turns to goop.  There were no issues whatsoever with the D5 and the body finish cleaned up with a damp cloth with nothing left behind.  I was pleased by this because the finish is very grippable, not that slippery shiny stuff found on many other cameras.  You can tell that it is built tough, and while I surely did not take it apart, I think that some areas such as the lens mount have been toughened up over the D4s.  This is very important to folks who shoot long glass, and to rental houses as well.

Radio Controlled Flash

I am very much a strobist and so when the D5 arrived, and then I saw a post slamming the SB5000, I contacted the Nikon team and they also sent a long an SB5000 and wireless transmitter kit.

The SB-5000, the evolution of CLS to include radio control

The SB-5000, the evolution of CLS to include radio control

Nikon set the stage for remote off camera flash with the infrared based line of sight Creative Lighting System.  I know many companies do this, but Nikon was smart enough to make CLS a sub-brand and to market it widely.  Having the great Joe McNally as an advocate for it is also a good plan.  The challenge with CLS is range and the need for line of sight, unless you are McNally.  I am not, and was very excited to discover that the new system continues to completely support CLS and also adds radio support.  The SB5000 is the replacement for the SB-910 and will have its own review.  The User Interface is quite different from the SB-910 and takes a bit of getting used to, but with minor practice you are up and running in not time.  Unlike Canon's radio flash, the SB5000 is a receiver only unit.  The flash has no transmitter, which I think is an error, necessitating the purchase of the WR-10 kit which includes a transmission block and adapter that connects to the multipin adapter on the front of the body.  Pairing flashes and transmitters is very easy, and once paired they remember each other.  At one time I had two SB5000s running from the single transmitter and they worked beautifully in single and separate groups in TTL, Manual and Repeat flash modes.  The SB5000 also still supports SU-4 optical slave mode which is a nice thing when you have a mixed flash situation.  

Looking familiar, yet internally it's a step up from the D4s

Looking familiar, yet internally it's a step up from the D4s

The only caveat is that you have to remember to be sure to turn on the radio from deep inside the menu system whenever you dock it back on the camera.  I delayed myself a couple of times with this.  Mixing ambient light and radio controlled off camera flash at sunset was a breeze, addressing a common challenging theme with CLS.  The radio flash is new to Nikon but to make it easier to use, it needs to be unburied from the menu and the language in the menus needs to be cleaned up.

Some have complained about the lack of the popup flash for optical CLS.  The D5 is built tough, to face daily use and potentially have to work in abusive situations.  A hinged panel on the top of the pentaprism would degrade the body integrity and durability.  Canon take the same approach on their pro body.


The D5 consumes all Nikon glass.  Certainly I would always personally suggest FX mount glass for maximum flexibility.  This time, I asked Nikon to forego their usual distribution of eval bodies with the well respected 24-70/2.8  Instead they sent a 24-120/4.  I have seen some folks complain about this lens.  I don't get it.  I test in the real world not on focus charts and found the lens to be a perfect lens for my use.  24mm is a lovely wide length for many applications and the 120mm gave me the reach that I was missing in the 24-70.  This lens is less expensive and not as fast as the 24-70.  Make your own choice, I really liked it for colour, contrast and sharpness.  It looks like Nikon FX glass too.  If you know what I mean, you know.  If not, it's hard to explain.  Given the incredible ISO performance, an f/4 maximum aperture on a general purpose lens is no issue at all.  If you want super shallow depth of field, you will go to a really fast prime anyway.

I also shot the D5 with some Sigma glass, notably their 35/1.4, a lens I really love and it was just beautiful.  

Studio Work

Not everyone would think of the D5 as a studio camera, eschewing it for a D810 or similar megapixel monster.  I like the D810 very much, but the D5 fits more use cases for me than a D810, your mileage may vary.  I did shoot it in the studio as part of two separate strobe tests.  The first test was with the Broncolor Siros L battery powered moonlights and the second was with the new Profoto D2 moonlights.  In both cases I was shooting in manual flash mode.  The Broncolors don't do TTL and I did not have a Profoto AirTTL-N remote.  In both cases, triggering was 100% using the manufacturer's remote and completely consistent.  I found the in camera flash white balance a bit warm, consistent with my experience with other Nikon cameras, easily adjusted in Lightroom with a click of the WB eyedropper on the colour chart.  I only shot in RAW, but the JPEG on the LCD gave a quite accurate representation.  As always, I had the Picture Style set to Neutral in camera.  I shot everything from a Bron Para, to Bron softboxes, to a Westcott Zeppelin, to a Mola beauty dish and hard reflectors.  The colour and response was consistent and where I intentionally went over hard on contrast, that sensor captured enough low light data to support noisefree shadow recovery in areas where I would normally use a reflector.

Nikon Supplied Sample Images

I usually prefer to show only my own images, but as many were made in the course of production work for clients, those are not public.  Thus I am also including images that Nikon has provided.

It's kind of funny in that I shot the D5 a lot, but the number of images that I can share are few, mostly being experimental.  I do not often use evaluation cameras for production work, but my confidence was high and I wanted to prove to myself that the new radio flash system would work for simple headshots.  It does.  SB-5000 into a Lastolite McNally EZ-Box from above, Lastolite McNally Tri-Grip reflector from below.  All shot with the 24-120 at about 110mm and f/8 worked perfectly with little to no tweaking of TTL flash.  The client was happy.  So I count that as a success for the camera, flash and the minor risk I took using brand new gear.


Despite excellent work by makers to really drive video in their products, most users still don't use it.  This is rather sad because the video in DSLRs and mirrorless will kick most all non-pro video cameras straight to the curb.  Yes autofocus is not so hot, but pros tend to pull focus manually anyway.  The D5 has great video options including 4K UHD at 30p and FullHD at up to 60p.  The video looks good and is easily edited in your editor of choice.  I used the D5 for a short web clip shoot for a client and it saved me carrying a separate rig.  I added a tiny Manfrotto LED lamp to fill in shadows during the "outside the building welcome" clip and the camera did a great job.  I shot in 4K UHD, and downscaled the footage to FullHD in post processing.  I had no colour issues at all.  Audio was recorded via a Sennheiser lavalier with the receiver jacked right into the camera.  As a voice track it was fine but lacked the better quality preamp one would find in an off board recorder.  Again, the value proposition is to be able to work light and fast.


The D5 body is presently retailing for about $8,500 CDN in either the XQD or CF variant.  This makes it a higher number than in the US due to the weak Canadian dollar.  I think that we'd see more movement if our dollar was stronger.

Yes, that's a lot of money for a body.  Some would tell you that they could get 2 D810s and a D750 for that kind of money and likely be close.  That said, if you want the top of the line pro kit from Nikon, that's where she sits.


If you have the cash and the D5 fits your use cases, run, do not walk to your preferred dealer.  If you are still getting great use of your D3, or D4 product, there may be enough to warrant the upgrade for you.  If you have a D4s, there is less here for you, but the high ISO performance is stunningly good.

If your use cases are more sedate, including weddings, portraiture and landscapes, you may not be driven by the elements that makes the D5 a knockout.  It's a big camera, and those with arthritis or whose hands get tired easily will know that they are carrying it.  The sensor is superb, but if you are chasing the last megapixel, this is not the camera for you.

But, and this matters, if you are shooting wildlife, or sports, or really anything where you need to be able to capture a lot of frames, and even pull 4K video, and the camera needs to be built super tough, this is your next camera.  You could get more reach with a D500 and long glass, but there's a look to full frame that you only get from full frame, and the long battery life coupled with a high usability index proves that the D5 has earned the right to be called the top of Nikon's lineup.  If I could have only one Nikon, the D5 would be it.

It rocks.  Awesome.

It rocks.  Awesome.


The Specifications (Courtesy Nikon USA) -

sorry about the formatting, one of the challenges of copy/paste

Type of camera


Single-lens reflex digital camera

Lens mount

Nikon F mount (with AF coupling and AF contacts)

Effective angle of view

Nikon FX format

Effective pixels

Effective pixels

20.8 million

Image sensor

Image sensor

35.9 x 23.9 mm CMOS sensor

Total pixels

21.33 million

Dust-reduction system

Image sensor cleaning, Image Dust Off reference data (Capture NX-D software required)


Image size(pixels)

    • FX (36x24) image area: 5568 x 3712 (L), 4176 x 2784 (M), 2784 x 1856 (S)
    • 1.2x (30x20) image area: 4640 x 3088 (L), 3472 x 2312 (M), 2320 x 1544 (S)
    • DX (24x16) image area: 3648 x 2432 (L), 2736 x 1824 (M), 1824 x 1216 (S)
    • 5:4 (30x24) image area: 4640 x 3712 (L), 3472 x 2784 (M), 2320 x 1856 (S)
    • Photographs taken during movie recording at a frame size of 3840 x 2160: 3840 x 2160
    • FX-format photographs taken during movie recording at a frame size of 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720: 5568 x 3128 (L), 4176 x 2344 (M), 2784 x 1560 (S)
    • DX-format photographs taken during movie recording at a frame size of 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720: 3648 x 2048 (L), 2736 x 1536 (M), 1824 x 1024 (S)
    • Photographs taken during movie recording at a frame size of 1920 x 1080 crop: 1920 x 1080

File format

    • NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit (lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressed); large, medium, and small available (medium and small images are recorded at a bit depth of 12 bits using lossless compression) 
    • TIFF (RGB)
    • JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8) or basic (approx. 1:16) compression; optimal quality compression available
    • NEF (RAW)+JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats

Picture Control system

Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape and Flat; selected Picture Control can be modified; storage for custom Picture Controls

Storage media

    • XQD-Type (Models for use with XQD cards): XQD cards
    • CF-Type (Models for use with CompactFlash cards): Type I CompactFlash memory cards (UDMA7 compliant)

Double card slots

Slot 2 can be used for overflow or backup storage or for separate storage of copies created using NEF+JPEG; pictures can be copied between cards

File system

DCF 2.0, Exif 2.3, PictBridge




Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder

Frame coverage

    • FX (36x24): Approx. 100% horizontal and 100% vertical
    • 1.2x (30x20): Approx. 97% horizontal and 97% vertical
    • DX (24x16): Approx. 97% horizontal and 97% vertical
    • 5:4 (30x24): Approx. 97% horizontal and 100% vertical


Approx. 0.72x (50 mm f/1.4 lens at infinity, -1.0 m-1


17 mm (-1.0 m-1; from center surface of viewfinder eyepiece lens)

Diopter adjustment

-3 to +1 m-1

Focusing screen

Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark IX screen with AF area brackets (framing grid can be displayed)

Reflex mirror

Quick return

Depth-of-field preview

Pressing Pv button stops lens aperture down to value selected by user (A and M modes) or by camera (P and S modes)

Lens aperture

Instant return, electronically controlled



Compatible lenses

Compatible with AF NIKKOR lenses, including type G, E, and D lenses (some restrictions apply to PC lenses), DX lenses (using DX [24x16] 1.5x image area), AI-P NIKKOR lenses, and non-CPU AI lenses (exposure modes A and M only); IX-NIKKOR lenses, lenses for the F3AF, and non-AI lenses cannot be used: The electronic rangefinder can be used with lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster (the electronic rangefinder supports the 15 focus points with lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/8 or faster, of which 9 points are available for selection)




Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal-plane mechanical shutter; electronic front-curtain shutter available in mirror up release mode


1/8000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, bulb, time, X250

Flash sync speed

X=1/250 s; synchronizes with shutter at 1/250 s or slower



Release mode

S (single frame), CL (continuous low speed), CH (continuous high speed), Q (quiet shutter-release), Self-timer, MUP (mirror up)

Approximate frame advance rate

Up to 10 fps (CL); 10 to 12 fps, or 14 fps with mirror up (CH); or 3 fps (quiet continuous mode)


2 s, 5 s, 10 s, 20 s; 1 to 9 exposures at intervals of 0.5, 1, 2 or 3 s




TTL exposure metering using RGB sensor with approx.180K (180,000) pixels

Metering method

    • Matrix: 3D color matrix metering III (type G, E and D lenses); color matrix metering III (other CPU lenses); color matrix metering available with non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data
    • Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 12-mm circle in center of frame; diameter of circle can be changed to 8, 15 or 20 mm, or weighting can be based on average of entire frame (non-CPU lenses use 12-mm circle)
    • Spot: Meters 4-mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus point when non-CPU lens is used) 
    • Highlight-weighted: Available with type G, E and D lenses


(ISO 100, f/1.4 lens, 20°C/68°F)

    • Matrix or center-weighted metering: -3 to 20 EV
    • Spot metering: 2 to 20 EV
    • Highlight-weighted metering: 0 to 20 EV

Exposure meter coupling

Combined CPU and AI


Programmed auto with flexible program (P); shutter-priority auto (S); aperture-priority auto (A); manual (M)

Exposure compensation

-5 to +5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV

Exposure lock

Luminosity locked at detected value

ISO sensitivity

(Recommended Exposure Index)

ISO 100 to 102400 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV; can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 50 equivalent) below ISO 100 or to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 EV (ISO 3280000 equivalent) above ISO 102400; auto ISO sensitivity control available

Active D-Lighting

Can be selected from auto, extra high +2/+1, high, normal, low or off




Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection, fine-tuning and 153 focus points (including 99 cross-type sensors and 15 sensors that support f/8), of which 55 (35 cross-type sensors and 9 f/8 sensors) are available for selection

Detection range

-4 to 20 EV (ISO 100, 20°C/68°F)

Lens servo

    • Autofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); continuous-servo AF (AF-C); predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status
    • Manual focus (M): Electronic rangefinder can be used

Focus point

153 focus points, of which 55 or 15 are available for selection

AF-area mode

Single-point AF, 25-, 72-, or 153-point dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking, group-area AF, auto-area AF

Focus lock

Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing the center of the sub-selector



Flash control

TTL: i-TTL flash control using RGB sensor with approx. 180K (180,000) pixels; i-TTL balanced fill-flash for digital SLR is used with matrix, center-weighted, and highlight-weighted metering, standard i-TTL fill-flash for digital SLR with spot metering

Flash mode

Front-curtain sync, slow sync, rear-curtain sync, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction with slow sync, slow rear-curtain sync, off; auto FP high-speed sync supported

Flash compensation

-3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV

Flash-ready indicator

Lights when optional flash unit is fully charged; flashes after flash is fired at full output

Accessory shoe

ISO 518 hot-shoe with sync and data contacts and safety lock

Nikon Creative Lighting

System (CLS)


Radio-controlled Advanced Wireless Lighting 


Unified flash control


Sync terminal

ISO 519 sync terminal with locking thread

White balance


White balance

Auto (3 types), incandescent, fluorescent (7 types), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, preset manual (up to 6 values can be stored, spot white balance measurement available during live view), choose color temperature (2500 K to 10000 K); all with fine-tuning



Bracketing types

Exposure, flash, white balance, and ADL

Live View


Live view mode

Photo live view with available silent mode, Movie live view

Lens servo

    • Autofocus (AF): Single-servo AF (AF-S); full-time-servo AF (AF-F) 
    • Manual focus (M)

AF-area mode

Face-priority AF, wide-area AF, normal-area AF, subject-tracking AF


Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame (camera selects focus point automatically when face-priority AF or subject-tracking AF is selected)




TTL exposure metering using main image sensor

Metering method

Matrix, center-weighted or highlight-weighted

Frame size (pixels)

and frame rate

Actual frame rates for 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, and 24p are 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25, and 23.976 fps respectively; ★high quality available at all frame sizes, normal quality available at all sizes except 3840 x 2160

    • 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD); 30p (progressive), 25p, 24p
    • 1920 x 1080; 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
    • 1920 x 1080 crop; 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
    • 1280 x 720; 60p, 50p

File format


Video compression

H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding

Audio recording format

Linear PCM

Audio recording device

Built-in stereo or external microphone; sensitivity adjustable

ISO sensitivity

    • Exposure modes P, S and A: Auto ISO sensitivity control (ISO100to Hi 5) with selectable upper limit
    • Exposure mode M: Auto ISO sensitivity control (ISO 100 to Hi 5) available with selectable upper limit; manual selection (ISO 100 to 102400 in steps of 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV) with additional options available equivalent to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 EV (ISO 3280000 equivalent) above ISO 102400

Other movie options

Index marking, time-lapse movies




8-cm/3.2-in., approx. 2359k-dot (XGA) TFT touch-sensitive LCD with 170° viewing angle, approx. 100% frame coverage, and manual monitor brightness control




Full-frame and thumbnail (4, 9 or 72 images) playback with playback zoom, movie playback, photo and/or movie slide shows, histogram display, highlights, photo information, location data display, auto image rotation, picture rating, voice memo input and playback, and IPTC information embedding and display




SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0 Micro-B connector); connection to built-in USB port is recommended

HDMI output

Type C HDMI connector

Audio input

Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5-mm diameter; plug-in power supported)

Audio output

Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5-mm diameter)

10-pin remote terminal

Can be used to connect optional remote control, optional WR-R10 (requires WR-A10 WR Adapter) or WR-1 Wireless Remote Controller, GP-1/GP-1A GPS Unit, or GPS device compliant with NMEA0183 version 2.01 or 3.01 (requires optional MC-35 GPS Adapter Cord and cable with D-sub nine-pin connector)


RJ-45 connector 

    • Standards: IEEE 802.3ab (1000BASE-T)/IEEE 802.3u (100BASE-TX)/IEEE 802.3 (10BASE-T)
    • Data rates: 10/100/1000 Mbps with auto detect (maximum logical data rates according to IEEE standard; actual rates may differ)
    • Port: 1000BASE-T/100BASE-TX/10BASE-T (AUTO-MDIX)

Peripheral connector

For WT-6/A/B/C, WT-5A/B/C/D Wireless Transmitter

Supported languages


Supported languages

Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal and Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Serbian,Spanish, Swedish,Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese

Power source



One EN-EL18a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery

AC adapter

EH-6b AC Adapter; requires EP-6 Power Connector (available separately)

Tripod socket


Tripod socket

1/4 in. (ISO 1222)

Dimensions / weight



(W x H x D)

Approx. 160 x 158.5 x 92 mm/6.3 x 6.3 x 3.7 in.


    • XQD-Type (Models for use with XQD cards): Approx. 1405 g/3 lb 1.6 oz with battery and two XQD memory cards but without body cap and accessory shoe cover; approx. 1235 g/2 lb 11.6 oz (camera body only)

    • CF-Type (Models for use with CompactFlash cards): Approx. 1415 g/3 lb 1.9 oz with battery and two CompactFlash memory cards but without body cap and accessory shoe cover; approx. 1240 g/2 lb 11.8 oz (camera body only)

Operating environment


Operating environment

Temperature: 0 to 40°C/32 to 104°F

humidity: 85% or less (no condensation)



Supplied accessories

(may differ by country or area)

EN-EL18a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery, MH-26a Battery Charger, UC-E22 USB Cable, AN-DC15 Strap, BF-1B Body Cap, BS-3 Accessory Shoe Cover, USB Cable Clip, HDMI Cable Clip, DK-27 Eyepiece Adapter, DK-17F Fluorine-Coated Finder Eyepiece, BL-6 Battery Chamber Cover

Specifications are subjects to change without notice.


    • XQD is a trademark of SONY Corporation.
    • PictBridge is a trademark.
    • CompactFlash is a registered trademark of SanDisk Corporation.
    • HDMI, the HDMI logo and High-Definition Multimedia Interface are trademarks or registered trademarks of HDMI Licensing, LLC. 
    • Windows is either a registered trademark or a trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.
    • Google and Android™ are trademarks or registered trademarks of Google Inc.
    • Products and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
    • WT-6/A/B/C Wireless Transmitter, SB-5000 Speedlight and WR-1/WR-R10 Wireless Remote Controller are controlled by the United States Export Administration Regulations. The permission of the U.S. government is not required for export to countries other than the following, which as of this writing are subject to embargo or special controls: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria (list subject to change).