Why I bought the Nikon D5

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 45600, ƒ/2.8, 1/4000

When I reach for a camera to shoot an assignment here are some variables that are important to consider:

  • Can it capture the scene?
    • Is the ISO high enough for the lighting conditions?
    • Is the shutter speed fast enough to freeze moments?
  • Do I have to think about which camera I have in my hand?
  • Are the controls the same as my other cameras?
  • Is the buffer big enough so I can shoot whenever I want?
  • Can I use high speed shutter sync and shoot at any shutter speed with my flashes?
  • How does if feel in my hands?
This is not a complete exhaustive list but some of the things that made me upgrade to the Nikon D5.

The Nikon D5 is blisteringly fast and has accurate autofocus. The new AF system is nothing short of sensational. If you set the camera up properly the D5 doesn’t miss a beat. User error is far more likely to be the reason for a missed shot than the camera letting you down, even for the best of photographers. [My D5 Settings for Sports]

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 10000, ƒ/2.8, 1/1000–(3) Alienbees B1600, Pocketwizard TT5 w/ AC-9 on strobe, TT1 w/ AC-3 on the camera
I had anticipated needing strobes to shoot the volleyball game due to possible banding issues. I arrived earlier in the day and setup three Alienbees B1600 strobes pointed to the ceiling. I wanted to shoot at a fast shutter speed of at least 1/1000 and to do this required me to use the Pocketwizard TT5, AC-9, TT1 & AC-3 in combination to shoot above the sync speed of 1/250.
Here is the TT5 & AC-9 on the flash. I was not using the umbrellas.

This is the TT1 with the AC-3 that was on the camera.

Well less than 3 shots into the game and the referee said no flash. No time to talk to the school officials and coaches again to fix this problem. So I just switched to available light. The available light was a mixture of LED and tungsten lights.

The Color Temperature was 4700º kelvin with a +25 magenta shift to get a good skin tone. I used the ExpoDisc to get a custom white balance. [Earlier blog on ExpoDisc]

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 25600, ƒ/2.8, 1/4000

As you can see shooting sports is important to me. My clients need sports as well as classroom shots for example.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 2200, ƒ/4, 1/100

According to DPReview.com “Studio report: Nikon D5 has lowest base ISO dynamic range of any current FF Nikon DSLR.” Now this is testing more specifically the high ISO range. If you want dynamic range at a low ISO then buy the Nikon D810. As they concluded in their article and I can attest to as a working pro, “For its intended audience, the D5’s high ISO imaging capabilities, advanced autofocus and durability are likely to be much more important.”

In just a couple of hours I was shooting from inside fluorescent lighting, outside with daylight and shade and finished off the time shooting under the mixed lighting of LED and tungsten. Working without an assistant to keep the costs down for the client the Nikon D5 allowed me to capture all of this at such incredible quality.

Nikon D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 1800, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000
I use my Nikon D5’s for video shooting as well. Most of the time it is for formal interviews. The cool thing is D5’s entire ISO sensitivity span is available in 4K video recording. So I can shoot at these incredibly high ISOs if needed in video as well.
Missing a shot because you have different camera systems is what sometimes happens. You forget how to make a change because it is different on this camera than another. I feel like right now the Nikon D5 camera has freed me up to just concentrate on any subject in any light and just look for the moments that I want to capture.
Often I find while there might be enough quantity of light to make a photograph the light isn’t the best quality. The Nikon D5 works great with their own Speedlights and doesn’t limit me to just shooting with them. I can use other systems like the Alienbees and still shoot at any shutter speed.
Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/200

Here is the lighting diagram for the photo above.

The main light is an Alienbees B1600 with a 20º grid to keep the light tight on them. I put just enough on the light on the background to just light it and then used a CTO gel over a Alienbees positioned behind the background which had a 30º grid.

So how is the resolution of the Nikon D5. Well this 6′ x 9′ banner worked just great. You can walk up and look at the detail in the poster.

My hand just for reference 

It is great to have the work horse Nikon D5 in my bag, because I feel ready for any situation.