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Nikon D5 High ISO Sample Images

We've just got the Nikon D5 in the office and have taken photos of our ISO test chart at the full range of ISO settings.

|  Nikon D5 in Digital SLRs
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Nikon D5 In Hand (5)

The Nikon D5, with a 20 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, offers an impressive ISO range from ISO 50 (Low 1), all the way up to Hi-5, which is the equivalent of ISO 3,276,800.

The standard ISO range is ISO100 to ISO102400, which can be extended down to Low 1 (ISO 50) and up to Hi 5 (ISO 3,276,800).

  • Hi 1 = ISO 204,800 
  • Hi 2 = ISO 409,600
  • Hi 3 = ISO 819,200
  • Hi 4 = ISO 1,638,400 (1.6 million ISO)
  • Hi 5 = ISO 3,276,800 (3.2 million ISO)

Nikon D5 ISO test images

Nikon D5 Specifications

Effective Magnification1x
Image Sensor
Pixels20.8Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5568
Pixels (H)3712
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeFull-frame
Sensor Size (width)35.9mm
Sensor Size (height)23.9mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3.2in
Screen resolution2359k dot
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • AF Fine Tuning (Micro Adjustment)
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Program Variable
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity50 - 3280000
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-5
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting12fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 4K
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS30, 25, 24fps
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Wi-FiNo Data
Card Type
  • CF
  • XQD
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)3780shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D5

I've got thisEyes on the ballLaura at Ware - 3Laura at Ware - 2Laura in WareFlying the FlagColoured spoonsTake Five - 2BambiSorry madam but that colour doesn't suit youGood morning Mr HitchcockGone FishingWalk on byFuel GirlCigarette break

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meuvoy 6 5 Brazil
30 Mar 2016 2:50PM
That's pointless! Why does it have such high ISO settings if it's practically impossible to produce a minimally decent image with those settings? And anyway where would someone need such high ISO? I thought that big space observatories had its own super mega ultra high sensitive sensors for capturing space images....
lemmy 13 2.9k United Kingdom
30 Mar 2016 10:22PM
It isn't really pointless. This is essentially a professional camera but pro sales are a tiny part of the market. Extreme specs like this excite enthusiasts and well heeled amateurs and extend its sales. Ditto 50Mp sensors.

Professionals just won't use the extremes. Neither will anyone else after the novelty has worn off but Nikon has their money by then.
Bantu 7 7 1 India
31 Mar 2016 2:42AM
No need to go on such high ISO.

franken Plus
18 5.2k 4 United Kingdom
31 Mar 2016 8:30AM
Really high ISO settings are not used that often if at all on the majority of cameras and as Lemmy says, it excites some people.

themak 7 1.0k Scotland
31 Mar 2016 11:35AM
I don't use the Hi range on my camera, but it doesn't bother me that it is there.
dannyr 11 46 United Kingdom
31 Mar 2016 1:39PM
Maybe these high ISO's are more useful for video rather than stills.
I don't think I ever shoot above ISO 1600 so I am happy with pretty much any camera anyway Smile
cosmicnode 11 27 England
31 Mar 2016 3:57PM
I understand these hi iso settings are usefull for surveillance work, think police or anti terrorism. Not all cameras will end up in the hands off people who shoot for the sake of a good photo, I believe nikon themselves actually mentioned this use when the camera was unveiled.
lemmy 13 2.9k United Kingdom
31 Mar 2016 3:59PM

Quote:Maybe these high ISO's are more useful for video rather than stills.
Not really - video usually requires a shutter speed of 1/50th or 1/125th (25p or 50p) for natural results, so you are more more likely to require an ND filter to cut down light than to an ISO boost to amplify it.

3 Apr 2016 11:27PM
Wow, i wish my camera could take such grainy images, i mean, thats the future surely???

Nikon, wtf???

Ok, so this may not really be cutting edge, we know that most camera makers are at least 3 generations ahead privately, but wont release it because they still have older tech thats not really been seen yet... Just skip a few generations and release the good stuff and stop throwing this pitiful kind of crap out to the mainstream. Nikon are not doing themselves any favours, but then none of the big DSLR players are. Shocking camera, shocking performance, only an idiot would buy this. Dreadful piece of rubbish!
ChrisV Plus
14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
4 Apr 2016 10:11AM
Remembering the D3s, I must admit I was genuinely excited by the announcement of this camera and was hoping for a similar sort of breakthrough in performance. That's not because I think I'd have a particular need for ISO 3m, but on the logic that an extra 3-4 stops on the high end means an extra 3-4 stops improvement in noise control further down the line.

Does it mean that? Nope? It surely at least means a clear 1 stop/+ improvement over its predecessor? Nope.

It means at a colossally high setting you get the sort of 'image' [and it's a stretch to describe it as such] that you could have got on a D3s by pushing the highest setting by a few stops further, so you could end up with a thumbnail of your file which looked shockingly bad. As a thumbnail. I reckon if they'd have only offered a couple of stops more boost they could have eliminated all the noise - along with any vestige of an image.

I actually think they do themselves no favours with joke settings no-one would even contemplate using even in an emergency. In terms of marketing this is a very precise, uncannily accurate shot at the big toe. It makes what is over all doubtlessly an exceptionally good camera look worse than the sort of £10 point and shoot some supermarkets sell.

Anyone whose mouth truly was watering at the prospect of ultra-high noise performance is going to be so put off by this it will be an active discouragement to buy.

I can't believe even the most loaded of amateurs would be gullible enough to be swayed by the spec alone. You might have a more informed marketplace on EPZ, but you only have to look at the comments here to judge the sort of 'buzz' this camera is creating.

Let's face it, this is essentially dishonesty - and it's the sort of thing that leaves a sour taste in the mouth. I hope they have gone so far with this that it might teach them a valuable lesson for the suture.
themak 7 1.0k Scotland
4 Apr 2016 10:26AM
Nikon's own blurb. Usual hype, but hardly dishonest.


The D5 blows the possibilities for low-light shooting wide open. With a standard ISO range of 100 to 102400, and the highest expanded sensitivity in Nikonís history, the envelope is yours to push. Thanks to the cameraís new EXPEED 5 image processing engine, image quality is unprecedentedly high across the standard ISO range. This exceptionally clean performance is made possible by a signal processing system optimised for the new sensor's 25% higher pixel count. Fine noise is dramatically reduced and even cropped images shot at high ISOs retain their quality. In an incredible feat of engineering, the ISO range can now be extended to ISO 3280000 equivalent, at the Hi 5 setting. Designed for specialist use, such as surveillance or security applications, these astonishingly high ISO counts enable colour images to be captured without a flash in astronomical twilight, which is equivalent to an amazingly low 0.001 lux.

ChrisV Plus
14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
4 Apr 2016 10:53AM
It's dishonest to suggest it wasn't possible to yield such appallingly bad results by pushing the images from prior models well beyond anything sensible.

"Fine noise is dramatically reduced and even cropped images shot at high ISOs retain their quality."

I suppose that line is open to what you interpret "high ISOs" to mean. It certainly can't be applied to any of the HI settings and strictly speaking "cropped images shot at high ISOs retain their quality", is either completely meaningless [what is "their quality"?] or an outright lie.
themak 7 1.0k Scotland
4 Apr 2016 11:17AM
I certainly take the sentence you quote as referring to the standard range, although they could have started a new paragraph after that for clarity. I think 100k in the standard range is pretty high by anyone's standards.
ChrisV Plus
14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
4 Apr 2016 1:32PM
Yeah it is, but would you want to crop it to any degree?
themak 7 1.0k Scotland
4 Apr 2016 1:41PM
Not at max. In the very unlikely event I had one of these, I'd limit auto-ISO to 25k, probably.
ChrisV Plus
14 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
4 Apr 2016 2:39PM
Eminently sensible. I think the idea of trumpeting this astronomical [NPI] level of sensitivity is to suggest a leap has been made in terms of noise control - which just isn't the case. It may not be explicitly so, but that really is implicitly dishonest.

The point I'm making is that that's a shame, because it's arguable this is the best camera Nikon has ever made. But are people talking about the incredible shooting speed? The amazing tracking, the accuracy of its metering? No they're talking about the excessive claims of sensitivity settings no one is likely to use in practice. That isn't good marketing.
themak 7 1.0k Scotland
4 Apr 2016 3:08PM
If it is distracting from the substance of the camera, yes.
I am puzzled by their reference to use of the Hi range for surveillance - I'd have thought those guys use specialist kit that is much more suitable than a big heavy £5000 DSLR.
Still, I think the majority of the likely market for this will be able to figure out what is BS and what matters.
6 Apr 2016 11:04PM

Quote:If it is distracting from the substance of the camera, yes.
I am puzzled by their reference to use of the Hi range for surveillance - I'd have thought those guys use specialist kit that is much more suitable than a big heavy £5000 DSLR.
Still, I think the majority of the likely market for this will be able to figure out what is BS and what matters.

No, we always trusted the specialists to develop cameras that are suitable.

If we'd had a D5 25 years ago we wouldn't have to have pushed grainy film to get even more grainy images. Why would you expect any organisation that operates surveillance units to spend millions developing kit when someone else is selling it for £5000?

If the D5 produces identifiable subjects in images at ISO 300k+ they'll probably offer a sufficiently fast shutter speed at ISO 12,800 to create images that can be used as evidence.

That's part of the point of a high ISO capable camera.
7 Apr 2016 12:58AM
Having ISO this high is not even close to being "pointless." Nikon does not claim to offer perfectly clean, high-def images at Hi-5. As mentioned by Robert Malcolm, having the ability to get a recognizable image, even if the quality is terrible, is the whole point of ultra-high ISO.

Besides that, and as someone else mentioned, the entire range of ISO performance on the D5 is improved. Nikon's decision to mention their highest ISO, even if very few owners will ever use it, is similar to an auto-maker mentioning a car's top speed, even though few owners will ever reach those speeds. And that's not to say that the car's owner's just want to brag about the top speed, but rather that any car that can achieve that speed must be pretty damned good at lower speeds. Same deal with the D5.

And to beat this dead horse even harder; ... what if Nikon claimed that their pro cameras would keep working after being dropped from a height of, say, 15' onto concrete? Would people then be complaining that it's "pointless", since they would never drop their cameras from that height? Or would they understand that, if the camera can withstand a 15' drop, it must be very good when dropped from a few inches?

In short, Nikon isn't demanding that you DO shoot at a zillion ISO. All they are saying is that it CAN shoot at a zillion ISO.
7 Apr 2016 1:03AM
Question regarding the tests: How were the various shutter speed settings determined in the tests?
themak 7 1.0k Scotland
7 Apr 2016 2:04AM

Quote:Why would you expect any organisation that operates surveillance units to spend millions developing kit

I didn't suggest that at all.
7 Apr 2016 10:44AM

Quote:I didn't suggest that at all.

By inference, or is that magic kit that no one develops? Wink
themak 7 1.0k Scotland
7 Apr 2016 11:07AM
You're the expert - if you say there's no specialist kit on the market, I'll take your word for it.

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