After teasing that it was in development late last year, Nikon has now unveiled its flagship D5 DSLR, and it looks like quite a beast. The new professional-focused camera features a 20.8-megapixel full frame sensor, boasts a new 153-point autofocus system, has an almost ridiculously wide ISO range, and can shoot 4K video.

The photojournalists and sports shooters who are typical users of Nikon's single-digit D-series cameras are not likely to be wooed by massive megapixel counts. But the jump from 16.2 in the two-year-old Nikon D4S to a still modest 20.8-megapixel on this in-house developed full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) FX CMOS sensor is still likely to be welcomed.

However, it's the performance boosts the camera has received – in part thanks to a new EXPEED 5 image-processing engine – which will impress most. This includes the recommended ISO range now covering 100 to 102400 with the option to extend it all the way up to a crazy ISO 3280000 equivalent. This means the camera is capable of capturing details and colors well beyond the limits of the human eye in low light conditions.

Speed is another key factor for professional photographers eyeing up this category of camera, and the D5 is capable of continuous shooting at up to 12 fps (frames per second) or 14 fps with mirror up. It's able to shoot up to 200 12-bit lossless compressed RAW images with a single burst of continuous shooting before slowing down.

The introduction of a Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection is also set to give autofocus performance a significant upgrade by using 153 focus points (99 of which are cross-type) over a wider area of the sensor than previous models. This should not only improve overall speed and accuracy, but also the tracking of moving subjects.

On the video front, the D5 gains 4K recording skills and can shoot at UHD (3840 x 2160p) 30/25/24 fps. This can be stored to a memory card inserted in the camera, or via uncompressed HDMI output to an external recorder if you want to shoot for longer. Dropping the resolution to Full HD 1080p increases the maximum frame rate to 60/50 fps.

As you would expect, the Nikon D5 is both big and heavy. It measures 160 x 158.5 x 92 mm (6.3 x 6.3 x 3.7 in) and with a magnesium-alloy body it weighs in at around 1,405 g (3 lb 1.6 oz) depending on the version (more on that shortly). While for the most part it looks much like the D4S, there are some changes to button layout, and the rear monitor is now a 3.2-inch 2,359k-dot touchscreen, the first time we've seen one on a professional flagship DSLR.

While the D5 may have gained a touchscreen like those seen on high-end mirrorless cameras, it hasn't been given built-in Wi-Fi. Instead the camera can communicate with wired networks via built-in Ethernet connector, and wireless networks by using the optional WT-6/A/B/C Wireless Transmitter. The camera is also compatible with Nikon's new radio-controlled Advanced Wireless Lighting SB-5000 flash.

The battery of the Nikon D5 is said to be good for up to 3,780 shots per charge, and the camera shoots to either two CompactFlash cards, or two XQD cards, with two versions of the camera (CF-Type and XQD-Type) being made available depending on your memory format of choice.

The Nikon D5 is due to be available in March priced at US$6,500 body-only.

You can see a promo video for the Nikon D5 below.

Product page: Nikon D5

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