With many of the same specifications as the D5300, but with an added vari-angle touchscreen and a tweaked body design, is the Nikon D5500 really offering enough to stand out from its predecessor?
Nikon D5500 Review – at a glance
- 24.2-million-pixel DX-format sensor
- ISO 100-12,800 (expandable to 25,600)
- Built-in Wi-fi connects to Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility app
- Expeed 4 processor and 5fps shooting speed
- Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel video recording
For Nikon, the D5000 series of cameras is a way to have multiple entry-level DSLRs to suit all budgets. Rather than upgrading a model and discontinuing the last one, Nikon keeps roughly three D5000-series models going at the same time. In most retailers today, you will likely find the Nikon’s D5200, D5300 and now, the D5500.
Differences between the cameras are subtle, but with each new incarnation comes small things that build upon what is, fundamentally, a solidly performing entry-level DSLR. At the 2014 Amateur Photographer Awards, the D5300 took the Best Entry-Level DSLR award – can the D5500 take the series up a notch?
Nikon D5500 Review – Features
A DX-format sensor with dimensions of 15.6 x 23.5mm sits inside the Nikon D5500. With a resolution of 24.2 million pixels, it is the same resolution and size as the Nikon D5500’s predecessor, the D5300. Like the D5300, the D5500 has no optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter, which should in turn allow its sensor to resolve a high level of detail.
However, the removal of this filter means that images from the D5500 can be affected by moiré patterning, which occurs when shooting recurring patterns such as pinstriped shirts and other similar designs. Nikon says that it feels the advantages of the added detail captured outweigh the disadvantages of potential moiré patterning. Also, it’s worth noting that it’s possible to remove a lot of moiré in post-production should it occur.
Previous entries in the D5000 series have seen upgrades made to the processor, but the D5500 doesn’t follow suit. It features the same Expeed 4 processor as the D5300, and the same 5fps shooting speed as boasted by the D5300 and D5200. Though it is likely that, as a new camera, there has been tweaks made to some algorithms to achieve better in-camera noise reduction in JPEG images, as well as more advanced calculations obtained from the 2016-pixel RGB colour sensor. This could mean marginally better colour accuracy and potentially faster autofocus.
The D5300 has a native ISO sensitivity spanning ISO 100-12,800, plus an expanded H1 setting equivalent to ISO 25,600. Perhaps Nikon is hinting at better in-camera processing by featuring the very same ISO sensitivity range on the D5500, though now ISO 100-25,600 is all native, rather than including a special expanded setting.
The D5300 introduced built-in Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity to the series, but while the new D5500 retains Wi-Fi, GPS has been removed. Instead a GP-1A GPS module will need to be purchased separately (£189) for those users wishing to geotag images. This is somewhat disappointing, though for many users it is a feature that goes largely unused.
Thankfully, the Wi-Fi connectivity is very good, allowing users to connect to the camera from a smart device using the free Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility app – available for both Android and iOS. From there, users can share images online, download them to their devices and also wirelessly control their cameras. A workaround to make up for the lack of GPS is to add the location data of your smart device to images when they’re uploaded, but this does not offer the same functionality as the old GPS module of the earlier camera.
Following the lead of Nikon’s D810 and D750, the D5500 has a new ‘flat’ picture style. This allows users to capture a low-contrast, low-clarity image with minimal sharpening. The intention is to give users shooting video a high-dynamic range piece of footage that is perfect for colour grading and sharpening in post-production.
Other than the flat profile, the video functionality is largely unchanged from the D5300: full HD 1920 x 1080-pixel video recording at frame rates of 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p, as well as other, lower-resolution formats. However, the act of shooting video is greatly improved thanks to the vari-angle touchscreen – more on this later.
On top of the camera is a hotshoe and a built-in microphone that records stereo sound in video footage. There is also the option to attach an external microphone via the mic port.