Given that Nikon still leads the way for the SLR pixel count it is perhaps no surprise that it should stick with a 24-million pixel sensor for the D5300.
However, it hasn't used the same sensor as is in the D5200 (which still continues in the company line-up) or the Nikon D7100, as the D5300 uses a new 24.2-million pixel device without an optical low-pass filter.
We're increasingly seeing a move towards sensors without low-pass or anti-aliasing filters because they offer the potential to capture more detail - albeit at the risk of moiré patterning.
However, we haven't found moiré patterning to be a major issue in stills from other cameras such as the Nikon D7100, Nikon D800E and Ricoh GR that also don't have anti-aliasing filters over their sensors, so it seems likely that all should be well with the D5300 as well - especially bearing in mind that it has the same pixel count as the D7100.
The majority of the D5300's specification is the same as the D5200's, but there are a few key changes in addition to the new sensor.
Perhaps the most significant change from the D5200 is the switch to the new EXPEED 4 processing engine. This has given Nikon greater power to improve image quality and we are told that has most impact with noise control at the highest sensitivity settings.
Although it uses the same dedicated 2016-pixel RGB sensor to inform the Scene Recognition System for light metering and white balance assessment, according to Simon Iddon, Senior Product Manager at Nikon UK, the automatic white balance performance has been improved and colour processing is claimed to be better.
When we tested the D5200 we found that the automatic white balance system can make images shot in shade look a bit lifeless and under-saturated. We also found that the Landscape Picture Control mode over-enhances blues and greens so they look unnatural. It will be interesting to see if these points have been addressed by the changes.
While the D5200's native sensitivity range is ISO 100-6400, the D5300's has been pushed a stop further to ISO 100-12,800. This suggests that the EXPEED 4 engine enables a 1EV improvement in noise control. Interestingly, maximum expansion setting is the same at ISO 25,600.
Nikon is aiming the D5300 at photographers who want to be creative, and to support this it has added two new Creative Effect modes - HDR Painting and Toy Camera. This brings the total number of Effects modes to nine; there are also 16 scene modes and the usual collection of Picture Control options.
Nikon's Picture Control modes can be used whether you are shooting raw or JPEG images and the usual options of Standard, Neutral Vivia, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape are available. The contrast, sharpening, brightness, saturation and hue of the colour options can be adjusted for taste.
In addition, Nikon has encouraged shooting from creative angles by boosting the size of the vari-angle LCD screen to 3.2-inches and increasing its dot-count to 1,037,000.
Another key change for the D5300 is the addition of built-in Wi-Fi and GPS technology. The Wi-Fi connectivity allows the camera to transfer images wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet via Nikon's free Wireless Mobile Utility app (iOS and Android). From there, images can be shared on any of the usual social networking sites. The same app can also be used to trigger the shutter remotely.
Meanwhile the GPS system allows images to be tagged with the longitude, latitude and altitude of the shooting location. Nikon's ViewNX 2 software can be used to create travel maps which can be displayed on NIKON IMAGE SPACE, or any other social networking or photo-sharing website that supports GPS, such as Flickr.
The addition of Wi-Fi and GPS technology may have been the motivation for another change made with the D5300: a new battery, the EN-EL14a. Under CIPA testing conditions this battery has a 600-shot life, 100 more than the EN-EL14. Further good news is that the EN-EL14a is backwards compatible so it can be used in the D5200 and it will be phased in across Nikon cameras.
Nikon's dynamic range expanding D-Lighting mode has been around for a while now, but the D5300 debuts a new option in Retouch mode - Portrait Subject mode. When this is applied to a portrait image the skin tones are brightened but the background ambience is retained.
As usual, the D5300 is capable of shooting Full HD (1920x1080) movies, but the available frame rates has been expanded to include 60 and 50p as well as 30, 25 and 24p.