Best Nikon SLR: which one is right for you?

Nikon D5200

Sensor: APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor Resolution: 24.1Mp Autofocus: 39 AF points (9 cross-type) Max shooting rate: 5fps LCD: 3-inch 921,000-dot Video resolution: 1080

Nikon D5200

• Read our full Nikon D5200 review

This mid-range camera, launched towards the end for 2012, boasts some clever technical wizardry packed into a body that's still fairly compact and lightweight. Ascending the price scale of the cameras we've come to so far, it's the first to include a relatively high-end 39-point autofocus system, complete with nine cross-type points that can resolve detail in both horizontal and vertical planes, for extra accuracy.

Similarly, the 3D Colour Matrix II metering system has a 2016-pixel sensor, instead of the 420-pixel module fitted to the D3100, D3200 and D90.

Around the back, there's a 3.0-inch, 921k resolution LCD screen with the added bonus of full articulation. In live view mode, It's great for shooting from very high or low angles, around corners, and even for taking self-portraits.

The image sensor has a high 24.1Mp resolution, and is combined with a recent-generation EXPEED 3 processor. The continuous drive rate is also a little faster than in any of the less expensive cameras already reviewed, at 5fps. However, unlike the D7100, there's no top-plate info LCD, nor an extended collection of direct access buttons for creative shooting adjustments.

Nikon D5300

Sensor: APS-C (DX) format CMOS Resolution: 24.2Mp Autofocus: 39 AF points (9 cross-type) Max shooting rate: 5fps LCD: 3-inch 1,037,000-dot Video resolution: 1080

Nikon D5300

• Read our full Nikon D5300 review

Following in the footsteps of the D800E and D7100, the D5300's design sees the omission of an optical low-pass filter. This brings the potential for even greater levels of sharpness, along with only a minimal increased risk of moire patterning.

Moreover, the D5300 also boasts a brand new image sensor, complete with next-generation EXPEED 4 processor. The combination aims for improved image quality, especially towards the higher end of the sensitivity range. The standard sensitivity range itself stretches further than in any other Nikon DX camera, all the way up to ISO 12800, with ISO 25600 being available in expanded trim.

High-tech enhancements include built-in Wi-Fi and GPS technology, enabling easy remote triggering and sharing of images as well as geo-tagging, so you can keep track of your travels. There's naturally a hit on battery consumption but Nikon has also developed and fitted a new EN-EL14a battery. Compared with the D5200, the D5300 actually boosts life from 500 shots to 600 shots.

Adding further to the D5300's travel credentials, it's slightly smaller and lighter in weight than the D5200, thanks to a revolutionary one-piece chassis.

Live view shooting from tricky angles retains the D5200's bonus of a fully articulated LCD, and the screen itself has been upsized a little to 3.2 inches, with a greater 1037k resolution.

Nikon D5500

Sensor: APS-C (DX) format CMOS Resolution: 24.2Mp Autofocus: 39 AF points (9 cross-type) Max shooting rate: 5fps LCD: 3.2-inch 1,037,000-dot Video resolution: 1080

Nikon D5500

• Read our Nikon D5500 hands-on review

Nikon has just announced a replacement for the D5300 – the D5500. For the time being, though, it seems likely the D5200 and D5300 will continue as cheaper alternatives.

The 24-megapixel non-anti-aliased sensor in the D5500 is the same as the one in the D5300, though the ISO sensitivity range has altered slightly camera, so that the D5500 goes right up to ISO 25,600 in its standard range – on the D5300, this was available only in expanded 'Hi' mode.

There are major changes with the D5500, though. It's the first Nikon DSLR to incorporate touch-screen control, and our early impressions suggest it works really well.

Nikon has also re-designed the body. It's now much slimmer, which has enabled Nikon to make the grip on the front of the camera deeper. The main control dial is now fully visible on the top/back of the camera, and it does feel better to hold and use (our first impressions again) than the D5300.

Interestingly, Nikon has dropped the GPS feature on the D5300, maybe because the new, lighter body design makes it impractical and maybe because it had not proved popular. On the other hand, the battery life is improved – Nikon says the D5500 can take 820 shots on a single charge, compared to 600 shots on the D5300.