Nikon D5500 review

It's not a huge upgrade from the D5300, but at last we have a Nikon DSLR with a touchscreen

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Our Verdict

The D5500 offers beginners a lot of creative control, the touch-screen display is a useful addition and the sensor captures high levels of detail. It's a pleasing camera, but it's no game-changer.

For

  • Touch sensitive screen
  • Built in Wi-Fi
  • High resolution sensor with no anti-aliasing filter

Against

  • Expensive compared to D5300
  • Slow focusing in Live View

Nikon has two DSLR series aimed at beginners. The cheaper D3000-series cameras like the D3300 are for outright novices, while the D5000-series cameras, including this D5500, are designed for people still learning but ready for some more advanced techniques.

The D5500 is the newest version of Nikon's popular top-end entry-level camera, which is updated fairly regularly and, as such, with each new version the camera improves incrementally without facing too much of a massive overhaul.

Sensor specs

In fact, the D5500 features the same 24.2 million pixel APS-C sized (DX format) sensor as its predecessor, the D5300. This sensor has no anti-aliasing filter, which makes it better able to resolve detail than those with an optical low pass filter. This does mean that there is a possibility of moire patterning appearing in certain images, but it hasn't proven to be a problem for the D5300.

The camera also features the same EXPEED 4 processor and a 3.2 inch 1,037,000-dot LCD screen on a vari-angle bracket. The biggest difference to be found here is that the screen is now touch sensitive. Along with the screen, there's an optical viewfinder which offers 95% coverage.

The sensitivity range stretches from ISO 100-25,600, which is the same as the D5300, but the top-end 25,600 figure is now the native capability of the D5500, rather than an expansion setting. It will be interesting to see if this means that image quality at higher sensitivities has been improved.

Like the D5300, the D5500 features a lightweight and slim monocoque construction, and there's been a slight redesign internally as the shape has changed somewhat.

Wi-Fi but no GPS

Interestingly, while the D5300 has a GPS unit built-in, the D5500 does not. There remains the inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity though, so if you want to add GPS data you can do that via a smartphone connected to the camera. Alternatively, there's a Nikon GPS Unit GP-1A which is available as an optional extra.

Like the Nikon D810 and the Nikon D750, the D5500 has Nikon's new "Flat" Picture Control mode in addition to the usual Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape to tailor the look of JPEG stills and video footage. It's also possible to adjust the 'Clarity', or micro contrast settings for each of these modes, along with Saturation, Contrast and Sharpness. The Flat option is aimed specifically at video recording as it's often desirable to produce flat footage with a wide dynamic range for post-capture adjustment.

Along with Picture Control modes, there are also a number of Effects available, including Toy Camera and Miniature, but it's not possible to record raw files at the same time as JPEGs when these options are used.

On the subject of video recording, the D5500 has the same specification as the D5300 and Full HD (1080) recording is possible at 50/60p. The touchscreen can be used to move the AF point and shift focus during shooting.

Like the D5300, the D5500 has the Multi-CAM 4800DX autofocus module with 39 TTL phase detection focus points, 9 of which are cross-type. It's also possible to shoot continuously at a maximum rate of 5fps (frames per second).

The D5500 uses the same EN-EL14a battery as the D5300, but Nikon says that the battery life has been increased from 600 shots to 820, both pretty impressive figures but the latter meaning you should be able to shoot all day with ease.

Nikon D5500 kit lens

Nikon D5500 kit lens

The D5500 has a retracting kit lens to save space. You press the button and twist the lens to extend it, ready for shooting.

As standard, the Nikon D5500 ships with the same 18-55mm collapsible kit lens that comes with the D3300. You can also buy it body only if you already have some lenses that you can use with the camera.

The D500 goes head-to-head with Canon's brand new EOS 760D and 750D, which both also feature a 24.2 million pixel APS-C sized sensor, sit at the top of Canon's entry-level line-up and are available for a similar price to the D5500.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

News Reporter

Amy (Twitter, Google+, blog) is a freelance journalist and photographer. She worked full-time as the News Reporter / Technical Writer (cameras) across Future Publishing's photography brands and TechRadar between 2009 and 2014 having become obsessed with photography at an early age. Since graduating from Cardiff Journalism School, she's also won awards for her blogging skills and photographic prowess, and once snatched exhibition space from a Magnum photographer.