Nikon D5300 Review

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nikon d5300 review
Today we present you with the Nikon D5300 review, an entry level DSLR camera that was first introduced waaay back in 2014 (yeah, that’s why it’s dirt cheap nowadays). The D5300 replaced the D5200 and it was replaced at some point in time by the D5500/D5600 etc.

So, to begin with, this is old-tech by any other definition, yet it still makes for a great everyday DSLR for beginners and casual photographers. As in, if you’re looking for an affordable, high quality general purpose DSLR, the D5300 offers a lot of bang for the proverbial buck asked, things like relatively fast performance, excellent photo quality and impressive features for peanuts money, even if it’s pretty far from being the best Nikon camera out there.

Key features:

  • 24MP DX-format CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter
  • 39-point AF system with 3D tracking and 3D matrix metering II
  • 5 frames per second continuous shooting
  • ISO 100 – 12800 (Expandable to 25600)
  • 3.2 Vari-angle LCD with 1,037,000 dots
  • 1080 (60p, 30p, 24p) and 720 (60p, 50p) HD video (H.264/MPEG-4)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi (for sharing and remote camera control) and GPS
  • Raw and Raw+ JPG shooting
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory

Quick Specs:

  • Type: Compact SLR
  • Weight: 480 g
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • Sensor size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
  • ISO: Auto, 100 – 12800 (25600 with boost)
  • LCD Screen: Fully articulated
  • Touchscreen: None
  • Weather sealed: No

What is it?

nikon d5300 side view
The Nikon D5300 makes for an “old-school” (literally) 24 Megapixels vari-angle screen Wi-Fi equipped DSLR. This is definitely not the best DSLR camera out there, as it was designed as an entry-level from its inception, though you still get Wi-Fi connectivity for facile file transfers, and a pretty good 39-point Auto Focus system.

This affordable DSLR is proof of concept that you can still “teach old dogs new tricks”, as in if you’re shopping for an affordable no-nonsense camera with a simple control layout in order to take your photography more seriously, this is it, cut and dried.

Features

Even if the D5300 is not the best digital camera money can buy, it delivers impressive stills for a DSLR in its class. Fast performance, excellent photo quality and a more than decent feature set are its main attributes.

The D5300 uses a sensor sans OLPF (optical low-pass filter, before you ask, or anti-aliasing filter), and features an improved body design, with a tad bigger viewfinder, as well as a large, higher-res LCD display compared to its predecessor, though that doesn’t mean much in terms of 2014 LCD technology.

Moreover, the DSLR has GPS/Wi-Fi capabilities, and comes with a built-in stereo microphone; on top of that, you get Nikon’s proprietary Expeed 4 image processor, and that translates into better battery life, 1080/60p video, a couple of cool camera effects, HDR painting, toy camera and an extra stop of ISO sensitivity.

nikon d5300 buttons top view

Let’s talk a little shop for tech geeks with an interest in ancient DLSRs: the D5300 comes with a 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, a 3.2-inch vari-angle screen, 1,037,000 dots (not impressive, we know), 1080p video capture, 9 Creative Effects modes, 16 scene modes, and the usual collection of Picture Control options.

The good news is that you can use the Picture Control modes whether you’re shooting JPEG or RAW images, and you have access to the usual stuff: Standard, Neutral Vivia, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape. You can obviously adjust sharpening, contrast, saturation, brightness and hue of the color options to match one’s particular taste.

The Wi-Fi module allows you to transfer images wirelessly to a tablet or smartphone via a free app, Nikon’s free Wireless Mobile Utility respectively. From there, you can upload your “work” on Facebook, Instagram, what have you, and the same app can also trigger the shutter remotely.

The GPS module can be used for tagging images with the longitude, latitude and altitude of the shooting location, and, on top of that, you can even create travel maps via Nikon’s ViewNX 2 software, and display the respective maps on Nikon Image Space, or any other social media platform that supports GPS (Flickr comes to mind).

The D5300 also sports a new battery, the EN-EL14a respectively, rated at 600-shot life under CIPA testing conditions. The D-Lighting mode has been expanded, and comes with a new option in Retouch mode – Portrait Subject mode, and it brightens skin tones in portrait image.

Build and handling

The D5300 looks and feels as tough as coffin nails, boasting a full polycarbonate construction, and weighing 480 grams. Truth be told, this is the first DSRL in Nikon’s line up to feature a monocoque construction, just like F1 cars, which means the camera is made from a single piece of polycarbonate.

The camera is particularly tough due to this peculiar design, as well as due to Nikon’s choice of using Teijin’s Sereebo CFRTP (carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic) for its construction. The navigation control is well implemented, and everything feels solid enough and well made in your hand, no complaints here. Design-wise, the D5300 looks very much alike as the D5200, though is quieter in operation and has a more positive feel in the control dial.

Most adjustments are made via on-screen controls, as the camera has relatively few buttons, but that translates into slower settings adjustments for beginners. Speaking of adjustment, there are 14 features available, and most of them are fairly intuitive, i.e. stuff that you may want to access on a daily basis, like focus mode, picture control, metering mode, AF-area mode etc.

Autofocus

  • 39-point AF, 9 cross-type AF points
  • 39 or 11 AF points can be selected
  • 3D-tracking AF

To make a long story short, this is a dated AF system, but nonetheless, it’s fast and accurate in daylight conditions. Things will change in lower light conditions, as the AF will slow down noticeably and you will encounter moments of indecision. If you want to speed things up, you can switch to a larger maximum aperture/better quality lens.

Performance

  • 5fps burst shooting
  • Clear and bright display
  • 600 shot battery life

For its class (and for the money asked we may add), the D5300 does a great job in most regards, including image quality, which is excellent. The DSLR produces sharp photos with good color reproduction, and more than decent JPEG images in low light.

Due to the fact that the D5300’s sensor doesn’t have an antialiasing filter, the stills retain excellent sharpness, and JPEG’s look nice and clean up through ISO 800, and they’re still very good at ISO 1600, which is great news for amateur photographers. You will notice a bit of detail degradation at ISO 3200, yet even ISO 6400 shots are quite workable so to speak, even if you print them on 13×19.

Image quality

ISO100-12,800, expandable to 100-25,600
Creative Effect modes
No low-pass filter

The camera’s default settings are quite good in terms of balancing accuracy and pop, and video recording is sufficient for personal use. The automatic white balance works good in a range of lighting conditions, and even delivers natural looking, atmospheric images in artificial light.

The vari-angle screen makes the camera highly enjoyable on Live View mode, and the 3.2-inch 1,037,000-dot screen is particularly useful when using the enlarged view to focus manually.

Bottom line, the Nikon D5300 will give you a good run for the money, and it will not disappoint you a bit as long as you’re not shooting fast action, or looking for 4K videos.

Pros:
  • Solid build quality
  • Ergonomic design
  • Pretty good sensor
  • No anti-aliasing filter
  • Built-in Wi-Fi, GPS
  • Excellent stills
  • Decent feature set
Cons:
  • Live View is painfully slow
  • No touchscreen
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