Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 product review lead image (1 of 1)ISO 2001-125 sec at f - 2.0

When Nikon talked to us about the D5500, we generally thought it was a step in the right direction. After spending a while with it, we tend to agree with that opinion. As far as business sense goes, the Nikon D5500 is a safe bet and doesn’t rock the boat too much. Instead, it gives incremental upgrades that folks will love like 5fps shooting, a deeper grip, Wifi connectivity, very fast focusing abilities, and most importantly the ability to use lots of Nikon’s lenses.

To be honest, the Nikon D5500 is a great camera. We mean that from the bottom of our heart–but at the same time we think that it’s time for Nikon to try to push things a bit further.

Pros and Cons

Pros

– Great image quality

– Fast focusing abilities

– 5FPS shooting

– Pretty quiet shutter

– Small size

– Such a great grip that we never even bothered to use a camera strap

Cons

– It’s not doing anything really new for the market segment.

Tech Specs

Product highlights taken from the B&H Photo listing

  • 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 4 Image Processor
  • No Optical Low-Pass Filter
  • 3.2″ 1,037k-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
  • Built-In Wi-Fi
  • Continuous Shooting up to 5 fps
  • 39-Point Multi-CAM 4800DX AF Sensor
  • Native Sensitivity to ISO 25600
  • Built-In Intervalometer

Gear Used

We tested the Nikon D5500 with the Nikon 50mm f.8 G and the LumoPro LP-180.

Ergonomics

Taken from our first impressions post.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Nikon D5500 is the company’s latest offering for the photographer who wants something just a bit better than the D3000 series of cameras. And for the most part, they’re doing a great job with separation. We start our D5500 tour at the front of the camera. It is nearly devoid of controls here and there is almost no way that we can show you just how deep this grip goes; but know that it’s pretty darn deep even for those of us with larger paws.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The top of the Nikon D5500 is characterized by a couple of controls. You’ve got your standard hot shoe, mode dial, on/off switch, shutter release, video record button, exposure change button, and live view switch right around the mode dial. There is also a pop-up flash.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The back of the camera is characterized by a large LCD screen. In fact, most of the back is this screen. Otherwise, you’ve got the viewfinder, menu button, info button, AE-Lock, playback, directional control for choosing focusing points, etc. The back of the camera works well in conjunction with the front grip that overall gives you a solid feel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The LCD screen flips and rotates. It’s also touch capable and can sometimes be fun to work with. For the most part, we ignored it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The side of the camera is where you’ll find your connectivity options in addition to drive mode and other controls like a custom function to change the ISO setting, pop the flash up, etc.

Build Quality

The Nikon D5500 overall feels pretty well built for the category of camera that it is, but in some ways holding it reminds me a bit of a real-life Barbie doll without the uber-plastic smile. It’s a thin camera and in some places it seems a bit too thin. For example, the grip is very deep but manages to make the camera feel very thin. In fact, It’s almost like they took a phone and put a mirror, pentaprism, grip and interchangeable lens module on it.

If you’re into skinny, then the D5500 may be for you.

Ease of Use

For many years, Nikon has had more or less the same button placement and arrangement. Want to change your ISO? Hit the Fn button and switch it up. Ready to change your aperture in Manual mode? Hit the exposure button on top and then rotate the dial on the back. It makes a lot of sense in many ways for the user.

This time around though, Nikon added in a touch screen and WiFi transmission capabilities. They work pretty well, but you’re not going to want to use the touch screen most of the time. For what it’s worth, the dials let you change settings much faster.

Autofocus

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (8 of 26)ISO 1001-4000 sec at f - 1.8

During our test period, we found the autofocus performance of the Nikon D5500 to be generally quite good. The best performance comes when you selectively choose a focusing point, but even if you leave it in full auto mode it won’t be too shabby.

For what it’s worth, this is the fastest focusing entry level DSLR that we’ve tested. This even goes for tracking moving subjects, but to be fair this was best done when using the center focusing point.

Metering

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (5 of 26)ISO 2501-4000 sec at f - 3.2

According to Sunny 16 tests, the Nikon D5500 metered a scene correctly at ISO 100, F16, and 1/100th of a second when set to manual mode. However, when switched to the more automatic modes, it wouldn’t do the same thing. Instead, the camera would be compelled to overexpose the scene by as much as a full stop in some cases.

Image Quality

At the moment of publishing this review, Adobe Lightroom 5 doesn’t support RAW file development with the Nikon D5500. So we’ve tested the JPEG output. Even in the vivid mode, we feel that the images could have been much more saturated when they were brought onto the computer. On the back of the LCD screen, they look great–but of course they’re going to look amazing there.

RAW File Versatility

We will update this when the RAW files are available for testing.

High ISO Performance

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

When it comes to JPEG performance at higher ISOs, the images are very well detailed due to the fact that the Nikon D5500 doesn’t use an OLPF. Somehow or another, it also tends to keep the ISO noise down pretty well.

Extra Image Samples

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (1 of 18)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (26 of 26)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 2.0

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (25 of 26)ISO 4001-100 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (24 of 26)ISO 1001-200 sec at f - 1.8

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (20 of 26)ISO 1001-1600 sec at f - 1.8

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (11 of 26)ISO 1001-1250 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (10 of 26)ISO 1001-4000 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (9 of 26)ISO 1001-4000 sec at f - 2.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (8 of 26)ISO 1001-4000 sec at f - 1.8

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Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (6 of 26)ISO 1001-4000 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (5 of 26)ISO 2501-4000 sec at f - 3.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (4 of 26)ISO 2501-2000 sec at f - 3.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (3 of 26)ISO 2501-2000 sec at f - 3.2

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (2 of 26)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 jpeg images review (1 of 26)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (17 of 18)ISO 1001-1250 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (16 of 18)ISO 1001-1250 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (13 of 18)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (12 of 18)ISO 64001-320 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (11 of 18)ISO 64001-250 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (10 of 18)ISO 64001-200 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (9 of 18)ISO 64001-500 sec at f - 1.8

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (7 of 18)ISO 64001-200 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (6 of 18)ISO 64001-160 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (5 of 18)ISO 64001-400 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (4 of 18)ISO 64001-60 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (3 of 18)ISO 64001-200 sec at f - 1.8

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Nikon D5500 first impressions image samples (2 of 18)ISO 64001-15 sec at f - 1.8

Conclusions

Likes

– That grip

– Pretty small size

– Reliable and can deliver very solid image quality

Dislikes

– A bit too skinny in places.

The Nikon D5500 is a great camera. It’s bound to make a great gift for anyone that wants to get into photography. Know someone having a brand new baby? This is the camera for them when paired with a couple of zooms and the 50mm f1.8 G. It’s a small size, has WiFi integration and 5fps shooting. At the entry level, you really can’t ask for much more.

However, I feel that Nikon is playing this game a bit too safely, and we’d love to see a bit more innovation from them in the entry level bracket.

four-star-Phoblographer-Star-rating

We award the Nikon D5500 4 out of 5 stars. Want one? Check out B&H Photo for the listings.

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