Hands-On Review: the Nikon D5300

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I shoot primarily with a D7000, which isn’t a huge camera, but the Nikon D5300 seems significantly smaller; it's a comfortable camera that felt great in my hands. When you’re accustomed to handling a camera body daily, size differences are readily apparent—in fact, the first thing you notice about the D5300 is its size. It’s smaller and lighter than its predecessor, the D5200, and while it's reminiscent of the D40, my first DSLR, all I can say is, "Wow, how things have changed since then." Nikon has packed the D5300 with features that make it shoot like a much bigger camera. And—it has the same sturdy ergonomic grip as the heavier pro-level bodies, but it is so lightweight that it’s a joy to carry around.

The response to our recent announcement was overwhelming, so I decided to take the camera out for a hands-on review, and what I found was pleasantly surprising. As soon as you turn on the camera you won’t want to put it down. The LCD almost had me forgoing the optical viewfinder, which is normally my preferred method of composing. Measuring a respectable 3.2" with 1037k dots, it swivels, is very bright, and extremely intuitive. Using the menu to make adjustments is exceptionally user friendly, and if this is your first DSLR, the LCD on the D5300 may help you transition from your point-and-shoot to a camera that gives you more control over settings.

A simple press of the Info button and all of the necessary camera controls pop up on the LCD. With the easy-to-use multi-selector button, you can quickly navigate between ISO, white balance, autofocus, metering, and many other settings. The menu also has numerous features that simplify making camera adjustments. For example, when choosing the ISO, there are small images to illustrate examples of scenes for which each ISO speed is ideal: bright sunlight for the lower speeds and dark night scenes for the higher ones. This can really help you make informed decisions when choosing your settings in order to get the best shots.

Grand Central Clock

The 24.2MP sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor produce stunning images with incredible color rendering in both RAW and JPEG formats. The sensor is a DX-format APS-C CMOS sensor with a 1.5x crop factor. This means that a 50mm lens has the focal length equivalent angle of view of a 75mm lens in the 35mm format—a very serviceable focal length for portraiture. I felt completely confident shooting at ISO speeds up to 6400 without worrying about any noise issues. The expandable ISO range stretches all the way to 25600, a remarkably high ISO that will let you shoot in extremely dim environments. The focusing was blistering fast with my 35mm f/1.8 lens, thanks to the 39-point Multi-CAM 4800DX autofocus system, and shooting at 5 frames per second is plenty fast for almost all shooting situations.

If you are a “pixel-peeper” like me, and want the sharpest photos possible, this camera might be just what you’ve been looking for. One of the most anticipated features of the D5300 isn’t something added to the camera, but something that has been omitted: the optical low-pass filter. By removing this filter, the camera’s sensor is able to maximize the high resolution and high pixel count, allowing lenses to render sharper images.

Coin Operated Binoculars on the Empire State Building

Have you ever wished that you could upload your photos right from your camera to your smartphone or tablet? Well, the D5300 makes this possible. Two great features included on this camera that were unavailable on the D5300’s predecessors are Wi-Fi connectivity and GPS location tagging. Both features are built in, and allow you to share your images directly via social media, or store them in the cloud while simultaneously geo-tagging them. The fact that my images are backed up in the cloud gives me peace of mind, knowing that they are safe, even if I lose or damage my memory cards on the way home from a shoot.

If you shoot indoors or in other low-light environments, the built-in pop-up flash on top of the camera is a feature that you will definitely appreciate. It utilizes Nikon’s i-TTL flash metering system, which means that the camera reads the scene in front of the lens and adjusts the flash’s power accordingly. There is also a hot shoe right behind the pop-up flash so that you can attach a speed light for even more power and control over your lighting. Adding a speed light to the hot shoe also allows you to use it as a commander to control off-camera flashes, something the pop-up flash doesn’t do.

Grand Central Terminal

As if all of the features I’ve mentioned weren’t impressive enough, the D5300 has full HD 1080p video with full-time autofocus. Having the ability to not only shoot great images but also incredibly detailed high-definition video is a huge plus, and this camera does both very well. It focused extremely fast while I was shooting video—so fast in fact, that I continued to change my focal point just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

I love shooting videos at concerts, and the vari-angle LCD is indispensible when trying to shoot over people’s heads while still being able to see what it is I’m filming. It is also great for holding the camera down by the ground for low-angle shots, such as action shots of skateboarders. The screen rotates, allowing you to make sure that you’re in focus and in frame when taking self-portraits ("selfies") with an extended arm. An added bonus to having the swiveling screen is that it can flip over and be hidden from view, which will protect it from harm when it is not in use.

Stained Glass

For instant shooting during different situations, you can choose between16 different scene modes, such as the standard Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, and Close-up, as well as scenes such as Sunset, Candlelight, and Food. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of shooting, and the extensive array of built-in features will help you get the most out of your shooting experience. Choosing from these preset scenes will help the novice achieve better results, while more advanced shooters can move right on to shooting in aperture or shutter priority, and full manual modes.

If you’re a fan of Instagram and other smartphone photo apps that add filters to images, you will love the 9 special effects that you can choose from for in-camera editing, such as Toy-Camera, Selective Color, and HDR Painting. This is a great option if you’d like to apply filters to your photos, but aren’t sure about using post-processing software, or if you just want to save time.

Empire State Building

After a few days of shooting with the D5300, I can honestly say it was a breeze to use. The combination of a small, lightweight body with the form and function of a large DSLR was the perfect blend of form and function. It was so light to carry around that I never once thought about putting it back into my bag. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for either an upgrade from an older DSLR, or someone making their first foray into the DSLR market.

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Great article. I am a pixel peeper who shoot with a nex6 and 35mm f1.8 SEL. I love the size and weight but again im a pixel peeper :) do you think the 5300 image sensor is significantly better than the nex6? Since the nex has the same sensor as the D7000? Thanks!

I already own one 24 megapizel camers, the D7100. But I'd like to see a review comparing thosd two cameras because I'd like the get a second 24 megapixel and own two, not just one as a replacement for the other.

What benefits does the D5300 offer over the D7100 because of the series 4 processor on the former? With the same processor on both cameras (?), what is the benefit in taking typical photos of the D7100?

With the optical low-pass filter gone, is this camera more or less prone to capture moire in its pictures? John

I shoot stills with a D700, which I love. But it is bulky, and doesn't have video capability. I would like to have a camera with that , but upgrading to a D800 for that seems excessive. Is this a worthwhile alternative? It would mean carrying two bodies, but at a substantial $$ savings. How does the sensor compare to the D700/D800 for still shots? Thanks.

"the D5300’s predecessors are Wi-Fi connectivity and GPS location tagging. Both features are built in," ???

Your article refers to blisteringly fast autofocus with the 50 mm f/1.8 D lens. Are you saying the D5300 does not need AF-S lenses for autofocusing? Here is an extract from your listing of that lens:-

'Note! Autofocus is not supported by D40, D40x, D60, D3000, D3100, D3200, D5000, D5100, D5200 cameras--lens may be used with manual focus only. Be sure to check your camera's lens-compatibility information before selecting a new lens.'

This looks great, but I'm still interested in the higher end of the Nikon line. When will the higher end cameras such as the D7100 come with built-in GPS (geo-tagging)?

I was wondering how many images the camera could take between charges?
Also, how good is the quality of the image at 6400 ISO compared to, say, the D2xs at 1600?

So, I was close to deciding between the Nikon D7100 & Cannon EOS 70D....now the Nikon D5300 in introduced. You have me re-thinking my decision and perhaps I am leaning towards the D5300. I am looking for a Digital DSLR to upgrade from my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 so I can capture my daughter's sporting events and concerts more effectively. Would appreciate any comments & recommendations. I would likely purchase with a 18-140mm lens then also add a zoom up to 300mm
Thanks
Henry

I have a D80 and several lenses for it. I amthinking of updating.I am leaning towards the D5300. Is the 5300 a good choice to update to? Will all my lenses work with the new camera?

Great write-up dude.

I shot some pictures and the pixels came out at 800/553 and I want to change them to 800/600. Can anyone lead me to the right control to change the setting to what I want.

Thanks,

David N

Eric - Thanks for the great review. Based on your review, I just bought a D5300 from B&H. Great service and prompt delivery!

I purchased the Nikon D5300 for my B-Day in December 2013 from BH Photo. The Auto Focus will only work in live view and not through the view finder. I have shot less than 50 pictures. Today, I contacted Nikon USA regarding the issue. They want me to send back the body for service and not replacement. I am a little disappointed in the product. The cost of this product was not cheap. I know that it is not the lens because I purchased the same camera for my spouse at the same time. That camera is working fine with all of our lenses at this point. I now have to pay the shipping cost and insurance cost to return a defective product. I will be caution about further purchases from Nikon.

Hi Eric,

Quick question, do you know, if and when the Nikon 5400 is being released please? Do know if I should wait for it or buy the 5300.

I'm currently using a 5100. 

Cheers,

We are not informed of new cameras to be released until announced by the manufacturer via their Press Release.  At this time, Nikon has made no announcement of a replacement for the Nikon D5300 at this time.  As such, we do not know when Nikon wishes to announce or release a D5400.  If you need a camera now, I would simply recommend the Nikon D5300 as it is currently in stock, available, and would be a sufficient upgrage from the Nikon D5100 DSLR camera.  Without an announcement of a new camera, nor without knowing which features would be available or different from a current camera, I canont recommend to wait for a future camera if you have current upgrade needs.

hey is it possible to shoot with just the viewfinder and turn off the screen? someone who has this camera reply me please~

Yes it is. There is a dedicated switch adjacent to the exposure mode dial on the top of the camera that will allow you to turn the Live View feature on and off as desired.

A nice review, gives me confidence to delve into using all the features described aswell taking pictures which can bring happiness through my work.. Thank you. JNT

Thanks for the awesome and brief review covering all aspects of the camera. I am looking forward to buy a DSLR by end of this month and I am stuck b/w 2 models:: Nikon D7000 and D5300.The price diff. b/w both the cameras is very negligible.

Purpose: Nature, Day to Day events, Wildlife (Specially Birds).

I need a camera with good low light performance and better performance at higher ISO.

Request you to kindly advice.

Unfortunately, the Nikon D7000 has been discontinued, and we have since sold out of all stock.  At this point you would be looking at a used model.  This might be something to consider when choosing between the D7000 and D5300.  The Image quality between the two will be comparable, while the D7000 will be a slightly faster camera and has a better build.  It also has a built-in motor for focus, which means there will be more options for lenses that will autofocus on the camera.  The D5300 will be a bit more user friendly, and has some newer features such as Wi-Fi and GPS.  All that being said, it would be hard to go wrong with either.

Thanks for the reply. But what about the performance in higher ISO and low light photography? Will the Expeed 4 processor have any edge in this case? 

I am getting the D7000 at few stores in new. What should I do?

The D5300 has slightly better performance in low light, but it is not a large difference.  Again, the two cameras are extremely comparable in this.  As for which way to go, this really depends on what you want from the camera.  Both are great, and either could be used for what you are looking to shoot.  If this is your first DSLR, the D5300 being an introductory DSLR, will be more user friendly.

Great article. I am getting the Nikon D5300 soon. However, I also would like an external flash. Is ththere any flash that you can recommend that is affordable but also good in performance?

There are many great flashes on the market that can be used with the D5300.  You might checkout one from Nissin.  They make some of the better third party flashes on the market, and would be a less expensive alternative to a Nikon brand flash.    http://bhpho.to/1qhn8G8

Hi.  I have the Nikon d80 and am ready to upgrade.  I thought I was leaning toward the d5300, but am also considering the d7100.  I like the fact that the d5300 is lighter (better for travel photography), but am unsure if I should be trading a pentaprism camera (the d80) for a pentamirror camera (the d5300).  I know the pentamirror can affect the brightness through the viewfinder and therefore the sharpness of manual focus at times.  How do you feel about the pentamirror vs. pentaprism?  I realize the d7100 is a class above, and part of me feels like I should get the best that I can afford, but the added weight is deterring me.  Thoughts?  

Hello, I am guy who for the first time upgrading to dslr from the line of digi cams. And after a little resarch what I found is nikon d5300 as my entry into dslr line. I want camera to compensate my passion towards photography. I am adventerous, nature lover and sometime someone who brings out the smile on fellas face for just a click. Day and night travellings, evertime I love to click. Micro to macro object. And many more. Is nikon d5300 will be a cam to satisfy me.

Please help me in a way thinking I am very begginer in this field.
Thanks :)

Here is our music video, filmed with Nikon D5300 and D5200.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiQFFRe6lH4

Concise, well-written review.  I've just started using this camera and love the compact size too. Regards

https://www.flickr.com/photos/danalbrown/

I just purchased my first dslr a Nikon D5300.  I am used to using manual settings on my previous camera (canon powershot sx50hs) and setting the aperature, iso, shutter speed and ect.    I do not want to do all automatic hence I bought the dslr.  When I  am looking through the view finder on the D5300 I CAN'T see how my changes are affecting the image I am trying to capture as I have always seen before on my previous canonpowershot sx50hs.  I can only see the AFTER I do an image review. WHY?  Do I just have to choose settings and hope they are correct when I preview?   I want to see what is happening to the image as i am adjusting the settings.  If I flip to live view I can't see what changes are happening as well.  It doesn't seem to matter if I choose the aperature or shutter speed mode, or the program or manual settings.  Also the diopter may be causing my focus to be off as I wear glasses?  Do I adjust it to when i have my glasses on? ( I wear them all the time). If I can't see the changes to the image as I am making them I will return the camera.  Seeing the changes in the image instantly  have helped me to learn what I want to do with the settings and to understand what happens with the settings.  It helps me to learn.

I am sorry that you are disappointed with your D5300.  The viewfinders on DSLRs are “optical” vs. “electronic” versions used in point and shoot cameras such as your SX50hs camera features.  The implementation of Electronic type viewfinders was a feature that came about with digital cameras.  The main benefit is a convenience which you’ve grown used to – being able to see the changes in real time before taking the exposure.  The viewfinder of the D5300 (and all DSLR’s) is not capable of this as you are looking through an optical tunnel, similar to looking through a window as opposed to looking at a TV screen.  I researched on the camera’s live view mode for you and in manual modes it will not show you what you are shooting until after the exposure has been taken (this is due to the fact that the lens’ aperture must be maintained open wide to the widest aperture prior to the exposure – this allows the camera’s AF sensors to make use of the wider opening to focus through thus resulting in faster and more accurate AF).

You had mentioned not wanting to do all automatic which is why you purchased the DSLR; well the lack of the electronic viewfinder is part of the departing from all automation.  Traditional photography, starting with film photography all relied/relies on looking through the optical finder and regarding the camera’s meter to properly expose.  The D5300’s viewfinder also features such a meter (bottom center of the viewfinder), and when balanced your exposure will appear correct once you review the taken image on the LCD screen.  This takes some practice but that’s part of the joy of photography – (getting to know your camera and making it do what you want it to do).  Back when I used to shoot and process my own film, the time between taking the shot, and seeing the outcome could sometimes be days (due to not processing daily)…and the learning curve was slow.  At least with digital you have the luxury of being able to review your images post-shot and the learning curve rather instantaneous.

As far as the optical viewfinder’s corrective diopter goes:  When setting/using the diopter, correct it for how you would normally be shooting (i.e. with or without eyeglasses).  If you shoot with eyeglasses such as you had mentioned, do the calibration with your glasses on.  The way to know when you’ve got the diopter correctly set is to regard the digital display information inside the viewfinder…when you see that as properly focused, any image within the viewfinder will be in focus when properly focused upon.  If you decide to shoot with the glasses off, you’d need to recalibrate it following the previous steps but without the eyeglasses.

If you do end up wanting to return the camera, you would need to contact our Customer Service Dept to set up a return authorization.  You may email them at cs@bhphoto.com

Nice article. I hope to enjoy my nikon 5300

What types of lenses did you use?