Nikon D5500 DSLR Camera Body and Lens Kits

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Quickly select AF points, navigate the menu, and take selfies with the versatile 3.2" vari-angle touchscreen LCD on the Nikon D5500 DSLR, which has just arrived at B&H. The camera features a slimmer body design with an improved grip, as well as built-in Wi-Fi for direct connection to smartphones and tablets. Imagery is enhanced by a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, which forgoes the low-pass filter for ultra-sharp photos. The EXPEED 4 processor ensures low noise at up to ISO 25600, with an exceptionally quick 39-point AF system, and continuous shooting of 5 fps. Full HD 1080p video recording is possible at up to 60 fps for smooth action, and there are settings for star trails, interval shooting, and HDR photography. It is available in Red or Black as a body only, with an 18-55mm lens, or with an 18-140mm lens.

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Sometime back, I purchased a Nikon 5100 from you and am now looking at the 5500. Asking you this next question, I would like an honest answer. Back in the film days, "the lens took the picture". Now, I'm not totally sure. Assuming the settings are the same, and using the same lens, how much difference in picture quality is there from my current 5100 body, the new 5500 body, and a lot more expensive Nikon body, taking the same image and enlarging to an 8x10?

Great question.

Just like the number of megapixels (size of each pixel can be different), lines per mm are a measure of sharpness. But what about barrel distortion, chromatic abberation, vignetting, bokah/iris quality, contrast, dispersion, etc.?

An 8x10 printed at 300 dpi requires a 5 megapixel camera.  But a lens may require to be stopped down to maximize sharpness, so a candid or portrait lens will require a large maximum aperature, f1.8 or less, to be able to shoot in low light or perform selective focus.

Your subject matter and post processing contribute. I printed a gallery-quality 20x24 portrait shot with a 5 megapixel camera.

So, get the body that will do what you need, and then start investing in lenses.

john...if the largest image you make is 8x10, you will not see the difference in image quality. Your D5100 has the same sensor and image processor as the D7000. The only real difference between the two is that with the D7000 you get more buttons for controls rather than using the menus. One of the reasons to buy a much more expensive Nikon is for its low light sensitivity, which is why pros will opt for that model. Your D5100 has better image quality than the D3s (a pro model from a few years ago). You really don't need to upgrade.

As in the film days, lenses still play a large part in image quality: light passes through the lens before it gets to the sensor.  Back in the film days, one could probably have viewed a camera as a glorified box that you can mount a lens on and holds film.  But, as sensors don’t get switched out the way film stock was, the camera itself (via the sensor and processor) has become a larger part of the image quality equation.  All of this being said, the D5500 does have some improvements upon the D5100 that add to overall improved image quality: better sensor, faster processor, lack of an optical low pass filter.  All of these add to a camera that will have better color depth, greater dynamic range, less noise at higher ISOs, and sharper overall images.   The level to which this is noticeable in an 8X10 would in part depend upon your eye.  As for higher end Nikon cameras, the most noticeable difference from your D5100 would likely be to go full frame.  Full frame sensors typically allow for greater dynamic range and better low light performance

Assuming the question you are asking is whether or not it’s worth upgrading, my question to you would be whether or not you are happy/satisfied with the functionality of your D5100 and the results you get from it.  At the end of the day, a camera is just a tool.  If yours is performing the way you want it to, you are getting the results you want, and you aren’t finding any limitations with your current set-up, I don’t know that there is a need to upgrade. That being said, if right now you are kicking the tires, so to speak, and browsing what’s out there, you might consider renting a camera or two.   There are quite a few online camera rental houses that rent new model Nikon DSLRs for various amounts of time.

Is it compatible with Sigma lenses? There were some limitations on using Sigma lenses with D5300, what about this model?

To have full autofocus with the D5100 you must use a lens that has its own focus motor. You can use third party lenses.  Those that have no internal motor will only work in manual mode on the D5100 or the D5300. Remember third-party lenses you buy today may not function fully for auto-exposure or focus on a future nikon model you may wish to purchase. Nikon's lenses are compatible with multiple generations of Nikon slr cameras.

I haven’t heard of any limitations with the Nikon mount Sigma lenses and the D5500.  That being said, Sigma did provide a free firmware upgrade for those D5300 owners that encountered issues with the Sigma lenses.  I would think that if there were any issues with the D5500, Sigma would again offer this service.

How does this compare with with the Nikon 7100

The specs in the D5500 are quite close to the D7100 and the D5500 is worth considering over the D7100 in my opinion.  The D5500 has a more modern processor, and shoots at 5 frames per second vs 6fps in the D7100.  They have the same pixel ***** and ISO range.  The D5500 also sports built-in WiFi and an intervalometer which the D7100 does not.