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Nikon D5300 review: A DSLR for photography enthusiasts


Nikon D5300 review: A DSLR for photography enthusiasts

Top Features
1. Superb image quality
2. Durable and easy-to-grip design
3. Fantastic battery life


Overall Rating: 4/5



NEW DELHI: In the middle of all the photography related innovations, DSLR cameras continue to have their charm. Yes, Nokia Lumia 1020 can click very good photos. And so can iPhone 5S and Galaxy S4. Some of the smaller cameras like Sony RX 100 II are absolutely amazing!

But there are some things that DSLR cameras do better. DSLR cameras offer the best way to compose an image, which is through a nice and bright viewfinder. They offer the flexibility of fiddling with lenses and settings to create a personalized shooting experience that is suited to the needs of an individual photographer. And most of the time, they offer great image quality, even in low-light conditions with least effort.

DSLR cameras serve the needs of professionals and prosumers - the consumers who demand cameras that are not only easy to use for first-time shooters but also have advanced controls and image quality options.

Nikon D5300 is a mid-range DSLR camera that aims to please the prosumers. Does it succeed? Let's find out.

Almost similar to Nikon D5200
D5300 is an incremental update. Among the big-ticket changes, two stand out -- Wi-Fi and GPS. Unlike D5200, the new Nikon DSLR can connect to smartphones using a Wi-Fi network, allowing users to share images on the social media sites immediately after they have been clicked. D5300 also features an inbuilt GPS module, which can capture the location data when you are clicking photos.

While these two new features are easy to see, D5300 also has a few other improvements over D5200. The 24MP image sensor is identical to the one found in D5200 but in D5300 it lacks the optical low-pass filter. Theoretically, this should allow it to capture better resolution in images. It also features an improved video mode, improved ISO sensitivity, improved battery performance, has a lighter and (slightly smaller) body, and comes with a screen that is bigger by 0.2 inch and has higher resolution compared to the one in D5200.


But in the grand scheme of things, the changes in D5300 are minor.

The design and hardware changes in DSLR cameras don't happen often. D5300 is no exception. It features the standard design that Nikon has used in its entry-level DSLR cameras for the last few years. This design works well and Nikon's all D3XXX and D5XXX series cameras are incredibly easy to handle.

Unlike more expensive DSLR cameras, D5300 uses a plastic body but the build quality is good. It definitely feels tougher than similarly-priced Canon DSLRs. The portion where a user grips camera with the right hand has a layer of soft rubber with leather-like finish. This helps a user grip the camera more securely while taking photos.

D5300 follows the same button layout from D5200. This is rather disappointing because there is lack of dedicated buttons for advanced shooting options. While major settings like aperture or shutter speed can be controlled through hardware buttons without taking the eye off the viewfinder, for more advanced options, users have to go into the menu. This is similar to how Nikon's entry-level cameras work. But given the price of D5300, we would have liked to see it using a button layout similar to D7XXX cameras.




By default D5300 is bundled with an 18-55mm Nikkor lens. It is also available without any lens and with a 18-140mm lens. We tested D5300 with 18-140mm lens.

Just like other DXXX series cameras, the screen in D5300 can be rotated and swiveled. This helps while you are trying to compose an image in situations where it is not possible to use viewfinder. For example, in cases where you are holding the camera above your head, this screen comes very handy.

More resolution than you need
It is almost impossible to find a Nikon or Canon DSLR camera that doesn't offer great image quality. But even by the high standards set by existing mid-range DSLR cameras, D5300 captures images that are exceptional in most conditions. The reason is lack of low-pass filter that gives images a pop and cleanliness. Yes, D5200 also captures images in 24MP but the photos shot with D5300 looks little bit sharper and clearer. The lack of low-pass filter does give slightly better resolution to images shot with D5300.

Shooting images in 24MP from a DSLR is a great experience. The amount of detail that is captured is astonishing. This helps when you are trying to shoot wildlife. Even if you can't zoom all that close a bird, you can always crop and get a perfectly sharp image. The downside is that images are huge in terms of size and if you are using a 2GB or 4GB memory card, it will be full in no time.

The quality of colours that D5300 captures is excellent. We found that the images shot with D5300 have punchy bright colours.
  

For last few years, Nikon's midrange cameras have excelled at low-light photography because the way they handle dynamic range and ISO. On both counts, D5300 is a superb performer. Images with ISO of up to 3200 show very little noise. The camera also captures the contrast between darker areas and well-lit areas in a scene well.
Our only complaint from D5300 on the subject of image quality is that it tends to underexpose images. This can be fixed in a photo editing software, especially if you are shooting RAW. But mainstream shooters rarely click photos in RAW.

In terms of performance, D5300 holds up well. It focuses fast and accurately. D5300, just like D5200, comes with a 39-point focus system. Of these 9 in the centre are cross-type, which means they are more sensitive and will help you focus fast in low light. While it is always better to have more cross-type focus points and wider coverage with focus-points, the 39-point system in D5300 is adequate, fast and works well.

 




The camera can record videos in FullHD. The quality of videos depends a lot on the lens you have attached to the camera but in our tests with the default lens we found that D5300 captures footage that is a step up for a DSLR in its class. In other words, it shoots good quality videos without any focus issues and if you use it to capture a short video of a birthday party, you will not be disappointed.

Unlike the usual 18-55mm lens that we find on these cameras, we tested D5300 with the Nikkor 18-140mm, which gives a wider reach to a user. Because D5300 is a DX format camera, the effective range is 27-210mm. This means most of your day-to-day shooting needs can be covered with this lens. The performance of the lens is very good but D5300 is capable of more and when we paired the camera with better lenses (for example the 50mm Prime), we got even better results.

A tough sell at this price
D5300 is an excellent camera. But it comes with a hefty price tag. With 18-140mm lens it costs Rs 75,950, which is rather steep. Without the lens, it costs Rs 54,450. Even though the market price is little lower, the high price means that Nikon D5300 is a tough sell in the market.

If you already have a Nikon DSLR like D3100 or D40 and are looking to upgrade, D7000 or D7100 are better choices for you. In fact, D7000, which is slightly old now, is cheaper than D5300 despite being a more versatile camera with better build quality and better controls.

D7000 also has a focus motor - there is none in D5300 - and hence can work with the older Nikon lenses that lack a focus meter.

If you are looking to get into the photography scene, a camera like D3200 coupled with one or two extra lenses will cost less than D5300 and give you a more versatile photography kit.

As we said earlier, D5300 is an excellent camera and if you buy it, you will not be disappointed. It also has extra features like inbuilt GPS and Wi-Fi, in case they are important for you. But it is not value for money like an entry-level DSLR like D3200. And it is not in the league of D7000, which nowadays costs less than D5300, and is a better camera for advanced shooters.

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