Nikon D5300 Review

 
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Nikon D5300 Conclusion

Pro: Cons:
  • Excellent image quality and resolution (similar to D7100) thanks to AA-filterless 24-megapixel, APS-C CMOS sensor and EXPEED 4 processor
  • 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type sensors
  • Compact and portable but fairly robust camera build with a comfy handgrip
  • Longer than average zoom kit lens, with decent performance for its type
  • Virtually no shutter lag when you pre-focus
  • Fast start-up and shot-to-shot speeds
  • Decent 5 fps burst speed (when shooting JPEGs or 12-bit RAW)
  • Generous JPEG buffer lets you keep shooting in burst mode
  • Improved resolution and high ISO performance compared to predecessor
  • Excellent available light camera; very usable images at ISO 3,200 (and even higher in certain cases)
  • Large, hi-res articulated 3.2-inch LCD is bright with crisp details
  • Higher viewfinder magnification than predecessor
  • Vibrant colors
  • Excellent dynamic range (in RAW)
  • In-camera CA correction and optional distortion correction
  • Fast download speeds
  • Straightforward controls are easy to use and ergonomically placed
  • Logical and clear menu and button layout for quick navigation
  • In-camera HDR mode
  • Built-in interval timer like Nikon's higher-end DSLRs
  • Very good full 1080/60p HD video quality with full-time AF
  • Built-in stereo microphone
  • 3.5mm external microphone jack
  • Clean HDMI output signal
  • Built-in Wi-Fi features include image sharing and remote control shooting with a smart device, bolstered by a new Wi-Fi interface that's one of the best we've seen on a camera
  • Built-in GPS for geotagging
  • Wired and wireless remote support
  • Improved battery life
  • Penta-mirror viewfinder not as big and bright as full pentaprism OVF
  • Glossy LCD is prone to glare and reflections; can be hard to read in bright sunlight
  • Built-in HDR mode only uses 2 exposures; High and Extra High HDR modes can produce strange halo effect
  • Built-in stereo mics very susceptible to handling noises and wind (though there is a wind filter option)
  • No headphone jack for monitoring sound levels during video recording
  • Higher than average geometric distortion from the 18-140mm kit lens
  • Macro performance from 18-140mm kit lens is not great
  • Auto and Incandescent white balance settings too warm in tungsten lighting
  • Inconsistent flash exposures with the kit lens
  • Burst mode slows down with 14-bit RAW files, with shallow buffer depths
  • Lack of AA filter means more susceptible to aliasing artifacts than predecessor
  • Live View has slow AF and laggy magnification mode
  • No video recording option with Wi-Fi remote app
  • Can't change exposure settings via the Wi-Fi companion app or with camera when viewing live feed with the app
  • GPS receiver doesn't seem as sensitive as most

At first glance the Nikon D5300 may look just like the D5200, but there are some decidedly big upgrades under the hood that make it an even more attractive option for more serious beginner photographers and budding enthusiasts as well. One of the major upgrades comes in the form of a new, high-resolution 24.2MP sensor without an optical low-pass filter, putting it on par with the resolving power of the D7100. Nikon's also squeezed in their latest EXPEED 4 image processor for not only improved JPEG image quality and battery life, but also better video recording capabilities as well -- now up to 1080/60p Full HD video. The D5300 is also the first Nikon DSLR to feature built-in Wi-Fi connectivity (no more WU-1a/b dongle) and GPS.

While the design of the D5300 looks fairly straightforward for a consumer-oriented DSLR, the camera nevertheless is very comfortable in the hand with a nice, solid feel thanks to the use of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. Nikon's also managed to cram in a larger, 3.2-inch hi-res LCD, while still making the D5300 a few cubic centimeters smaller than its predecessor. The screen is bright and crisp to read in good lighting with the same 3:2 aspect ratio as still images, but the glossy outer surface can be prone to glare and reflections.

In terms of image quality and performance, the D5300 is a solid performer for its class of camera. Not only does it have great image quality, but the improved resolution and better high ISO performance makes it a clear winner over the D5200. RAW images also have excellent dynamic range, though uncorrected RAW files can display noticeable CA, distortion and vignetting produced by the 18-140mm kit lens (some of which the camera corrects in its JPEG processing). Still, the 18-140mm lens offers a lot more reach than the typical kit lens, and offers decent optical performance for its type.

There are some downsides, however, but none that are too severe. One thing to watch out for is moiré and other aliasing artifacts. With the lack of an optical low-pass filter, the D5300 can produce crisper and sharper fine detail than the D5200, but at the risk of more moiré and aliasing. The D5300 does a pretty good job at suppressing moiré in JPEGs in most cases, though. Also, continuous burst shooting gets bogged down with highest quality 14-bit RAW files, and the buffer fills quite quickly as well. Other quibbles include slow Live View AF, limited Wi-Fi remote control capabilities, and a GPS receiver that can struggle with satellite reception when you're not out in the clear.

However, all in all, the D5300 is another solid consumer DSLR from the folks at Nikon. With comfortable ergonomics, good performance and excellent image quality, plus nice higher-end bonuses like built-in Wi-Fi, GPS and 1080/60p video with clean HDMI output, the Nikon D5300 is a first-rate choice for photographers looking to upgrade from a compact camera or a more entry-level DSLR, as well as those more enthusiast-oriented photographers who want higher-resolution photos, better high ISO performance and high quality Full HD video. Given its high image quality and added features, the Nikon D5300 is a sure-fire winner of a Dave's Pick.

Place your order with trusted Imaging Resource affiliates Adorama, Amazon or B&H now:

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  • Nikon D5300 body only: Black | Gray | Red
  • Nikon D5300 kit with black 18-140mm VR lens: Black | Gray | Red
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  • Nikon D5300 body only: Black | Gray | Red
  • Nikon D5300 kit with black 18-140mm VR lens: Black | Gray | Red
  • Nikon D5300 kit with black 18-55mm VR II lens: Black | Gray | Red

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We featured the Nikon D5300 in this year's Best DSLR Cameras Under $1,000 article. The incredible images from the fitlerless sensor design and the solid bundles available for the camera made it an easy pick. Curious to see the best deals for Nikon D5300 bundles? Want to see what other cameras won our 'Under $1,000' crown? Check out our Best DSLR Under $1,000 article now!



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