Nikon D5300 Optics

The Nikon D5300 is available body-only, or bundled with the new Nikkor AF-S 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR DX lens. Below are the results of our optical tests with the 18-140mm kit lens. The test images shown on most other pages of these test results were taken with very sharp references lenses, so we use this page to explore kit lens performance.

Kit Lens Test Results

Above average zoom range with the 18-140mm kit lens, with decent performance.

18mm, f/8 32mm, f/8
140mm, f/8

The Nikon D5300 comes bundled with the new Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G VR (Vibration Reduction) kit lens. This 7.8x zoom lens has a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of about 27-210mm thanks to the D5300's 1.5x "crop factor", offering a lot more telephoto reach than the typical ~3x kit lens.

Sharpness and contrast are fairly good across much of the frame at full wide-angle and f/8, though some corners are soft. Chromatic aberration isn't a significant issue because it's effectively suppressed by the D5300's image processor (see below). Performance at 32mm (48mm eq.) is actually quite good at f/8, with pretty good sharpness and contrast across most of the frame. Full telephoto isn't quite as good at f/8 with slightly soft details, significant blurring in the corners and some visible chromatic aberration, though performance is still decent considering the range.

A larger-than-average macro area with the kit lens, with good performance in the center. Flash throttles down well.

Macro with 18-140mm Kit Lens
140mm, f/8
Macro with Flash
140mm, f/8

The Nikon D5300 captured a larger-than-average minimum macro area with the 18-140mm kit lens, measuring 3.89 x 2.60 inches (99 x 66 millimeters). Performance is pretty good in the center, just a touch soft, though corners are quite soft despite being stopped down to f/8. (Most lenses have some softening in the corners at macro distances.) Some vignetting can also be seen in the extreme corners. The Nikon D5300's flash throttled down well at minimum distance, resulting in a well-exposed image with fairly even coverage, and the larger-than-average kit lens did not cast a shadow with the built-in flash.

Geometric Distortion
Higher-than-average distortion with the 18-140mm kit lens.

Barrel distortion is ~1.2% at 18mm
Pincushion distortion is ~0.7% at 140mm

The Nikon D5300's 18-140mm kit lens produces about 1.2 percent barrel distortion at wide angle, which is higher-than-average and quite noticeable in its images. At the telephoto end pincushion distortion is about 0.7 percent, also higher-than-average and noticeable. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide-angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Auto Distortion Control
Low geometric distortion when Auto Distortion Control is enabled.

Barrel distortion at 18mm is ~0.5%
Pincushion distortion at 140mm is less than 0.1%

The Nikon D5300 offers an Auto Distortion Control feature to reduce geometric distortion automatically with most recent Nikkor lenses. As you can see it worked quite well with the 18-140mm lens, reducing barrel distortion at wide angle significantly to only about 0.5% and pincushion at telephoto to less than 0.1%, though some of the image is cropped away in the process, particularly at wide angle. Since this option is database driven, it's only available for Nikkor D, E and G-type lenses with certain optics such as Fisheye and Perspective Control lenses excepted. Auto Distortion Control is Off by default.

You can also apply Auto or Manual Distortion Control to JPEGs after the fact, in the Retouch menu. Manual mode works with images from any lens.

Chromatic Aberration and Corner Sharpness
Low to moderately low C.A. in JPEGs, much higher in uncorrected RAW files. Corners are slightly soft to moderately soft.

Maximum Aperture
Wide, f/3.5: Lower right
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Slightly soft
Wide, f/3.5: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
Tele, f/5.6: Lower right
C.A.: Moderate
Softness: Soft
Tele, f/5.6: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Slightly soft

Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration is moderately low at the full wide angle setting of the Nikon D5300's 18-140mm VR kit lens, suppressed by the D5300's image processor. (See below for crops from uncorrected RAW files.) At full telephoto, levels of chromatic aberration are similar, though somewhat more visible and more magenta/green in color instead of blue/yellow. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness. The Nikon D5300's 18-140mm VR kit lens produced slightly soft corners at full wide angle at all 4 corners when wide open, though corner performance is actually pretty good. Softness didn't extend very far into the frame, and the center is sharp. At full telephoto and wide open, corners on the right-hand-side were a little softer than the left, but the lens is softer overall than at wide angle. Still, pretty good performance wide open for its type.

Corner Shading. Significant corner shading ("vignetting") is visible at both ends of the zoom when wide open, as indicated by the darker corner crops. And because the D5300 is an APS-C model, Nikon offers no lens shading compensation in-camera, unlike their full-frame models.

f/8 Aperture
Wide, f/8: Lower right
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Fairly sharp
Wide, f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
Tele, f/8: Lower right
C.A.: Moderate
Softness: Softer
Tele, f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Fairly sharp

F8. Stopped-down to an aperture of f/8, corner performance did improve slightly at wide angle, though at full telephoto, corners actually became softer. Sharpness in the center improved, but the lens is still not tack sharp at full telephoto. Vignetting improved significantly, but it still somewhat visible.

Uncorrected RAW
Higher levels of C.A. at wide angle and telephoto in uncorrected RAW files.

In-camera JPEG Uncorrected RAW
Wide: Upper left
C.A.: Moderately low
Wide: Upper left
C.A.: High
Tele: Upper left
C.A.: Moderate
Tele: Upper left
C.A.: High

As you can see from the crops above comparing camera JPEGs to uncorrected RAW files (taken at maximum aperture), levels of lateral chromatic aberration are much higher in uncorrected RAW files at both wide angle and telephoto. Thus, the D5300's processor does a good job suppressing it in JPEGs. Note that Nikon's bundled ViewNX 2 software also automatically suppresses C.A. when converting NEF files, and Adobe Camera Raw can as well via a lens profile.

Overall, decent performance for a kit lens with the 18-140mm's generous zoom range, but enthusiasts will likely want to invest in some premium glass to get the most out of the D5300's 24-megapixel sensor.


Nikon D5300 Viewfinder


Viewfinder Test Results

Slightly better than average coverage from the optical viewfinder. Good accuracy from the LCD in Live View mode.

60mm, Optical
60mm, Live View LCD

The Nikon D5300's optical viewfinder tested at about 96% coverage with our reference Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. This is a bit better than average for a consumer DSLR and exceeds Nikon's specification of 95% for the D5300. In Live View mode, the Nikon D5300's LCD showed about 99% coverage which is good, though we often see 100% coverage in Live View mode.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon D5300 Photo Gallery .

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