Nikon D5500 Walkaround

By Mike Tomkins

Seen from the front, the Nikon D5500's new body is quite reminiscent to that of the D5300, with all of the controls and features in approximately the same locations. There are some differences, certainly, but they're subtle. Remove the lens, and the body itself is impressively lightweight, yet still feels very solid and gives an impression of quality.

Although body width is the same, the Nikon D5500 provides a little less room left of the lens mount (as seen from the rear) for your fingers, but then with a two-handed grip you'd typically use your left hand to hold the lens anyway, so that's no big problem. The handgrip, meanwhile, is a little more slender than in the past, and tapers back a little less beneath the shutter button.

For my larger-than-average hands, the reprofiled handgrip is very comfortable indeed, and feels quite nicely-balanced with the kit lens mounted. Body height has been reduced just ever so slightly, and my little finger naturally curled beneath the bottom of the grip. The top of the Mode dial now sits horizontally, where in the earlier camera it cut a slightly rakish angle.

Moving to the top of the camera, again the controls are in much the same positions as before. Body depth has decreased just a little, and the most immediately-noticeable difference is that the rear control dial now sits flush in the Nikon D5500's top deck, a design feature we're more used to seeing on mirrorless cameras. The D5500's Mode dial is also a bit cleaner and less cluttered, with the D5300's five dedicated scene mode positions (Portrait, Landscape, Kids, Sports and Macro) having been consolidated into the existing Scene position.

In other respects, top deck changes are subtle indeed -- a few less holes in the microphone and speaker grilles, for example, and the Shutter button sitting a little further forwards.

It's on the rear deck that we find the most obvious changes. For one thing, there's a newly rehomed Info button, sitting where the 'i' button was located on the earlier camera. For its part, the Nikon D5500's 'i' button has been relocated just right of the LCD monitor, between the Playback button and four-way controller.

Also obvious is the fact that the rear control dial now sits higher up in the body, and that there's a small sensor located directly above the thru-the-lens optical viewfinder. This hints at a rare feature indeed for a DSLR camera: It's a proximity sensor that's used to automatically disable the LCD monitor when you bring the camera to your eye.

In other respects, the control layout is much as it was. A few buttons have changed shape from circular to oval, the playback zoom controls now sit together on either side of a slight ridge, and there have been slight adjustments to button, infra-red receiver and access lamp placement and shape, but these changes will have little impact on photographers used to the earlier camera.

The last change of note becomes obvious when you take a look at the Nikon D5500's left side. The connector compartment now hosts only three connectors, instead of four as in the D5300. (We're guessing this change is one due to space constraints of the smaller body.)

So what's missing? The cabled remote control, microphone, and combined USB and audio/video outputs are all present and accounted for, leaving only the high-definition HDMI video output absent.

The reason for this is clear when you switch sides of the camera. In this day and age, it wouldn't make much sense to forgo a high-def output and retain only standard-def connectivity, but it turns out that the HDMI connector is still present as well. It's just been moved beneath a new access flap on the right side of the Nikon D5500 body. The one downside to this move is that you can no longer comfortably hold the handgrip with an HDMI cable connected, as you might do if using a hot-shoe mounted HDMI display to get a larger live view when shooting, and especially for video use. But then, as a consumer camera it's not likely many D5500 owners would have been doing so in the first place.

And finally, we move to the bottom of the D5500. Although there's not a huge amount to see here, the shallower body depth and deeper, slimmer handgrip versus its predecessor are readily apparent.

And that about wraps up our tour of the Nikon D5500 body!


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