Nikon D5500 Performance


Timing and Performance

Good overall performance for its class.

Startup/Play to Record

Power on
to first shot

~0.4 second

Time it takes for camera to turn on and take a shot.

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.2 second

Time until first shot is captured.

The Nikon D5500's startup time was good for a consumer DSLR, and switching from Play to Record and taking a shot was very fast.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time), Optical Viewfinder

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF (Center AF point)

0.201 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. (All AF timing measured with Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens).

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF Flash enabled

0.234 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, Auto Flash enabled.

Manual focus

0.100 second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "pre-focused."

Pre-focused

0.079 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Shutter Response (Lag Time), Live View mode

Full Autofocus
Live View
Single-servo AF

0.861 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Pre-focused
Live View

0.280 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Nikon D5500's full autofocus shutter lag when shooting the same target multiple times was a touch faster than average for a consumer DSLR. The D5500 required about 0.201 second for full AF using the center focus point. Enabling the flash raised full AF shutter lag only slightly to 0.234 second, reflecting the added delay caused by the metering preflash. Manual focus shutter lag was faster than AF as expected, at 0.1 second. When prefocused, shutter lag dropped to 0.079 second which is about average for a consumer DSLR.

As expected, autofocus was slower in Live View mode. The Nikon D5500 only offers contrast-detect AF in Live View, which took about 0.86 second to focus in our tests. That's noticeably slower than using the optical viewfinder, but not too bad for a DSLR. (How fast the lens can adjust focus makes a big difference here.) When prefocused, the shutter lag fell to a more reasonable 0.280 second in Live View mode.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.

 

Cycle Time (shot-to-shot)

Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.42 second

Average time per shot.

Single Shot mode
14-bit RAW + L/F JPEG

0.41 second

Average time per shot.

Early shutter
penalty?

No
(Yes with Flash)

Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous H mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.20 second (4.93 frames per second);
100 frames total;
1 second to clear

Time per shot, averaged over 100 shot set limit.

Continuous H mode
14-bit RAW

0.25 second (3.95 frames per second);
7 frames total;
3 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over 7 frame buffer. Slows to an average of 0.44 second or 2.26 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous H mode
14-bit RAW + L/F
JPEG

0.26 second (3.92 frames per second);
5 frames total;
3 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over 5 frame buffer. Slows to an average of 0.65 second or 1.53 fps when buffer is full.

Flash recycling

1.8 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/s UHS-I SDHC memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and other settings such as Advanced D-Lighting or NR can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle times were good for a consumer DSLR, at 0.42 second for Large/Fine JPEGs and 0.41 second for 14-bit RAW + L/F JPEG frames. (Note that fast single-shot times like these depend a lot on the tester's rhythm, so your results may vary.) We no longer test just RAW file cycle time in single-shot mode, as it's usually somewhere in between JPEG and RAW+JPEG.

Continuous H mode speed when shooting best quality JPEGs was decent, at about 4.9 frames per second, very close to Nikon's 5 fps claim. When shooting 14-bit NEF files (the default RAW bit depth), the frame rate dropped to just under 4 frames per second. According to Nikon, if you switch to 12-bit RAW files the camera will continue to shoot at 5 fps, however we did not test with 12-bit NEFs. There is also a Continuous L mode rated at 3 frames per second, however we did not test that mode either.

Buffer depth in continuous mode was excellent when shooting just JPEGs at 100 L/F JPEG frames, though with 14-bit RAW files buffer depths were shallow at only 7 RAW frames or 5 RAW+L/F JPEG frames. According to Nikon, shooting 12-bit RAW files should increase buffer depth by about 40% over 14-bit files. Also note that our test target was designed to be difficult to compress, so shooting typical subjects will likely yield deeper buffers.

Buffer clearing was very quick with our fast UHS-I SDHC card, ranging from only 1 second after 100 JPEGs to 3 seconds after a max-length burst of RAW or RAW+JPEG files.

The D5500's built-in flash took an average of 1.8 seconds to recharge after full-power shots, which is very fast.

Bottom line, the Nikon D5500's performance was generally good for its class in our tests. Startup was good, as was AF speed, shutter lag and single-shot cycle times, and JPEG burst performance was decent. The D5500's burst mode does slow down to 4 frames per second with 14-bit RAW files, however you can select 12-bit to maintain the same speed as JPEGs according to Nikon. Buffer depths with RAW files were however shallow, but that's not unusual for its class.

Battery

Battery Life
Very good battery life for a compact DSLR.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Optical Viewfinder,
(CIPA standard)
820

The Nikon D5500 uses a custom rechargeable EN-EL14a lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a dedicated charger. Battery life when using the optical viewfinder is well above average for a consumer DSLR, though Nikon does not specify battery life for Live View mode, which will certainly be a lot lower. We recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings, or when using Live View a lot.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 



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