Nikon D5500 Technical Information

Sensor

At the heart of the Nikon D5500 is a new 24.2-megapixel, APS-C sized image sensor. (That's DX-format in Nikon parlance.) As in the D5300, which had the same sensor size and resolution, there is no optical low-pass filter over the sensor, ensuring maximum possible resolution, but perhaps at the risk of moiré or false color artifacts with certain subjects.

Processor

The D5500's sensor hands off data to Nikon's proprietary EXPEED 4 image processor, the same type as used previously in the D5300.

Sensitivity

Sensitivities on offer in the Nikon D5500 range from ISO 100 to 25,600 equivalents. That's the same range as was available from the D5300, but unlike that model, the entire range is now available by default. In the earlier camera, sensitivities above ISO 12,800 were available only with ISO expansion enabled. The change suggests that Nikon feels image quality at the highest sensitivities is greater than from the D5300.

Performance

Also unchanged from the D5300 is the Nikon D5500's top burst capture rate, a manufacturer-claimed five frames per second for JPEGs or 12-bit RAW files. When shooting 14-bit NEFs, the top burst rate drops to 4 frames per second. Buffer capacity for JPEGs remains the same at a very generous 100 large/fine frames, however buffer depths have been improved when shooting RAW files. Nikon's spec of six 14-bit or thirteen 12-bit compressed NEFs for the D5300 has been improved to ten 14-bit or fourteen 12-bit NEFs for the D5500. However in our testing, we found the D5500's buffer size for 14-bit RAW files was seven frames. See our Performance test results page for details.

Viewfinder

There are several noteworthy differences between the thru-the-lens optical viewfinder of the Nikon D5500, and that of its predecessor. While it's still based around a pentamirror design as used in most consumer DSLRs, and retains the same manufacturer-rated 95% coverage horizontally and vertically, and still offers 0.82x magnification, the eyepoint has fallen to 17mm from the eyepiece lens. The dioptric correction range is also rather narrower, now spanning -1.7 to +0.5 diopters.

Perhaps an even more important change -- and a rather unusual one for a camera with an optical viewfinder -- is the inclusion of an eye proximity sensor. This is used to automatically disable the LCD monitor when you bring the finder to your eye, helping to save power. It's a common feature on cameras with an electronic viewfinder, where you need to switch between the main display and the finder, but not so in a DSLR camera.

Display

The Nikon D5500's rear-panel LCD monitor is, at first glance, much the same as that on the D5300. It's still mounted on a tilt / swivel mechanism that allows it to be viewed from most angles, including from in front of the camera for selfies. And as in the D5300, it can still be closed facing inwards, as well, providing a modicum of protection against minor knocks and bumps.

Also unchanged is the LCD panel size and resolution, which are 3.2 inches and 1,037,000 dots, respectively. However, there's one very important difference between the Nikon D5500's display and that of its predecessor, and it will completely redefine your experience of the newer camera.

Touch screen

That difference is the fact that the Nikon D5500's LCD is now overlaid with a touch-sensitive panel, allowing it to be used as an input device. It's a first for a Nikon DSLR at any level, and its presence means that the ways in which you can interact with the D5500 are rather more diverse. Smartphone users will feel right at home with the feature, and with the number of smartphone users around these days, it's a smart move to court them.

For one thing, you can trip the shutter by touching the screen, rather than with the dedicated Shutter button, should you want. You can also "pinch" with your finger and thumb to zoom in or out of images during playback, and can navigate and control all menus using swipes and taps, just as you do on your phone.

There's also a brand-new Function menu accessed from the touch screen itself, which provides quick access to features like autofocus point selection and area mode, aperture, ISO sensitivity and more.

Autofocus

As in the D5300, the Nikon D5500 uses a 39-point Multi-Cam 4800 DX phase-detection autofocus module with nine cross-type points to determine focus. The system has a working range of -1 to 19EV, operates in single, continuous or auto servo modes, and includes a predictive 3D autofocus tracking function. In live view mode, face priority autofocus using contrast detection is possible.

Exposure

Exposures are metered using a 2,016 pixel RGB image sensor, just as in the D5300. Exposure compensation is possible within a range of +/-5 EV in either 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps, and an exposure lock function is provided.

A 3-shot Auto Exposure Bracketing mode is available with steps ranging from 0.3 to 2 EV in 1/3 EV increments. The D5500 also supports White Balance and Active D-Lighting bracketing.

Exposure modes include Auto, flexible Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, Manual, Flash Off, and Scene, and Nikon's Scene Recognition System algorithms are included to detect from a variety of scene types automatically as appropriate.

User-selectable scene modes include Autumn Colors, Beach / Snow, Blossom, Candlelight, Child, Close-up, Dusk / Dawn, Food, Landscape, Night Landscape, Night Portrait, Party / Indoor, Pet Portrait, Portrait, Sports and Sunset.

Flash

As you'd expect of a camera aimed at consumer and enthusiast use, the Nikon D5500 includes both a hot shoe and built-in, popup flash strobe. The built-in flash is rated with a Guide Number of 12 meters or 39 feet at ISO 100 (the same as the D5300's), and flash sync is possible at up to 1/200 second. (Unfortunately, like the D5300, the D5500 does not support Auto FP Flash high-speed sync, even with external flash units that do.)  The D5500 uses Nikon's 2,016-pixel i-TTL flash metering with the built-in strobe, and with the SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-700, SB-600, SB-400 or SB-300 Speedlight strobes. Flash exposure compensation is possible within a range of -3 to +1EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments.

Nikon's Creative Lighting System is supported with the SB-910, SB-900, SB-800, SB-700 or SB-500 Speedlights as a master flash, or if using the SU-800 Wireless Speedlight Commander. The built-in flash cannot be used to control off-camera strobes.

Creative

Among the selection of Picture Control functions in the Nikon D5500 is one new entry not present in the D5300 -- the Flat picture control seen on some recent Nikon DSLRs, which is particularly conducive to color grading post-capture. Landscape, Monochrome, Neutral, Portrait, Standard, Vivid and user-customizable picture controls are also available, and each allows tweaking in finer-grained quarter-steps, for more precise control over the look of your images. You can also now adjust clarity, or mid-tone contrast of your images, and an expanded brightness range of +/- 1.5 steps is also provided.

There are also three new Special Effects modes not present in the D5300: Super Vivid, Pop and Photo Illustration. Modes retained from the earlier model include Night Vision, Color Sketch, Toy Camera, Miniature Effect, Selective Color, Silhouette, High Key, Low Key, and HDR Painting.

The Nikon D5500 can also correct for vignetting, and newly-provides the ability to shoot unlimited long-exposure JPEG frames in a burst with optional cable release, so long as the exposure time is at least four seconds and the cable release is locked down.

Video

As well as still images, the Nikon D5500 can capture HD (1,280 x 720 pixel) or Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) movies using H.264/MPEG-4 AVC compression in a .MOV container, complete with Linear PCM audio. HD movies have a frame rate of 60 or 50 frames per second, while for Full HD capture, rates of 60, 50, 30, 25 or 24 frames per second are available. VGA (640 x 424 pixel) capture is also possible, with rates of 30 or 25 frames per second.

Two quality settings are available for movies: High and Normal. When shooting Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 video at 60p or 50p, clip lengths are limited to 10 minutes at the High quality setting, and 20 minutes at the Normal setting. When recording 1,920 x 1,080 at 30p, 25p or 24p, or when recording 1,280 x 720 video, clip limits are 20 minutes at High, and 29m:59s at Normal quality. 640 x 424 clips are limited to 29m:59s with both quality settings.

Audio is recorded courtesy of an onboard stereo microphone, or an optional external stereo mic with 3.5mm jack, and a sensitivity adjustment is provided.

Wi-Fi

To help get your images off the camera and onto social networks, the Nikon D5500 includes built-in IEEE 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connectivity that can pair with your smartphone's Wi-Fi hotspot. The feature, introduced in the Nikon D5300, is now being branded as SnapBridge, but it's essentially the same as before, and functions using a Nikon-provided Wireless Mobile Utility app for Android or iOS devices. While the D5500 does not feature NFC, it does support pushbutton WPS as well as PIN entry WPS, in addition to manual Wi-Fi setup. The D5500's Wi-Fi functionality can also be used to remotely control the camera from a mobile device.

Connectivity

Although there is no built-in GPS receiver, Nikon's optional GP-1A GPS unit can be used to geotag images, and this connects via the accessory terminal. Ports on the D5500 include a shared USB 2.0 High Speed data / standard-definition composite video output connector, Type-C HDMI high-definition video output, 3.5mm stereo microphone jack, and the accessory terminal, which also works with the MC-DC2 remote cord. The Nikon D5500 is also compatible with the ML-L3 infra-red remote control.

And like the D5300, the Nikon D5500's HMDI port is capable of outputting clean, 4:2:2 8-bit uncompressed video for external recording, though the camera's LCD is disabled when streaming to HDMI, and simultaneous internal recording is not supported.

Power

Compared to the earlier camera, the Nikon D5500 brings with it a pretty significant improvement in battery life. To CIPA testing standards, the company claims some 820 shots on a charge from the same EN-EL14a battery used in the predecessor, an increase of 220 shots or 37%. The Nikon D5500 ships with a dedicated MH-24 battery charger and an optional EH-5b AC adapter requiring an EP-5A dummy battery power coupler are available.

Storage

As in the D5300, the Nikon D5500 stores images on Secure Digital cards and has a single card slot. Both the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types are supported, as are the faster UHS-I types.

Still images can be recorded and stored as JPEG, 12 or 14-bit RAW (.NEF) and RAW+JPEG files. Videos are recorded and stored as H.264/MPEG-4 AVC MOV files with stereo sound.

 



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