Nikon D5300 review: the new D5300 offers a 24-megapixel sensor, with the optical low-pass filter removed to deliver finer image quality. Is this the ultimate beginner DSLR? Find out in our Nikon D5300 review.
Nikon describes the D5300 as “an upper-entry-level SLR”, aiming it at photographers who want to get more creative with their images. It’s the natural successor to the D5200, which still continues in the range for the time-being.
Although the Nikon D5300’s specification is largely the same as the D5200’s, we are told that it uses a newer 24.2-million-pixel sensor then the one in the Nikon D5200 or D7100.
Unlike the D5200 but like the D7100, the new camera doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter over its sensor, which should enable it to record more detail than the camera it replaces – albeit at the risk of moiré patterning cropping up in images and video.
As mentioned earlier, apart from the sensor design, the majority of the D5300’s specification is the same as the D5200’s, but there is one other major difference: Nikon has used the new Expeed 4 processing engine, which is claimed to improve image quality and noise control at higher sensitivity settings.
Consequently, the D5300’s native sensitivity range has been pushed a stop higher than the D5200’s to ISO 100-12,800. The maximum expansion setting, however, is the same at ISO 25,600.
Another notable change from the D5200 sees the D5300’s screen increase in size from 3 to 3.2 inches, and that screen’s resolution rise from 920,000 dots to 1,037,000 dots.
Nikon has also added two Creative Effect modes, HDR Painting and Toy Camera, bring the total available to nine.
Disappointingly, these are still JPEG-only options, unlike the Picture Control modes (Standard, Neutral Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape), which can be used whether you shoot raw or JPEG images (or both at once).
The D5300 is the first Nikon SLR to feature built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. This allows the camera to be controlled remotely via a compatible tablet or smartphone or iPad using Nikon’s free Wireless Mobile Utility app, which is available for iOS and Android.
The app also enables images to be transferred wirelessly from the camera to the phone or tablet. GPS technology is also built into the D5300, enabling it to tag images with shooting location data.
According to Nikon, the D5300’s automatic white balance system and colour response have also been improved, despite the fact that it uses a 2,016-pixel RGB sensor we’ve seen in previous models to inform the Scene Recognition System.
Hi, I’m Angela Nicholson and this is the Nikon D5300, the update to the D5200.
Although the D5300 has the same pixel count as the D5200 and D7100, we are told that it uses a new sensor. What’s more, like the D7100, there’s no optical low-pass filter over the 24.2-million-pixel device to enable the camera to record more detail.
This sensor is coupled with Nikon’s latest processing engine, the EXPEED 4 and according to Nikon UK, this enables the camera to produce better quality images.
Our tests seem to confirm this because although the Nikon D5300 has a slightly lower signal to noise ratio than the D5200, the noise is fine-grained and uniformly distributed with none of the banding that we saw in the D5200’s images.
This probably explains why Nikon felt confident enough to push the native sensitivity range up to ISO 12,800, 1EV more than the D5200.
Luminance noise is visible in images captured at ISO 400 and above when they’re viewed at 100%, but it’s well controlled and the results at ISO 12,800 are good – albeit with greater noise and slightly softer details.
Another area that Nikon claims to have made improvements is with the automatic white balance and colour rendering. Our tests reveal that the Nikon D5300 has one of the most accurate colour profiles that we’ve ever seen and the automatic white balance system does a good job in a wide range of conditions – often managing to capture the atmosphere of the scene without over correcting.
On the back of the D5300 is a 3.2-inch LCD screen with 1.037-million dots. This provides a clear view with plenty of detail and because it’s mounted on an articulating hinge, it can be viewed from a wide range of angles.
It really encourages you to shoot using live view, which is why it’s such a shame that Nikon hasn’t done anything significant to improve the live view autofocus system. It’s OK in good light, but it’s some way off the AF systems in the likes of the Panasonic G6 or Olympus E-P5 and it slows down significantly and misses subjects in low light.
It’s also a pity that the screen’s not touch-sensitive because there are relatively few direct controls on the camera and it would allow feature selections and settings adjustments to be made quickly.
Pressing this ‘I’ button on the back of the camera brings up the information screen, which displays all the key features for adjustment. You simply navigate to the one you want, press OK and then select the desired option. It’s a simple approach, but it could be made faster by making the screen touch-sensitive.
This could also speed selecting the AF point, there are 39 in total, but this is still fairly quick via the navigation control.
The Nikon D5300 is the first Nikon SLR to have Wi-Fi connectivity and GPS technology built-in. Both are easy to use, but the Wi-Fi system is particularly well implemented allowing the camera to be connected to a smartphone via Nikon’s free Wireless Mobility App.
The AF point to be set by a touch on the phone screen and then the shutter triggered with another tap. Images can also be transferred quickly to the phone for sharing on your favourite social media sites.
I found the app especially helpful when I wanted to use the self-timer because it’s marginally less painful to set it on the phone for every shot than on the camera. It would be a lot easier if it were possible to activate the self-timer for as long as you want to use it and then deactivated it.
Although there are a few handling niggles the Nikon D5300 impresses where it really counts, with image quality. The matrix metering system does a superb job in most situations, the AF system is reliable and colours are generally accurate and pleasant.
However, I can’t help feeling that while enthusiasts may be frustrated the lack of direct controls, while novices expect a more responsive live view system.