Nikon D5300 Review: Performance
On the whole, the Nikon D5300 produces quality images that are rich in detail and vibrant colour.
As you can see int he lab results at the bottom of this page, the Nikon D5300 is capable of recording more detail than its predecessor, the D5200. This is down to its sensor, which doesn’t use an optical low-pass filter, as well as the new Expeed 4 engine.
Our lab tests also reveal, however, that the Nikon D5300 produces raw image files that are a little noisier than the D5200’s throughout its sensitivity range. This often happens when a camera tries to bring out more detail.
At the highest ISO settings, however, the Nikon D5300 produces JPEGs with less visible noise.
In our Nikon D5200 review we found that pictures taken at ISO 3,200 or higher often show banding in darker areas, which limits the size at which you can print – or even view – them.
We tested this again with the Nikon D5300 and our results show that this no longer is a problem. Noise is generally kept to a minimum in images from the Nikon D5300, and has a random distribution and fine texture.
Some luminance noise in images – even at sensitivities as low as ISO 400 – is visible when viewed at 100% on-screen, but it isn’t significant and nor does it prohibit normal printing sizes.
When increasing the Nikon D5300’s ISO up to the top of its native range, images – as you’d expect – show more noise and softer detail (at 100%), but overall they still look great and are perfectly usable.
Even images taken at the Nikon D5300’s highest expansion value (ISO 25,600), are better than you’d expect – although details are quite soft and the saturation of colour is reduced.
Nikon’s 39-point phase detection AF system (with nine cross-type points) has always proved fast and accurate in the past, and once again it upholds its reputation in the Nikon D5300. Even using our test sample’s kit lens, subjects in normal outdoor daylight become sharp pretty quickly.
This slows down once you switch to lower light conditions slows things down, but this is fairly typical with kit lenses. Wwitching to a better-quality lens with a larger maximum aperture speeds things up.
The Nikon D5300’s LCD is bright and clear, making it perfect for using Live View; however, the contrast-detection system that’s available when composing images on the monitor could be better.
It is accurate in strong light, but it is quite slow compared to some of the recent compact system cameras we’ve tested.
What’s more, in low light it sometimes completely fails to get the target sharp.
The Nikon D5300’s Matrix Metering system copes very well with situations that would fool some other systems. However, one small issue we noted is that when using the Active D-Lighting system in its Normal or Automatic settings, sometimes it produces some images with midtones that are a little too bright.
On the whole, though, Nikon’s Active D-Lighting is a very useful and effective tool to have at your disposal when shooting high-contrast subjects.
As for white balance, the Nikon D5300’s AWB produced natural-looking colours across a range of different lighting conditions, including artificial light and in areas of deep shade.
Rather than avoiding the Landscape Picture Control Mode, we found we used it quite often because it produced some nice, punchy results, offering images beautiful blues and greens without looking artificial.
Creative Effect modes are always down to one’s personal taste, but it’s hard to see that many people will have many occasions when they want to use the D5300’s HDR Painting mode.
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