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If amateur photographers are increasingly favoring mirrorless cameras over DSLR due to size and convenience, Nikon’s D5500 could be construed as evidence of DSLRs' fight back.
The shiny red or matt black-bodied Nikon – depending on your personal preference – witnessed its maker’s first example of a flip-out, swiveling touchscreen on its DSLR range.
This means that photographers can swipe through captured images and pinch to zoom in or out during playback, something familiar to any smartphone photographer. Furthermore, this also helps boost creative flexibility when shooting video clips, which happens at a maximum Full HD resolution.
Incorporating a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, there were several configurations of the D5500 available on launch: body only, a bundle option with compact AF-S DX NIKKOR 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6G VR II lens in matching red or black, or a second body plus lens combo, including AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR black lens.
Being a consumer DSLR, it's no surprise to discover light sensitivity sensibly restricted to ISO 100-25,600 and 5fps continuous capture. Nikon’s now familiar ‘monocoque’ (singe shell) construction features a commendably deep grip for a steady hold. With what feels like a smaller-than-average footprint for a DSLR – it will sit in the palm of your hand, particularly with retractable 18-55mm kit zoom selected – operational controls remain well within finger and thumb reach.
We also liked the fact that Live View is now on a switch encircling the shooting mode dial, rather than being secreted away on the backplate. With a contrast-detect AF system, Nikon claims that the D5500 is 30% faster than the previous D5300 when in Live View mode.
Stereo microphones located just behind the pop-up flash complete the impression that this is a fully featured camera, despite the smaller body size and relatively simplified control layout. Even with the kit lens attached, detail is commendably clear and colours naturalistically rendered, making this a very good starter DSLR option.
The suggestion that anyone who buys this looking to gain improved image quality when compared with their smartphone snaps can’t go far wrong may seem like feint praise, but the D5500 could well be all the DSLR most amateur (or even enthusiast) photographers will ever require. That said, you may also want to investigate the newer D5600.