Entry 165 : Review - Nikon D5500

Hello, there!

It's been super long since my last review and with the Petzval lens review always being put on the back burner, I really haven't had anything to write.
Until today.
This is my review of Nikon's newest addition to the lower-end line-up of DSLRs.

Nikon D5500
Shot using a Nikon D4s + 58mm f1.4G

Nikon has never seized to bewilder me with their releases.
When the D5500 was announced, I was honestly surprised that they needed to release an iteration to the D5300 so soon.
It hasn't even been two years since the release of the latter (October 2013) yet somehow Nikon felt the urge to push this release at CES 2015 on January 5th, this year.

So, what have they improved?

D5300 vs D5500

Spec-wise, I would say that this is yet another redundant release by Nikon after the Nikon D610 and the new D7200 (which will be reviewed soon).
What they have added is the touch-sensitive screen, and everything else is purely cosmetic.
However, as far as cosmetic enhancements go, the new body of the D5500 is something worthy of note.

But first, let's talk about the more important things.

Auto Focus, Tracking & Burst

One full burst

On Continuous High, you get to shoot off 6 frames (RAW) at 5fps before the buffer has to recharge.
It takes about 4-5 seconds before the buffer frees up so multiple bursts is kind of a no go.

The camera isn't that fast in terms of focusing but when it does lock focus, it tracks really well.
As seen in the photo above, it fared well in focusing and tracking the moving taxi.
Even after passing behind the thick pillar, the camera was still locked on and that was a great sign.
Again, I tested the AF & tracking using the D5500 + 70-200mm f2.8 VRII, just like all my other tests.

Furthermore, in low light, the camera hunts for focus so much, I almost gave up and opted to manual focus instead.
Focusing in dark areas was a big problem.

Keep in mind, the D5500 was not made for day in-day out usage on professional assignments or jobs.
Therefore, it could be excused for its small buffer and sketchy focusing.
Even so, for daily usage and all around photography, I believe that the D5500 fulfills most needs.

Image Quality
The 24.2MP sensor is good, although it has this one shortcoming that I found strange.
The camera captures colors magnificently with beautiful contrast.
However, I found that the photos do not render details that well, at least, not as good as a D7100.

Final product after post-processing
Color retention and contrast is beautiful.

Nikon D5500 + 58mm f1.4G | f/3.2 | 1/160 sec. | ISO-1600 | 58mm

Fariq 100% crop

Obviously, from the 100% crop you can see that the detail in the eyelashes and eyebrows didn't come out nice.
I don't know.
Maybe it's because of the high ISO?
I don't think so.
With the latest EXPEED 4 processor, photos at ISO-1600 should be clean and crisp.

Anyway, for people who don't like to pixel-peep or who aren't planning on printing billboards, I guess this won't be too much of a deal breaker.

I don't have any low ISO test shots because Nikon Centre doesn't have a lot of available light, which is another reason why I would really love to borrow these cameras for real-world reviews.
Nikon, are you listening?!

High ISO
Speaking of ISO tests, here's a nightmare-inducing high ISO test I did.


Sorry for the camera shake.




Simply put, up until ISO-6400, you get fairly good detail and low noise.
Bumping it up to 12,800 and beyond, you get a botchy, noisy, cluttery, and mushy photo; which makes the diorama grandma that more terrifying.

Design, Operation & Feel
Now, this is the part where this camera truly shines.

New rear dial, akin to mirrorless cameras on the market

First of all, the D5500 has a newly molded grip that's deeper and more sturdy than the D5300.
It's somewhat like the D750, where you have a monocoque frame made of carbon fiber composite material and I dare say it felt great in the hands!
(Fariq disagrees completely with me on this)
The new grip meant better control and less awkwardness in the handling.
Plus, the new monocoque body means a much lighter camera, which in turn makes a lot of combinations front-heavy.

The new rear dial on top of the camera was not only cool but also felt much better than the old dial.
It's made of metal and the turns were way smoother, giving off a more premium feel to a relatively cheap model.

Other than that, a much welcomed improvement in the D5500 is the touchscreen.
With the touchscreen, your photographic and videographic experience will elevate to greater heights.
Also, with the fully articulating screen, this camera really redeems itself in terms of not-so-awesome specs.
For whatever it lacks in technicality, it makes up for in practicality.

Low angle shots become a breeze

The live view on the D5500 is quite spectacular, and focusing by touch works very well.
I actually had fun with the camera because of this.
It somehow felt like shooting using a phone camera because of how quickly it changes focus.
Even without using live view, the new interface was super easy to maneuver.
Just by touching different selections on the screen, I could quickly change my ISO, aperture and other functions.
I could also change the settings in the menu much more accurately because I didn't have to use the flimsy D-pad.
Moreover, the screen has pinch-zooming!
This means that I can take a photo and straight away pinch-zoom to check my focus.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was as practical as using a RM130,000 IQ2 digital back!
(Not exaggerating)

Also perfect for selfies

Another great feature is the built-in WiFi.
By connecting to the WMU app on your smartphone, you are able to shoot photos or view the photos on the memory card in the camera.

High five for WiFi

One thing that sucks about the WiFi is that you can't change the settings on the phone!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you'll have to change the settings on the camera and then remotely trigger the shutter on the phone, which is really cumbersome.
But what you do get is correct framing and a remote trigger that's always with you.

All other basic operations are the same as every other Nikon camera so Nikon users will have no problem jumping from their old body, whether higher end or lower end, to this one.

Alas, there is one major downside of the touchscreen feature.

Finger prints

Is This Camera For You?
If you're someone in the market who's about to pick up their first DSLR and have a good amount of money to spend but don't want a too heavy body, then the D5500 is one of the best options out there.
Weighing your options against the lower end D3300, you get better battery life, a surprising lighter body, a fully articulating touchscreen and built-in WiFi.
The D5500 does cost RM1,000 more (at RM2,490 body only) than the D3300 but with all the aforementioned extra features, the price is quite justified.

The downside of getting a model from the D5xxx and D3xxx series is that the camera won't have a built-in focusing motor, so you won't be able to use any AF-D lenses.

However, if you're a D5300 user, I suggest that you save your money for a new lens or for a vacation.
There is no significant improvement from the D5300 that justifies upgrading your body.
You won't miss the touchscreen and everything else is purely cosmetic.
Those who own older models may consider upgrading, though.

The D5500 is a great camera for everyday use up to some certain photographic and videographic assignments.
It offers a lot of amazing features and excels in providing ultimate practicality, where the main selling points are its cheap price, the touchscreen and WiFi capability.
I had a lot of fun playing around with the camera and I really wished I got to use it for the event I had to cover the next day.
Nikon, are you listening?!

Check out all the HIGH RES photos from this review and more at my Flickr gallery here.

DISCLAIMER: I do not represent Nikon, or any other brand that might be showcased in this review. This review is written for THE FEAR and is of no significance to any sort of argument that may or may not ensue. I deliver this with utmost honesty and sincerity.