Thoughts on the Nikon D5500; City Photowalk

First of all, I have to send a big thank you to @IamNikonSA @nikon_sa for the opportunity to test out the new Nikon D5500 on the D5500 City Photowalk this morning along the beautiful Greenpoint Promenade. This #thruthelens event was fantastic with weather and views that couldn’t be bettered! Nikon even provided a goodie bag with same snacks.

The walk itself started at the Mouille Point Lighthouse and ended at the Rhino installation, with a lot of ambling, meeting of fellow photogs, taking of some photos and testing of the new D5500.

First impressions of the camera are a light and compact DSLR. Having owned a D5100 for some time, it’s immediately familiar even though there are some control changes. Most controls come to hand easy but I had some trouble with 2: the first was the drive mode button which unfortunately is recessed on the bottom left corner of the body and has little tactile feel to it. The 2nd is the joystick pad which has been moved further to the right to accommodate the bigger 3.2″ screen and gives a slightly cramped feeling now, especially when changing focus points. But these are little quibbles and overall, handling is good for such a compact unit.

Another interesting addition is the touch screen which makes changing live shooting settings a breeze. I’m still a buttons guy but one can’t deny the benefit of this feature. The flippy tilty screen ( thanks Kai ) works as in previous models, is pin sharp and clear, and provides almost complete rotation of the screen making alternate angle/viewpoint photos a doddle; and for those that really want to, yes, you can take selfies. Wireless makes its debut ( edit: Wifi was available in the 5300 as well ) and works well although I’d like a few more features in the phone app.

The menu system is Nikon standard fare and immediately recognisable. It’s just so much better than the Canon menu system ( my opinion ) and provides quick and easy access to main camera functions like playback and shooting functions ( some of which are more immediately accessible through the Info button ). The camera retains the aperture bracketing function of previous models but to my mind, seems to includes a greater variety of f-stop variations. The HDR function worked reasonably well ( considering I was hand holding ) and produced rich and colorful gradients improving the already good dynamic range that Nikon is so well known for.

Spending most of my time these days looking through a 100% viewfinder, the smaller optic on the D5500 is a bit of a let-down; nevertheless, it’s clear, sharp and beats an EVF any day. Especially when tracking moving subjects, something the D5500 excels at considering its price point. And the high-speed drive mode is more than good enough for casual sport or motion photography.

One other issue that reared its head was the OLED display in the viewfinder – size was good but legibility was pretty poor, especially in bright daylight and I found myself using the Info system more, which means you need to remove your eye from the viewfinder and use the back screen. Saying that, live view works great and provides all shooting settings to hand.

I can’t attest to battery life having used the cam for less than an hour, but if it’s anything like my D5100, this thing will just keep on going. Areas I did not or could not check include video, aperture bracketing and RAW file quality, but from all accounts these should be very good.

I only spent a short while with the cam but felt right at home and found the D5500 easy to live with. Considering the price point and feature set, the D5500 will make a great camera for beginners and advanced amateurs alike. A big thumbs up from me!

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