on November 25, 2013
I got this camera as an upgrade to my beloved D5100 so the bar was pretty high and so this review is often D5100 vs. D5300. I'll be frank. The D5300 outclasses the D5100 so substantially that it has utterly obsoleted the D5100. Ignore those who say that the D5300 merely provides an opportunity to pick up a D5200 or D5100 for a bargain price. No. The D5300 is now the ONLY camera in the Nikon D5xxx line. It has changed the game. Don't bother counting pennies, this camera is underpriced at full price. The fact that I am sincerely comparing images from this $800 camera body to my D800E's images truly says it all.
Please allow me to just get into the Pros and Cons:
1) PHENOMENAL IMAGE QUALITY! AT LOW ISO THE D5300'S IMAGES ARE ON PAR WITH THE BEST CAMERAS IN THE WORLD AND THAT IS NO EXAGGERATION WHATSOEVER. I can't believe there is still a debate going on about the efficacy of Anti-Aliasing filter removal. I'm sorry, but the difference is so noticeable there is no debate. And moire was a myth even on the D800E, which I do also own. I guarantee you that you will find more moire in a D5100's or D7000's images than you will on the D5300. Color and saturation from the D5300 are exceptionally good versus ANY camera at any price point. Now, I will still take the D800E's images over the D5300's but it is not at all night & day. They are actually surprisingly close at low ISO.
EDIT 2013-12-09: Photographing cats a lot I am catching a little false color on shiny fur. Nothing of concern to me though.
2) Focus point spread (area of image with AF sensor coverage) is MUCH greater than in FX ("full-frame" sensor size) cameras. The D5300's AF point coverage extends left-right top-bottom much farther than FX cameras. I would estimate the D5300 covers probably double the area that FX cameras do and this is an ENORMOUS advantage. I always leave my D800E's focus point glued to Center because the AF coverage is only in the center area anyway so why bother with the other 50 AF points when they just don't cover anything? I actually do use my focus points on my D5300 because they cover the frame pretty well. I'd still like to see even more coverage, but vs. the FX bodies, APS-C cameras have a tremendous advantage.
3) Minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO now has AUTO setting that adjusts based on focal length! This is SO much better than a fixed shutter speed regardless of lens length.
4) Hard to quantify but the HDR images look much nicer than the D5100's and the Extra High setting is intense and beyond the D5100's abilities. I have not been able to verify this but it *appears* as though there is now image alignment for the 2 photos used for the HDR image as my handheld HDR shots nearly never look like 2 images whereas they often did on my D5100 at full or nearly full magnification. HUGE improvement!
5) Great-for-DX and pretty-good-versus-FX ISO performance. I'll put this to bed right now; the D800E smokes the D5300 for high ISO performance. Sorry, this is a different league. However, the D5300 substantially outperforms the D5100 at ISO 1600+. The improvement in the D5300 over the D5100 is readily noticeable.
6) Much more intuitive i Menu. The D5100's i Menu being J-shaped was ridiculous and totally awkward. I never got used to it after thousands of photos. The D5300's standardized 2-lines-across-the-bottom Nikon style is a drastic improvement.
7) GPS! I don't know what Nikon was thinking with that clunky expensive GP-1A. Did anyone ever buy one? The D5300's internal GPS works great and hooks up quickly and I'm big on geotagging so I am super stoked to have this on a REAL camera!
EDIT 2013-12-09: I spent a day in the country (wide open clear sky) with this camera outside of my normal metro town area and despite using A-GPS data, it took somewhere between 30-60 minutes to get GPS lock. Surprised, disappointed. But that was the only time I have had trouble with hookup.
8) Nikon's had truly exceptional built-in flash performance since at least the D90. The D5300 does not disappoint and bests or matches its predecessors at any price point. This could be a result of image processing more than flash performance but whatever it is, using flash is a joy, not something to dread.
9) The red body paint color is super-gorgeous! It's like a candy apple red Corvette color and it is way sexy.
10) The new bigger, higher-pixel screen is REALLY nice. It is not insignificant like many reviewers dismiss it as. I like it a LOT. :)
11) EN-EL14a battery with 19.4% more capacity is a nice treat and helpful when running GPS and/or the silly WiFi. I have not spent a full day shooting hundreds of photos with the D5300 yet but I have shot perhaps 100 shots in a day with GPS on and flash here and there and a lot of reviewing and in-camera editing and not gotten below 2/3 battery level in a day.
EDIT 2013-12-09: GPS was on from about 8:45am to 5:30pm, WiFi was off all day, I shot 362 photos (almost all were 14-bit RAW+Large Basic JPEG so roughly only about 170-190 shutter clicks) and probably 15 of those photos had flash, 2 minutes of video, edited 6 photos and had a couple of review sessions during the day. Battery level fell to 1/3 remaining. Not bad but could be better. If you're a heavy shooter and will use GPS and/or pop-up flash, carry a spare battery.
12) Here's a gem for the old-school film guys like me. ;) Or a little "secret treat" for digital-era photographers with a true creative streak. In Manual exposure mode, the "T," or "Time" setting has returned! Want to take a 5-minute or 5-hour exposure but you left your plug-in intervalometer/timer at home? Lol, as if you even have one... No problem. Turn your shutter speed dial all the way past 30-seconds, past Bulb and click on into good ol' Time at the end of the dial. Press the shutter button to open shutter, let your wristwatch or phone tell you when exposure time is up and then press shutter button again to close the shutter. Seriously?! Yes, seriously. How cool is that?! I miss this so much and guess what? Even my D800E does not have T and the D5100 does not either. According to the Nikon info page for the D5200 (Yes, D5200. Not a typo), T is there but you need the ML-L3 remote to use it.
1) EDIT 2013-12-09: I have found that focus points other than THE Center focus point are somewhat frequently inaccurate. Focus points at or near the left and right edges are rarely accurate and almost never dead-on. If you use ONLY the Center focus point, focus accuracy is quite good and consistent. As Center AF point AF-S is almost always how I shoot, this is not a deal-breaker for me but it is certainly a handicap. If you use multi-point AF tracking or regularly venture away from Center AF point, you had better experiment with different AF points at a local camera store before buying one from any store, Amazon included. I am beginning to think my camera may be defective and will likely send it to Nikon for repair or exchange it with Amazon for a new one. Honestly, I expect this to be a performance trade-off that Nikon will not remedy. Though $800 is not cheap, this caliber of image quality for $800 is going to come with trade-offs and I bet being forced to use Center AF point is one of those trade-offs.
2) EDIT 2013-12-09: I had a chance this past weekend to use Live View in some beautifully sunlit countryside. Sorry, even with truly ideal lighting Live View is horribly slow and constantly hunting. Don't use it for anything other than manual focus confirmation with screen zoomed for precise focusing. And focus VERY slowly as screen update time has substantial lag. I'm not really concerned about video, but this camera cannot focus worth a darn for video. It really is that bad, sorry.
3) When reviewing a photo on my D5100 and even the D5200, I could just press the OK button to get into Retouch Menu and then get into RAW processing of that image in another click of OK. Boom, 2 presses of OK and I am RAW processing the image I'm looking at. Well, not anymore. Now I have to press the "i" button to get into Rating/Retouch/Send Menu and then click OK to get to Retouch Menu and then another click of OK to get to RAW processing. Hardly a nightmare but takes an extra button press and, more importantly, is ergonomically awkward and more prone to mistakes.
4) Noisy Multi-Controller. I like having solid clicks, but man, clicking Up, Down, Left or Right on this Multi-Controller is literally enough to wake someone up. My gf grumbles at me for reviewing/RAW processing in bed because of that. It's also not so great in public areas as it intrudes on the conversations of neighboring tables, etc. It's really an irritating higher pitch that grabs attention. I know this complaint sounds whiny, but it truly is an intrusive noise problem.
5) WiFi is rubbish. You can't upload full-resolution images to your smart device via WiFi. And I don't believe (but I could be wrong about this) that you can WiFi upload at all to a PC. I wanted to have instant constant file backup via WiFi. Nope.
6) Slow RAW process Menu navigation. Perhaps it's the sheer file size but things like scrolling Picture Control modes in RAW processing is very slow relative to the D5100.
7) Slow photo review after taking a picture(s). Takes too long for the D5300 to gulp down one or a few RAW+Large Basic JPEG shots (my standard resolution).
8) After assigning HDR function to the BKT button (D5100)/Fn button (D5300), activating HDR now requires holding the Fn button and turning the dial until you get the setting you want before letting the Fn button go. On the D5100 you set your HDR preference one time in the Menu and then activation via BKT button only took a single press. Now it's a process. And my favorite setting (High) takes the most clicks (3 to the left or 3 to the right) to get to. The Auto HDR mode should simply be removed so we just scroll Low, Normal, High, Extra High and should be permanently Menu-set to facilitate 1-press activation a la D5100.
9) To get autofocusing you MUST use an AF-S or AF-I lens. D5300 body has no focus motor for AF or AF-D lenses. Metering requires a CPU lens.
The D5300 is not a camera for sports, when rushed or in demanding conditions and you are gambling when you change away from Center AF point. Many consumer cameras like to claim performance in this fast-action realm, but no. If it's not pro gear it will suck at sports and tracking a subject. Always has been and likely always will be the case. However, for general photography, landscape, portraiture/still life, macro, time-lapse, etc. the D5300 creates stunningly sharp and colorful images able to be painlessly enlarged to enormous proportions. I wouldn't hesitate to print 3-foot x 2-foot (that is 36x the size of a 4-inch x 6-inch) prints. And that would be essentially pixelation-free. 6-foot x 4-foot would still look fantastic.
I've owned every "compact-format" Nikon from the D60 to the D5000, D5100, D5200, and now D5300. And while my D5200 is less than a year old, I chose to upgrade to the D5300 for two reasons: convenience (built-in WiFi and GPS removes 2 devices I had to carry / attach) and improved video (60fps). I chose the new grey body which is a nice departure from the traditional black, although the glossy finish is a bit of a fingerprint magnet around the back of the articulating display. Luckily, the rubber grips are still in place around the rest of the body.
What I didn't expect from the D5300, but actually blew me away was the stunning improvement in image quality over my D5200. First, and some would say finally, Nikon appears to have dramatically improved the auto white balance for incandescent lighting. Secondly, in side-by-side comparisons with the same lenses, focal distances, and shots, the D5300 shows dramatic improvement in image sharpness over my D5200. I'm not sure this can be attributed only to the lack of a anti-alias filter on the sensor, especially when using my Nikon 16-85VR (F3.5-5.6). But when viewed at 100%, the photos are dramatically sharper in both RAW and JPEG versions on the D5300 over the D5200. Given the dramatic improvement in image quality that the D5200 brought over my D5100, I wasn't expecting such a marked improvement that the D5300 brings. Although the D5300 boasts a higher ISO range than the D5200, I haven't noticed a dramatic improvement in low-light performance (the D5200 was already outstanding).
Other notable improvements from the D5200:
- new 24.2MP image sensor without anti-alias filter
- higher ISO sensitivity (100-12800) and low light performance
- new larger 3.2" articulating display is also much brighter, although still not a touch screen like others offer
- built in WiFi is much more reliable and faster with my iPhone than the Nikon WiFi dongle I used with my D5200
- built in GPS, although I found it slow (several minutes) to acquire a lock outdoors
- autofocus time in LiveView is noticeably faster, but sadly Nikon still relies on contrast detection so focus is slow
- video can now be captured in 1080P resolution at 60 frames per second
- slightly smaller and lighter camera body, without (in my experience) sacrificing handling
- higher capacity battery (EN-EL14a) provides 600 CIPA shots per charge vs 500 on the D5200/EN-EL14 (but if you turn on GPS and WiFi, the battery drains much faster)
And, if you're upgrading from a D5100, the D5300 carries over these improvements from the D5200:
- dramatic focus improvement: 39-point AF, 9 cross-type AF points, and 3D focus tracking
- Nikon EXPEED 4 image processing engine
- 5 fps continuous shooting (JPEG); if you're shooting RAW you can shoot up to 6 images at 5 fps
- stunning HD video capture, including live output of uncompressed video through the mini HDMI port
- built in stereo microphones for video capture
If you own a D5100, the new autofocus system (taken from the higher-end Nikon DSLRs such as the D7000) is stunning. With 39 autofocus points, it quickly identifies the subject and locks focus. With my D5100, I had some instances of out-of-focus shots (especially in low-contrast subjects or greater distance). With the D5200 and now D5300, focus has been perfect for every shot.
So what could be improved? The GPS sadly disappoints. Given how horrible the reviews are of Nikon's external GPS unit, I wasn't expecting much from the built-in unit. But even outside, it takes several MINUTES to get a GPS lock. And when you switch off the camera, the GPS doesn't keep its last position, so it must hunt AGAIN when you power on. I have read that there are workarounds (you can manually download GPS assist data but you have to keep it up to date every 7 days) to improve performance of the built-in GPS.
As I mentioned earlier, LiveView focus performance, although notably improved with the D5300, still disappoints. Nikon is one of the last camera manufacturers to rely only on contrast detection for live autofocus. So while the articulating screen is great, don't expect to capture an action shot in LiveView.
Finally, while the display is greatly improved in brightness and clarity over the D5200/D5100, it does not support touch, which can be useful for choosing focus points for example.
Also important to note is that some Sigma lenses are incompatible with the D5300 (no autofocus in LiveView, no optical image stabilization). Sigma has issued an advisory, and has said they will correct these problems in a forthcoming firmware update. But Sigma is not issuing updated firmware for discontinued lenses.
That being said, the negatives are easy to overlook when you consider the stunning image quality, autofocus and scene detection, shooting performance, and HD video capture. Taken together, Nikon has a real winner in the D5300. It is definitely for their target buyer - someone like me who is not a professional photographer but who demands top image quality without taking up a lot of physical space in the camera bag.
Nikon has released updates for both ViewNX 2 (v2.8.2) and Capture NX 2 (v2.4.5) that support the D5300 RAW image format. Make sure you have installed these updates.
For a truly outstanding GPS unit, I can confirm that the Solmeta Geotagger N3 external geotagger is supported by the D5300 via the accessory port.
on November 19, 2013
The primary reason for me to upgrade from Nikon's D5100 to D5300 was new GPS location recording function. A secondary reason was hoping a sharper image without the low pass filter. After a few thousand shoots in a recent trip, I would say it is a reasonable but not necessarily compiling upgrade from the D5100 and probably even less an upgrade from D5200.
* It is slightly lighter than D5100. I like it but others may not.
* LCD screen is bigger than D5100.
* There is an added single/continues/self-timer selection button. Although the button position could be better, but it is still better than D5100 has go through quick menu to change it.
* Day time outdoor image is marginally better with Nikon's 18-200 lens that I use as walk around lens. Night time performance improvements are more significant. Although the "Auto" and "Night scene" modes are still bad for night landscape shoots.
* Auto focus under bright light is marginally quicker than D5100 but under dark conditions it still hunts.
* LiveView although still sluggish, at least it is much improved over D5100.
* Although it includes the new En-EL14A battery, old EN-EL 14 battery still works! This means I can keep my spare batteries.
* Wi-Fi function was not important to me but with Nikon's Wireless Mobility Utility I can sync the camera's clock with my phone. This is important for using the phone as GPS logger. The utility also functions as remote with ability to turn Live View on/off.
* When I first got the D5300 three days after it was released, the GPS's performance is just awful! Then there was talk about update the camera's GPS file. With the update, the GPS function improved somewhat but there is catch that we the owner need to download and applied new updates every two weeks! Even with the update, it is still near useless in the field! First, even with the update it still take time to lock on satellite signal! To make matter worse is even with the GPS logging function on, the camera will not maintain the lock once it goes to standby mode and upon wake up, it needs to rescan and lock! Further more, even after it locks, any movement can cause it to loose the lock even by just walking a few steps! I even have many shoots just seconds apart without moving and yet the camera still could not maintain the lock! I would say the outdoor shoots managed to get GPS data is only about 50% and one can forget any hope the GPS can track indoor or inside cars.
* As the GPS not able to lock quickly not bad enough, it is also not very accurate!! While some pictures that I shoot so far are accurate, most of them are at least 50ft-100ft off and many are even more than 1,000ft off!!
* Not only the GPS is close to useless, it also drain battery much quicker! With the GPS on, the battery can be drained with as little as 200-300 shoots! When changing battery with GPS "on", sometimes the GPS came back resumed to "on", but other times it came back as "off"! I found it very frustrating as most of time I need to change battery in a hurry and do not have time to check all the status.
* D5300 has an AF assist lamp as the D5100 and it has the same problem. While this lampmay be good for some cases, it is inappropriate for others. The way Nikon implements it is not very flexible. The default setting is have the lamp on all the time for Auto and PASM mode with some pre-programmed scene modes will disable it. The only way for user to turn it on/off for PASM is to go through custom setting menu and it applied to all modes. One cannot program PASM differently that made this function less useful or even annoying.
* Wi-Fi function was not important to me but it seems I have to use it for some functions only the wireless utility offers, it matters now and I was surprised to find out it can only be connected to smart devices with either Android or iOS AND with Nikon's Wireless Mobility Utility running. It does not connect to PC or router. It is a two stages job. First to connect the two with Wi-Fi and then start the utility on the smart device. For some Android devices that supports WPS, the connection is secure. Otherwise by using SSID to connect, it is unsecured with SSID broadcast wide open that some one else can possible to connect to the camera.
* The wireless utility has a function to use smart device's GPS tag which is very good. But, my test so far seems it will only embedded the tag as picture been transferred from the camera to the device not directly to the SD card in the camera. Although I can understand the logic in view of possible unsecured link, it is another two stages job first to transfer the image to device and then to PC or somewhere else. It also made this function not very practical to use when travelling as the smart devices' memory are much smaller than the SD card and the prolong use of Wi-Fi seems draining the battery quickly.
Bottom line is if you overlook the poor GPS performance and need a DSL camera, D5300 is a good choice. If you are like me already own a D5100, it probably is worth to upgrade if you shoot a lot night scene and indoor without flash shoots. If on the other hand, the GPS is your main reason to get this camera, you should pass.
* Because of the AF assist lamp setting was so inflexible, I turned it off when I first got the D5100 and did not even remember it also has the lamp until I am comparing it with the D5300. Too bad Nikon has not done any improvement on the settings.
* Tried the GPS on another open space, it was even worse than before! It seems this GPS function is worthless as is. If GPS function is an important buying factor, I would rate the D5300 THREE STARS or less. If you are like me already have the D5100 or D5200 thinking about upgrading to D5300 for the GPS, you probably should stay with what you have.
* Added comments about Wi-Fi
S. Fox mentioned SSID for Wi-Fi. Although I have seen it before, never thought I will use it because it is unsecure. But since Fox mentioned, I gave it a try and that is when I found out it can not even connect directly to PC or router!
* Mercury Coach mentioned updating A-GPS data might help. Well, it did! Although the GPS is still inconsistent that took from 10s to 1 min. to lock on at same location, it is at least far more usable now. The problem is it seem we have to update this GPS file every two weeks to keep it happy.
* Tried Wi-Fi and the Wireless Mobility Utility a bit with mixed feeling.
* Although the GPS is faster now , it also seems less accurate. Those pictures taken before the update were very accurate but those taken after the update were at least 200ft off. I will test some more to see if indeed the update traded accuracy for speed.
Just came back from a trip. I am very disappointed with the GPS even with the update! Most of the time it could not lock on or maintain lock to signal when we walk around a handful of cities in Germany. Not only it is useless for the trip, it also drain the battery much faster than I like or expect! I will give more details later.
Added more details about the GPS.
Added comments about image quality.
Now that I have used the D5300 from US to Europe and Asia with multiple A-GPS file updates, there is no doubt in my mind, the GPS is less than useless because not only it can not lock on signal in reasonable time, it also drain the battery way too fast!
on November 23, 2013
No, I'm not a professional photographer. No, I'm not a semi-pro photographer either. I'm just a guy who likes to shoot beautiful pics when I hang out with my friends and family. On the other side, I don't want to drag around 5 lbs of equipment when I travel/go out with my friend. This Nikon baby has everything I want/ever need. I use the 18-140 mm kit lens and I'd like to share some thoughts.
_ Picture quality is top notch (on par with my friend's D7100).
_ Low light performance is also top notch (on par with D7100). Even at ISO 6400, photos are still very clean. No noise at all. Maybe if you're a professional photographer, you'll see it. But for me, the pics are perfect.
_ Focus is extremely fast, even in low light.
_ Camera is light even with the 18-140 lens.
_ Battery life is very good. I usually get about 500-600 shots every charge (with about 30% with flash).
_ Never tested wifi before, so can't comment.
_ Handling is okay, not impressed. Due to the small body size, the grip is a bit small. Bigger cameras (like D7100) have better grip, but also weigh a lot more.
_ No touch screen. However, most of the times, I shoot in P mode, and I'm not a pro photographer, so I don't need to change settings a lot.
_ Videos quality is very good. However, it's not silent. The lens creates noise when focusing. If you want silent video focus, go for Canon (t4i, t5i, 70d). People complain about not being able to change aperture during video mode. Well, it's nice if you have that feature, but at least for me, at my level, I don't need that feature.
_ If you want a walk around lens, get the 18-140 mm. It's an excellent one. Sharp, quick focus, light weight, and reasonable price. If you buy it with the body, it's only $300. Since the camera performs very well at high ISO, you don't need really larger aperture (f2.8 or f.18). The lens also has VR - vibration reduction which is a very nice feature.
_ Build quality is good, not excellent. But hey, it's lighter and cheaper than the D7100.
Overall, this is an excellent camera for hobbyists. The camera performs very very well in most shooting situations (except action in low light). If you're reading this, chances are you are like me, a hobbyist, and this camera is all you need.
"Prosumer" cameras have come a long way. I will begin with the end: the D5300 is a superb offering that will do as much as almost all non-professional users will ever need it to do, and has more useful features than most users will ever use. There are many competing cameras at or near this price point. I cannot claim to have researched them all, but the D5300 really does seem to be the leader. This camera is basically a feature-laden prosumer camera -- a camera for the enthusiastic amateur who wants a camera that will do most (but not all) things that a professional camera will do, with as little fuss as possible, and in a smaller package.
I am an experienced photographer (amateur) and I demand a lot out of my cameras. I use high quality Nikon lenses. So the issue was whether the D5300, which is not a pro camera, was good enough for my picky needs. Just to show how hard to please I am, I also want a camera that is as small as possible -- I don't like carrying the big professional all-metal Nikons. The pro cameras are fantastic cameras that are deadly expensive, heavy, and built like tanks. Great for pros, but not for me. The short answer is that the D5300 does the job for me. It is light, well-built if you don't plan on shooting in a rainstorm, and nicely designed.
The most important attribute of this camera is its ability to produce superb images right out of the camera. And great images start with great exposure. This camera can produce outstanding images that really do not require post-processing. I have been using Nikon digital SLR cameras since the D100 was announced, through the D80 and D200. All have been superb cameras for their days and still are. However, most Nikon DSLRs really benefited (needed, really) a bit of post-processing in order for the images to reach their full potential. In particular, many users have noticed that the auto-contrast settings in Nikon or third-party software programs really brightened up images, giving them better contrast and zip. This camera pretty much does away with that. The D-lighting feature of this camera, combined with an all-around better sensor, exposure algorithm, and exposure system, really do make it possible to produce images right out of the camera that look like they have already been post-processed on the computer. And to make matters even better, the camera allows in-camera editing and post-processing! So if you are on a trip and want to email a few pictures you will not need your computer; the camera will do the post-editing job for you in most cases. And in most cases this is not needed at all. Put simply, the D5300 has about achieved the ideal for digital cameras, whereby it produces a final image right out of the camera that is about perfectly exposed, with contrast and lighting the way you want it.
The camera allows for matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering, just like the pro cameras. All are useful at times. I can remember when only professional cameras had all three. We have come a long way.
The D5300 continues the Nikon trend of better and better ISO performance, as light amplification technology keeps getting better. ISO roughly corresponds to the exposure ratings of film in days of yore, and basically better ISO performance means that the camera will perform better in low light conditions, making it possible to take clear non-noisy images in dimmer light. My D200, which was one of the very best Nikons in its day, degrades quickly after about ISO 640. This camera will do many multiples of this satisfactorily. For early morning photography, or taking pictures indoors, this is a decisive, tremendous advantage. The result is that, unlike only a few years ago, often you can obtain adequate photos shooting indoors without the use of a flash. This is tremendously important for indoor sports photography, for example. It also helps for early morning wildlife shots. You no longer always need an F2.8 lens to shoot these kinds of shots, although it never hurts.
Great images also require fast and accurate focusing. The auto-focusing system on this camera is very well thought out for its market niche. While professional photographers will probably not use this camera to photograph NFL games and the like, this camera features an excellent focusing system that will exceed the expectations of most users. The D5300 features 5 fps continuous shooting for JPEG-only with a 39 point AF system with 9 cross-type AF points and 3D focus tracking. This focusing system is better than even professional cameras of a few years ago and will almost surely meet the needs of anyone. No problem with focusing on fast-moving subjects such as birds, wildlife, or sports.
I tested this camera at our local ecological reserve, photographing flying birds. It exceeded my expectations by producing razor-sharp focused shots of these unpredictable subjects time and time again. Even better than my venerable Nikon D200 did back when that camera was near state-of-the-art. Even using the Nikon 18-300VRII lens which is a fine lens but not a pro lens, this camera can produce professional-quality wildlife shots. I cannot ask for more than that from the autofocusing system!
Ergonomics. I bought this camera for two main reasons: less size and less weight. The higher-end Nikon cameras sport metal bodies, while this unit is made out of high-impact plastic. Given the fact that even rifles and pistols are mostly made of plastic nowadays, I consider plastic to be a virtue, not a vice. The D5300 features excellent build quality and has every bit of that quality "Nikon feel" that we have all come to expect. While some pros and a few amateurs really may need a weather-sealed metal bodied camera, most of us do not. And every single user will appreciate the very low weight of the D5300. I carried mine all day on a family outing and for once I did not get tired of toting a camera. Further, I often like to use large lenses, such as the Nikon 18-300VRII -- this lens is no lightweight and it is nice to combine it with the lightweight body of the D5300 to lessen the overall weight I am carrying.
I found the various buttons and controls to be easy to use and intuitive. Some reviewers have complained about various aspects of the button placements, but honestly, I don't see it. It is true that the camera requires a dedicated ISO button, because its wider ISO capability probably means that users will be varying this setting a lot. Fortunately, the D5300 has a user-assignable Function button. I simply assigned ISO as the function, so my D5300 has a dedicated ISO button (Actually, Nikon defaults this button to ISO--they know that this is what most users will need this button for). I do find myself using it often, as I vary it to high ISO for indoor shots, to low ISO for bright sunny summer days.
The menus on the D5300 are the usual Nikon-style menus. Probably the main drawback of the D5300 versus the more expensive Nikon cameras is that you must put a lot of the settings in place using menus rather than buttons or the control dial. For pros this may be important. For me, I am fine with it. Serious users of the D5300 should plan on spending some time in the den with the camera browsing through the menus and getting familiar with them. Fortunately, the camera has a My Menu Settings section where you can place all of the settings that you frequently vary all in one place. This goes a LONG way to taking the complexity out of the menus. And like the D5100-D5200 there is the quick access strip menu that comes up first that actually has most (or even all) of the menu settings that the user is likely to vary. In practice once you are familiar with the D5300 I question the need for more buttons or dials for must users.
The color LCD screen on the D5300 opens to the side, and can be rotated 180 degrees. Some reviewers have complained that: a) this means that one cannot put a plastic cover on the LCD to protect it; and b) the swivel arm on the LCD screen may be a mechanical weak link. There may be a little truth to this, but consider. Since the LCD screen folds against the back of the camera, if folded in screen first it is protected during field use, and yet easily accessible by swinging it out if you need to access it for some reason. During field use (hiking, etc.) I rarely need to use the screen, and since it is folded against the camera, it is very well protected. As far as the strength of the swivel arm, well, time will tell. I trust that Nikon knew what it was doing when it designed this component. Hope so. I had a D5100 before this D5300 (still have it, in fact) and I have never had any issues with the swivel design. The D5300 has a larger LCD screen than the D5100, by the way.
The LCD screen does multiple duty. It performs the function that the mono LCD screens used to do on other Nikons, i.e. showing exposure mode, picture count, etc. (Many of these things are also displayed in the viewfinder.) It also displays the menu system. And of course you may view and edit the photographs with the LCD. And the LCD also presents live-view, meaning that you get an instant through-the-lens electronic display of the viewfinder; a feature that until a few years ago only point-and-shoot cameras afforded. I was initially skeptical of this feature, but I do find myself using it at times. The viewfinder is bright and crisp, with a pleasing display.
The menus are mostly intuitive. I say mostly, because at first I had trouble locating some of the key functions that I wanted. Specifically, the "sharpening" control, which is a critical setting, is buried three layers deep in the menus. Other Nikons place this setting more obviously. This quirk is the exception, and once I understood the logic of the menu setup, I have had no further problems. Most users will adapt quickly to the menu system in this camera.
The optical viewfinder features a 95% view of the actual lens picture. Very few users will miss that 5%.
The camera allows full shutter, aperture, and programmed mode just like the pro cameras. The camera has other features including "effects," and HDR (high dynamic range) shooting, which combines two shots of an image using different exposures. While many users will never use these features, some will. The HDR feature has real potential for those willing to experiment and put in the time to master it.
To keep cost and weight down, the D5300 does not contain an inboard focusing motor. This means that some of the older Nikon lenses do not have autofocus if used with the D5300 since some of these lenses do not have internal focusing motors. This will mainly affect long-time photographers who have some of the older Nikon lenses in the bag. Most newer users will never miss it. Me, I do regret that a couple of my old stand-bys will not autofocus with this camera.
I rarely shoot movies, but for those who do, this camera is a very serviceable HD videocamera. Other reviews have no doubt covered this feature adequately.
As an upgrade from the D5100, there are a number of advantages. The ISO performance of the camera is better, making it superior for low-light shooting. The image sensor is 24.2MP. The autofocus system is a significant upgrade, with more focus points and an upgraded tracking system. The LCD is larger. There is an on-board GPS (something I never use). The battery life (if not using GPS) is better. The camera has a limited WiFi/hotspot capability that allows it to transfer photos to your Apple or Android device if you download the free App at the App Store. The most important upgrades, to me, are the superior image quality and autofocusing. The WiFi does do away with needed the special Apple cable for the iPad to transfer photos. It is also nice to be able to use the WiFi to upload a photo here and there to Facebook or other social media.
At the end of the day it is the images that matter, and the D5300 produces professional-grade images. On trips and other occasions I am often found carrying around a camera, and the light weight and small size of the d5300 make it a joy to use. Highly recommended.
on January 12, 2015
I've never been happier with a new camera, than I am with my Nikon D5300. I've been a shutterbug for decades, and there is little reason to spend 2-3 times more for a fantastic camera. It's the photographer and lenses that produce great photos. The D5300 is an outstanding camera, and the Wifi and GPS features are a nice plus. The Wifi feature allows you to send photos wirelessly to any smart phone, but you need to download the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility (WMU) app. It's pretty easy to use. I just Googled it to learn how to do it quickly.
You can also create smaller versions of existing photos on your D5300, while keeping the original large format versions. This is handy if you want to create versions specifically for attaching to emails, using for eBay, etc. I recommend "Fine" mode for most photos taken on the camera. They are large files, but you can still store a ton of them on an 8, 16, or 32gb card. Get the 32gb card if you can. I will probably never use the video feature of this camera, but if you do if uses a lot of memory. The photo editing features on the D5300 are worth a mention. You can easily eliminate "red-eye", crop photos, and adjust the overall color-cast of your pics easily. Shooting in, or converting to B&W is also quite fun sometimes, and lends better than color to many photos. A photo album with some B&W shots makes it a bit more interesting.
Turn OFF the GPS feature unless you really want it to tag locations of your shots. It eats through battery life quickly. So does wifi, but it turns itself off after you have used it to download photos. If you wish to download photos directly to your computer, get a card reader which plugs into your USB port. The reader comes with some kits, but is about $30 otherwise. You can also use the included (I think) USB cord between your camera and computer, but you will be using camera battery power during the download.
You will surely want a lens or two, and other accessories to go with your new camera body. Let me say upfront, I would not recommend the Nikkor 18-55mm VR lens that comes with many bundles. You can do better, and you should, with this high-end camera. A good camera case is important too. You don't want your camera and gear rattling around against each other. The best bag I've seen on Amazon is a Canon bag for about $25, but who wants a Canon logo on their bag?? And it still does not have a zipper to securely close the bag. That's a feature I would want, to keep dust, insects, etc out.
I shop frequently on Amazon, but bought my D5300 body for $499 from different retailer. After adding a Nikon/Nikkor 35mm/f1.8 prime lens ($139) and a 32gb card, filters, extra battery, macro/zoom attachments, flash, camera bag, etc -- then a refurbished 55-200mm/f3.5-5.6 VR Nikkor lens from the Nikon site ($119), my total was $850.
Regarding lenses, if I had to choose only one, it would undoubtedly be the 35mm/f1.8. This fixed (prime) lens gives you the wide aperture to shoot in low light with no flash. It produces photos that are most like what the eyes see in real life. Just beautiful.
I chose the 55-200mm/f3.5-5.6 VR as a great secondary "carry around" lens for shooting short, medium, and longer fields of view - and of course that lovely "bokeh" effect (sharp subject, blurry background). Also, importantly, this lens weighs about 11.4 oz - half the weight (and price) of the 18-200mm. The 18-200mm is about 1.2 lbs (20 oz.) and is about $550 retail. Incidentally, the 55-200mm is actually 82.5-300mm (full format equivalent).
For those interested in the Nikkor 28-300mm/f4.5-5.6 VR lens, I will say it is a fine lens but weighs just under 2 lbs. and costs almost $1000. Compared to the lightweight, ($250 retail) Nikkor 55-200mm VR (with a larger 3.5 aperture), it's really a no-brainer for me. Incidentally, the VR (vibration reduction) is a fantastic feature that allows you to shoot hand-held at lower shutter speeds (1/30th second at best) with no blur.
on February 18, 2014
Photography is my hobby and passion, and my comments are from a simply amateur point of view. I'm always looking for the finest quality of the images I take with my camera, so I try to have the best gear my money can buy. I have had a good number of heavy cameras since the 70's, currently a Nikon D800E and several Nikkor lenses, flashes and accessories. I travel to different places around the world and carry the less equipment I can. Even so, it's hefty. Try to hang from your neck a D800E with, say, an all-terrain 28-300, almost 2 kg, walking under a hot tropical sun during hours. Believe me when I say that it's a pain and at any given moment you regret having brought that equipment, and for a second you think to throw it from a cliff. Well, it's kind of exaggerated but you get the idea. Don't you? So, for a long time I was looking for a lighter camera that I could carry with me all the time in my trips, but without giving up precision and quality in my pictures. At first, years ago I tried a couple of Canon's G series cameras. Nice images, but far, far away from what I wished. Then I flirted with a Sony NEX 5N. Good image quality but not enough and inaccessible lenses. Worst of all, unexceptional ergonomics, particularly if you put a heavy glass (via adapter) in front of it, not to mention the confusing menu and operating buttons and, nastily, no viewfinder (you have to buy an expensive and awkward accessory in order to get one). Then I read a lot about Olympus OMD cameras. I decided to go for one because, even as their sensors are quite small, the top specialists comments where very positives. But in the meantime, I saw a Nikon D5300 with a 18-140 lens in a store, and by pure curiosity tried it. At first, the lesser viewfinder (it's a pentamirror, not a pentaprism) pushed me back. But then I joyfully found almost the same button and menu configuration of my other cameras and its compatibility with my lenses and flashes; and then the ergonomics: a pleasure to hold it; it's a little camera but grabs to your hands. So, for what it's worth, I thought to give it a try. It's not at my other Nikons level of resolution (well, at least with the D800E), dynamic range, construction and weather sealing, by far, and that I have to dig into the menus to find some of the controls I have handy with buttons in the other cameras, but the images are astonishing good, even at ISO 1600, and it weighs only about 1 kg with the lens, half the burden. In a while, you get used to the controls and can configure them to your taste. I'm conscious that it will never replace my D800E for specialized work, but for traveling light, it's the best I could find and use, with excellent control and image quality.
Edited on June 7/14
I have just returned from a tour in Europe where I had the opportunity to test the camera thoroughly. Before continuing, advance it that my experience was very good, except for an oddity inherent to its design. I am pleasantly surprised with the quality of the photos, particularly at low ISO (100-400). The dynamic range and resolution are much more than expected, without going into laboratory analysis. But the best of all, as I hoped, was the light weight and volume of the equipment that allowed me to enjoy excellent quality images, with little load on my neck. The quirk that I mentioned before relate to the operation of controls. Make it clear that I do not pretend it to behave like a professional camera, but at least should allow custom configuration of the buttons in a logic fashion. In all my cameras I use the back button AF-L /AE-L to target and block the focus, disabling this function of the shutter button; but as in this model it is combined with the function of protector of images (so that you can't delete them), if the LCD display is still showing the previous photo, which lasts at least 4 seconds and you can't notice it because you are looking through the viewfinder, it does not work as a blocker of the focus but as the safeguard of the photo, and the new exposition will not be as desired without warning, generally being out of focus. And if you use this button as is by default for both focus and exposure locking, the same thing happens, in not allowing you to block focus/exposure with it if the LCD is showing the last picture taken. Otherwise, I'm very pleased with this camera and would use it again in my tours without thinking twice, hoping that Nikon will correct this behavior in the next model.
on November 15, 2014
We ordered this camera as a REFURB, and were not sure exactly what a REFURB would end up being.
Knowing that AMAZON would stand behind the sale we took a chance on a NOT NEW $846.00 Camera package.
Camera arrived today, and in a white box clearly marked REFURBISHED, and then we held our breath.
Camera Body, Lens, Manuals, Cables, Camera Strap, Battery, Wall Charger etc... are ABSOLUTELY FLAWLESS!
Not a single mark, scratch, rub spot, or anything to show that this was not a brand new "A" stock item, and we saved about 180.00 from the new one.
This is an AWESOME DEAL!
Includes a 90 day versus a Year warranty from Nikon. If anything was wrong with the camera , it would certainly show up ( develop...( I couldn't resist that one )) before the warranty period expired.
Took the Difference in $ and ordered a hard case, (Mega Gear), Silicone body cover, (Delkin), Extra Battery grip, (Vivitar), Screen Protector (Larmor) and still have some coin left over.
If you are looking for this type of camera. Try the REFURB!
on February 16, 2014
I had the d5100 for over a year and wanted to upgrade to a full frame like a D610 but I just could not justify the increased cost of camera and especially FX lenses. So I went with the D5300 with 18-140mm DX and I am very happy. The 39 point auto focus is a vast improvement over the D5100. The low light is better too. The lens is SHARP! The 18-140 covers most of the range you need so you can travel lite while on vacation and not miss shots while changing lenses. I kept the DX f1.8 35mm fast lens and the ultrawide Tokina 11-16 I had bought for the D5100 and gave the old D5100 and 2 kit lenses to my Daughter. Unless you are a pro or have lots of extra cash you do not need a FX system this DX system works great. Very sharp images!
on November 19, 2013
I decided to add my own review which I will continue to update as I have been commenting on the others here. I received the D5300 on Saturday (got the Grey and have to say I really like the subtle color) and have been taking several test photos with my Sigma 18-250 Macro lens that I purchased only a few weeks ago. I noticed that something wasn't right with the stabilization and the live view (I typically never use live view anyway) but initially thought it was the camera. I may change my review to 5 stars once that issue is resolved and I know exactly what is working correctly. Sigma is doing a firmware update on the lenses so I am going to return mine that does not work once the new ones are released which is supposed to happen in a few days. If you purchased this lens and are not able to return it any longer - contact Sigma and they will have you send it in to update the firmware.
As far as picture quality (the lens does work with the exception of the two things mentioned) I have been very happy. I do feel like adding a few steps of sharpness helps the images (custom picture settings are available for user to define), but I am wondering now if that may also be the lens issue. I do like the ability to retouch in the camera (straighten is very useful) but I wish the file that was created from the retouch kept the file name sequence of the original file so that the photos would stay in order that they were taken.
I was afraid that after moving from the D90 that I would be missing the dedicated controls on the back of the camera, but I actually find that the menu system is pretty intuitive and easy to manage from the LCD. I am a hobby photographer who takes most of my photos on vacations twice a year besides family events and holidays. I have taken several photography classes and I do use most of the controls on the camera to set my shots. I found that having some of the "scene" modes can be a good refresher when you are trying to remember the correct settings for different situations and can actually be a learning tool if you pay attention to the changes that the camera makes for each situation. The lighter weight and smaller size of the D5300 are certainly a plus for me.
I was happy that the function button on the front of the camera can be set to control the ISO and works by holding down the button while dialing the thumb wheel which I am familiar with. There is also a dedicated button on the front of the camera to change to burst mode shooting, timer (10 second delay) and remote settings. This button works by pressing and then selecting from the display screen via arrow keys to select. The other button that I frequently use is the exposure compensation which also has a dedicated button on the top right that works via thumbwheel.
The wifi setup was a bit confusing only because the instructions were a bit vague. I searched the app store on my Ipad for the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility and nothing came up. I did a search through Safari and it did bring it up in the Itunes store (probably because it is really an Iphone app). To connect the camera via wifi - after downloading and installing the app - go to the Menu on the camera and select the Setup Menu - Wifi is on the second page of the menu. Choose to enable the Wifi on the camera and the camera will begin to send out an SSID signal. Go to the Ipad/Iphone into the Settings menu and in your Wireless configuration choose to connect to the Nikon SSID. Then open the app and in the top left corner there is an antennae looking icon that you have to click on to get the camera to connect. I was very happy that the camera worked in this manner as it means that if you are in an area where you have no public wifi that you can still transfer photos to the device through the wifi signal that the camera broadcasts. The transfer rate was good considering these are 24 megapixel images and I had no complaints except that the app is designed for the Iphone and it would be nice to have the app designed for the Ipad for better clarity.
The one drawback I had initially was trying to get a program to work with my raw files. I did find a way to update my NX2 software (involved searching the internet to find a download as there were no updates listed in the program) and then I realized that my CS5 software will not work with the new camera raw and I may need to upgrade my Lightroom as they did release a beta version that supports these raw files, and the upgrade costs much less than the CS6 upgrade. Rather irritating of Adobe to not offer updates to older software for raw support in my opinion considering the cost of that program. Lightroom has very similar raw editing though and once the raw files are converted I can always open them in CS5 again.
I will add to this once I have the lens change and have had some additional time..