Customer Review

280 of 293 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly Good! An Insane Value!, November 25, 2013
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This review is from: Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS Body Only (Black) (Electronics)
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:

PROS:

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.

CONS:

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.

CONCLUSION:

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.
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Comments

Tracked by 10 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 75 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 26, 2013 4:01:17 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2013 3:43:39 PM PST
T. F says:
Why are you giving a camera that can't focus consistently a 5 star rating? Thats a long list of cons, and the fact that you yourself have admitted sketchy focus in everything but the Centerpoint. ..that would leave me to 3 stars, or MAYBE 4 if I was feeling particularly giving that day.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2013 3:03:59 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 9, 2013 11:37:24 PM PST
7 says:
@ T. Fox-

Because it is only $800, tiny, lightweight, has a swivel screen and produces truly stunning literally professional-caliber images with substantial crop/enlargement capability.

Besides, my focus issue has pretty much cleared itself up.

And the red paint is absolutely gorgeous. Sounds silly but that color seriously calls out to be touched. ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2013 7:30:00 AM PST
kd says:
I agree. Why do people criticize reviewers? They aren't paid professionals. They take the time to write reviews that help the rest of us making purchasing decisions. If you don't like or agree with the review, than ignore the comment. If no one ever wrote a review, it would be harder for the rest of us. Let's all be nice and get along please! Thanks.

Posted on Nov 30, 2013 4:29:42 AM PST
Do you think the focus problem is a defect, would getting a new camera help. I am thinking of getting this camera for wife. She is pretty picky about the focus.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2013 1:31:19 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 12, 2013 2:26:46 AM PST
7 says:
@ bryan stephens-

After spending a little more time with the camera I've adjusted to its quirks and differences from the D5100 and have truly come to be literally amazed by this camera. My focus issue seems to have been resultant from using an AF point that wasn't the Center point. Center point AF is quite accurate and consistent but using other points substantially reduces accuracy/consistency with a clear front-focus bias and using AF points far from Center is a bad idea. It truly is a pain having to access a menu to switch between AF-S and AF-C too. Nikon really needs to add an AF button/switch to this camera.

There is nothing to think about. Next to my D800E it produces the highest-quality low-ISO images I have ever seen. I daresay even better than my D600 but without anywhere near the high ISO performance of the D600. If your wife truly appreciates literally top-shelf professional images, she will absolutely go bonkers for the D5300. That is no exaggeration. It is truly THAT good. Cropping ability is amazing, detail is stunning, colors pop.

Not great for sports or fast-moving subjects. But regardless of what any marketing material says, only pro gear is truly capable of shooting sports well.

Posted on Dec 12, 2013 1:37:20 AM PST
Thank you for that VERY useful review!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2013 2:27:43 AM PST
7 says:
Hi John,

You're very welcome and thank you for the compliment. :)

Aloha,

Steven

Posted on Dec 13, 2013 1:15:01 PM PST
Hi Steven,
thank you for your review. It is very helpful as others have said. I am trying to decided between the D5300 and the D5200. This will be my first DSLR, but I am an artist (painter) who is looking to take high quality images of both subjects for my art, and also of my paintings themselves. I use Photoshop quite a bit for digital creations as well, and editing photos. Additionally I want something that can take great pics of my two kids (one baby about to be born, and one toddler who is very, very fast ;-) This may involve sports photography (including video) albeit quite amateur like soccer games. :-) Video is very important to me for both professional and personal use. I want to shoot tai chi moves outside by the ocean,for example, and of course many uses indoors for family purposes. Given all of this, do you think the 5200 and the 5300 could meet my needs? I wouldn't mind saving $200-$300 and going with the D5200 if it can get the job done and isn't too significantly 'less than' the D5300. I'm up in the air on if I'd truly need the Wi-Fi or GPs at this point. I'm planning to get the 18-55mm kit lense and/or a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens. Any suggestions you might have, given my circumstances, would be infinitely appreciated!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2013 3:26:11 PM PST
7 says:
Hi Andrew,

Thank you for your kind words. :)

If you are going to photograph running/bouncing kids, I would suggest also getting the 35mm F1.8G DX or 50mm F1.8G lens in addition to your 18-55mm VR kit lens. The 35 is a very nice lens and the 50 is a truly exceptional special lens, though it may be a bit long for "kids-in-the-living-room" shots. The kit lens, while surprisingly excellent in color, contrast, sharpness and macro ability (it truly is a gift from Nikon, no joke) does not focus quickly and likely will not do well enough keeping up with active kids that are less than 10 or 15 feet away, particularly in indoor lighting, particularly on the longer end.

Lol, now to the question at hand; D5200 or D5300... Honestly, the WiFi implementation at present on the D5300 is very nearly useless unless you simply must upload low-rez to the web immediately. That is literally all the D5300's WiFi is capable of at this point. Hopefully Santa stuffs D5300 firmware in my stocking that enables real-time full-rez backup to smart device or PC. But for now all I've got is Nikon digital coal in my stocking. ;) For me internal GPS is important but you said it's not to you. Being that you don't need 2 of the major differences between the 2 cameras, really the only other major difference is that the D5300 doesn't have the Anti-Alias filter. I'm super nitpicky about 100% magnification pixel-peeping and crop ability (yes, I'm one of thooose. ;) ) and I do see a difference in image quality favoring the D5300 so the D5300 is worth it to me. But I'm crazy like that and blow way too much money on my camera gear addiction. The D5200's image quality is world-class. There is no way you will be dissatisfied.

I am seeing about a $200 difference right now in body+18-55 kits. Only you can decide if $200 is worth a slight image quality improvement from super-insanely-good (D5200) to really-super-insanely-good (D5300).

I have to tell you that I'm a bit concerned that video seems to be a very important factor in your DSLR decision. Honestly, I pretty much never shoot video and wish that the Record button served some other photographic function instead. I'm really not the guy to ask about video performance but I have yet to find a Nikon DSLR that holds focus while recording a movie. I have never shot Canon and for all I know they could be totally the same in that respect but I hear that Canon DSLRs are a lot better at video than Nikon. I don't know what that means. Whether it's focusing/tracking and/or exposure controls or whatever. But since video is very important to you, Canon mayyy be the right choice for you.

Hope I didn't confuse you more than I helped. ;)

Aloha,

Steven

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2013 4:05:01 PM PST
illusion says:
I was able to uplaod high res images to my smartdevice. It gives the option when you click on Download.

The Multipoint AF issue is plaguing me as well . Does the 5200 have the same problem.

Took advise from another review and bumped up my sharpness to 7 as I found the photos to be soft by default.
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