Customer Review

188 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DRAMATIC upgrade from D5100, SURPRISING image quality improvement from D5200, December 1, 2013
This review is from: Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS Body Only (Grey) (Electronics)
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.

*** UPDATES:
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.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 22, 2014 4:36:18 PM PST
Tiffany says:
I have a D5100 so I was hoping for a comparison between the D5300 & D5100 & you delivered. Thanks for this extremely helpful review!!

Posted on Aug 10, 2014 12:30:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 10, 2014 12:34:08 PM PDT
now what says:
Thanks for a very comprehensive review.

IQ: Interesting. The D5200 actually edged out the newer D5300 on DxOMark. Since this is only a sensor test, the in-camera processing must be better in the D5300.

In burst mode, is there a limit to the number of fine JPEGs in a burst?
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