Nikon D5500 Review
With the Nikon D5500, Nikon’s Hobby DSLR series, equipped with a rotating swivel screen, is entering its fifth generation. New features include the touch function of the screen or the proximity sensor on the viewfinder, which automatically switches off the screen when the camera is held up to the eye. But Nikon has also redesigned the case with state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies, which are also used in the D810. The detailed test shows whether Nikon has made good things even better and how they are ordered in terms of inner values, for example, image quality.
Pros And Cons Of The Nikon D5500
- The ergonomic good grip
- Pivoting and rotating touch screen
- Very high image quality up to ISO 1,600
- A large scope of equipment and features available
- No dimming button/function
- Right little finder
- 18-105mm set lens with high distortion
- Hardly any control options via WLAN
With the Nikon D5500, Nikon introduces what it calls “the first DX-format camera with tilt and swivel touch screen”. The Canon EOS 650D could do this already in 2012, but its sensor is slightly smaller than the Nikon.
Now Nikon photographers can also enjoy this feature. But the hobby DSLR can also be seen in other ways: The Nikon D5500 comes with a 24-megapixel sensor, ISO 25.600, a small, lightweight, and ergonomic monocoque housing, 39-point autofocus and built-in WLAN.
The D810 has already come up with a monocoque housing. The case is largely manufactured in one piece and derives its robustness from the shape of the case, which makes the monocoque particularly light (the ready-to-operate Nikon D5500 weighs only 470 grams) and compact (97 x 124 x 70 mm) with improved ergonomics at the same time. The Nikon D5500 can do without a stabilizing chassis and offer more space for the fingers between the handle and the bayonet thanks to a deeper housing.
The Nikon D5500 is technically based on the D5300, although the latter remains on the market. For example, it has an APS-C large CMOS sensor with a resolution of 24 megapixels without a resolution-reducing low-pass filter, but the light sensitivity now ranges from ISO 100 to 25,600 in the standard range, so that the “High” extension is no longer necessary and is included in the normal ISO range.
Also new is the built-in stereo microphone for better film sound, even without an external microphone, but which can still be connected optionally. The video resolution reaches full HD with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at either 50p or 60p. Nikon claims to have accelerated the contrast autofocus, but the phase autofocus with its 39 measuring fields, including nine cross sensors, remains the much faster option.
Of course, this is only available when using the 0.82x magnifying SLR viewfinder, which covers 95 percent of the image field. There is a special feature here: The touch screen continues to work when the viewfinder is used, either as a function key or to select the autofocus measuring field, which also works much faster blindly with the touch screen than with the arrow keys (Panasonic has been using this function in its Lumix G system cameras for some time now).
An eye sensor on the viewfinder automatically switches off the screen display and activates the corresponding touch function. Speaking of screens: This measures 8.1 centimetres in the diagonal and resolves fine 1.04 million pixels. Thanks to the side-mounted hinge, it can be swivelled and rotated to allow shooting from virtually any angle.
Of course, the exposure of the Nikon D5500 can be controlled semi-automatically and manually, but the DSLR also has 16 scene modes and a fully automatic. In addition, there are ten special effects and the Picture Control 2.0 system for image optimization, which now also allows the detail contrasts to be individually adjusted. The Expeed 4 is used as the image processing engine, and the Nikon D5500 achieves five serial images per second. In addition, like the D5300 it offers a built-in WLAN module for wireless transmission of photos to a smart device, with the appropriate app for Android and iOS the Nikon D5500 can also be triggered remotely, but the Nikon D5500 is also compatible with the WR-R10 and WR-T10 radio remote controls.
Ergonomics And Workmanship
For the case, Nikon relies on a modern monocoque construction in which the shape of the outer shell provides the necessary stability. This made it possible to do without a stabilizing chassis, which created more space for the now more ergonomic handle. In addition, the housing, although made of plastic, appears very robust.
The SDHC memory card is conveniently removed from the right side of the housing in the area of the handle, the HDMI output (micro socket) can also be found here. The battery sits space-saving completely in the handle and the metal tripod thread properly in the optical axis.
In addition, tripod exchange plates do not block the battery compartment. Additional interfaces on the left side of the Nikon D5500 include a hinged rubber flap behind a remote cable release connector, a stereo jack microphone input and a combined USB-AV interface with a proprietary plug.
The Nikon D5500 features a classic program selector wheel and a large thumbwheel for setting exposure parameters. A little confusing is the concept with three keys, behind which one could assume similar functions: “info”, “i” and “?”. However, while the “info” button turns the status indicators on the screen on, off and on, the “i” button activates a quick menu.
The “?” key, on the other hand, displays a short explanation depending on the mode or menu item. There are three important buttons on the left side of the bayonet tube: The flash button at the top not only unlocks the pop-up flash but also allows you to select the flash mode and flash exposure correction.
The Fn button below is freely assignable, for example with ISO sensitivity. The button for the recording mode (self-timer, continuous-advance mode, etc.) is located quite far down. The video recording button is easily accessible for the index finger behind the trigger.
The control elements are completed by the four-weigher, the AEL button, the menu button, and a magnifying glass button. All in all, the Nikon D5500 isn’t a luxury, but it is sufficiently equipped with controls.
The menu of the Nikon D5500 is provided with many setting options, but despite a conclusive structuring, it looks a bit confusing. The menu with the last settings is very helpful, instead you can also activate an individually assignable menu.
The 8-centimeter rotating and swiveling touchscreen is located on the back. It offers strong colors, a fine resolution, and high contrasts, but loses some of its good readability in sunlight. In Live View, the Nikon D5500 fights like many other DSLRs with agonizingly slow autofocus.
The use of the viewfinder is recommended – then the autofocus is fast. The proximity sensor automatically switches off the screen. The touch function remains active either as an additional function key or for selecting the autofocus point. However, the viewfinder itself is very small for an APS-C DSLR.
With the case, Nikon uses a modern monocoque construction. In a monocoque, the outer shell should provide the necessary stability of the camera through its shape. This made it possible to do without a stabilizing chassis, which created more space for a handle without having to unload it further forward.
The Nikon D5500 now offers much more space for the fingers between the handle and the bayonet mount, as the housing could be slimmer here. This allows the fingers to reach much deeper and grip the handle very securely.
This provides a secure hold even when worn with one hand for a longer period of time. The grained rubber coating plays its part in this. The thumb rest on the back of the camera, as well as some parts of the left side of the housing, are provided with the corresponding rubberized cover to increase ergonomics and grip. In addition, the housing, although made of plastic, appears very robust.
Flaps and connections
The SDHC memory card is conveniently removed from the right side of the housing in the area of the handle, the HDMI output can also be found here. This allows you to conveniently access the memory card without having to turn the camera around.
The distinctive handle also allows the battery to be completely accommodated in the handle to save space and, despite the compact housing, even large tripod plates do not block the battery compartment. By the way, the metal tripod thread sits properly in the optical axis. Instead of the battery, which despite its small size is sufficient for 820 CIPA recordings, a dummy with cable for external power supply can also be inserted, e.g. for interval recordings that require constant energy over a longer period of time. The battery itself is externally charged using the supplied plug-in charger.
As additional interfaces, the Nikon D5500 offers a remote cable release connector behind a hinged rubber flap on the left side, a stereo jack microphone input and a combined USB-AV interface with proprietary plug. While the USB cable is included, this does not apply to the AV or HDMI cable.
Operation Of The Nikon D5500
The Nikon D5500 features a classic program selector wheel and a large thumbwheel for setting exposure parameters. To adjust the aperture in manual mode, press the exposure-compensation button in the absence of the second control dial. A little confusing is the concept with three keys, behind which one could assume similar functions:
“info”, “i” and “?”. However, while the “info” button turns the status indicators on the screen on, off and on, the “i” button activates a quick menu that allows access to important functions for which there are no special buttons. The “?” key, on the other hand, displays a short explanation depending on the mode or menu item. Once you have memorized how these keys work, their handling is quite good.
On the left side of the housing on the bayonet tube, there are three important buttons: The flash button at the top not only unlocks the pop-up flash but also allows the selection of the flash mode and flash exposure correction. The Fn button below is freely assignable, for example with ISO sensitivity.
Quite far down is the button for the recording mode: This sets the self-timer or continuous-advance mode. By the way, the Nikon D5500 is switched on via the ring switch on the shutter release.
This allows the camera to be switched on with a single movement of the hand and is ready to shoot in less than a second. The video recording button is also easily accessible for the index finger behind the trigger. The operating elements are completed by the four-weigher, the AEL button, the menu button, and a magnifying glass button. All in all, the Nikon D5500 isn’t luxuriant, but it is sufficiently equipped with controls.
The pivotal point is the approximately eight-centimeter screen on the back of the camera. It offers strong colors, fine resolution, and high contrasts. However, the screen is only reasonably anti-reflective and loses some of its good readability in sunlight. Practical is the touch function, which even works in the menu.
However, you must be able to aim well with your finger, as there are no control panels specially adapted for touch operation. However, touch operation is only one alternative to key operations.
If you don’t want to smear your screen with fingerprints, you can even limit touch operation to playback or deactivate it altogether. However, it is not recommended to fold the screen back to the camera with the rotation and pan mechanism when taking pictures, as many options cannot be set without the monitor.
Using the small lever on the program selector wheel, a Live View function can be activated that displays the image generated by the recording sensor. In today’s time also with a DSLR a matter of course. However, the Nikon D5500, like many other DSLRs, struggles with a then agonizingly slow autofocus that takes you back to the last millennium. When working from a tripod or from unusual perspectives, especially when focusing manually, the Live View is worth its weight in gold. In addition, a grid can be faded in and an exposure preview is also displayed. A live histogram is missing.
But the Nikon D5500 is actually a classic DSLR that works best when the viewfinder is taken to the eye. Since the Nikon has a proximity sensor, the screen is automatically switched off. Clever that the touch function of the screen remains as a function key, even the autofocus point can be selected with a fingertip when the camera is hanging on the eye.
The view through the seeker, however, is somewhat sobering. With a magnification of 0.82x, it is extremely small even for APS-C cameras, and only 0.55x is achieved for 35mm cameras.
Typical for a cheap mirror construction instead of a pentaprism is the image field coverage of 95 percent, so the camera records slightly more than can be seen in the viewfinder. Status displays on the underside inform about important recording parameters, the autofocus points are displayed directly on the focusing screen.
Equipment And Features
As a hobby DSLR, the Nikon D5500 is designed for beginners as well as ambitious amateur photographers. It offers beginners not only a fully automatic, but also 16 scene mode programs. In the latter case, the camera even allows certain adjustments to the shooting settings, such as flash mode, exposure compensation, focus control, or ISO sensitivity.
The scene mode program itself can be changed directly with the thumbwheel at any time. In the automatic mode as well as in the scene mode programs, the flash also jumps up automatically as soon as the camera thinks it is necessary to illuminate the scene. A flash off automatic has therefore also made it onto the program selector wheel. The ten effect filters can also be found here.
From Highkey over Low-Key and selective color up to the miniature effect there is something for everyone. Only those who like to take pictures in black and white, sepia, or other analog film effects will not get their money’s worth here.
It also offers 16 scene modes, which even allow certain interventions on the part of the photographer, such as exposure correction. There are also ten effect filters. In the creative programs P, A, S and M, the experimenter has access to the full range of functions and all setting parameters.
For example, ISO sensitivity can be adjusted to suit individual needs (maximum sensitivity, longest shutter speed). By the way, the ISO automatic is also available for manual exposure. Nikon even thought about the exposure correction, which can be adjusted in the range of -5 to +5 EV.
The built-in pop-up flash of the Nikon D5500 pops up automatically when needed. Otherwise, just press the small button to the left of the flash. In addition to the fill-flash function or the flash at the end of the exposure, a flash exposure compensation from -3 to +1 EV can also be set.
The shortest synchronization time available is 1/200 second. Thanks to the TTL flash shoe, Nikon system flash units can be used. However, wireless control of external flash units is only possible if a system flash unit in the flash shoe takes over control – the integrated flash cannot do this.
In addition to bracketing, the Nikon D5500 can also take HDR photos. The interval shooting function with up to 9,999 photos is also interesting. The continuous shooting mode promises five frames per second. This is sufficient for most everyday situations.
For video recordings, of course, completely different frame rates are required in order to capture movements smoothly. Fortunately, the Nikon D5500 offers up to 60 frames per second at full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080). H.264 compression (MPEG-4) is stored in Quicktime format (MOV). To record videos, simply press the video recording button in the Live View. The optical image stabilizer does its job silently. This is not the case with autofocus tracking. This works sluggishly, constantly pumping, and clearly audible on the soundtrack.
Nikon dedicates its own menu to image editing. Here, for example, raw images can be converted into a JPEG. The D-Lighting function, an active shadow brightening function that can also be activated for recording, is also included.
An automatic image enhancement functionality is also available. In addition, there is a distortion and perspective correction, numerous effects, an image montage function, and much more. Even videos can be edited, at least start and endpoints can be newly selected and a still image can also be extracted. Via WLAN, Nikon wirelessly sends pictures to Android or iOS smartphones on which the free Nikon app is installed. This also allows remote control of the camera, albeit only with rudimentary functions.
But a monochrome mode is hidden in the Picture Styles, which can be accessed via the main menu as well as the quick menu. Here you can choose between different default settings such as Standard, Portrait, Neutral, or Landscape.
The sets can be adjusted in fine steps for seven different parameters such as sharpness, contrast, or brightness. A new feature is the detail contrast, which can highlight particularly fine details better. The Picture Styles are only available in the creative programs P, A, S, and M, whereas in the scene mode programs the appropriate Picture Style is automatically selected depending on the scene mode program. In the creative programs, the experimental photographer has access to the full range of functions and all setting parameters.
For example, the ISO sensitivity can be adapted to your own needs. Not only the maximum sensitivity can be set, but also at which longest shutter speed the Nikon D5500 increases ISO sensitivity. This allows you to effectively ensure that the exposure time is not too long. The increase can also be left to an automatic, this works after the usual rule of thumb of the exposure time as reciprocal of the small picture equivalent focal length. But even here, there are still possibilities for influence: In five steps, you can adjust the automatic behavior from longer to normal to shorter.
By the way, the ISO automatic is also available for manual exposure. This allows the shutter speed and aperture to be set while the exposure continues to be automatically adjusted via the sensitivity. Nikon even thought about the exposure correction, which can be adjusted in the range of -5 to +5 EV.
Flash Of The Nikon D5500
As already mentioned, the built-in pop-up flash of the Nikon D5500 pops up automatically when needed. Otherwise, just press the little button to the left of the flash and it jumps up. The same button can then be used to select the flash mode, such as fill-flash or flash at the end of exposure (sync to the second shutter curtain).
Flash exposure correction from -3 to +1 EV is also available. At maximum power, the flash achieves a guide number of 11.2, as the measurement showed. The shortest synchronization time available is 1/200 second.
If you dive deep into the menu, you will find an option to switch the flash from the pre-flash TTL control to manual, here you can choose between six power levels from full to 1/32.
Thanks to the TTL flash shoe, Nikon system flash units can be used. With these, high-speed synchronization is also possible, but the flash is fired several times during exposure at an exposure time shorter than 1/200 second, which of course reduces the power and range. Wireless control of external flash units is only possible if a system flash unit in the flash shoe takes over the control, the integrated flash cannot.
Bracketing And Continuous-Advance Mode
Exposure bracketing allows the Nikon to take pictures from 0.3 to 2 EV between the three exposures. Hidden deep in the menu, you can also activate white balance bracketing or Active-D-Lighting bracketing.
The Nikon D5500 can also take HDR photos directly. The interval shooting function is also interesting: up to 9,999 photos can be taken with an exposure interval of one second up to 24 hours, i.e. you could have one picture taken every day for over 27 years. You can also choose whether the camera automatically adjusts the exposure.
The continuous-advance function is located at the other end of the drive-mode delay time. Nikon promises five frames per second. That’s not really much nowadays, but it’s still enough for most everyday situations.
However, the Nikon D5500 actually only achieves 4.8 frames per second with JPEG, in Raw it’s even only four frames per second. With seven pictures, the raw puffer is also quite small. With JPEG, on the other hand, 21 shots fit into the buffer before the continuous shooting frequency breaks down a bit.
Thanks to the fast storage times, the Nikon still manages three JPEG images per second or 2.1 raw images per second in continuous operation.
Video Of The Nikon D5500
For video recordings, of course, completely different frame rates are required in order to capture movements smoothly. Fortunately, the Nikon D5500 offers up to 60 frames per second at full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080).
The minimum frame rate is 24 frames per second. In the menu, a separate entry is dedicated to the video settings, in which not only the resolution and frame rate can be determined, but also, for example, the video quality. H.264 compression (MPEG-4) is stored in Quicktime format (MOV). In the Video Settings menu, you can also select whether to set the exposure manually or automatically.
By the way, the video mode does not have to be selected explicitly. It is sufficient to press the video recording button in the Live View. The image trim from 3:2 to 16:9 is unfortunately not shown before, but at least it is only shown above and below. The Nikon D5500 does not have an electronic video image stabilizer that would further narrow the image section.
Instead, the optical image stabilizer does its job silently. This, however, cannot be said for autofocus tracking. This works sluggishly, constantly pumping and clearly audible on the soundtrack. In other words, switching off is the best option. This also ensures clean stereo sound for the video, and the levels are displayed and can be controlled. The stereo microphone connection also allows the use of external microphones. A wind noise filter can also be switched on.
Nikon is one of the manufacturers who equip their cameras with extensive image processing capabilities. One of the six main menu groups is dedicated to this item alone. Here, for example, raw images can be converted into a JPEG, and even a few basic settings such as exposure correction or white balance are possible.
The D-Lighting function, an active shadow brightening function that can also be activated for recording, should of course not be missing from the editing functions. In addition, automatic image enhancement is available in various strengths.
In addition, there is a distortion and perspective correction, numerous effects, an image montage function, and much more. Even videos can be edited, at least start and endpoints can be newly selected and a still image can also be extracted.
The Nikon D5500 has a built-in WLAN module. This makes it possible to transfer images wirelessly to Android or iOS smartphones (Apple). The free Nikon app is necessary for this. This also allows remote control of the camera.
Although one can hardly speak of a real remote control with the few functions. Live image transmission, a self-timer mode can be set and triggered with it, unfortunately not much more. Other manufacturers offer significantly more setting options. If you want, you can also use a real Nikon radio remote shutter release to release the camera.
As one of the largest system camera manufacturers, Nikon also offers a very wide range of F bayonet lenses. However, most of them are full-frame lenses. Although they work the same way on the Nikon D5500, their focal length ranges shift by a crop factor of 1.5. Some lenses specially designed for APS-C mainly close the focal length gaps downwards.
Note that the Nikon D5500 does not support the old mechanically transmitted autofocus and relies on an AF motor in the lens. However, this is actually available with all current lenses. The AF-S Nikkor 18-105 mm used in the test is highly recommended as a universal set lens.
Not only does it offer a better image quality than the cheaper 18-55 mm, but it also offers an extended focal length range in the telephoto range (up to 158 millimeters corresponding to 35mm), which makes an additional telezoom superfluous in many situations. In addition, the lens has an optical image stabilizer to reduce camera shake. This stabilizes the viewfinder image itself and thus also ensures a smoother image for the autofocus, which benefits the reliability of the focusing.
The autofocus of the Nikon D5500 works like its predecessor with 39 measuring fields, of which only the central eleven are designed as high-quality cross sensors. The others are simpler line sensors.
While cross sensors can focus equally on horizontal and vertical contrast edges, line sensors react only to horizontal or vertical contrast edges, depending on their arrangement. The middle sensors are therefore more reliable. At the 18-105mm wide-angle, the autofocus focuses from infinity to a subject two meters away in 0.37 seconds.
A further 0.09 seconds elapse before the actual release. This delay also occurs with pre-focusing. In telescopic position, the autofocus is 0.13 seconds slower. Overall, these are not record values, especially current mirrorless system cameras are twice to three times as fast. In dark environments, the white LED auxiliary light helps the autofocus to find the target.
The Nikon D5500 can play out its advantage when the subjects move, because this can detect and track phase autofocus much better. It not only distinguishes between “sharp” and “blurred”, but also measures how far and in which direction you have to focus for “sharp”. With autofocus tracking, the photographer can decide whether all 39, only 21, or even only nine focus fields should participate in the focus tracking.
This is useful, for example, if a moving subject is in a certain image area. In addition, there is a 3D tracking function which can track motifs even better with the aid of the exposure meter.
The photographer is only marginally supported in manual focusing. For example, the exposure scale in the viewfinder optionally indicates the direction of focus. In Live View, a focus loupe can be activated, but the Nikon D5500 does not offer further aids such as focus peaking.
By the way, the Nikon D5500 doesn’t have a depth-of-field preview, also called dimming function. Actually, such a function is part of the specification of a sophisticated interchangeable lens camera in order to be able to assess the focus before taking a picture.
Picture Quality Of The Nikon D5500
The lens shows good sharpness from the center to the edge of the image for 20 x 30 centimeters prints with all focal lengths and apertures. The edge darkening is slightly higher at short and long focal lengths than at medium focal lengths, but is not dramatic at a maximum of one f-stop, which corresponds to a light loss of 50 percent. The ascent to the corners is also quite gentle, so that the edge darkening is hardly noticeable. The vignetting decreases significantly by one to two stops.
The lens shows a slightly higher edge darkening at short and long focal lengths than at medium focal lengths, but doesn’t turn out dramatically with a maximum of one f-stop. The vignetting decreases significantly by one to two stops. The 18-105 mm has a little more to fight with the distortion. At wide-angle, it has a clearly visible 3.5 percent ton shape; at medium focal length, the distortion changes to a cushion shape that is disturbingly visible at two percent. Color fringes in the form of chromatic aberration, on the other hand, are well under Nikon’s control.
Resolution measurement at 50 percent edge contrast (MTF50) shows its maximum resolution at all three focal lengths at F8 to F11, which is just under 60 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm). With an open aperture, however, the resolution is about 40 to 45 lp/mm, depending on the focal length, which is still a decent value.
Beyond F11 diffraction limits the resolution. At the edge of the image, the resolution is constantly about 20 percent below the resolution in the center, depending on the aperture and focal length sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Although this is visible at a critical glance, for a zoom lens the loss of resolution is within the average range.
The Nikon D5500 doesn’t reach maximum signal-to-noise ratio values but remains within the acceptable range of 35 to 40 dB up to ISO 1,600. Only at ISO 3.200 is the critical level of 35 dB undercut. Brightness noise is only slightly visible from ISO 3.200, the Nikon has the color noise even better under control.
The Nikon still receives details very well up to ISO 1,600, even at ISO 3,200 there are still enough details visible. Only then do the images appear softer, and the loss of detail becomes dramatic, especially above ISO 6,400.
The input dynamic of the Nikon D5500 is nicely high up to ISO 400 with about 10.5 f-stops. Even at ISO 1.600, ten high f-stops are achieved. Only at ISO 6.400, the input dynamics become significantly worse.
The tonal value curve is moderately divided, while sharpness artifacts are very small. Nikon prepares the JPEGs in a relatively reserved way. The output tonal range is high up to ISO 800, at ISO 1.600 only slightly more than 128 of the 256 possible brightness gradations are actually used.
Especially at even higher sensitivities, fine brightness gradations suffer and are displayed coarser. The situation is different from the actual color depth. Up to ISO 6,400 more than two million (of 16.7 million possible) color gradations are displayed, up to ISO 1,600, there are even around four million colors.
Although the manual white balance was extremely precise in the test done with the testing software, the color chart is reproduced with some deviations, especially in cyan, blue and violet tones. In the yellow, green, orange, red, and skin tones, however, the Nikon D5500 works very precisely.
The 18-105 mm has a little more to fight with the distortion. Although the Nikon D5500 offers an optional distortion correction, this is deactivated by default. Such a correction usually costs some sharpness, especially at the edges of the image. In wide-angle, the Nikkor has a shape of almost 3.5 percent tons, which is clearly visible.
Already with middle focal-length, the distortion changes its face and becomes strongly cushion-shaped. In pictures, this appears even more unnatural than a barrel-shaped distortion, so that the cushion-shaped distortion of about two percent, which is lower after the amount, is still perceived as highly visible.
Color fringes in the form of chromatic aberration, on the other hand, are well under Nikon’s control. On average, the color fringes are practically invisible and even the more extreme forms near the edge of the image are only weakly visible. They extend over a maximum of about 1.5 pixels. The resolution measurement at 50 percent edge contrast (MTF50) shows a very high resolution of the 24-megapixel sensor on the one hand, but also that the 18-105 mm must be clearly dimmed for use. All three focal lengths reach about F8 to F11.
Their maximum resolution is just under 60 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm). With an open aperture, however, the resolution is about 40 to 45 lp/mm, depending on the focal length, which is still a decent value.
Beyond F11 diffraction limits the resolution, further than F16 one should only dim down in an emergency if, for example, the depth of field is more important than the resolution. At the edge of the image, the resolution is constantly about 20 percent below the resolution in the center, depending on the aperture and focal length sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. Although this is visible at a critical glance, for a zoom lens the loss of resolution is within the average range.
Although the Nikon D5500 doesn’t reach maximum values for the signal-to-noise ratio, the music plays in the acceptable range of 35 to 40 dB but remains at this level over a wide sensitivity range. Only at ISO 3.200 is the critical level of 35 dB undercut. Only at the very highest sensitivity of ISO 25.600 does the signal-to-noise ratio drop into the very low range of well below 30 dB.
Brightness noise only becomes slightly visible at ISO 3.200 and rises sharply above ISO 12.800. The Nikon also has the color noise well under control, at most at ISO 25.600, it becomes easily visible. Such an effective noise reduction also leads to a loss of detail resolution. In fact, however, the Nikon D5500 manages to preserve details up to ISO 1,600 very well, even at ISO 3,200 there are still enough details available.
Only then do the images appear softer, details and fine textures are a little crushed or even disappear. The loss of detail is particularly dramatic above ISO 6,400.
The input dynamic of the Nikon D5500 is nicely high up to ISO 400 with about 10.5 f-stops. Even at ISO 1.600, ten high f-stops are achieved. Only at ISO 6.400 does the input dynamic deteriorate significantly and reaches its low point at ISO 25.600 with just over seven f-stops. The tonal value curve is moderately divided, while sharpness artifacts are very small. Nikon prepares the JPEGs in a relatively reserved way, which is good for image post-processing, although the raw format is even better suited for this.
If the images are to be printed directly, however, they can easily tolerate a shake more sharpness, which can happen with the help of the Picture Control System directly in the camera before the shooting. If one then saves in both file formats in parallel, a JPEG for the fast post-processing-free publication or printing as well as a post-processing-friendly image will end up on the memory card.
But back to the picture quality in the standard JPEG settings of the Nikon D5500: The output tonal range is high up to ISO 800, at ISO 1.600 only a little more than 128 of the 256 possible brightness gradations are actually used. Especially at even higher sensitivities, fine brightness gradations suffer and are displayed coarser.
The situation is different from the actual color depth. Up to ISO 6,400 more than two million (of 16.7 million possible), color gradations are displayed, which is perfectly sufficient for the human eye. Up to ISO 1,600, it is even just over to just under four million colors. Although the manual white balance was extremely precise with the testing software, the color chart is reproduced with some deviations. Cyan tends towards blue, blue and violet tones are too strongly saturated and magenta tends towards red. In the yellow, green, orange, red and skin tones, however, the Nikon D5500 works very precisely.
All in all, the Nikon D5500 to ISO 1.600 shows a very good picture quality, but also at ISO 3.200 it is still good. Above this, the image quality drops quite steeply, which is confirmed not only by the values retrieved from the test software but also by our practical experience during a couple of days. The Nikon D5500 meets the highest demands, especially in the range from ISO 100 to 400.
Alternatives To The Nikon D5500 – Comparison
Canon Rebel T5i (EOS 700D) vs Nikon D5500
The Canon also has a swiveling rotary screen with touch function, but with similarly unacceptably slow autofocus in Live View. With 18 megapixels, the Canon has a slightly lower resolution, which in reality has less of an effect than expected. At high sensitivities from ISO 1,600, however, the Canon does not come close to the quality of the Nikon, although it has less resolution and larger pixels.
Canon offers a better app for remote control with more settings than the Nikon. All in all, the cameras don’t take much, so it’s worth taking a look at the lens program to see if it meets your own requirements.
Pentax K-S2 vs Nikon D5500
The Pentax K-S2 scores with some features that the competition at eye level does not have to offer. With its splash water and dust protection, it has the toughest body and also has a much better viewfinder than the Nikon and Canon.
Both the viewfinder magnification and the brightness and field coverage are better. The Pentax also has a turn/swivel display, albeit without touch function. In Live View, the autofocus of the Pentax depends on the Nikon and Canon by far but is still much slower than when using the viewfinder. The image sensor has a slightly lower resolution of 20 megapixels, but the difference to 24 megapixels is not that big.
Pentax offers the best lens program for APS-C but doesn’t offer as many special lenses as Canon or Nikon, which aren’t used in this camera class anyway.
Sony Alpha 6000 vs Nikon D5500
The Sony Alpha 6000 isn’t an SLR camera, but the Nikon can stand up to it in many respects or even take the butter off its bread. The Sony scores with its compactness, but is not as ergonomic as the Nikon. The image quality doesn’t take much, especially since an almost identical sensor is used.
Sony gets a bit more sharpness and high-ISO image quality from the sensor, but with a more aggressive image processing than the rather reserved Nikon. The Sony display can only be folded up and down.
But the Alpha offers the faster, more flexible autofocus than the Nikon and beats it both in the fastest mode and even more if you activate the Live-View on the Nikon. The Nikon also looks old when it comes to the speed of the continuous shooting, the Sony is more than twice as fast and has double to triple breath when it comes to the number of shots in quick succession.
The Sony’s viewfinder is purely electronic, but is much larger than the Nikon’s and allows a preview of the exposure as well as better manual focusing thanks to the focus magnifier. In the lens program, however, the Sony E system clearly has to admit defeat to the Nikon F system.
Bottom line: Is The Nikon D5500 Worth It?
Compared to its predecessor, the D5300, the changes seem to be only marginal, yet the Nikon D5500 is a good step forward for Nikon’s hobby DSLR class. The monocoque housing is much more ergonomic and also outperforms the direct competition in terms of the grip safety.
There is almost nothing missing, so there are an interval function, exposure bracketing and even an HDR function.
WLAN is also on board, but the app’s control options are now shameful in view of the much better competition.
The large rotating and swiveling touch screen is a lot of fun, especially since the proximity sensor on the viewfinder automatically switches off the screen, but the touch function is an additional function key.
The slow Live View autofocus, which offers focus speeds of the last millennium, is no fun. The speed of the serial shot is also not the best in the industry, but it is sufficient for most applications.
Nikon doesn’t bother with the picture quality. If the D5300 was still no step forward despite the missing low-pass filter, it is now the Nikon D5500. Despite the reserved image processing the Nikon delivers a high resolution and a very good image quality up to high ISO 1.600.
Specifications Of The Nikon D5500
|CMOS APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5) 24.2 megapixels (effective)
|4.496 x 3.000 (3:2)
|1.920 x 1.080 60p
|Nikon AF-S 18-105 mm 3.5-5.6 DX G ED VR (zoom lens)
|Mirror viewfinder, 95 percent image field coverage, 0.82x magnification (sensor-related), 0.55x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter correction, fixed focusing screen
|3.2″ (8.1 cm)
|HDMI Mini Output (Type C)
|Automatic motif control
|Bulb long time exposure
|Matrix/multi-field measurement, center-weighted integral measurement, spot measurement
|fastest shutter speed
|Hot shoe: Nikon, standard center contact
|external, wired or plug-on receiver
|yes, cable release, remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
SD (SDHC, SDXC)
|Number of measuring fields
|9 Cross sensors 30 Line sensors
|Phase Auto Focus: 0.46 s to 0.60 sLive View Auto Focus: 1.86 s to 3.02s
|AF auxiliary light
|124 x 97 x 70 mm
|Weight (ready for operation)
|464 g (housing only) 883 g (with lens)
|In the optical axis
|manual on lens
|820 images (according to CIPA standard)
|– = “not applicable” or “not available”
This test of the Nikon D5500 with Nikon AF-S 18-105 mm 3.5-5.6 DX G ED VR was done with DxO Analyzer.
- Ergonomic, deep grip
- Pivoting and rotating touch screen
- Very high image quality up to ISO 1,600
- The large scope of equipment and features available
- No dimming button/function
- Right little finder
- 18-105mm set lens with high distortion
- Hardly any control options via WLAN
Nikon D5500 Datasheet
|CMOS sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5) 24.2 megapixels (effective)
|36 bits (12 bits per color channel), 42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
|Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
|Phase comparison autofocus with 9 cross sensors, contrast autofocus
|Single autofocus, Continuous autofocus, Tracking autofocus, Manual, AFL function, AF Assist Light (LED)
Viewfinder and Monitor
|Reflex viewfinder (95 % image coverage), 0.82x magnification, diopter compensation.
|3.2″ (8.1 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,037,000 pixels, viewing angle 170°, anti-reflective, brightness adjustable, tiltable 180°, rotatable 180°, with touch screen
|Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement, AF-AE coupling
|1/4,000 to 30 s (automatic) 1/4,000 to 30 s (manual) Bulb function
|Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
|-5.0 to +5.0 EV
|Sensitivity to light
|ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (automatic) ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (manual)
|Remote release, cable release, remote control via smartphone/tablet
|Flowers, Twilight, Indoor, Candlelight, Children, Landscape, Night Portrait, Close-up, Portrait, Sunset, Sports/Action, Beach/Snow, Animals, 2 more scene modes
|High Key, Low Key, Miniature Effect, Selective Color, Toy Camera, Vivid, 4 more Image Effects
|Auto, Cloudy, Sun, Fine-tuning, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent lamp, Manual
|4.0 fps at the highest resolution, 5 frames per second (JPEG or 12-bit RAW)
|Self-timer with an interval of 2 s, features: or 10 seconds
|Timer/interval recording with max. 9,999 recordings, start time adjustable
|AEL function, AFL function, live histogram
Flashgun Of The Nikon D5500
|built-in flash (hinged) flash shoe: Nikon, standard center contact
|Flash sync time 1/200 s
|Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash on the Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction, Flash Exposure Compensation
Equipment And Features
|no optical image stabilizer
SD (SDHC, SDXC)
|GPS external (wired or plug-on receiver)
|Power supply connection
|1 x Nikon EN-EL14a (lithium-ion (Li-Ion), 7.3 V, 1,230 mAh) 820 images according to CIPA standard
|Red-eye retouching, crop images, image rotation, protect image, playback histogram, image index, slideshow function, zoom out
|Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction
|The grid can be faded in, orientation sensor, Live View
|Data interfaces: USB USB type: USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN: available
|AV output: HDMI output Mini (Type C) Audio input: yes (3.5 mm jack (stereo, 3-pin)) Audio output: no
|Supported direct printing methods
|1/4″ in the optical axis
|Features and Miscellaneous
|Active D-Lighting contrast adjustment (5 levels), eye sensor
Size and weight
|Dimensions W x H x D
|124 x 97 x 70 mm
|464 g (operational)
|Nikon AN-DC3 Storage AccessoriesNikon
BF-1B (Case Cover)
Nikon DK-24 (Eyecup)
Nikon EG-CP16 Audio / Video CableNikon
EN-EL14a Special BatteryNikon
MH-24 Charger for Special BatteriesNikon
UC-E23 USB Cable
|Nikon ME-1 (microphone)