D5300 Review

D5300 Review in bullets.

Some points are vs D5200 some are just important points. Sample images and video below.

D5300 Pros

  • The body is redesigned - smaller than the D5200 and feels better in the hand
  • Large vibrant 3.2" articulated screen is lovely
  • Excellent sensor and processor- best image quality at this price point- images are sharp(with a good lens) and high ISO files are clean and usable up to ISO 4000, maybe even 6400 if you are careful and or apply a little post processing
  • On auto this camera take some of the best photos - consistently turns out nicely exposed images even when popup flash is used.  Downside - Nikon tends to have a slight greenish cast to many indoor(under artificial light) images - can be corrected in post easily or adjust WB but default setting is a little greener than I like
  • No AA filter or Optical Low Pass Filter means the images are sharp. Image are sharper than the D5200 but not a huge difference.
  • Speedy! I found the D5200 to hesitate at times and occasionally be slow to operate - none of that is present in the D5300 - focus is fast, general camera operations are snappy and it has a buffer that lets you fire off a stack of JPEGS and RAW - in some cases it can even shoot more images in a 10 second period than the D7100!
  • 14 Bit RAW files as an option gives you increased post processing latitude - they are big and slow the camera down but if you want to have the greatest latitude in post processing it is nice to be able to shoot in 14-bit.
  • Packed full of fun/amateur features including selective color, miniature effect (makes neat movies too)
  • Better battery life vs D5200 unless you turn on the GPS and select settings that make the GPS useful

D5300 Cons

  • Weak GPS - needs A-GPS file from Nikon to work better, annoying hassle and if you turn off GPS sleep timer so that ALL photos will be tagged your battery life is going to be significantly shorter and you run the risk of forgetting it is on there and a few hours later picking up a camera with a dead battery.
  • Wifi is limited - you can stream live view, take a photo and download photos - no control over the camera other than pressing the shutter button.  Not able to start or stop video with the WiFi.
  • Live view aperture block/exposure simulation hassle - Being able to control aperture is tied to manual movie settings and then that blocks shutter speed changes - watch my review to see this illustrated.
  • Live view focus is about the same as earlier models - still has that in and out as it grabs focus- lenses make noise on board mic can pickup. Nothing like the 70D video focus and even T5i is still smoother and silent with STM lenses.

Final Thoughts on the Nikon D5300

Overall- at this price point no other sensor matches this camera for pure sharpness and low light capabilities.Pair it with something like the Sigma 18-35 or just the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 prime and you will have an amazing photo machine that excels in lower light, I mean like dark alley photos at midnight.  It is being sold with 18-140 lens which I have found to be decent and convenient but not an amazing difference from the Nikon 18-105. Please don’t but this camera with the Nikon 18-55. I didn't’t think it was being sold with the 18-55 but heard from someone that picked up a bundle from a big box store - the 18-55 cannot resolve at the level of the sensor - You will have better results shooting through coke bottle glasses.

D5300 vs D5200:

Is the D5300 worth the extra cost over the D5200?

Yes. There is enough of a performance and quality increase over the D5200 to warrant paying the difference about $150. And you get the Wifi which limited is a nice feature for on the go sharing, you get a better battery and slightly smaller and lighter camera.

Is it worth it to upgrade?

It is very rarely a good investment to move up one body.  Despite all the PROs and the noticeable improvement in sharpness and high ISO quality you will have better results spending upgrade money on a new lens or two. These lenses will likely move with you to future bodies and be a better overall investment.  This is often where I encourage people who feel they have outgrown their camera to consider the next model line, like the D7100 but honestly in this case the D7100 doesn't offer much over the D5300.

D5300 vs Canon T5i(700d)

I found the T5i easy to recommend over the D5200, the D5200 offered slightly better image quality versus the T5i(700d) but was sluggish and quirky.  That image quality gap has widened noticeably with the D5300 and now that it offers responsive performance it becomes harder to recommend the T5i.  The D5300 still has that aperture live view annoyance and doesn't offer silent lenses for video but depending on your needs you may not care and on Auto mode for photos Nikon images look better to me 8/10 times. In video it is much closer - I like the look of the Canon files but this is more a personal opinion.

D5300 vs Canon 70D

A little unfair as we are matching what is basically an entry level model from Nikon against a prosumer model from Canon.  But prices are similar and image quality is very similar.  I give the Canon an edge in most use cases - the live view focus and video system of the Canon is amazing, after 3 months of use I absolutely love the 70D and for sports, video it just does an amazing job at the price point.  But it is bigger and it does cost more. The D5300 image quality is similar until you get up above ISO 4000 and then the D5300 files look a little better to me.Additional Videos -GPS & WiFi with Nikon D5300D5300 with 18-140 vs 18-105 ReviewD5300 with 18-140 and 18-150 Sample ImagesD5300 High ISO sample VideoMore Sample D5300 ImagesWhich camera is best for you?  Leave me a message on my Facebook page - tell me what is important to you and I can suggest which camera I think would be a best fit.If you want easy to use and excellent image quality the D5300 paired with the 18-140 is an excellent choice.If you want the absolute best performance out of this camera add something like the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8Additional Nikon Lens recommended for the Nikon D5300 and Best Budget Macro for Nikon DX cameras - Nikon 40mm F/2.8Buy the Nikon D5300 with 18-140 from Amazon  Buy from B&H(Includes freebies) Your purchase support this website and my work. 

Nikon 18-140 vs 18-105- Lens Review, Samples and Discussion

When the D5200 came out and I started using it with the 18-55 kit I was stunned at how soft the images were. I thought for sure I had gotten a bad copy of the kit so I went down to the camera store and tried a different one and then I tried another and they were all equally bad. I popped on my favorite prime lens and the difference was huge- Grand Canyon huge. In the past I have not typically been a kit basher, there are those out there that say the kit lens is horrible, just buy the body and get a prime or other, better quality, lens and I often disagree with this approach, especially for people new to DSLRS. The kit lenses, while not the best lens around are certainly a great place to start: they offer some zoom, they are usually lightweight and don’t add much to the cost of the camera. BUT with these newer sensors, especially the very sharp sensors in the D5200 D5300, and D7100 the older kit lenses like the 18-55 just can’t perform well enough.After my experience I advised anyone buying the D5200 to skip the 18-55 and get the 18-105 or consider some alternatives(Recommended Lenses for Nikon DX Cameras). The 18-105 is a better lens, it out performs the 18-55 easily but especially now that Nikon has dropped their AA filter, a filter that actually blurs the image slightly to avoid moire, in the D7100 and now the D5300 - they really needed a good lens to include with these cameras. Is the 18-140 that lens? Before we answer that I thnk it is very telling that they don’t even bother to bundle the 18-55 with the D5300 now. It is 18-140 or nothing. That makes the entry level price a good bit higher(even with B&H discounted price) and I don’t think Nikon wanted to do that- they just didn’t have any other options at this time.So how does it compare to the 18-105?  The 18-140 is on the left and the 18-105 is on the right in all samples below. (Watch my video discussing the differences seen below)18-140 on left 18-105 on right at 100% f/3.5 - the 18-140 is noticeably sharper 50mm 100% crop the 140 is able to shoot at f/4.8, the 105's max aperture is f/5 - sharpness is near identical 105mm 100% crop at f/5.6 The older 18-105 looks a little sharper to me.Edge of frame at 105mm 100% crop. Toss up? Maybe 18-140One of the reasons I am not a big fan of these larger range lenses - Distortion. See the bending or bowing in the image? Can be corrected in camera or in software with slight image quality degradation. don’t buy this for the increased range - the difference in zoom or reach between 105 and 140 is small.  More sample images with the 18-140 and the Nikon D5300Final Verdict - Bought with the D5300 or D7100 this lens compliments the sensor of those cameras nicely and provides a good compromise between quality and convenience.  However, it is still a kit lens and you might consider other options if you need to frequently shoot in lower light or want to create those images with the blurred background . See my list of recommended lenses for Nikon DX cameras.Buy the D5300 with 18-140 at B&H | Buy the 18-140 Buy from Amazon

D5300 and 18-140 lens- Sample Images & Thoughts

UPDATE: My Final Nikon D5300 Review is now published

I am editing "Very Early" out of the title. I have now had this camera for over a week- points below reflect my latest views

  • This camera is FAST- AF Servo easily captures a fast dog. Gone is the hesitation I saw in the D5200
  • The buffer is impressive, in fact the D7100 must be feeling a little inadequate- Using a SanDisk Extreme Card I can get 30 RAW shots in 10 seconds. The D7100 could only manage 23 with the same card!!! The D5200- 21 and to compare vs Canon- The Canon 70D gets 34. - Note with JPEGS the D7100 still has a faster FPS and can get in more shots but that doesn't matter in RAW as the D7100 very quickly fills the small buffer and slows down.
  • Auto mode produces VERY good images and flash exposure is excellent. The greenish tint is still present under some fluorescent light sources.
  • GPS is a mixed bag They offer a simple setup and a nice little track log option too. After using it for awhile I was very dissapointed at times when it took 10+ minutes to get a lock on location AND would lose location very quickly from one photo to another. Applying the A-GPS file provided on Nikon's website helps greatly and you risk draining your battery but you can turn GPS stand by to off which keeps a lock.  Overall I wish the system were a bit smarter, it seems you have a choice of missing GPS data when you let it sleep or draining the battery. I have a few examples where it didn't go to sleep and still missed marking photos with locations so more testing is needed here.
  • Wifi is painless to setup video functions are disabled when WIFI is ON and you can't even change camera settings - Basically it is a glorified remote(streams live view) that can download photos too.
  • 3.2" LCD Screen is gorgeous and looks good in bright sunlight - I wish it was touch sensitive, picking focusing points is a chore.
  • High ISO files(photos and video) are clean, very clean - a few sample images below - more coming soon.
  • Still quirky - shutter speed and aperture can change when you switch in and out of live view. In some modes you have control over aperture in live view - in others you don't. Manual movie mode needs to be on for exposure simulation to work and then you are limited to 1/30 of a second as your slowest shutter speed.

The 18-140 Lens is good - not an amazing improvement over the 18-105 but a nice balance of convenience and quality. Bought with a camera it offers good value. My Review of the Nikon 18-140 Lens.

  • 18-140 lens is convenient and quality is much improved over previous kit lenses - will have side by side vs 18-105 in a few weeks
  • 18-140 Focusing is similar to previous lenses on D5200/D7100, still not quiet or as smooth as an STM lens.

More info coming -

      • Is the buffer really larger? UPDATE- YES!!
      • How much sharper is the new sensor without the AA filter? Still testing. . .
      • How does 60fps look at 1080p compared to the max of 30fps on CanonSmooth - it may go without saying but the 1080p is a vast improvement over the 1080i offered by the Nikon D5200.
      • Is Moiré an issue?Early tests suggest not.
      • Bit rate of the files?About 40MBits/s

What else do you want to know about the Nikon D5300?

Buy the Nikon D5300 with 18-140 lens from B&H  - they have a $300 off deal that gets you the D5300 and the 18-140 for $1096

Your D5300 Questions from around the net- mostly My Instagram and Facebook

Q: How does it compare to the D5200?A: In terms of image quality they are VERY similar. I see in some images slightly sharper results, likely from the removal of the AA filter. At mid and low level ISOs differences are difficult to spot in many photos, higher ISOs the D5300 produces slightly better images.  (at this time I haven't taken any carefully controlled photos yet - My opinion may change) - I do notice the camera being a bit more responsive with a deeper buffer/more raw shots in a burst and of course it now offers built in WiFi and GPS.  Is it worth the upgrade over the D5200?  Only if you really want that built in WiFi and GPS.Q: Is it worth it to buy over the 700D/T5i (D5300 vs T5i(700D))?A: Depends - I still really like the all around performance of the Canon and as a learning tool the exposure simulation in live view on the T5i is fantastic but the D5300 produces better images and is a very feature rich camera with a good external control setup - nicely placed buttons. But without a touchscreen diving into the menu is a chore and picking a focus point on the D5300, after using the T5i and the 70D feels ridiculously slow.   Nikon still doesn't offer a silent lens for video and focusing isn't as smooth as it is on the T5i with an STM lens on.Q: How does it compare to the Canon 70D (70D vs D5300)A: This comparison isn't as fair as the D5300 vs T5i/700D. Despite the prices being close the D5300 is more entry level and the 70D is more professional level.  That said early tests do seem to show the D5300 having better image quality and of course GPS built in.    The 70D beats it on everything else - focusing system/speed, incredible live view/video focusing. Burst rate and buffer. Battery life, more robust WiFi with options to connect to a computer or hotspot (D5300 is limited to a phone or tablet running the Nikon wireless app)Q: How does it compare to the CanonD7100 (D7100 vs D5300)A: Similar to the vs the Canon 70D question - these cameras are in a separate classes except for image quality - so again image quality differences between these two seem very slight - the D5300 may squeak out a win in some photos but the D7100 offers performance! Dual card slots, serious focusing engine better battery life and more robust body.  If you are just looking for the best image quality D5300 is fine but if you need performance too the D7100 would be my pick.Q: I have heard that the D5300 GPS is not very good, can you elaborate?A: When I first glanced at the GPS section in the menu I was excited - not only could you tag photos but you could also record a track log in .log format which easily converts to a variety of formats that lets you see your path on a map.  And you had some control over the length of time between log points and it generally seemed like a robust system. You even have the ability to download AGPS data and use that to help the camera get a lock http://nikonimglib.com/agps2/index.html.en. I have since found that the camera's GPS can be very slow to get a location signal and quick to lose the signal, even when in clear view of the sky and even when it had a lock a few minutes earlier. At this moment it basically seems like Nikon used the weakest GPS chips on earth and I am disappointed.  I will try later with the AGPS data to see how much that helps. A few sample photos - mostly taken on auto mode.
Buy the Nikon D5300 with 18-140 lens from B&H  - they have a $300 off deal that gets you the D5300 and the 18-140 for $1096

New Nikon Products and 4% Back on Amazon

Nikon recently released a few new products including a new "kit" lens, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens. I put "kit" in quote because currently this lens is not being sold with any cameras but I expect that it will be offered in place of the 18-105 and as an alternative to the 18-55 with future Nikon cameras. My biggest complaint about that current Nikon kit lenses, especially the 18-55, they just don't do the sensor justice. Nikon is offering great sensors in the D3200, D5200 and D7100 and if you have the 18-55 on there you get soft images. Switch to a better lens and the difference is noticeable. Like "OH WOW" noticeable. This lens looks to improve significantly in sharpness. I wonder if we will have to wait for the next Dxxx models to see this bundled or after release at the end of August We may see this bundled with existing Nikon DSLRS? Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR LensPre-order the Nikon 18-140 from Amazon | B&HNikon also announced a tiny little entry level Flash, the Nikon SB-300 AF Speedlight. At $150 it is pretty cheap as flashes go but not being able to rotate - only tilt - knocks down my interest a bit. And a better value would be one of the budget Yongnuo flashes like the Yongnuo YN-468 II i-TTL For 1/2 the price you get a more feature filled flash with more power and can rotate as well as tilt. Watch this video for a brief discussion of external flashesNikon SB-300 AF Speedlight Pre-order the Nikon SB-300 AF from B&HSpeaking of Amazon - They have upped their rewards program to 4%, 35 days after purchasing select cameras, DSLRS and lenses you get a promotional code that is good for 6 months. All the small print.  The hassle is non-existent, you buy stuff on the list and you get the credit.Here are the P&S Cameras, DSLRS and Lenses eligible.