The Nikon D5300 is a DSLR that was launched in 2014. It introduced several new technologies and upgrades. Now, five years after its release, it is a good time to check out how it stood the test of time. It is a model that was designed to meet the needs of aspiring photographers and enthusiasts who wanted to upgrade from the kit lens to higher quality optics. So, it is an upper entry-level model. In other words, it is a DSLR that tried to provide some high-end features without breaking the bank. 

Key Specs

Sensor type: 24.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor

Viewfinder: Pentamirror optical viewfinder with 0.82x magnification

Autofocus: 39 point AF system

Photo Aspects 
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Processor: Expeed 4

ISO settings: 100 – 12800, can be extended to 25600

Shutter speed range: 1/4000 of a second to 30 seconds

Display: LCD 3.2 “ vari-angle screen, 1037k dots

Wi-Fi connectivity: built-in

Video: Full HD 1080p videos at up to 60fps

Battery Life: 600 shots

Design

The Nikon D5300 is a compact and ergonomic camera. Its body is made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer so it is pretty light (16.2 oz, body only). Like all Nikon’s DSLRs, it is rugged, ergonomic and functional. It has a large swiveling vari-angle display. The LCD can swivel 180 degrees. This allows you a lot of freedom to shoot from different and unusual angles. You can hold the camera overhead or down low to find an interesting angle. Not to mention that you can shoot some amazing selfies.

It also has an improved grip, compared to its predecessor D5200. Grip and weight improvements don’t seem to be a big deal, but they allow you to hold the camera more steadily. How many images have you ruined due to camera shake? So, the new design is actually allowing a better performance as well.

Nikon D5300 side view

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Features

Now, it’s time to get serious. This camera comes with 18-55 mm or 18-140 mm kit lens, but you can pair it with any Nikkor lens. The major asset of Nikon D5300 is a 24.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor. Actually, the capability of the sensor exceeds the capabilities of lens kits that come with this camera. So, if you are upgrading from a basic model, this camera will do miracles, and as your skill improves you can upgrade the camera with better lenses. It is the same sensor as in its predecessor D5200. However, it is an upgrade in quality because D5300 doesn’t have an optical low-pass filter (OLPF)or anti-aliasing filter. 

Once again we are talking about small improvements. However, high pixel count improves sharpness, detail, and colors. An excellent sensor and a lack of OLPF further improve the final result. Expeed 4 processor is extremely fast and provides outstanding quality for both images and your videos. While it is a great improvement when it comes to videos, it improves image qualities as well. Less noise, very faithful colors, and contrast detection autofocus.

“There is art and beauty and power in the primal images of fantasy.” – Guillermo del Toro

You will get excellent images in both strong and dim light. However, shooting in bright light with strong contrasts can be challenging and some details may be lost. Also, some chromatic aberration appears at longer zoom range. In low light conditions, D5300 shines. Noise reduction is very impressive. It can produce sharp images with no or very little noise even at very high ISO settings. Overall, I would say that this DSLR produces outstanding images for its class. 

Exposure, ISO, and Speed

Exposure will give you no trouble with this camera. Auto settings and priority modes work better than you would expect. So, even if you are not very experienced, you can rely on your camera to choose proper exposure in very different conditions. 

ISO performance is nothing short of impressive. Auto ISO system is one of the best out there. There are many ways to set up this system, and even with auto function on, you can still fine-tune it to use slower or faster shutter speeds. Shooting at high ISO values inevitably brings in some noise, but Nikon D5300 shines at this department. Noise levels are almost unnoticeable until you reach ISO 3200. And color saturation remains excellent until the highest ISO values. 

Speed is another strong side of this camera. It is not the fastest camera out there but it is quite good when compared to the competition. Shutter response is outstanding which is very important. Split-second timing can be crucial to capture the moment. However, focus speeds are not as fast. Using live view makes everything much slower, though. Continuous shooting and switch on time speeds could be faster, but they are not slow by any means. Shooting rate of 5 fps is decent.

GPS and Wi-Fi Connection

You probably wouldn’t buy this DSLR for selfies, or because of GPS and Wi-Fi, but these are some nice and convenient features. D5300 was the first Nikon DSLR with Wi-Fi connectivity and it allowed users to send or share images right away. And these features are not just for fun. You can use your smartphone or tablet as a remote monitor and shutter. It is great for group photos and self-portraits. However, you can’t control the settings other than AF, shutter release and self-timer. In portrait view, you can see exposure parameters, but you can’t change them. Maybe I am a little bit too needy here. Wi-Fi function is both cool and convenient, and you don’t really need remote settings.

As for GPS, it is another nice addition for travelers and hobby photographers. You can use it to create neat track logs. When you enable record location data function it will track your position even when the camera is off. You can choose 15s, 30s, and 60s intervals for periods of 6h, 12h, and 24h. So, you can record your route and image locations. It is cool, even though I’d rather save a battery for shooting. It depends on your plans and priorities. Anyway, it is nice to have a GPS function, and you can use it occasionally when you don’t plan too many shots.

D5300 top view

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Editing Options on Nikon D5300

You can edit and add some special effects right in the camera without using additional software. I find this very useful because you can check out your editing ideas at your shooting location. Special effects can be applied to both video and still images in the Retouch menu. You can also convert RAW to JPEG. 

There are nine special effects, and several different styles to apply to your image. In all of these modes, you can fine-tune brightness, sharpness, contrast, colors, and hue. Retouch menu has many additional options such as D-Lighting, digital filters, red-eye correction, trim, straighten, distortion control, perspective control, quick retouch and many more.

While I wouldn’t give up Photoshop, on-site editing can be useful. For some serious photos you will probably need Photoshop or Lightroom, but quick editing can be great for photos that you want to share immediately on social networks.

Ease of Use

If you are not familiar with DSLRs, D5300 is a smart device and it is very easy to use. There are 16 scene modes to choose from, and the camera will do the rest. The 39-point autofocus system is fast. Auto exposure, white balance, and flash exposure, D5300 does it automatically and pretty well. Generally, Nikon cameras have the auto white balance function that is unmatched by the competition.

There are several playback display options. You can choose to display 1, 4, 12, and 80 playback images at once. Also, there is a calendar display option to arrange your images chronologically.

The Expeed 4 processing engine not only processes and writes files at high speeds, but it also consumes less energy than its predecessors. This feature allows for up to 600 shots per battery charge. The more you can shoot without recharging, the easier it gets to make a perfect shot and improve your skills.

High dynamic range (HDR) is very useful when you have a lot of contrast that your camera can’t handle well in one image. Nikon D5300 has five different HDR settings from low to extra high. In case you didn’t know, HDR technology uses two or more images taken at different exposures and puts them together in-camera for one final image. It allows you to capture clear images in high contrast situations. Low HDR setting brightens a dark part or darkens an overexposed part of the image. High HDR settings will provide more artistic appearance, not so natural-looking, though.

“I’ve only been interested in the artistic side of life.” – Elton John

Video Quality

Nikon D5300 features the Expeed 4 processor that allows lower power consumption and improved video quality. D5300 produces Full HD 1080p videos. It can shoot videos at up to 60 frames a second. Video quality is quite satisfying.

Videos are sharp, smooth, with vivid and natural colors. Motions are smooth and natural. In low light conditions, Nikon D5300 video deteriorates a little bit, though. Actually, it is still smooth, but some noise appears. The sound could be better, but you can plug in a high-quality microphone. Also if you use continuous autofocus it is somewhat slow. Overall, for this level videos are more than satisfying.

Conclusion

Nikon D5300 is highly rated by users and for a reason. When it came out, it brought several innovative solutions. But, what makes this camera appealing is overall quality. Comparing it to the competition it is smaller, lighter, and has a higher resolution. And it costs less than most of the competition. So, it is easy to understand why users love it.

Another reason for D5300 success lies in its class. Photography is becoming more popular, and more people want to upgrade from basic models to more sophisticated ones. And Nikon D5300 is perfect for that. The quality of the images is breathtaking for beginners and enthusiasts. It can produce even the quality required by professionals, but not all the time and not in all conditions. Also, Nikon D5300 has some user-friendly features that professionals don’t need, but aspiring photographers will love.

Professional photographers will find some more shortcomings and they will be right, too. Nikon D5300 is by no means a perfect camera. But, considering its price and class it delivers more than enough. If we talk about upper entry-level DSLRs, D5300 is still the best, or at least one of the best models.