The Nikon D5500 was their smallest, lightest DSLR yet. It featured a 24-megapixel APSC sensor and an articulate touchscreen display. The entry-level DSLR was very impressive so we were curious to learn what Nikon could do to improve the market for mid-level DSLRs. Unfortunately, the answer was mixed. Although Nikon SnapBridge might be an important upgrade, it is not enough to convince everyone to buy the D5600. Although there aren’t many incentives to D5500 owners, D5600 buyers looking to get their first DSLR can find the D5600 a fantastic value. It is also a top performer. We will now examine the performance of Nikon D5600 in real-world and laboratory testing.

Nikon D5600 Photographing Experience

Image Quality: Similar great performance to its predecessor

Given that the D5600 is equipped with the same image pipeline as its predecessor it shouldn’t surprise that both compact Nikon DSLR cameras have almost identical image quality. We were very pleased with the D5500’s image quality.

We find the D5600 to be sharper and crisper than the entry-level to mid-level DSLR competitors from Canon, the Rebel T7i in particular. This is due to the lack of an optical low-pass filter as well as more aggressive sharpening. Although the Canon offers better color accuracy, you can’t deny that both have pleasing color rendering. The D5600 stands out from the rest of its competition by having a better default processing. High ISO: The D5600 is a great APS-C camera. It produces a superb 13 x 19, inch print at ISO 1600 and a solid 11 x 14, print at ISO 3200. The D5600 is capable of producing a 5×7 print at ISO 12,800. This feat is remarkable for a DSLR that costs this much.

Other aspects of image quality are also impressive, and the D5600 is no exception. The D5600’s average saturation is slightly higher than the average, and it has a near-average hue accuracy. High resolution is achieved by the camera. It produces JPEGs directly from the camera and processed RAW files that offer more detail. Although there are some edge enhancement artifacts from the camera’s in-camera process, it produces sharp JPEGs with processed RAW files that offer more detail. We think this is an acceptable compromise between sharpness as well as artifacts to its target audience.

For the Nikon D5600, dynamic range is a strong area. The 24-megapixel sensor has a 24MP resolution. While we no longer perform our own dynamic range tests, the results at DxOMark for the D5600 shed light on the sensor quality. This overall score of 84 matches the score from the Nikon D500, the DX flagship camera. The D5600 has a remarkable 14 EV dynamic range at base ISO. This is nearly an entire EV more than the Canon EOS 80D. (The T7i still needs to be tested).

Overall the Nikon D5600 delivers excellent image quality for an APS camera and even for a body costing around $700. Sharp images are captured by the 24-megapixel sensor with excellent resolution at a variety of ISO speeds. The camera also offers very high dynamic range, especially at base ISO. Although the D5600 is nearly identical in image quality to its predecessor, this is a positive thing as both cameras provide excellent imaging performance.

Autofocus

The Nikon D5600 optical viewfinder uses phase-detect automatic focus system. It has 39 points and nine cross-type. Although the autofocus points aren’t large enough to cover the entire frame, they provide consistent and fast autofocus. The camera can focus in low light without any assistance at a rate of around -1EV. The camera’s AF assist light can be used to focus even in total darkness, provided that your subject is sufficiently close and has enough contrast. The contrast-detect autofocus of the D5600 is slower than normal, but it’s still quite fast when you use an AF-P lens.

Performance

While the Nikon D5600 has a faster startup, single-shot cycle time and autofocus speed than its predecessor, you can expect similar performance. The D5600 can shoot at approximately 5 frames per second (or 4 fps when using 12-bit RAW) and is quite fast for this DSLR camera. While the speed is sufficient in most situations, professional photographers might prefer more speed. RAW image buffering is an issue. The RAW buffer depth for both 14-bit RAW (with JPEG) and 14-bit RAW+ JPEG was measured at 8 frames and 5 frames, respectively. Shooting 12-bit RAW files will improve those numbers. Although the buffer is quick to clear, it takes only seconds for the buffer to disappear. The camera was able and agile enough that even with its small buffer, it can still be used. If you are shooting JPEG images, then the buffer can be extended to allow for more frames per burst.

The camera performed admirably in both the real world and lab environments. Its battery life is exceptional, the D5600 taking 970 photos when you use the viewfinder. This should be sufficient to cover most of your shooting trips. A second battery is a smart idea for photographers who want to utilize SnapBridge or Live View. These features may reduce battery life.

Video

The D5600 does not have a lot of video, however the camera offers high quality HD video recording. While the camera is priced at the same price as its DSLR counterpart, it can also record progressive scan video in 1920 x 1080 resolution at up to 60 frames per seconds. This compares well with other mirrorless cameras but falls behind others. The articulating touchscreen is a useful and neat feature. It can rotate and extend to the sides of the camera, making it possible to capture video of yourself. This is especially useful for videographers.

The touchscreen is generally good for video recording. This allows you to move the focus point around the screen. The D5600 is quiet and quick when used with an AFP lens (such as the 18-55mm AF/P Kit lens), during video recording and Live View. Although the D5600 has a 10 minute video limit at 1080p60 High Quality, and a 20 minute limit at 1080p60 Normal Quality is a little disappointing (29’59”, for all modes) it does provide a lot of video control and excellent overall performance.

Nikon SnapBridge

SnapBridge is a feature Nikon added to nearly all its cameras in recent years. The Nikon D5600 now has SnapBridge. Many photographers value the ability to share photos quickly, and the D5600 has built-in Wi Fi with Bluetooth. Although the D5500 had Wi-Fi, SnapBridge via Bluetooth was new. SnapBridge, which is basically a Bluetooth connection with an ever-on function that allows you to transfer photos from your smartphone to any compatible device using Bluetooth. Remote control is possible and you can also manually transfer images. Bluetooth can transfer images slowly, but automatic transfers happen in the background.

Nikon D5600 Handling and Build Quality

The Nikon D5600, like its predecessor, is a compact DSLR. You can refer to our Field Test for more hands-on experience, but the main takeaway is that the camera body and its articulating touchscreen display work well in the field and the camera is comfortable to use for extended periods of time. Its optical seefinder covers approximately 95% of the frame, which is standard for this camera and meets Nikon’s requirements. The touchscreen on the 3.2 inch is capable of providing close to 100 percent coverage.

The touchscreen display can also be used to adjust the Assign Touch Fn default settings. This is a very simple feature that’s easy to use. When the screen is extended, you can place your thumb in the normal location to choose the focal point. Nikon also offered this feature on its Nikon D5500. However, Nikon has made some improvements to how the touchscreen interfaces with the D5600 optical viewfinder.

The Nikon D5600, a small and compact DSLR, continues to follow the D5500’s tradition.

Nikon D5600 Summary “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

While the Nikon D5600 may not have as many features and enhancements than its predecessor, that does not mean it’s not an excellent camera. In fact, the D5500 performed well in comparison to the entry-level DSLRs. The D5600 is still able to produce sharp images and pleasing effects in many situations.

Touchscreen display is easy to use and has excellent autofocus. For those who want to quickly and easily share photos on social networks, the D5600 has the Nikon SnapBridge feature. While that new feature may not be a compelling reason for upgrading from the D5500 to the D5600, the Nikon D5600 taken on the whole is an excellent DSLR in the sub-$1,000 category (the most expensive D5600 kit is one with an 18-140mm lens and that comes in at just under $1,000), making it an easy Dave’s Pick.

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