Nikon D5600 review: Still a great slightly-more-than-cheap dSLR

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The Good The Nikon D5600 delivers excellent photo quality for its price class, as well as performance that can keep up with your kids and pets.

The Bad It may be too small for people with larger hands and it turns off the self-timer after every shot in single-shot mode.

The Bottom Line Lightweight and compact with everything the family photographer needs, the Nikon D5600 maintains its position as a great general-purpose dSLR for its price class.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Image quality 8

Nikon sprinkles a tiny pinch of update dust on the D5600, a minor improvement to its small but excellent and inexpensive D5500 dSLR.

The camera comes in a few kits. Nikon typically charges $700 for the body (AU$1,100); the main kit with the AF-P 18-55mm lens is $800 (£800, AU$1,250); the main kit with the 18-140mm lens is $1,200 (£990); and for the two-lens kit with the AF-P 18-55mm VR and AF-P 70-300mm lenses, the price is $1,150 (AU$1,500). Note that the US kit offerings are a superset of those in the UK and Australia.

In addition to the hardware tweaks, though, Nikon finally updated its awful SnapBridge app (AndroidiOS) at the end of November 2017, bringing its feature set up to par with other manufacturers' and ostensibly improving performance and stability.

For a camera with an APS-C-size sensor at $800 or less for the kit, the D5600 is your most well-rounded option. It delivers noticeably better photo quality than Canon competitors like the T7i, and while Pentax's K-70 is probably its closest competitor with a lot of feature perks (including a weather-resistant body), Pentax is sadly fading from view and possibly endangered. Its closest mirrorless competitor is the slightly more expensive but fast and compact Sony A6300. Micro Four Thirds models from Olympus and Panasonic at similar prices just don't deliver the photo quality of APS-C with their smaller Four Thirds sensors, although you can get better speed from the former.

A bit better

While there aren't that many significant changes in the camera over its predecessor, it does seem like there are small improvements in speed and photo quality. They're probably attributable to the usual firmware updates made when a new model comes out.

On the left is the ISO 400 shot from the T7i in the Fine Detail mode; on the left, a normal ISO 400 from the D5600. Its photos are sharper because Canon still uses an antialiasing filter (aka an OLPF) on its sensor, which blurs edges slightly.

Lori Grunin/CNET

This shot shows typical color, sharpness and background and highlight defocus characteristics (bokeh) of the AF-P 18-55mm lens.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

The JPEGs at ISO 1600 and above lose a little sharpness, but this underexposed shot, boosted by 1.7 stops in the raw file, has more detail because I used far less aggressive noise reduction than you get in-camera. It's grainier than some people might like, though.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

The video looks good as well, and Nikon's autofocus in Live View smoother than before -- it's certainly better-than-adequate for general movie capture. Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS still outperforms it for smoother, more accurate autofocus during video, though.

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