CNET First Look
Nikon D5300 hands-onWith the D5300, Nikon remains at the head of the class of sub-$1,000 dSLRs.
Hi. I'm Lori Grunin, senior editor for CNET, and this is the Nikon D5300. The replacement for its popular D5200, the Nikon D5300 delivers a slightly redesigned and noticeably smaller and lighter body. The incorporation of a sensor without an optical low-pas filter, bigger and better view finder and LCD, and an expanded feature set which now includes Wi-Fi and geo-tagging built right into the camera. Combined with the new 18-140 millimeter lens kit, you get a more expensive, but still a great option for the family photographer or enthusiast. The design and interface are fundamentally the same as the D5200. While it's smaller and lighter, it still feels comfortable to use and reasonably well-built. The grip's redesigned to increase clearance between your hand and lens. It really does feel more comfortable. The drive mode button had to be relocated to the side in order to make room for the Wi-Fi and GPS antennas. And I actually prefer it there. The LCD and view finder are both bigger and a bit nicer. It also has a stereo microphone now. And my only real complaint is about the multi-controller. It feels a little too flat and hard to maneuver precisely. The camera incorporates a new version of Nikon's X-speed image processor, which allows for the addition of 1080/60p video and better battery life-- although the camera does have a new battery. The GPS intermittently fail to tag images though, even when I hadn't moved. Connecting to mobile devices via Wi-Fi works relatively seamlessly, though the camera doesn't have NFC to smooth the kinks of connecting. And Nikon's app has limited tethered shooting capabilities. You can't change any settings, but you can touch focus. I don't like that the app stays loaded in memory on Android when you disconnect. Its performance remains roughly the same as the D5200, which is pretty good for this class. Live View shooting is still on the slow disappointing side. But by all other measures, including its 5.1 frame per second JPEG burst, I think most people will be pretty happy with it. If you shoot RAW, it's still insufficient for continuous shootings since it still only has a six-frame burst buffer. The anti-aliasing filter-free sensor produces great photos. And the extra sharpness it provides, plus the excellent JPEG processing results and usable images as high as ISO 6400. In a body less than $1,000, that's really, really good. Even shooting in 14-bit RAW doesn't seem to preserve a lot of highlight detail, but the camera tends to underexpose as a rule and you can recover a lot of shadow detail without introducing a lot of noise. I'm not crazy about the camera's default settings. They include normal image quality, rather than fine-- which is a higher compression level-- manual adjustments during movie shooting are turned off. And what's a real pain for me, sequential file numbering defaults to off. With the D5300, Nikon remains at the head of the class of sub-$1,000 DSLRs. I'm Lori Grunin, and this is the Nikon D5300.