Nikon D5500 vs D3300 vs D5300 Comparison

January 10, 2015

D5500 vs D5300 vs D3300

Nikon has announced the D5500, a brand new upper entry level DSLR camera that replaces the D5300 which was announced on October 17, 2013. The D5xxx series is aimed for both beginners and enthusiast photographers, a camera with better capabilities than what the most basic Nikon DSLR is offering. In this article I’ll compare the D5500 versus the D5300 and the D3300 which was announced on January 7, 2014.  I hope that you’ll find this comparison useful and it can help you out making a smart buying decision.

I’ll start with a short introduction to the D5500 and move on to the side by side comparison itself — so let’s start!

Nikon D5500

The D5500 is a relatively small interchangeable lens reflex camera. The new D5500 closely resembles the D5300 design, and that’s a good thing, because the D5300 is very comfortable to hold and the buttons are easily accessible and its easy to operate this camera.It’s also a bit slightly smaller, but 1mm doesn’t make a huge difference here obviously.

Nikon D5500

Nikon D5500

The hand grip was chanced quite significantly and it’s different than the D3300 and D5300. It has more squarish and smaller design compared to the D3300 and D5500. I assume that Nikon optimized it based on customer’s opinion, and I assume that it better suits for people with smaller hands.

Nikon has decided to add a top dial, although a nice addition, I hoped to have a front-dial this time, but Nikon saves this to its more advanced models. The new dial takes the space of where the GPS receiver exists on the D5300, so no GPS this time, and this means no in-camera automatic geo-tagging option for your images. You have the option to purchase the GP-1A GPS unit and attach it to the camera. The GP-1 GPS costs around $280 the last time I checked on, so it certainly not cheap, and I’ll be missing this one on the new D5500.

According to Nikon, the new D5500 features a new monocoque structural skin and Carbon-fiber composite material that increase its durability, while still maintaining low weight. It’s not built at the same standards like the Nikon D7100 for example, but it’s still durable enough to keep it protected in daily use. It’s not water resistant, so don’t take it out in the rain.

The new D5500 is boasts a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor, capable of delivering very high resolution images, even at low lighting conditions and with very little noise. I personally among those who prefer less resolution and better high ISO performance, but Nikon has proven me that even with 24.2MP the image quality at high ISO can be very good. The sensor on the D5500 lacks the Optical Low Pass filter to improve the level of details and sharpness of the photos. If you love editing your photos, you’ll love having high-res images that gives more cropping freedom, as well as the RAW shooting option that gives more room for creative photo editing without an impact on image quality.

RAW is the digital negative of digital cameras. When you shoot in JPEG, the image is already altered (e.g. white balance, saturation, sharpness, etc.) and those can’t be changed. RAW format saves the image settings, but doesn’t apply them directly to the image. The RAW contains a raw data from the sensor, which is then converted to an image data on your computer or in the camera (aka in-camera raw editing). RAW file also contains more color data for each pixel, which simplifies image editing and giving more room for image adjustments without an high impact on image quality.

At the back of the camera you’ll find a 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD Touchscreen display. With 1037K-dots resolution, this monitor provided clear view of the scene when shooting in Live View and enhances the use experience when viewing photos and videos in-camera. As I mentioned, the D5500 now enjoy a touchscreen, which means that you can operate the camera using the screen at the back, like a mobile phone camera more or less.

The D5500 has a pentamirror optical viewfinder, which is not the same quality as pentaprism which is found on more advanced cameras, but still provides a clear and bright view of the scene nevertheless.

Among the other features are Snapbridge for easily sending photos wirelessly to a mobile device using the built-in Wi-Fi, a new Function (Fn) button, 39-point AF system (9 cross-type) and 3D tracking to quickly lock on fast moving objects, 1080p50 video with full-time AF and stereo sound, 16 scene modes, “Flat” option picture control, interval-timer (4 and 30 seconds), built-in HDR, artistic filters, 3.5mm mic input for connecting an external stereo mic and 5 fps in burst mode.

The D5500 is relatively a minor upgrade compared to its predecessor, the D5300. There’s new sensor, flat picture profile, slightly smaller, has touch-sensitive display, newly design grip,non-embedded control dial, eye sensor but drops the built-in GPS. I personally don’t see myself upgrading to the D5500 from my D5300 if I had it, but for new comers it’s a very good offering. The main competition for this camera will come from mirrorless cameras, and that’s true not just for entry-level DSLRs, even the enthusiast camera models


Overall, a great entry-level DSLR camera, but no doubt that I start to feel that pressure on the DSLR market coming from mirrorless cameras. We’ve seen much better updates coming from new mirrorless models, and I think that some people are quite disappointed with this new release and expected more after more than two years.

Regarding the price. The D5500 price is set to $896.95 (body only) and $996.95  (with the 18-55mm lens) on as of 1/10/2015. The D5300 isprices $696.95 (body only) and $649.98 for the 18-55mm kit. So for the body only, the D5500 costs exactly $200 more. Quite a big difference here, and not a big change for its predecessor, something to think about.

D5500 vs D5300 vs D3300

Now let’s take a look at the differences between the D5500, D5300 and D3300 with more details.

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The D5500 is more like a “tweaked” version of the D5300. It is a well-worthy upgrade for D3300 owners looking for more advanced camera due to its better AF system, better low-light capabilities, touchscreen, better LCD, built-in Wireless, timelapse recording, better battery life and more in-camera effects. It’s also has more simplified design and user interface and improved ergonomics.  That being said, its’s much more expensive, around $400 more to be exact. For the beginner and casual shooter, I’m not so sure that buying the D5500 is  good choice, unless you are tempted because of the touchscreen and know that you take advantage of its better capabilities. If image quality is what you are seeking, the D3300 also does an excellent job in that regard.

The main questions ares whether to pay $200 more and get the D5500 instead of the D5300 and whether it’s worth upgrading from the D5300. In my opinion, added design optimization and simplification, better battery life, built-in Wi-Fi — all are worth the extra price only if you intend to use them. If they don’t appeal to you, the D5300 is cheaper and it now sells for a cheaper price.  That’s true for those who are thinking upgrading to the D5500 from the D3300. I think that the new D5500 is more appealing for new comers and D3300 owners than D5300 owners. If I had the D5300 I wouldn’t upgrade to the D5300.

Overall, the D5500 is an excellent entry-level DSLR camera, but expensive. I suggest that you also take a look at the new mirrorless cameras, as you might find a better offering there. It’s not that the D5500 is not good, but I think that the current mirrorless offering and the upcoming mirrorless cameras will be much more interesting than what Nikon has to offer nowadays. That’s my take on the D5500. I’m sure that many people will find it an excellent camera and if you don’t mind the high price, you get an excellent DSLR camera in return. Happy shooting!

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