Bob Nuttmann

A Chance Run-In with an Old Friend – The Nikon D5500

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After getting back from a trip that I only took my iPhone on I took out my Sony A7iii and shot a few late afternoon shots with my 55mm f1.8 and adapted 100mm f2.8 Minolta Macro.  I have used the Sony now for 10 months and am familiar with most of it’s settings and buttons.  So it was easy to knock off a number of beautiful yard flower shots.

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Nice sharp photos with good color, sharpness, and background bokeh.

Yesterday I thought to myself, “self”, you should think about a light crop sensor Sony that you can put in your pocket so you do not have to go on another vacation where you don’t want to lug a full frame camera but want better shots than what a phone can give you.

So I went down to Best Buy, the closest place that was likely to have the new Sony 6400 smallish crop sensor camera and collapsible kit lens.  They had a 6000 with small kit lens and 6400 with slightly bigger lens.  With the 16mm-50mm lens it does fit in the front pocket of my cargo pants.  Jeans, forget about it.  I asked them if they had one in stock.  While he was checking I played with the camera a bit.  1.  No front adjustment wheel.  2.  Lens does not have a manual-auto focus switch like my bigger Sony lenses.  That means to manual focus you have to go into the menu.  3.  A lot less programmable buttons than on my A7iii.

Close by the Sony selection was Canon and Nikon.  So I walked over and picked up a Nikon D5600, which is identical to my previous D5500 body I foolishly sold 10 months ago.  Within 2 seconds of picking it up I loved the feel of it in my hand.  It fit perfectly.  It was light, secure, and I could easily adjust some of the controls with just holding it in my right hand.  Then I reached down and turned the 18-55mm kit lens manual adjustment wheel and it worked without doing anything!  I just reached down and moved it and it worked.  Then just for the heck of it I looked down at the back screen and tapped it just to feel the job from a big camera that actually has a working touch screen.  And let me tell you, it was pure joy, after a full ten months of not using it I felt much more at home with this menu system than with my Sony A7iii I have been using since last October.

I had to fight back the urge to just buy one on the spot.  But then my logical brain grabbed control and said, “what are you going to do with the Sony”.

At this point I just walked past the Sony bodies and left the store.  So my problem of needing a pocket better camera not solved.

Also today just for the fun of it I pulled out some of the best shots from 2018 using the Nikon D5500 with 18-55mm kit lens, 35mm f1.8, and 55-200mm DX tele.

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55-200 tele
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55-200 tele DX
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18-55mm P kit lens
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35mm DX f1.8
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D5500 using 24-120 FX lens

So bottom line.  The photos using the 18-55mm P kit lens were excellent including decent bokeh.  35mm f1.8 were sharp but bokeh fair to poor.  55-200mm pretty sharp and OK bokeh.  Then when I looked at shots using FX glass I would say the results were as good as the full frame Sony.  Of course you are talking about a few year old DSLR with a small optical view finder and no easy to use viewfinder exposure preview.

But it really felt good in the hand, manual focused instantly, and had an actual touch screen with full function.  And the menus all came back to me after ten months of absence.

Good glass is obviously important in getting good results.  Both my Sony 55mm f1.8 and 24-105 f4 are excellent lenses and give good files.  But I don’t think any better than the FX glass.

For anyone looking for a well priced great working inexpensive camera consider the Nikon D5600 with the 18-55mm P kit lens and maybe a couple of FX lenses.

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