Tag Archives: Nikon DSLR

Nikon D5500 DSLR

I have had my Nikon D5500 DSLR for about six months now.  It was an upgrade from a Nikon D3200 DSLR that I had for about 2 years.  Let me start off by saying that I have found the D5500 to be a very good camera and certainly a good value for the money.  In addition to the camera body I bought the new style kit lens that is 18-55mm.

Stock picture of Nikon D5500
Stock picture of Nikon D5500

I also have a Nikon 35mm f1.8 and a 55-200mm zoom.  The zoom has vibration reduction and the prime lens does not.  I was able to sell my two year old D3200 on line at a good price.

The D5500 is like the super deluxe version of the 3200.  The sensors of the two cameras have the same pixel count.  I have mostly taken stills with this camera but it works quite well for videos too.  The video portion of the 5500 has stereo microphones which is an advantage over the 3200.  I take more videos with my cell phone than the 5500, but find the results from the Nikon to be better.  The Nikon lenses are able to isolate the subject much better than the cell phone.  I shoot all my videos at 1080p.  I usually use the setting for about 24-30 fps.

The touch screen of the Nikon D5500 is a great feature.  It is much quicker and easier to use than the older style adjustments of the 3200.  I find the Nikon settings to be very easy to figure out.  Usually they have explanations to help you.  This camera has taken the scene settings off of the top wheels and into the touch screen menu.  There is a wide selection of scene settings and they seem to be quite effective.  ISO settings are now easy to adjust with the touch screen.  But for some reason Nikon put the control for applying auto ISO deep in the menus.  There is also a button now for control of single or multiple shots where you can get to it quickly.

Bodie CA. Two houses come together.
Bodie CA. Two houses come together.

The D5500 has very good color rendition.  I find this to be the case on either landscapes or people shots.  Many of the shots I took this summer using a scene from the menu needed little to no adjustment in post.  I did use the raw settings some of the time, but the D5500 jpeg software does a very good job.  Unless you like to twiddle with the pictures a lot I don’t think you need to stay away from just the standard jpeg settings.  The exception to this is very detailed landscape shots.  I still shot most of those in raw so all of the possible detail would be in the photos.

Bodie CA houses and blue sky.
Bodie CA houses and blue sky.

The picture above was a medium jpeg setting and this is how it came out of the camera.

Why I chose to get the D5500.  As I have mentioned in other posts I like well built cameras that take good pictures and the camera itself has good style.  I especially like the look and size of my Olympus OM2n cameras who’s size and look were based on the Leica M series.  I also have an old Voightlander Prominent from the 1950’s that is the same size as the Olympus with even nicer metal work.  The Voightlander is beautiful industrial design.  In my opinion.

Voightlander Prominent

So when I went to look at cameras I went to a camera store in San Diego that had the Nikon D5500, Nikon D750, Fuji XT1, and Olympus OMD – Em5 II.  The Olympus OMD was the best looking of the four cameras.  However, it weighed as much as the larger Nikon 5500 and would have cost me double what the I paid for the Nikon.  Keep in mind I already have two Nikon lenses.  And the kicker with the Oly is the small sensor.  It is significantly smaller than the 5500 and has less mega pixels.  And then there is no optical viewfinder.  I still like those.  The Nikon D750 is a great full frame camera that is like a big brother to the D5500.  I would rather have a full frame camera but don’t want to drag around twice the weight of the D5500.  The Fuji is a great mirrorless camera, but it costs lots of money to get the body and three lenses.  It is mirrorless, so not through the lens optical viewfinder, and it’s looks don’t do anything for me.

So I picked the Nikon D5500.  A very capable camera that feels very good in my hand.  It is however a lump of black plastic and not in any way a thing of beauty.  I am still waiting for that full frame good looking digital camera that is a similar size and appearance to the Leica M or Oly OM2n.  That I can afford to buy.

Digital Camera Pictures Vary Between Cameras Like Film Varies

I currently have three working digital cameras.  The one in my three month old smartphone, an older Sony compact camera, and a year old Nikon DSLR a 3200.  On our recent trip to southern Utah the Nikon really surprised me how well it adjusted for mid day pictures in brilliant sun.  Normally by far the best pictures are taken early in the morning or late in the day.  My Nikon 3200 when put on the landscape icon on it’s settings dial produced really good mid day pictures.  The camera in my smartphone had a much harder time with this lighting.  I remembered my Sony compact had a landscape setting too and decided I would do a test today to see how it worked with mid day light.

 

Here is the Nikon 3200
Here is the Nikon 3200
The Sony compact
The Sony compact
And my cell phone
And my cell phone

The Nikon DSLR did by far the best job of these three.  The Sony washed out the colors in the distance a bit.  The cell phone decided to focus on the trees in mid range and then put a strange lighter border section between the mountains and the sky.  In my opinion the only acceptable picture is the Nikon one.  But lets try a test where mid day sunny skies are not a factor.

Nikon
Nikon
Motorola Cell phone
Motorola Cell phone
Sony compact
Sony compact

All of the files on the digitals are about the same size approx 2.1-2.5 mega pixels.  In this case in my opinion all three are comparable pictures.  I prefer the color on the Motorola just a bit, and the Sony second.  Which puts the Nikon in third.

Conclusion.  The Nikon benefits from good software.  It has given an acceptable picture in mid day with color that is not washed out.  The Sony compact on the other hand is about six years old and does not benefit from software advances from the last couple of years.  And then the Motorola software has the right idea, but puts a gap between the sky and mountains.  And focuses on an object not in the center of the camera.  For tough mid day bright sun shots I am amazed at how good the Nikon works.  There is no way you could get shots as good as it does unless you are a wizard at post press.  And for this inexpensive Nikon the shots that came out of the camera had the color and saturation right.  Traditionally using film to get good mid days shots called for a polarizing filter.  In my humble opinion with Fuji Velvia 50 and a polarizing filter you would get even better shots of Monument Valley.  But that is only speculation as I did not shoot Velvia when we were in Arizona a month ago.

And for close up shots of flowers in late afternoon any of the digitals I have produced good results.  In this situation any of the shots would be OK, but here I preferred the look of the cell phone camera.