I have been using a Canon 400D for almost seven years now. Though just an entry-level DSLR, it was a big investment for me at the time, and the installment stretched over a year. Now, having used that camera to the maximum, I am looking at upgrade options.
Obviously, it would make more sense for me to buy a Canon, a 60D for instance. This is more so because I already have two Canon lenses and don’t need to buy kit lenses for the upgrade and can spend on something different like a prime lens.
However, I have been tempted to try out new cameras. For instance, the mirrorless cameras have been really good of late, and the portability they provide is something to kill for. On the other hand, Canon’s rival Nikon has been giving more pixels for the buck even as Canon sticks to its this is enough rule.
So when the opportunity to review the new Nikon D5300 came along, I had a personal reason to give it a spin. Upgrading from a Canon 400D, I was looking at three things in the D5300 — more pixels, video capabilities and ease of use. And those are the parameters in which I am going to review the D5300, which I tested with a Nikkor 18-140mm VR lens during a short trip to Bali, Indonesia.
Ease of use
The Canon 400D is among the easiest cameras to use. It took me a day to master the control though it took me ages to understand how a DSLR works. But the learning was fun and easy on the 400D. But with an upgrade I want a camera that will built for the new connected age.
When I packed the D5300 into the Tamrac quick-draw bag that had been home to my Canon camera and two lenses for so many years, one thing was certain. I was taking a much more capable camera in the same bag. And, the 18-140 lens was good enough to replace the other two, and 18-55mm and a 75-300mm.
My old camera uses a now-archaic CF card, but the D5300, like all cameras these days, uses a SD card that is faster and much more convenient. With a CF card and essential part of your camera kit if the card reader. But an SD card works almost anywhere and can be read directly by my laptop and host of other cameras and devices out there. Now, that is convenience that has been afforded by the natural progression of technology over the years.
My old camera has a tiny 2-inch LCD, so a 3.2″ vari-angle LCD monitor is something that change the whole ball game for me. I now have angles that I did not have before and then shooting video is much easier with a large screen. But then my old camera hadn’t even heard of digital video.
However, one thing bugged me a lot. The Live mode, which you use to record video, is activate by a lever alongside the control dial. In earlier Nikon cameras it used to be beside the screen. In its new location, it kept reminding me of the on/off switch in Canon cameras and I kept using it likewise.
The camera has a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor. So that is a big jump for me from the 8MP sensor on my Canon. But this also means that I have a bigger canvas to play with. However, the camera did not give the sort of clarify I have come to expect from Nikon in recent times, especially having tested the superb D800. It is definitely not bad, but there were some low light pictures that could have used a bit more sharpness. But I am pretty certain that was because of the zoom lens.
On the other hand, the auto-focus is super fast and thanks to the Expeed 4 processor you move from one click to another even before you realise. The burst mode can be as fast as it can be and capturing pictures of moving subjects was real easy. The ISO12800 can be used by steady hands to create some superb compositions. My only issue is that there is no dedicated ISO button on the body and you have use the screen or the Fn buttons to change.
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Must-See: Nikon D5300 test photos from Bali
Half a decade back I would not have dreamt of buying a still camera to shoot video. These days I don’t mind a chuckle at the expense of someone who has spent a packet to buy a handycam just for video. For me, the primary aim of an upgrade is the ability to shoot high quality video. And the D5300 is just amazing in that. For instance, I shot the video of a volcanic rock through which the sea has cut through over the millenia. The video was almost always in focus.Even when I zoomed away, the AF took milliseconds to lock on to the subject. Later, reviewing the results on a laptop, I was convinced that this is as good a video as any non-professional camera could shoot.
However, with long durations of video shooting I noticed that the LCD was heating up a bit. I have never seen this happen in any camera before and I think it must have been a minor defect with the review unit. Still, there is no doubt that the video was amazing.
Well, I might not upgrade to this camera. And that is not because there is anything wrong with the Nikon D5300. It is just that I have spent so much on the Canon ecosystem. However, if you are someone upgrading from an entry-level DSLR or even a prosumer, the Nikon D5300 is one of the best bets out there. This is one camera that can cover all your needs and still come out unscathed in the end.
Rs 71,950 with the Nikkor 18-140mm VR lens