When the opportunity to review the new Nikon D5300 presented itself, I had a personal reason to give it a try—I was looking to upgrade from my 2008 vintage Canon 400D. The D5300 seemed like a good choice, as it offered more pixels, video capabilities and ease of use. And these are the parameters in which
I reviewed the D5300 and its Nikkor 18-140mm VR lens. It
retails for Rs 71,950.
Ease of use
When I packed the D5300 into the Tamrac quickdraw 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 18-55 mm and a 75-300 mm.
My old Canon 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 as it works almost anywhere without a card reader. My old camera has a tiny 2-inch LCD, so a 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD monitor is something that changed the whole ball game for me.
However, one thing bugged me a lot. The Live mode, which you use to record video, is activated 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 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor. So that is a big jump for me from the 8 MP 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 clarity 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 superfast 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.
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 millennia. 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.
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.
* Estimated street price: Rs 71,950