The Nikon D5300 In Depth Review




Nikon's 'advanced beginner' DSLR, the D5300 takes the D5200's place between the entry-level D3200 and the enthusiast-targeted D7100 in the company's APS-C lineup. The D5300 offers a 24MP sensor (like its 24MP APS-C stablemates), an articulated rear LCD, and more physical controls than the D3200, but without the twin-dial interface and professional-grade AF system of the decidedly higher-market (and much more customizable) D7100.
Both visually and ergonomically the D5300 is a near-clone of its predecessor (it's fractionally lighter and a tiny bit smaller), but under the hood it is a stronger camera in a couple of important ways. The D5300's 24MP sensor lacks an anti-aliasing filter, which - consistent with our experiences testing the D7100 and D800E - gives it the edge in terms of resolution over the D5200. The difference is subtle (especially with a kit zoom attached), but it's always nice to see improvements to critical image quality potential, especially in mid-range models.
The D5300 also offers a beefed-up video mode, which is now capable of true 1080/60p HD video. This, plus the slightly widened (3.2" compared to 3") fully-articulated 1.04 million-dot LCD screen, should mean that the D5300 will be attractive to videographers as well as stills photographers. Easy to miss, but useful features include built-in Wi-Fi and GPS - both firsts for Nikon's DSLR lineup. Battery life gets a boost too: according to CIPA figures the D5300 offers an endurance of 600 shots, compared to 500 from the D5200. Remember, though, that this figure does not take features like Wi-Fi or GPS into account, and using them will shorten the amount of time you can spend shooting.
The Nikon D5300 can easily be classified as an iterative update, providing only a handful of features that weren't present in its D5200 predecessor. It speaks volumes about the D5200 that adding only a few more things amounts to an APS-C DSLR with 24 megapixels, no optical low pass filter, 1080/60p HD video recording, a fully articulated display and built-in Wi-Fi. In terms of on-paper specifications, the the D5300 looks 'fully loaded.'
The main feature we really wish it offered is a touchscreen LCD. We've come to appreciate being able to perform certain actions by touch on competing cameras, particularly things like exposure compensation and AF point placement in live view mode. We'd also like to see twin control dials - something Nikon has traditionally saved for its more expensive models, but some of its competitors offer at this price point.

Nikon D5300 key features

  • 24.1MP DX format CMOS sensor, without OLPF
  • EXPEED 4 processing
  • ISO 100-12,800 standard, up to 25,600 expanded
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • 39-point AF system, 9 sensors cross-type
  • 2016-pixel RGB metering sensor
  • 1080p60 video recording, built-in stereo mic
  • 1.04M dot 3.2" vari-angle LCD monitor

Key specs compared to the Nikon D5200

The table below shows how the major specifications of the D5300 compare against the D5200. As you can see, Nikon has updated a couple of core specifications, but the differences aren't huge.
Nikon D5300
Nikon D5200
Sensor resolution (type)24MP CMOS (no OLPF)24MP CMOS
Autofocus System
39 AF points (9 cross-type)
ISO sensitivity
100-12,800 (H1 expansion up to 25,600 equiv)
100-6400 (H2 expansion up to 25,600 equiv)
Display size / resolution3.2", 1.04M-dot vari-angle3", 921k-dot vari-angle
Maximum framerate (DX mode)
5 fps
Movie Mode1080 60p/30p1080 60i/30p
Battery life (CIPA)600 shots500 shots
Dimensions125 × 98 × 76 mm
(4.9 × 3.9 × 3.0 in)
129 x 98 x 78 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 in)
Weight (without battery)480 g (16.9 oz)505 g (17.8 oz)

Compared to the Canon EOS Rebel T5i

Compared to its nearest competitor, Canon's EOS Rebel T5i, the Nikon D5300 offers a higher resolution sensor, more AF points, and the ability to shoot 1080/60p video (as opposed to 30p). It also includes built-in Wi-Fi and GPS. The D5300 is slightly smaller than the Canon in all dimensions, and a little lighter.
The Nikon D5300 is slightly smaller than the Canon T5i (the larger kit zoom mounted on the Nikon in this shot makes that a little hard to appreciate) but has a slightly more substantial hand-grip which contributes greatly to its feeling of solidity in the hand. Whereas the Canon's control dial (for exposure adjustment) is on the top-plate, the D5300's dial can be found on the rear of the camera (see below).
From the rear, the D5300 and T5i are both dominated by their 3.2" articulating LCD screens, and you can see the D5300's control dial at the upper right of the body. Button placement isn't exactly the same, as you'd expect, but both are representative of the prevailing trends in modern enthusiast DSLR design. The most important difference, really, is that the T5i's rear screen is touch-sensitive.
The T5i does have a couple of tricks up its sleeve, though - while both cameras have 3.2", 1.04 million-dot LCD screens, the T5i's is touch-sensitive, which we've come to really appreciate, especially when working in movie mode and live view. The T5i also features a 'Hybrid' AF system, which allows for faster and more positive (less hesitant) AF in live view and movie mode, plus AF tracking.
Nikon D5300Canon Rebel T5i
Sensor resolution (type)24MP CMOS (no OLPF)18MP 'Hybrid CMOS'
Autofocus System39 AF points (9 cross-type)9 AF points (all cross-type)
ISO sensitivity100-12800 (max 25,600 equiv)100-12800 (max 25,600 equiv)
Display size / resolution3.2", 1.04M-dot vari-angle3.0", 921k-dot vari-angle (touch-sensitive)
Maximum framerate (DX mode)
5 fps
Movie Mode1080 60p/30p1080 30p
Battery life (CIPA)600 shots440 shots
Dimensions125 × 98 × 76 mm
(49.2 × 3.9 × 3.0 in)
133 x 100 x 79 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1in)
Weight (without battery)480 g (16.9 oz)580 g (20.4 oz)

Compared to the rest

The D5300 may look good in comparison with its predecessor and Canon's equivalent model, but there are other options worth considering, beyond the two big brands. In terms of DSLRs, Ricoh's Pentax K-50 offers twin control dials, a weather sealed body and a larger viewfinder. If you're willing to look at mirrorless models, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 offers twin dials, a touch-screen, built-in Wi-Fi and an electronic viewfinder, all in a package considerably smaller than the Nikon.
Panasonic, Fujifilm and Samsung also make competitive models for a similar price, so it's worth considering which capabilities you do and don't need, before committing to one of the big two.

Nikon D5300 specifications

Price
MSRP$799.95 / £729.99 (body only), $1399.99 (w/ 18-140mm F3.5-5.6 lens) / £829.99 (w/ 18-55mm F3.5-5.6)
Body type
Body typeCompact SLR
Sensor
Max resolution6000 x 4000
Other resolutions4496 x 3000, 2992 x 2000
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels24 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors25 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorExpeed 4
Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
Image
ISOAuto, 100 - 12800 (25600 with boost)
Boosted ISO (maximum)25600
White balance presets12
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal, Basic
File format
  • JPEG: Fine, Normal, Basic
  • RAW: 12- or 14-bit, compressed
  • DPOF compatible
  • DCF 2.0 compliant
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points39
Lens mountNikon F
Focal length multiplier1.5×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size3.2
Screen dots1,037,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT LCD monitor
Live viewYes (With contrast-detect AF, face detection and subject tracking)
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentamirror)
Viewfinder coverage95%
Viewfinder magnification0.82×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Programmed auto with flexible program (P)
  • Shutter-priority (S)
  • Aperture priority (A)
  • Manual (M)
Scene modes
  • Autumn Colors
  • Beach / Snow
  • Blossom
  • Candlelight
  • Child
  • Close-up
  • Dusk / Dawn
  • Food
  • Landscape
  • Night Landscape
  • Night Portrait
  • Party / Indoor
  • Pet Portrait
  • Portrait
  • Sports
  • Sunset
  • Special Effects Mode
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range12.00 m (at ISO 100)
External flashYes (Hot-shoe)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain
Flash X sync speed1/200 sec
Drive modes
  • Single frame
  • Continuous
  • Self-timer
  • 2s Delayed remote
  • Quick-response remote
  • Quiet shutter release
  • Interval timer
Continuous drive5.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2, 5, 10 or 20 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis)
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps), 640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
MicrophoneStereo
SpeakerMono
Storage
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
Connectivity
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini Type C)
WirelessBuilt-In
Remote controlYes (Optional ML-L3 or WR-R10)
Physical
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion EN-EL14a or EN-EL14 rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)600
Weight (inc. batteries)480 g (1.06 lb / 16.93 oz)
Dimensions125 x 98 x 76 mm (4.92 x 3.86 x 2.99)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingYes
GPSBuilt-in

Body & Design

The D5300's target audience of entry-level users will feel at home with the camera's ergonomics and controls. Aside from the slightly larger screen on the rear of the camera, the controls are more or less unchanged from the D5200 - it has a reasonable (though hardly class-leading) set of external controls. It also offers a fully articulated 3.2" LCD screen that offers benefits for live view and movie shooting.
The 4-way controller on the back of the camera is used to move the active focus point among the 39 total options in the viewfinder - it's nice to see direct access offered at this level. The level of direct control is similar to that of the less expensive D3300, meaning most functions have to be accessed an on-screen quick menu. The D5300 also lacks the touchscreen capability that we appreciate so much in products from some of its competitors. Despite its plastic body, the D5300 feels pretty solid, with no flexing or creaking.
In the D5300's class are the Canon EOS Rebel T5i and Pentax K-50. While the D5300's level of external controls feels sufficient for an entry-level user, both of these competing models provide more in the way of direct access to exposure controls. The K-50 has twin command dials, and the T5i offers a touch screen along with physical buttons for ISO and white balance.
The D5300 offers an ample array of connectors - along with the usual HDMI and USB/AV out, there's a stereo microphone input for movie recording, and a multi-function port that accepts both Nikon's optional GP-1 GPS unit (which you likely won't need, considering that the camera has a built-in GPS), and the MC-DC2 electronic cable release. Microphone levels can be displayed onscreen in movie mode but videographers needing a headphone jack will have to move up to the larger and more costly D7100. The D5300 also has front and rear receivers for the ML-L3 wireless remote. In terms of features offered, the D5300 looks pretty well-specified, though it lags behind its peers in terms of direct access to some key controls.

In your hand

The D5300 is a lightweight yet sturdy-feeling camera that's sensibly designed, so most of the the key controls fall readily to hand. The articulated rear LCD can be folded out for movie and live view shooting, and turned inward to protect the screen if required.
The D5300 is a solid and well-constructed camera, despite its predominantly plastic shell. Ergonomically it's standard Nikon (mid-range Nikon at any rate): on the rear, a 4-way controller and the 'OK' button at its hub serves to navigate the camera's menus, set shooting parameters, and adjust AF point. Above the LCD screen to the right of the viewfinder are an 'i' button for access to key shooting parameters in the quick menu, and AE-L/AF-L button for locking exposure and/or focus during shooting. The D5300's 'menu' button is exactly where it was in the D5200 - to the left of the viewfinder on the rear of the camera.
From the top it's almost the same story - the only real difference between the D5300 and D5200's ergonomics is the deletion of a drive mode button. This button isn't replaced by something else, there's simply one less button on the D5300's top-plate. Drive mode moves to a new location on the front of the camera, on its left hand flank, near the lens throat.
The rear LCD is of course articulated, opening up a lot of options for high/low-angle shooting and video capture. The D5300 uses the EN-EL14a battery, which, according to Nikon, provides a CIPA rating of 600 shots. This represents a significant advantage over the T5i and K-50 at 440 and 410 shots respectively, but doesn't reflect the D5300's battery performance with either Wi-Fi or GPS turned on.

Articulated LCD screen

The D5300 sports a large, 3.2" LCD screen, which can be used for composing movies and (in live view mode) still images. The screen articulates via a hinge on the left of the camera's rear, and can be rotated inwards for protection when the camera is not in use. Although the D5300's display has more pixels than the D5200's (1.04 million dots compared to 921,000), that's due to the change in aspect ratio. In perceptual terms, they're equally detailed.
The Canon T5i's touch screen is also fully articulated, and the Olympus E-M10's display is hinged to tilt up and down. Pentax offers a fixed screen on the K-50.

Viewfinder

The D5300's optical viewfinder provides 95% coverage, about what you'd expect for the class (the Pentax K-50 goes the extra mile with a 100% OVF). It has a magnification of 0.52x, which a fraction bigger than what the Canon T5i offers but considerably smaller than the K-50's finder or the electronic viewfinder in the Olympus E-M10, as demonstrated by the graphic below.

Body Elements

The D5300 is based around a 24 MP DX-format CMOS sensor. It has a 1.5x 'crop factor', which means that an 18mm lens offers a similar angle of view to a 27mm lens on the 35mm 'full frame' format. Like the D7100, the D5300's sensor lacks an OLPF, which should provide higher detail (but with an increased risk of moiré).
Note that because the D5300 lacks an in-body AF motor, you'll need to buy Nikon's AF-S lenses to get autofocus, or third-party options with built-in focus motors.

The range of lenses with built-in motors is now fairly extensive, but it means older designs will have to be manually focused.
On the front of the camera, to the left of the flash housing, you'll find the flash button. This not only serves to pop up the flash but also, when used in conjunction with the camera's dial, adjusts options including flash exposure compensation.

Below that is the camera's sole customizable 'Fn' button.
The D5300's top-plate looks more or less like most other recent low-end and mid-range Nikon DSLRs. The red button at upper left activates movie recording, and the 'LV' switch is a sprung lever that activates live view.
There's a bright LED autofocus illuminator, which the camera will automatically activate when the light is too low to focus. It can be disabled in the menus, if you prefer.

Switching the camera to its 'Quiet' shutter mode will also temporarily disable the AF illuminator, along with the focus confirmation beep.
The D5300 sports front and rear infrared receivers for the (optional) ML-L3 wireless remote control, on the handgrip and left shoulder, respectively. This means it's just as easy to trigger the shutter when shooting from in front of, or behind the camera.
The pop-up flash is the same as on previous cameras in the range. With a guide number of 12m at ISO 100 it's got a reasonable amount of power for social shooting or a bit of fill-flash. The housing lifts high above the mount to minimize shadowing with larger lenses.

Unfortunately the built-in flash doesn't offer wireless control of external flash units, as it does on higher-end Nikons.
As usual there's a hotshoe on top of the pentamirror that's compatible with Nikon's external Speedlight units.
The D5300's drive mode button resides on the camera's left-most flank, below the lens release button (rather than the top plate, as was the case with the D5200). As well as continuous framerate options you can also select remote control and self-timer modes.
The memory card slot is on the grip side of the camera, and takes SD, SDHC and SDXC cards. The D5300 supports high-speed UHS-I cards.
The D5300's connectors are behind a rubber flap on the left of the camera. The stereo mic jack is top left, above the port for the MC-DC2 cable release. The latter can be set to initiate either stills or video capture.

To the right are USB/AV out ports and an HDMI socket (CEC compatible).
Two small grills in front of the hot shoe conceal the stereo microphones.

Operation and Controls

Top of camera controls

Controls on the D5300 are nearly identical to its predecessor's. However, many of its rivals, such as the Pentax K-50, Olympus E-M10 and Fujifilm X-M1 offer twin control dials at this level, making the D5300 a little less fun to take control of. Another thing it lacks that its peers are beginning to offer is a touch screen - not by any means a necessity for its target audience, but something that would offer another level of access to settings.
The mode dial uses a free-turning design without a locking function, accompanied by a spring-loaded lever that enables/disables live view. In manual shooting, the exposure compensation button behind the shutter selects aperture setting, which is changed by rotating the command wheel just above the thumb rest.
Most of the D5300's main shooting controls are arranged on the top plate. A mode dial provides access to PASM and automated scene and effects modes. The on/off switch is concentric with the shutter button, with the exposure compensation and red movie record buttons immediately behind. The latter is inactive unless live view is enabled, which is done via the lever next to the mode dial.

Rear controls

The back panel control cluster includes a directional switch along with 'OK', zoom, playback and delete buttons.
The menu button to the left of the viewfinder accesses main camera menus, while the '[i]' button to the right of the viewfinder 'activates' the info display on the rear screen, allowing you to change the two rows of onscreen settings below the virtual dials. The behavior of the autoexposure/autofocus lock button (AE-L/AF-L) beside the rear dial is configurable. It can be set to lock either focus or exposure, or both together. It can also be configured as 'AF-ON' to permit focus acquisition independently from a shutter button press, a feature often used by action and wildlife shooters.
The playback button is placed to the right of the monitor, and below it is the four-way controller that's used to navigate menus and settings, with a central 'OK' button to confirm changes. The controller also moves the autofocus point around the frame when in Single-point AF mode, with a press of the OK button resetting the focus point to the center of the frame.
Towards the bottom of the body are the magnification buttons, used to zoom in and out during live view and playback modes. The 'zoom out' button also doubles as a help ('?') key. Pressing it displays information about the currently-selected setting or menu item. Beneath the card indicator lamp is the camera's delete button.

Front controls

Close to the throat of the lens on the side of the mount you'll find the D5300's only function button, flash control and below the lens release a drive mode button (with access to remote shooting controls).
On the D5200 we found that without looking at them, the Fn and flash control buttons were like-sized and easy to confuse. The problem is somewhat mitigated in the D5300 - the flash button is slightly elongated and thus has a slightly different feel. Confusing the two buttons was much less of a problem than with the D5200.
Here are the customization options for the Fn button and the configuration options for the AE-L/AF-L button:
Fn Button • Image quality/size
 • ISO sensitivity
 • White Balance
 • Active D-Lighting
 • HDR mode
 • +NEF (RAW)
 • Auto Bracketing
 • AF area mode
 • Viewfinder grid display
 • Wi-Fi
AE-L
AF-L
 • AE/AF lock ¹
 • AE lock only
 • AE lock (Hold)
 • AF lock only
 • AF-ON

Info display interface

The 'info display,' or quick menu as we refer to it comes in two flavors: Classic or Graphic, and there are three color options for each. A display option can be assigned for PASM modes and another for scene modes.
These six variations on the info display theme are available in the setup menu. The 'Graphic' versions visually represent the aperture value as an aperture that opens and closes, which might be helpful to a beginner.
Exposure parameters are large and easy to read in the top portion of the screen, and the lower third is occupied by quick access to key controls like white balance, ISO and exposure compensation. The whole display can be toggled on and off by pressing the 'info' button on the top panel.
The D5300's 'quick' menu screen is a bit dense with two rows of seven items. It's accessed by way of the 'i' button on the camera's back panel, which highlights the last item that was accessed. Navigating between these items is done by pressing the directional buttons.
Pressing the 'OK' button brings up a dialog box, and in most cases a colorful graphic demonstrating the effects of the setting change.

Again there's more button pressing to be done, to specify the change you're trying to make. Compare this to rivals that let you simply spin the control dial to change a setting and the D5300 suddenly seems less photographer friendly.
Getting through the quick menu would be easier if the camera allowed use of the rear command dial to do it. Even after selecting a setting, directional buttons must be used to adjust things like exposure compensation and ISO. It feels natural to use the command dial and almost all its rivals allow it, which can make changing settings more of an ordeal than it should be. As mentioned previously, the exception is the Fn button on the side of the lens mount - the command dial changes whatever setting it's assigned.

Live view interface

There are five live view display options as shown here: image only, grid view, two information views and video shooting. The small white hash marks at the sides of the screen in certain views and the grayed-out bars in video view indicate the cropped 16:9 view that's used in video recording. Cycling through the screens is done by pressing the 'info' button on the top panel.
As with viewfinder shooting, pressing the [i] button activates the quick menu.
Sadly, the camera's live view mode is somewhat hobbled by Nikon's decision not to include an aperture actuator (as fitted in its more expensive cameras) - meaning that the camera can't move the lens aperture in live view mode. We'll discuss the implications of this in the Shooter's Experience section of the review, but it leaves the D5300 looking a little slapdash.
While we can accept the omission of high-end features from mid-level models, in the name of product differentiation, we don't feel that properly functioning live view can be considered a high-end feature. We believe entry-level users need live view every bit as much as high-end users, and offering such a confusing implementation to save a few dollars risks undermining the camera's 'accessible' credentials.

Auto ISO

The D5300 carries over the same Auto ISO configuration options as its predecessor, borrowed from high end DSLRs like Nikon's D4D800 and D600 - making it the most sophisticated Auto ISO system on the market at present. The system can be set up in a number of ways, depending on whether it's camera shake or subject movement that you think is most likely to ruin your image.
You can either specify a minimum shutter speed, or allow the camera to select the value for you based on the lens in use.But, even with this 'Auto' option, you can fine-tune its behavior towards using faster or slower shutter speeds.

Minimum Shutter Speed

If you're more concerned with freezing subject movement, (when shooting sports for instance), then you can specify a fixed minimum shutter speed that the Auto ISO system will always attempt to maintain. You might also appreciate the control this direct setting gives if you're shooting with a fixed-focal-length lens.

Auto

The Auto setting varies the minimum shutter speed in relation to the current focal length, which makes it ideal for avoiding camera shake with a zoom lens (the effect of which is focal length dependent). If you find you're more or less able to keep the camera steady at the shutter speeds that 'Auto' uses, you can fine-tune its behavior to maintain faster or slower shutter speeds than its default.
Overall this gives plenty of control over the behavior of Auto ISO (you may find that just fine-tuning the Auto shutter speed setting gives you the results you're looking for). However, turning Auto ISO on and off, as well as adjusting any of the finer settings, is conducted by navigating to the menu item in the second tab of the main menu - rather than simply having 'Auto' as a selectable setting via the Fn button (when set to ISO) or through the interactive control panel.

Menus

Menus are ordered logically and helpfully color-coded. Some have useful functions buried a couple of pages in (Wi-Fi on page 3 of the setup menu comes to mind) but the camera provides ways around this - the last tab can be configured to display recently accessed items, or it can store menu items of your choosing.
The D5300 uses a menu system that is similar to that of other recent Nikon DSLRs. There are a lot of functions and options to choose from but the menus are reasonably comprehensible and navigable, thanks to Nikon's sensible categorization and color-coding.

Playback Menu

You can use the playback menu to make adjustments to playback display options and slideshows.
OptionValues / ActionsNotes
Delete • Selected
 • Select date
 • All
- Thumbnail selection
- Select images by date
Playback folder • D5300
 • All
 • Current
Playback Display Options • None (image only)
 • Highlights
 • RGB histogram
 • Shooting data
 • Overview
Allows you to toggle different items of information shown in either basic or detailed photo display modes.
Image review • On
 • Off
Rotate tall • On
 • Off
When enabled portrait shots appear vertically orientated.
Slide show • Start
 • Image Type
Still images and movies
Still images only
Movies only
By rating
• Frame interval
2 sec
3 sec
5 sec
10 sec
DPOF Print Order • Select / set
 • Deselect all
- Thumbnail selection
Rating-Thumbnail selection
Select to send to smart device-Thumbnail selection

Shooting Menu

The shooting menu contains settings for image size and quality, picture styles, noise reduction and movie specifications, among others. A green superscript one (¹) indicates the default setting.
OptionValues / ActionsNotes / Sub options
Reset shooting menu • Yes
 • No
Storage folder • Select folder
 • New
 • Rename
 • Delete
Image quality • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Fine
 • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Normal
 • NEF (RAW) + JPEG Basic
 • NEF (RAW)
 • TIFF (RGB)
 • JPEG Fine
 • JPEG Normal ¹
 • JPEG Basic
Select image quality.
Image size • Large ¹
 • Medium
 • Small
- 6000 x 4000 / 24.0 M
- 4496 x 3000 / 13.5 M
- 2992 x 2000 / 6.0 M
NEF (Raw) recording • 12-bit
 • 14-bit
White balance • Auto ¹
 • Incandescent
 • Fluorescent
1 Sodium-vapor lamps
2 Warm-white fluorescent
3 White fluorescent
4 Cool-white fluorescent
5 Day white fluorescent
6 Daylight fluorescent
7 High temp mercury-vapor
 • Direct Sunlight
 • Flash
 • Cloudy
 • Shade
 • Preset manual
Measure
Use photo
- A-B, G-M grid to fine tune WB
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"

- Select image
Set Picture Control • Standard ¹
Quick adjust (-2 to +2)
Sharpening (A, 0 to 9)
Contrast (A, -3 to +3)
Brightness (-1 to +1)
Saturation (A, -3 to +3)
Hue (-3 to +3)
 • Neutral
Quick adjust (-2 to +2)
Sharpening (A, 0 to 9)
Contrast (A, -3 to +3)
Brightness (-1 to +1)
Saturation (A, -3 to +3)
Hue (-3 to +3)
 • Vivid
Quick adjust (-2 to +2)
Sharpening (A, 0 to 9)
Contrast (A, -3 to +3)
Brightness (-1 to +1)
Saturation (A, -3 to +3)
Hue (-3 to +3)
 • Monochrome
Sharpening (A, 0 to 9)
Contrast (A, -3 to +3)
Brightness (-1 to +1)
Filter (Off, Y, O, R, G)
Toning (10 options)
 • Portrait
Quick adjust (-2 to +2)
Sharpening (A, 0 to 9)
Contrast (A, -3 to +3)
Brightness (-1 to +1)
Saturation (A, -3 to +3)
Hue (-3 to +3)
 • Landscape
Quick adjust (-2 to +2)
Sharpening (A, 0 to 9)
Contrast (A, -3 to +3)
Brightness (-1 to +1)
Saturation (A, -3 to +3)
Hue (-3 to +3)
- Default (3, 0, 0, 0, 0)






- Default (2, 0, 0, 0, 0)






- Default (4, 0, 0, 0, 0)






- Default (3, 0, 0, 0, 0)
Manage Picture Control • Save/edit
 • Rename
 • Delete
 • Load/save
- Create custom Picture Control sets


- Load / save from card
Auto Distortion Control • On
 • Off ¹
Color Space • sRGB ¹
 • Adobe RGB
Active D-Lighting • Auto ¹
 • Extra High
 • High
 • Normal
 • Low
 • Off
HDR (high dynamic range) • Auto
 • Extra High
 • High
 • Normal
 • Low
 • Off ¹
Long exp. NR • On
 • Off ¹
Enables dark frame subtraction NR for exposures of 1/2 sec or longer.
High ISO NR • High
 • Normal ¹
 • Low
 • Off
ISO sensitivity settings • ISO
Auto
100 ¹
125
160
200
250
320
400
500
640
800
1000
1250
1600
2000
2500
3200
4000
5000
6400
8000
10000
12800
HI 0.3
HI 0.7
HI 1
 • Auto ISO sensitivity control
On / Off ¹
Maximum sensitivity
200
400
800
1600
3200
6400
12800
HI 1
Minimum shutter speed
Auto (slower-faster)
1/2000 - 1 sec
Available sensitivities depend on ISO step custom setting (CSM b1).
Release Mode• Single frame ¹
• Continuous L
• Continuous H
• Quiet shutter release
• 10 seconds self-timer
• 2 seconds delayed remote
• Quick-response remote
Multiple exposure• Off ¹
Multiple exposure mode
On
Off
Number of Shots
2
3
• Auto gain
On
Off
Create a new image from two or three exposures
Interval timer shooting• Start
Now
Start time
 • Interval
 [hh:mm:ss]
 • Number of times
001-999
 • Start
Off ¹
On
Time lapse / interval shooting.
Movie settings • Frame size/frame rate
1920x1080, 60p ¹
1920x1080, 30p
1920x1080, 24p
1280x720, 60p
640x424, 30p

 • Movie quality
High ¹
Normal

 • Microphone
Auto sensitivity (A) ¹
Manual sensitivity (1-20)
Microphone off

 • Wind noise reduction
On
Off ¹

 • Manual movie settings
On
Off ¹

Menus (contd.)

The D5300's custom settings are split into six alphabetical, color-coded categories, making it easier to remember a specific option and quicker to enter the custom settings menu at the correct position. You can still scroll through all custom settings options as one big menu if you wish. The camera places an asterisk (*) next to any custom setting that has been changed from its default position.
A green superscript one (¹) in the tables below indicates the default setting.
When you hit the first page of the custom function menu, you see an overview of the categories so that you can jump quickly to the correct section (autofocus, metering etc.)

Custom Settings Menu (a: Autofocus)

OptionValues / ActionsNotes
a1 AF-C priority selection • Release
 • Focus ¹
Defines if camera must have focus lock before shutter release.
a2 Number of focus points • 39 ¹
 • 11  
a3 Built-in AF-assist illuminator • On ¹
 • Off
a3 Rangefinder • On
 • Off ¹
Activates manual focus assist rangefinder

Custom Settings Menu (b: Metering / exposure)

OptionValues / ActionsNotes
b1 EV steps for exposure ctl. • 1/3 step ¹
 • 1/2 step
Set the steps used for selection of ISO sensitivity.

Custom Settings Menu (c: Timers / AE Lock)

OptionValues / ActionsNotes
c1 Shutter-release butt. AE-L • On
 • Off ¹
Define lock AE during shutter release half-press.
c2 Auto off timers • Short
 • Normal ¹
 • Long 
 • Custom
Playback/menus
     8s - 10 min
 • Image review
     4s - 10 min
 • Live view
     5 min - 30 min
 • Standby timer
     4s - 30 min
c3 Self-timer• Self timer delay
2 s
5 s
10 s ¹
 20 s
Number of shots
1-9
c4 Remote on duration (ML-L3)• 1 min ¹
• 5min
• 10 min
• 15 min
Defines the length of time the camera will wait for a signal from the remote before canceling remote control mode.

Custom Settings Menu (d: Shooting / display)

OptionValues / ActionsNotes
d1 Beep • High
 • Low ¹
 • Off
d2 Viewfinder grid display • On
 • Off ¹
Gridlines display in the viewfinder
d3 ISO display • On
 • Off ¹
ISO display in the viewfinder
d4 File Number Sequence • On
 • Off ¹
 • Reset
d5 Exposure delay mode • Off ¹
 • On
Shutter release is delayed 1.0 sec to avoid vibration.
d6 Print date • Off ¹
 • Date
 • Date and time
 • Date counter

Custom Settings Menu (e: Bracketing / flash)

OptionValues / ActionsNotes
e1 Flash cntrl for built-in flash • TTL ¹
 • Manual
Full
1/2
1/4
1/8
1/16
 1/32
Set the mode for the built-in flash.
e2 Auto bracketing set • AE bracketing ¹
 • WB bracketing
 • ADL bracketing

Custom Settings Menu (f: Controls)

OptionValues / ActionsNotes
f1 Assign Fn button • Image quality/size
 • ISO sensitivity ¹
 • White Balance
 • Active D-Lighting
 • HDR mode
 • +NEF (RAW)
 • Auto Bracketing
 • AF area mode
 • Viewfinder grid display
 • Wi-Fi
Define the function of the Fn button (front of the camera below the flash mode button)
f5 Assign AE-L/AF-L button • AE/AF lock ¹
 • AE lock only
 • AE lock (Hold)
 • AF lock only
 • AF-ON
f1 Reverse dial rotationExposure compensation
off/on

Shutter speed/aperture
off/on
Changes direction of rotation of the control dial
f8 Slot empty release lock • Release locked ¹
 • Enable release
f9 Reverse indicators • + ---- 0 ---- -
 • - ---- 0 ---- + ¹

Menus (contd.)

Setup Menu

The Setup menu is where you'll perform tasks like formatting the SD card, adjusting the monitor brightness and choose between NTSC and PAL video options. Options to enable Wi-Fi and GPS are also located here.
OptionValues / ActionsNotes
Format memory card • Yes
 • No
Monitor brightness •11 levels selectable (- 5 to +5)
Info display format • Auto/Scene/Effects
Classic (3 options)
Graphic (3 options)

 • P/S/A/M
Classic (3 options)
Graphic (3 options)
Auto Info display • On
 • Off
Clean image sensor • Clean now
 • Clean at startup / shut.
Clean at startup
Clean at shutdown
Clean at start & shut
Cleaning off
Lock mirror up for cleaning • Start
Image Dust Off ref photo • Start
 • Clean sensor then start
Used to capture a 'dust reference image' for the 'Dust Off' feature of Nikon Capture. (RAW only).
Flicker reduction • Auto
 • 50 Hz
 • 60 Hz
Time zone and date • Time zone
Select
 • Date and time
Date set
Time set
 • Date format
y/m/d
m/d/y
d/m/y
 • Daylight saving time
Off
On
Language • Czech
 • Danish
 • German
 • English
 • Spanish
 • Greek
 • French
 • Indonesian
 • Italian
 • Magyar
 • Dutch
 • Norwegian
 • Polish
 • Portuguese (Brazil)
 • Portuguese (Portugal)
 • Russian
 • Romanian
 • Finnish
 • Swedish
 • Turkish
 • Ukrainian
 • Arabic
 • Bengali
 • Chinese Traditional
 • Chinese Simplified
 • Hindi
 • Japanese
 • Korean
 • Persian
 • Tamil
 • Thai
Auto image rotation • On
 • Off
Image comment • Done
 • Input comment
Text entry
 • Attach comment
When enabled the comment is written into the header of each image.
Location Data • Record location data
On
Off 
• GPS options
Standby timer (on/off)
Set clock from sat.
Update A-GPS data
• Create log
Log location data (start/end/pause)
Log interval (s) 15/30/60
Log length (h) 6/12/24
• Log list
Video Mode • NTSC
 • PAL
HDMI • Output resolution
Auto
480p
576p
720p
1080p
1080i
 • Device control
Off
On
Remote control • Remote shutter release
Take photos
Record movies

 • Assign Fn button AE-L/AF-L
Same as camera AE-L/AF-L button
Live view
Wi-Fi • Network connection
Enable
Disable
 • Network settings
Push-button WPS
PIN-entry WPS
View SSID
Reset network settings
Conformity markingDisplays standards with which camera complies
Firmware Version • Version No.
A x.00
B x.00
Displays firmware information

Retouch menu

In the Retouch menu you can apply processing effects to existing images as well as make in-camera Raw to JPEG conversions.
OptionValues / ActionsNotes
D-Lighting • Select image
Low
Normal
High
Portrait subjects
Red-eye correction • Select image
Trim • Select image
Zoom / Scroll
Aspect 
Monochrome • Black-and-white  
Select image
 • Sepia
Select image
Lighter
Darker
 • Cyanotype
Select image
Lighter
Darker
Filter effects • Skylight 
Select image
 • Warm filter
Select image
 • Red intensifier
Select image
Lighter
Darker
 • Green intensifier
Select image
Lighter
Darker
 • Blue intensifier
Select image
Lighter
Darker
 • Cross screen
Select image
Number of points
Filter amount
Filter angle
Length of points
 • Soft
Select image
Low
Normal
High
Color balance • Select image
Adjust color
Image overlay • Image 1
x 0.1-2.0
 • Image 2
x 0.1-2.0
 • Preview
NEF (RAW) processing • Select image
 • Choose parameters
Image quality
Image size
White Balance
Exposure comp.
Set Picture Control
Noise reduction
Color space
D-Lighting
Execute
Resize • Select image
 • Choose size
1920x1280, 2.5M
1280x856, 1.1M
960x640, 0.6M
640x424, 0.3M
Quick retouch • Select image
 • Select level
Normal
Low
High
Automatically adjusts contrast and saturation
Straighten • Select image
 • Adjust angle
 • Save
Distortion control • Auto
Select image
Adjust
 • Manual
Select image
Adjust
Fisheye • Select image
 • Adjust
Color outline • Select image
Color sketch • Select image
Adjust vividness
Adjust Outlines
Perspective control • Select image
 • Adjust
Miniature effect • Select image
 • Adjust
Selective color • Select image
 • Adjust
Edit movie • Choose start point
 • Choose end point
 • Save selected frame

Recent settings/My menu

To help speed up the use of such long menus, the D5300 allows fast access to commonly-used menu options, either by keeping track of recently used settings or through a user-defined 'My menu.' Leaving the camera set to show Recent Settings can be a good way of seeing which menu options you regularly use, when you're deciding how to populate the 'My menu' option.
In the 'Recent settings' mode, you see the most regularly changed settings, plus a 'Choose tab' option which allows you to switch to 'My menu' instead. The ability to Add, Remove and Rank items only appears when you've set this tab to the latter mode.
OptionValues / ActionsNotes
Add items • Playback menu
 • Shooting menu
 • Custom setting menu
 • Setup menu
 • Retouch menu
Remove items • Select item to remove
Rank items • Select item to re-order
Choose tab • My menu
 • Recent settings

Shooter's experience

The D5300 is an approachable camera. It provides sufficient tools for someone who already understands the ins and outs of manual exposure control, but won't put off a beginner with a lot of extra buttons and controls that would go unused. One command dial usually feels like enough here, though another customizable function button may have been useful.
The D5300 is sold in the US kitted with the 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX zoom or 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II collapsible zoom, a considerably lighter and more compact option. The camera feels well balanced with either lens attached, though the whole kit is obviously a good deal bulkier and heavier with the bigger zoom. The handgrip is well sculpted and goes a long way to making the camera comfortable to hold for long periods of time.

Features

The D5300's sophisticated Auto ISO system is quite helpful, and it's easy to put your faith in and let it move ISO around while maintaining a minimum shutter speed you're comfortable using in relation to your lens' focal length. It's especially helpful moving between different lighting conditions. However, I find that when I do want to shoot at a specific ISO, going into the main menu to turn ISO Auto off (and then going back to re-enable it) is a real pain.
There's also the limitation we highlighted when using the D7100 that ISO setting isn't displayed by default in the viewfinder. It's possible to turn this on in the shooting menu, but when you half-press the shutter ISO disappears again and instead shows remaining frames. I have plenty of confidence in Auto ISO to use it most of the time, but I'd still like to know what ISO I'm shooting at the time of capture.
The articulated LCD was helpful on more than one occasion, and I found the D5300's implementation of Wi-Fi to be genuinely useful and reliable. The app is straightforward and doesn't require separate connections for remote shooting and image transfer. Marking images to transfer ahead of time makes it easy to complete transfers quickly. Like a few other items on this page it was a bit annoying to dive into the menu to enable it every time, but this was mitigated somewhat by the knowledge that once I made the Wi-Fi connection it would be smooth sailing.
Built-in Wi-Fi means you can share images like this instantly with your friends on the East Coast when they are in the icy grip of a polar vortex.
One feature not included that I would have appreciated is a digital level. It's something that's available in more and more cameras, many of which cost a great deal less than the D5300, and it saves me the trouble of bracketing a few shots to make sure I get a horizon dead-on level. There are cheap add-ons that will do the trick, but as a built-in feature I sorely missed it while shooting.

Interface

The D5300’s sole customizable function button is on the side of the lens mount. It’s easily reached when holding the camera in landscape orientation, and at default it’s set to control ISO. Holding the button down highlights the current ISO setting on the information display, and turning the command wheel changes settings - this operability extends to whatever setting you have saved to the Fn button, such as white balance. It’s very handy to have, especially for making adjustments with the camera at eye level.
I would have appreciated one more Function button, if only to assign to turn on Wi-Fi. The Fn button can be assigned as a shortcut to the Wi-Fi menu option, but you'll give up direct access to ISO or white balance if you go that route. However, it's easy to put your faith in the D5300's auto ISO and WB systems, so many users may find a single Fn button sufficient.
Navigating through the dense [i] 'quick' menu would be easier if the camera allowed use of the rear command dial to do it. Even after clicking your way through to the option you want to change, you need to press 'OK' to select the setting, then use the direction button again, to actually adjust settings such as white balance and ISO. It feels natural to use the command dial, so I had to fight the urge to go to it when trying to change settings. As mentioned previously, the exception is the Fn button on the side of the lens mount - the command dial changes whatever setting it's assigned. This means you get quick access to one setting of your choice, but everything else is surprisingly arduous.
Annoyingly, if you do make the mistake of using the command dial in the quick menu, it will go about its business changing Program shift, aperture or whatever it's currently set to change.

Live view awkwardness

The D5300 also presents a strange behavior in adjusting aperture in live view - the camera allows you to change the number on the screen that represents your current aperture, but the aperture itself stays put at whatever the setting was when you entered live view. It's not until an image is captured that the aperture actually changes to the setting indicated. This makes it difficult to use manual focus in live view, since the depth of field you're seeing on the monitor may not be what you'll actually get - meaning live view may not provide shallow-enough depth-of-field to correctly assess focus. It also causes some trouble when manual exposure mode is used in combination with movie recording.
When manual exposure mode is used in live view, the D5300 does not give a live exposure preview. The screen will 'gain' depending on the subject brightness, but not as a reflection of the exposure settings in place. All other modes preview the effect of shutter and ISO changes, and with manual movie mode on, manual exposure mode also shows an exposure preview. This behavior makes sense for people working with strobes in the studio, but I can't imagine a lot of D5300 buyers will shooting that way, so it's disappointing to not even have the option to preview exposure.
Engaging the 'Shooting Menu/Movie Settings/Manual Movie Settings' option gives a limited preview of exposure settings for movie shooters, but aperture control is locked-out and the slowest shutter speed is limited to the movie frame-rate, so it doesn't offer a realistic work-around.
Live view provides a potentially useful magnified view by pressing the + magnifying glass button, offering 5 steps up to a roughly 1:1 view. The bad news is that at anything past the first magnification level, display lag becomes so bad it's virtually impossible to use. This behavior isn't dependent on light level, and it means there's no reliable way to use a manual focus lens. This difficulty in checking critical focus is a bit troubling in an age where most mirrorless cameras make it easy.

Performance

Overall camera performance is exactly the same as it was with the D5200; it's a fairly responsive camera in daily use. Onscreen response to button and dial operation is brisk whether you're navigating through menu screens, zooming in and out of live view previews or changing shooting parameters. Although the camera has external controls and a shortcut '[i]' menu for commonly changed settings, users looking to take more refined control over operation such as enabling distortion control or adjusting Auto ISO parameters will have to delve into the main menu system.
We still feel that a touchscreen would be an excellent addition here, and would help speed up the process of changing settings. At the very least we'd like to be able to use the rear thumb dial to scroll through menu options instead of relying solely on the 4-way multi selector. Canon's EOS Rebel T5i/700D provides a touchscreen, and numerous mirrorless cameras on the same level also provide a touch panel.
The D5300 uses the same 39-point (9 cross-type) AF system as its predecessor and the D7000 (D7100 offers a more robust AF system culled from the pro D4). Autofocus with the 18-140mm is speedy and accurate enough for most purposes. In very low light, the D5300 displays an occasional habit of confirming that a scene is in focus when it isn't.
Outside of these challenging situations, AF-S and AF-C were relatively accurate. Focus speed with the 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 VR is decent, and the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II is a bit faster. D5300 owners should also note that Nikon offers faster-focusing lenses. It can be cumbersome picking a single AF point from the D5300's 39-point array - mercifully, there's an 11-point option that's much more manageable. Some informal testing of tracking focus found it to be reliable and quick to keep up, no doubt thanks to some help from the 2016-pixel RGB metering sensor.

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

The D5300 offers burst shooting in two speeds: High and Low. Continuous focus is available in either mode, but will lower the frame rate as the camera pauses for a second to adjust focus. In live view shooting the LCD is completely blacked out in both modes, and focus (though not exposure) is locked from the first frame.
The D5300 hit its top burst rate of 5.0 fps in JPEG-only shooting. In Low continuous mode, it consistently meets a 3.0 fps burst rate no matter what compression mode you're in. When the buffer fills to its frame limit (noted below) the camera will hesitate, but will continue shooting after this pause at a reduced and less consistent rate. You can continue shooting while the camera is writing images to the memory card, so there's no significant amount of 'lockup' time.
Raw+ Fine JPEG
Raw
JPEG
High
4.0 fps (5 frames)4.2 fps (~8 frames)5.0 fps (~8 frames)
Low
3.0 fps (~7 frames)3.0 fps (~6 frames)3.0 fps (~20 frames)

Battery Life

The D5300's included EN-EL14a rechargeable lithium-ion battery is rated to 600 shots per charge, a 100 shot improvement over the D5200 and its EN-EL14 battery pack. The camera ships with an MH-24 Quick Charger that will bring a spent battery up to a full charge in a couple of hours. The CIPA rating does not take into count Wi-Fi and/or GPS use. I didn't find occasional Wi-Fi use to have any significant impact on battery life.

Movie mode

The D5300 is strong in terms of video recording features, offering a maximum resolution/frame rate of 1080/60p (the D5200 was capable of 1080/60i only) and uncompressed HDMI output. Its built-in stereo microphone allows for level adjustments, and the camera provides a port for external microphone input. Here's how its various resolution/framerate options break down:
MPEG-4
  • 1920x1080 (60/50p): 38.8 Mbps Avg
  • 1920x1080 (30p):
  • 1920x1080 (24/25p):
  • 1280x720 (60/50p):
  • 640x424 (30p)
  • 640x424 (25p)
AudioLinear PCM

Video Features

The D5300 assembles a set of quite serious video features for its entry-level class bearing. Videographers will appreciate the D5300's flip-out LCD for movie recording, an advantage over models with a fixed LCD. Video footage uses compression of the H.264/MPEG-4 video codec.
Like all of Nikon's recently released higher-end DSLRs, the D5300 offers the ability to record uncompressed video over its HDMI port. For video professionals, the benefits of shooting uncompressed video lie in avoiding compression artifacts that can hinder grading options in post-production. Whether using HDMI-enabled output to record the highest possible quality footage or to simply use an external monitor as viewfinder, this is a feature that is becoming more common, though in the case of Canon and Sony, it is reserved for decidedly higher-end models like the EOS 5D Mark III and SLT-A99.
Uncompressed video can only be sent to an external recorder that's connected to the D5300's HDMI port. This footage is enormous, so it makes sense that you're prevented from recording it straight to your SD card. Unfortunately though, you cannot record 1080p video to the SD card as a 'safety' backup while recording to the external HDMI device simultaneously. Whenever video is recorded to the card, the HDMI output drops to 720p. We'd like to see the option to record full HD alongside the uncompressed footage.
Autofocus can be 'pulled' by moving the AF point around the frame from a near subject to one in the distance, and vice versa. The transition is relatively smooth, though there's a little bit of hunting just before it's locked on to a new target. A touch screen would also come in handy for this kind of video work, something that the D5300 is lacking.

Handling

The camera's articulated LCD gives it an edge in terms of handling as a video tool, making it easier to hold the camera steady at waist or chest-level and frame a shot. All live view displays are in 3:2 format, and though most of them have grey bars or small white hashmarks noting the 16:9 crop used for video, in the field both are hard to see on the screen.
Recording video on the D5300 first requires you to engage live view via a lever that sits alongside the camera's mode dial. You can then initiate a recording by pressing the red movie record button sitting just behind the shutter release. To prevent accidental operation, the record button is disabled when live view is turned off.
There's also a confusing bit of overlap between D5300 the Video Camera and D5300 the Stills Camera when using manual exposure mode in live view. Like other Nikon APS-C cameras, aperture can't be adjusted in live view shooting. You can change the aperture value displayed on the screen, but the aperture itself won't move until you've fired the shutter. This gets confusing when you start recording video in manual mode, since although you can change the aperture number that appears on the screen, you'll really be using whatever aperture was set when you entered live view.
For this, Nikon engineers present 'Manual Movie Mode' as a workaround. Picking this option from the shooting menu imposes a minimum shutter speed of 1/60sec, and prevents the aperture value from changing - thus, the aperture it says you're using in live view is the one you're actually using when you hit 'record.' It's possible to change the aperture in a roundabout way - switching to aperture priority mode or leaving live view, adjusting and taking a still. Manual movie mode also enables live exposure preview in live view manual shooting.

Video Quality

The D5300's video clips are much like the D7100's, which is to say, very good. It even outpaces the D7100's maximum framerate of 1080/60i, which is only available in a 1.3x crop mode. We didn't find the D5300 to be prone to rolling shutter more than any other camera of its class. Moving subjects with vertical lines like cars will present a bit of the effect, but it's not significant.

Sample 1

The sample below uses full-time-servo AF and subject tracking focus, locked on the front edge of the streetcar as it moves through the frame. There's some moiré noticeable in the buildings in the background.
1920x1080 60p, 11 sec, 57.3 MB Click here to download original file

Sample 2

Though the D5300's sensor readout is fast enough to avoid dramatic instances of rolling shutter, a little bit creeps into the end of the clip below as cars speed out of the frame. Otherwise, motion in the clip is fluid and detail is pleasantly sharp.
1920x1080 60p, 19 sec, 97.9 MB Click here to download original file

Sample 3

In this handheld clip, the water in the foreground looks natural but toward the distance begins to look a little distorted and 'shimmery' as we noted in our D7100 review. The sample below used the 18-140mm's VR stabilization, correcting for slight movement on the x and y axis of the sensor plane, but not the slight rolling motion of the unsteady hand of yours truly. This wobbling is noticeable toward the edges of the frame - not a fault of the camera's, and if anything it's doing a good job correcting shake.
1920x1080 60p, 12 sec, 59.7 MB Click here to download original file

Sample 4

This clip demonstrates the D5300's low light video capabilities. As expected there's some noise in the scene, made more obvious when auto exposure brightens as the bus moves through the frame. Overall though, it's a good result straight out of the camera.
1920x1080 60p, 15 sec, 77.3 MB Click here to download original file

Features

Wi-Fi

The D5300 is the first Nikon DSLR to offer built-in Wi-Fi. It's been available previously by way of Nikon's WU-1a optional adapter. With so many high end mirrorless and compact cameras offering built-in Wi-Fi, the adapter method was starting to feel like a way of offering Wi-Fi without really having to offer Wi-Fi. It's a welcome addition to this model.
Getting started includes downloading Nikon's Wireless Mobile Utility app for your iOS or Android device. With that installed, the connection process begins by selecting Wi-Fi in the 'Settings' menu on the camera and turning the network connection on. Once the camera screen displays a 'Waiting for connection' message, find the network in your mobile device's Wi-Fi settings, open the app and you're ready to go. A connection is signified by a remote icon in the top left corner of the app home screen.
The Wireless Mobile Utility home screen for iOS is minimalist, to say the least. 'Transfer photos' rather than 'View photos' may have been a more clear description of what the second option is for.Choosing 'View photos' presents three options, the first of which will allow image transfer from camera to smartphone.
The options on the home screen are simple and straightforward: 'Take photos' offers remote control of the camera from your device, and 'View photos' will allow you to view, select and transfer photos from the camera.
Choosing to view photos on the D5300 brings up a screen of thumbnails which can be selected for transfer.App settings include the ability to change thumbnails from 'standard' to 'large.'
You can speed-up the process of transferring images from the camera by pre-marking them for transfer - either by using the 'Send to smart device' menu option or by pressing 'Info' when you're reviewing an individual image. If you've done this, then hitting the 'View photos' option in the app will give you the option of transferring all the pre-selected images.
Alternatively you can use the app to browse images on the camera from the app (and, oddly, choose to check your smartphone's camera roll), and mark the images for transfer that way.
To transfer images from the camera to smartphone, they can be marked as 'send to smart device' in the camera's playback menu, as well as by pressing the 'info' button when reviewing an image. On selecting the 'View photos' option a dialog box will appear prompting you to commence transfer of photos already marked to send. You can also select photos for transfer on your smartphone by choosing to view pictures on D5300 (why you would visit this app to view your smartphone's camera roll is not clear) and marking the images you'd like to transmit that way.
Remote shooting in landscape orientation shows only live view, a thumbnail of previously captured image and a shutter button.
Shooting portrait orientation reveals more thumbnails and a bit more shooting information including aperture, shutter speed, camera battery life and shots remaining.
The good news is that the Wi-Fi connection is reliable and works consistently (which we didn't always see with the push-in accessory). Switching between remote shooting and image transfer is easy and doesn't require another connection or app - more good news. The bad news is that remote shooting offers very little control in the way of camera operation. It provides touch AF, shutter release and access to self-timer, but that's about it. In portrait view exposure parameters are displayed (along with a questionably accurate battery life reading) but none of them can be changed from your device.
Changing exposure settings requires a quick trip to the settings menu on the remote shooting screen, where you can opt to shoot with the camera rather than 'WMU,' as the app refers to itself. Change exposure to your heart's content, press the shutter button and the image is saved to both memory card and mobile device. You can continue shooting this way as long as the app stays open and your phone doesn't go to sleep, or return to live view operation from your smartphone.
The ability to mark images for sharing prior to making a Wi-Fi connection is useful, and connecting was reliable. Switching between remote control and image transfer is easily done. I had no trouble using it and as a consequence, used Wi-Fi a lot while working on this review.

GPS Location Tagging

The D5300 is also equipped with location data tagging. When it's turned on and receiving a signal, the camera will save location information (latitude, longitude and altitude) in EXIF data with each image recorded. This comes at the expense of some battery life - more noticeably so if you enable location logging, which continues to record your position regardless of whether you're taking pictures (or even whether the camera is on).
Location tagging is enabled via the setup menu. Turning on the 'create log' option records the user's position even when turned off.A satellite icon appears on the shooting display when GPS is turned on. The icon blinks when no signal is detected; when it locks to a signal, it will remain static.
As you'd imagine, the D5300's location tagging system relies on satellite communication. When a signal is scarce, no position is recorded. Nikon's D5300 user manual cautions that tall buildings, bridges and other large structures can block satellite signals, and that when turning location tagging on for the first time the user may experience a long delay in signal acquisition (this proved true in testing). A satellite icon on the information display indicates whether a signal has been received and how strong it is.
I found that as long as I was in a relatively open space, the camera would correctly tag my location, however, the signal dropped in and out. Most of my photos on a 20 minute walk through the city surfaced with correct tags, but about one in three in the same position wasn't tagged - usually the first one, but sometimes at random.
The D5300 can record location data for individual images, and on top of this, offers location logging to track your path whether or not you're shooting. In fact, it will keep tracking the camera's position even when it's turned off. Position can be recorded at intervals of 15, 30 and 60 seconds, and a length can be set to 6, 12 or 24 hours.
Recording a GPS log was a mostly successful, if battery-draining affair. A couple of times on this test run the camera incorrectly recorded my path veering off the road I followed, but overall tracked my location faithfully.
GPS logs are saved as .LOG files and can be viewed in various web applications and software, including Nikon's Image Space (using Google Maps, as shown above). Use of the logging feature drains battery significantly - at the end of a 12 hour log (with the camera turned off mostly) my battery was almost totally drained. An extra battery is strongly advised for those intending to use the logging function for a day of shooting.
In theory, built-in GPS is a nice feature, especially for travel - and that mostly holds up in real-world use. When moving from an indoor space with no signal to an outdoor space, often the first one or two images I recorded did not save with location data as the camera needed a moment or two to acquire a signal again. After that, location tagging was reliable as long as I took more than one photo per location. It's also nice to have that extra bit of information in metadata, making it all the more likely that you'll find a photo later on when you go looking for it.
It's a nice-to-have feature, but I'd be sure to pack an extra battery if I planned to use GPS for a day of shooting.

HDR

The D5300 offers in-camera HDR in five options: Low, Normal, High, Extra High and Auto. For each setting the camera captures two exposures and layers them together in-camera, resulting in a single JPEG. Note that HDR is available in JPEG only shooting. As seen in the example below, Auto takes a more conservative approach, landing somewhere between Low and Normal in the test images below.
HDR Off
HDR Low
HDR Normal
HDR High
HDR Extra High
HDR Auto
The highest settings are decidedly more on the 'art effect' side, while low and normal might be used to brighten a dark subject in the foreground without going overboard. For a more subtle approach, Active D-Lighting is offered, an alternative that we test in the Dynamic Range section of this review. Though this example was shot using a tripod, the camera does a good job of compiling two shots taken handheld with a reasonably steady hand and canceling out moving objects in the frame.

Image Quality

The Nikon D5300's 24MP APS-C sensor is powerful indeed, both in terms of resolution and the dynamic range it renders. It shares this feature with the semi-pro D7100, and like that model, lacks an anti-aliasing filter. It's likely that the D5300's sensor is more than most of its users will really need - especially those who shoot JPEGs, and/or those who will only shoot with a kit lens.
ISO 200, f/10, 1/400sec, 18-55mm VR II100% crop
ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/500sec, 18-140mm VR100% crop
ISO 5600, f/4.5, 1/60sec, 18-140mm VR100% crop
ISO 12800, f/3.5, 1/40sec, 18-140mm VR100% crop

No AA Filter

One of the key changes in the D5300 compared to its predecessor is that it lacks an anti-aliasing filter. Sensor resolutions have reached the point that they can accurately sample very high levels of detail. This means that the frequencies which might cause moiré interference patterns are now so high that many lenses cannot resolve them – particularly inexpensive ‘kit’ zooms. In effect this means that the lens ends up playing the same role as the expensive optical low-pass filter that has traditionally been used to blur away those frequencies.
The trade-off is that sharper lenses may show increased amounts of moiré in the images created without an OLPF. When testing the OLPF-less D7100, we found that top quality optics were needed in order to see any gains in sharpness over the D5200 that did have an OLPF.
To summarize our findings, you need a good lens stopped down to its optimal aperture to see any difference, and even then results are only noticeable at 100% magnification. This also meant that we rarely saw much in the way of moire - the theoretical downside of the removal of an OLPF.

Lens Corrections

Original JPEG - Auto Distortion Control On
Uncorrected Raw file
Corrected Raw file
The D5300 applies distortion correction to JPEG images, an option that can be turned on or off in the shooting menu. It does an effective job of straightening out noticeable barrel distortion at wide angle as shown above. You can apply this correction yourself in ACR if you like, and with the 18-140mm Raw files will need to be manually corrected since Adobe doesn't currently have a profile for it.
Nikon's consumer DSLRs have offered automatic (lateral) chromatic aberration correction for several generations, and the D5300 inherits this useful feature. While looking at the Raw files shows that the 18-140mm kit lens produces noticeable CA at the long end of its zoom range (seen on the left below), the D5300 does a good job of removing it from the JPEG automatically. Though it's present in Raw files, CA is easily removed in ACR.
This uncorrected Raw conversion shows the CA produced by the 18-140mm kit lens at its 140mm setting.Thanks to automatic correction the out-of-camera JPEG seen here is relatively CA-free. You can easily get a similar result from Raw.

Raw noise floor

A major advantage in shooting Raw is the ability to recover tone and detail from parts of an image that the camera's JPEG engine hasn't revealed. The example below shows how far you can take the D5300's 14-bit Raw files in Adobe Camera Raw. The left image was converted in ACR 8.3 at default exposure settings, and the example on the right reflects increases in exposure and shadows. No noise reduction was applied in ACR to either image.
ACR default settings with NR offACR with Exposure +0.30 exposure, +80 shadows with NR off
100% crop100% crop
The D5300's matrix metering has chosen to preserve highlight tones in the reflective surfaces, sky and buildings that occupy a good portion of the frame, leaving some of the greenery detail lost to shadows. By boosting exposure and shadows in ACR we've recovered a good level of tone and detail that wasn't visible in the default Raw conversion with a very low level of noise. At base ISO especially, the D5300 provides a lot of latitude for shadow detail recovery in Raw conversion before it shows any sign of noise.
If you'd like to experiment with the D5300's .NEF files yourself, download the examples below:

Flash

The D5300's built-in flash has a guide number of 12 at ISO 100, with a sync speed of 1/200 sec. Flash compensation is available from -3 to +1 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV increments. For wireless flash control with the built-in flash unit, you'll have to look to the DSLR above the D5300 in Nikon's lineup - the D7100's pop-up flash can act as a master, the D5300's can't.

Studio Comparison

Our latest test scene is designed to simulate both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget allows you to switch between the two. The daylight scene is shot with manually set white balance, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests.
Note: this page features our new interactive studio scene. Click here for instructions on the widget.
Go to full screen mode
Studio scene
Image comparison tool
Lighting:
Image size:
With 24 megapixels the D5300 is a high resolution camera, pushed closer to its theoretical limit by its lack of an optical low pass filter. Our studio scene reflects its impressive resolution when compared to other cameras in its APS-C class. Raw image analysis shows the D5300 to be ahead of the Canon T5i in terms of resolution, which is expected, though the (also low pass filter-free) Fujifilm X-E2 appears to do a better job of keeping up. Another mirrorless APS-C competitor, the Sony NEX-6, doesn't perform quite as well in terms of resolution. The advantage that the D5300's 24 megapixels provides is most easily spotted when comparing how many lines of text are readable.
Both the T5i and D5300 display some moiré patterning in our moiré torture test. Looking at JPEGs from both, the D5300 shows slightly stronger patterning at the center of the target. Switching to Raw shows a trade for one kind of moire to another, as some faint yellow banding appears in the scene.
Moving up to ISO 800 the D5300 still shows more fine detail in JPEGs, though there's a bit more color noise appearing. The trend continues at ISO 3200, by which point most fine detail is beginning to look muddy and more color noise is visible throughout the scene. Fine detail is overwhelmed by noise and noise reduction by ISO 12800 and at the very highest ISO setting. The D5300 presents a little less noise in its Raw files than the T5i - especially when compared at the same resolution.

Studio Comparison

Our latest test scene is designed to simulate both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget allows you to switch between the two. The daylight scene is shot with manually set white balance, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests.
Note: this page features our new interactive studio scene. Click here for instructions on the widget.
Go to full screen mode
Studio scene
Image comparison tool
Lighting:
Image size:
Under the tungsten lighting of our low light scene the D5300 neutralizes some of the light's yellow cast, but still leaves a moderate yellow tinge across the scene. At ISO 200 it's still defining purples and blues in the darker side of the scene fairly well. Moving up to ISO 800 there's a bit of color noise creeping into the JPEG image, with more fine detail rendered than the Canon T5i. Comparing to another APS-C camera, the Fujifilm X-E2, Nikon's JPEG processing renders reds slightly more yellow. 
ISO 3200 shows that in low light the darker tones have started clipping to black and fine detail has take a significant hit. In low light at ISO 12800 the D5300's stronger approach to removing color noise is evident compared to the T5i, a trend continued at ISO 25600
Comparing the D5300's Raw images to others in its APS-C class shows most of them to be on roughly equal terms regarding amount of noise. The "Canon T5i" shows about the same amount of noise at ISO 3200, though the D5300 looks to be slightly ahead. Above that setting at "ISO 12800" the D5300 is still looking slightly better; the T5i is showing more noise in shadow areas, and slightly stronger splotches of color noise in brighter areas.

JPEG Tone Curves /Dynamic Range

Our Dynamic Range measurement system involves shooting a calibrated Stouffer Step Wedge (13 stops total range) which is backlit using a daylight balanced lamp (98 CRI). A single shot of this produces a gray scale wedge from the camera's clipped white point down to black (example below). Each step of the scale is equivalent to 1/3 EV (a third of a stop), we select one step as 'middle gray' (defined as 50% luminance) and measure outwards to define the dynamic range. Hence there are 'two sides' to our results, the amount of shadow range (below middle gray) and the amount of highlight range (above middle gray).
To most people highlight range is the first thing they think about when talking about dynamic range, that is the amount of highlight detail above middle gray the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated; in our test the line on the graph stops as soon as the luminance value drops below our defined 'black point' (about 2% luminance) or the signal-to-noise ratio drops below a predefined value (where shadow detail would be swamped by noise), whichever comes first.
Note: this page features our interactive dynamic range comparison widget. The wedges below the graph are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range (the dotted line indicating middle gray).

Cameras Compared

With Active D-Lighting turned off, which it is by default, the D5300 gives a nice S-shaped tone curve, with a gentle roll-off to both highlight and shadows. The comparison chart below shows its results against the competition - the Canon EOS Rebel T5i (700D), and two mirrorless APS-C cameras, the Fujifilm X-M1 and Sony NEX-6.
Cameras Compared
Dynamic range comparison

Nikon D5300




The D5300 reproduces more highlight tones at default settings than the Canon T5i, but turning on HTP mode puts the T5i ahead. Turning all of the default cameras compared here to their highest settings shows the D5300 with a wider tone curve than the T5i and NEX-6. It reproduces more shadow detail than the XM-1 but that camera goes straight off the chart on the highlight side.

DR Modes

Active D-Lighting is available in four levels - Low, Normal, High and Extra High, as well as Auto. Unlike HDR modes, ADL modes can be used in Raw + JPEG shooting modes. Because the camera will make slight adjustments to the exposure parameters (reducing the amount of light captured to prevent highlight detail clipping), there is a slight impact on the Raw files. However, only using Nikon's 'Capture' software will allow you to apply the adaptive tonal response that the camera's JPEG engine offers.
DR modes
Dynamic range comparison

Nikon D5300


Nikon D5300


Nikon D5300


Nikon D5300

Comparing 'Off' to the next step up, 'Low' shows that only shadow tone is affected at this setting and highlights are left relatively untouched. 'Normal' uses an exposure change to boost highlights about a third of a stop and 'High' pushes them another third of a stop, leaving shadows at the same level. 'Extra high' pushes shadows and highlights and approaches an HDR-type treatment in the scene below, offering about a stop gain in highlights and almost two stops in shadow tone. In our studio test 'Auto' applied a correction identical to 'High,' but in our real-world demonstration the 'Auto' mode has selected the 'Normal' mode.
ADL Off
ADL Low
ADL Normal
ADL High
ADL Extra High
ADL Auto

ISO Accuracy

The actual sensitivity of each indicated ISO is measured using the same shots as are used to measure ISO noise levels, we simply compare the exposure for each shot to the metered light level (using a calibrated Sekonic L-358), middle gray matched. We estimate the accuracy of these results to be +/- 1/6 EV (the margin of error given in the ISO specifications). Note that these tests are based on the sRGB JPEG output of the cameras, in accordance with ISO 12232:2006, the standard used by camera manufacturers. In our tests we found that measured ISOs from the D5300 are at least a 1/6 stop over sensitive, meaning ISO 100 indicated is closer to ISO 125 measured.

Noise and Noise Reduction (JPEG)

Note: this page features our interactive noise comparison widget. By default, we show you the default noise reduction settings of the camera tested, and three other models of the same class. You can select from all available NR options, and from other cameras. The 'tricolor' patches beneath the familiar gray/black/portrait images are taken from the same test chart, and show how noise impacts upon blue, green and red areas of a scene.

ISO range noise comparison

Nikon's JPEG noise reduction settings include Off, Low, Normal and High. It's compared at default in the chart below to four other APS-C cameras: the mirrorless Fujifilm X-M1 and Sony Alpha NEX-6, as well as the Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLR.
Cameras Compared
Noise comparison
Samples
Graph

JPEG

Nikon D5300
ISO:prevLowest 100 200 400 800 1600 3200 6400 12800 25600next
The D5300 shows a good balance of noise reduction and fine detail reproduction, erring on the side of leaving more chromatic noise in the scene rather than sacrificing more detail. NR Normal leaves an acceptable amount of fine detail up to ISO 6400, but with NR High engaged, the loss of fine detail starts to kick in at the jump from ISO 1600 to 3200.

ACR Raw noise (ACR 8.4 noise reduction set to zero)

Here we look at the RAW files processed through Adobe Camera Raw (in this case version 8.3). Images are brightness matched and processed with all noise reduction options set to zero. Adobe does a degree of noise reduction even when the user-controlled NR is turned off.
The amount of NR applied 'under the hood' is not high, but it does vary by camera (Adobe is attempting to normalize output across different sensors), so inevitably we are still looking at a balance of noise and noise reduction, rather than pure noise levels. However, the use of the most popular third-party RAW converter is intended to give a photographically relevant result, rather than simply comparing sensor performance in an abstract manner.
Cameas Compared Raw
Noise comparison
Samples
Graph

RAW

Nikon D5300
N/A
N/A
N/A
ISO:prevLowest 100 200 400 800 1600 3200 6400 12800 25600next
The D5300 shows a fairly gentle curve up to around ISO 6400, at which point noise begins to overwhelm the scene. In terms of Raw noise its results are quite close to those of its peers, even slightly less noisy, except for the Fujifilm X-M1. Fuji's X-Trans sensor technology is a bit of an outlier and it appears noise is being reduced at some point in the processing - either in-camera or as part of the software.

Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • High resolution sensor produces highly detailed images
  • Useful and sophisticated Auto ISO system
  • Solid feature set for first-time DSLR users
  • Good frame coverage of 39-point AF array
  • 1080/60p HD maximum video resolution
  • Customizable Fn button
  • Fully articulated LCD
  • Reliable built-in Wi-Fi and location tagging

Conclusion - Cons

  • Single Fn button is only means of direct access to key shooting settings like ISO and WB
  • Extreme lag in magnified live view
  • On-screen 'info' menu is dense and hard to operate quickly
  • No live preview of aperture changes in live view
  • Built-in flash lacks master function
  • Slow live view AF

Overall Conclusion

I didn't expect major suprises from the D5300 when I picked it up to review. In a (mostly) good way, that proved to be true. Where I expected it to excel - high resolution image creation, specifically - it did. It's important to overlook the iterative nature of the D5300 and remember how solid the D5200's feature set was - and hence how impressive its successor's is. It offers the highest resolution sensor in this consumer-grade class, and adds 1080/60p video and built-in connectivity features.
However, in some ways I couldn't help feeling it's lagging a little behind its contemporaries. Live view implementation and 'information' screen interfaces are a little clunky, and a few important settings like Auto ISO On/Off still require a trip to the menu.
So, while DSLR peers such as the Canon T5i/700D and Pentax K-50 offer 18MP and 16MP sensors, respectively, the Canon includes a rather good touchscreen interface while the Pentax offers twin control dials, weather sealing and the best optical viewfinder in its class. Neither can offer 1080/60p video or built-in Wi-Fi, but they're also cheaper, having been on the market longer.
Equally, we no longer live in a world where a photographer's only 'serious' choice is a DSLR. It's no fault of the D5300's that it's heavier than an Olympus E-M10 or Fujifilm X-M1, but I was constantly reminded of the difference as I carried it (and often a spare lens) on my bus commute for weeks. These cameras also both offer twin control dials and built-in Wi-Fi, as well as a more coherent live view experience, so don't give up much to the Nikon in terms of specifications.
Nikon has its boundaries defined pretty clearly within its APS-C lineup - timid beginners will feel comfortable with the D3X00 series, photographers with more demanding needs will like the D7X00 series' customizability and direct control, and those falling somewhere in between are presented with the D5300. Its specifications are impressive, and I'm more than happy with the quality of the images I was able to shoot with it, but there are a couple of nagging quirks that pause me from giving it our highest endorsement. In use it behaves a lot like the entry-level D3300, while most of its rivals offer more for the more demanding photographer and the user who wants a camera to grow into.

Handling

The D5300 is light and agile compared to its larger DSLR peers, but it's still a sizable step up in terms of bulk from a superzoom or mirrorless camera. However, it maintains a good sense of balance, even with a larger kit zoom like the 18-140mm. Its single command dial feels a touch limiting for the camera, and one more function button would have gone a long way, especially without a touch screen to facilitate quick setting changes.
The camera inheirits a very good 39-point AF system that we liked in the D5200 and continue to like in this generation. As with any AF system it tends to struggle more in low light, but restricting use to center AF points in these situations helped to better ensure accuracy.
While the quick 'info' menu is good to have, it becomes a little tiresome using the four-way controller to click through two rows of the menu tiles, and once you've selected a setting, clicking through to your desired option. Enabling the command dial for either or both of these tasks would be a much nicer alternative.
The D5300's articulated display is a great feature to have that still and video shooters alike appreciate, but those using auto focus in live view will be disappointed by its slow speed. The odd aperture behavior in live view mode on the D5300 also risks confusing or confounding both beginners and developing users. Mirrorless cameras continue to do laps around most DSLRs in terms of live view auto focus speed.

Image Quality

Put simply, the D5300 presents D7100-level image quality in a camera body that's somewhere around $400 cheaper. It produces good quality, highly detailed JPEGs and those who are so inclined will find lots of latitude for adjusting Raw files. Like its predecessor, the D5300's Raw files allow shadows to be opened up without introducing too much in the way of noise. Default JPEG rendering is also pleasant, without any over-sharpening halo artifacts.
The D5300's video quality is just as notable as its still image quality. It offers full 1080/60p resolution, available without the crop mode that the D7100 applies to its highest resolution videos. As a result the D5300's video is more detailed and motion is smooth. With the ability to output Raw video over HDMI and plug in an external microphone, the D5300 is well worth consideration as a beginning videographer's camera or a cheap secondary camera for a pro.
The bottom line is that you can't argue with 24 megapixels of AA-filter-less resolution. The D5300 delivers excellent image quality - slightly better than its various kit lenses are actually capable of rendering, it seems. In that regard, it's a great option for someone who wants to start with the kit and eventually add better glass.

The final word

If you're looking for a DSLR and want something approachable yet serious, but not quite as pro as the D7100, the D5300 is an excellent option. It won't let anyone in this category down in terms of image or video quality. Absolute beginners can happily shoot away in Auto, and those who are a little more hands-on will find all of their basic exposure controls relatively easy to access. It's not the fine-tuned, semi-pro instrument that the D7100 is, but its image quality could lead you to believe otherwise.
Despite a still-strong feature set, many of our complaints with the D5200 still stand. There are some interface quirks that keep us from feeling that warm and fuzzy connection with the camera we'd like to feel, and a few things are still missing that the competition has locked in, like a touch screen.
As far as updates over the previous model go, the most notable is likely its Wi-Fi connectivity. It certainly doesn't make for a big story, but in everyday shooting it's a valuable tool to have. If immediate photo sharing isn't essential and you're not big on video, the D5300 is probably overkill. Otherwise, it represents a very good cover-the-basics-plus-a-little-extra DSLR for a budding enthusiast.

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