The more I shoot with the Nikon D5500, the more I’m amazed at how well it performs and how much I like it. What amazes me even more, is that I don’t see many people talking about it online, at least not at the level of buzz I think it deserves. When I started thinking about why, I came up with eight reasons why the Nikon D5500 may be the MOST UNDER-RATED camera on the market today.
1. Size & Weight is competitive with most mirrorless cameras. The Nikon D5500 is really small, I mean, REALLY small. I don’t think most people realize just how small until they actually hold one. Look at this photo above and below of the D5500 beside the Panasonic GX7. Yes, it’s bigger, but not by much (I probably should have taken the lens hood off the Nikon 50mm f1.8G on the D5500 as it makes it look bigger than it is). Contrast it to the next photo of the D5500 beside the Nikon D810, and you can see that the D5500 looks positively tiny by comparison. The D5500 makes a great little stealth camera for street shooting or photojournalism / reportage style photography.
2. Image Quality. The Nikon D5500 has the best APS-C sensor on the market today, and it does 14 bit RAW. You get simply unbeatable image performance compared to anything else in the APS-C world. Really, who needs full frame FX when APS-C DX is this good?
3. Excellent Auto Focus. The D5500 has a better AF system than almost all mirrorless cameras, in fact better than all but the best DSLR’s. The D5500’s CAM4800DX, 39 points, 9 cross type is VERY good. It’s tracking is excellent, as is its ability to focus in low-light situations. You won’t find yourself missing shots while you wait for the D5500 to finish focusing. Even in dim light, the Nikon D5500 does a very good job of locking onto your subject quickly and accurately.
4. Manual focusing. Manual focus is very easy on the Nikon D5500. It’s rangefinder feature, once enabled, makes the D5500 a great camera to shoot older lens classics like the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-S on. No, the Nikon D5500 doesn’t have focus peaking, but the manual focus rangefinder just may be even easier to use than focus peaking. It’s simple and accurate, and so pleasurable to feel the buttery smooth focus ring of an older AIS or AI lens as it moves to the touch of your fingertips. Indeed, the Nikon D5500 may be the single BEST option for Nikon manual focus lens users.
5. Touchscreen, Vari-Angle LCD. The LCD on the Nikon D5500 is not only a vari-angle LCD, but it has touch focus and tap and shoot features too. Perhaps the MOST under-rated feature in any camera is the ability to touch the LCD to change the focus point and/or touch the LCD to focus and shoot. Shooting in Live View is the MOST ACCURATE way to shoot any DSLR. You’re pretty much guaranteed to avoid any front or back focus problems. Sure, it’s a little slower, but the accuracy is unbeatable. Being able to get down low, up over-head, or twist the LCD around for a quick selfie is a feature that is VERY HARD to be without once you’ve been shooting with a camera that has it. When I pick up one of my favorite full frame DSLR’s like the Nikon D610 or D810, it’s the first thing I miss when I start shooting. I can’t wait for Nikon to give us a full vari-angle LCD on an FX body. I’ll be first in line to buy!
6. Battery Life. GREAT battery life is something I tend to take for granted in the sense that I don’t think much about it until I’m shooting with a camera that doesn’t have it. The Nikon D5500 doesn’t have this problem. For such a small battery and a small camera, it’s battery lasts a LONG time, MUCH longer than any of the Sony mirrorless cameras like the Sony a6000 or Sony a7 series. I have yet to run out of battery juice on any given day that I’ve been shooting with the D5500. It’s like the Energizer bunny of camera batteries. It just keeps going and going and going…
7. Build Quality. The body of the little D5500 is solid. It feels good in the hands and has a high level of fit and finish about it that imparts a sense of ruggedness and quality. I was surprised when I first found out that the D5500 has a carbon fiber body (similar to that in its big brother, the Nikon D750) but when you hold the D5500 in hand, it makes sense why it feels so solid.
8. Value. Add up all of the above, and you get one of the BEST VALUES in cameras out there today. In fact, it’s pretty hard to beat. Nothing else offers up quite this level of features and performance at this price point, which is why I think the Nikon D5500 is one of the most under-rated cameras on the market today.
All in all, the D5500 is a camera that’s hard to beat, but the funny thing is, I don’t think Nikon is marketing this camera anywhere as effectively as they could, especially when you consider all of the above points. The D5500 should be a front-runner on just about everyone’s list, whether they’re a hobbyist needing a great all-around camera or a professional photographer needing a small and lightweight travel or portrait camera (or, like me, someone who LOVES the older Nikkor manual focus lenses who wants a small and lightweight body with top notch image quality to shoot them on).
Do yourself a favor, and go play with a Nikon D5500 on your next visit to your local camera store. I think you just might be pleasantly surprised. 🙂
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