The most well-rounded of all the cameras on test, the D5300 is also the top performer in the group
With its monocoque design, latestgeneration EXPEED 4 image processor, articulated LCD screen and built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, the D5300 is bang up to date. It’s easy to use, yet packs plenty of advanced controls to suit enthusiast photographers. Most importantly, it delivers the most consistently gorgeous image quality of any camera in the group, even in the trickiest lighting conditions.
As a mid-range camera, one thing the D5300 lacks is a Guide shooting mode for absolute beginners. The D3300 is more beginner-friendly and, with practically the same image quality being delivered from its 24.2-megapixel sensor and EXPEED 4 processor, it’s a force to be reckoned with. It’s also standout value for money. However, it lacks the range of custom settings that experienced shooters have come to expect.
Compared with the D5300 and D3300, the older D5200 and D3200 simply don’t deliver such excellence or consistency. The same is sadly true of the D7100, which is the most upmarket DX-format SLR in Nikon’s current line-up. It has a feast of high-end features and controls to suit advanced, creative photographers. However, metering and autofocus can both be a little inconsistent and image quality lags behind that of EXPEED 4 cameras, most noticeably in apparent sharpness and mid-tone definition, making images less punchy.
Ultimately, it seems that Nikon has been concentrating its efforts on entry-level and mid-range cameras in the DX line-up, while making strides in FX (full-frame) cameras for the enthusiast sector. We think there’s a lot to be said for DX cameras, particularly for action, sports and wildlife photographers who enjoy long ‘effective’ telephoto reach with sensibly sized and priced lenses. We’d love to see a replacement for the D7100 with the latest EXPEED 4 processor, or a revamp of the D300s (see page 112).