The WINNER IS… Nikon D5500
Nikon’s newest entry-level D-SLR is the outright winner of the group, by the smallest of margins
On balance, the D5500 is the best camera in the group – just. Handling is excellent and the interface is wonderfully intuitive thanks to the LCD screen’s graphical shooting display and touchscreen operation. It also goes a long way to please enthusiast photographers, with a far-reaching custom settings menu for tailoring autofocus, exposure, timers and other shooting parameters to your chosen values. This is notably absent from the D3200 and D3300.
The D5500 isn’t perfect, however, as we found it had a habit of slight over-exposure in matrix metering mode (a tendency also found on the D3200). The D5300 performs better in this respect, with more accurate and consistent metering, while it also pulls marginally ahead of the D5500 in most lab test scores. If you’d rather have built-in GPS than touchscreen control, it’s a wiser buy.
Our next favourite camera is the D3300, which delivers very similar image quality to the D5300. It has less sophisticated autofocus and metering modules, but is more beginner-friendly with its interactive Guide mode. In this respect it builds on the preceding D3200, while also adding special effects to the shooting mode dial, as per the D5300 and D5500.
In bottom place comes the 1 J5. Don’t get us wrong, it performs admirably as a CSC and, as such, we gave it a five-star rating back in issue 47. However, it lacks ‘system’ flexibility – there’s no ability to add a viewfinder or flashgun, while lens choice is comparatively limited. The shot-to-shot speed in single-advance drive mode is also painfully slow compared with any D-SLR.