Nikon D5500 £580/$600
A worthy upgrade, from any angle
For conventional shooting with your eye to the viewfinder, the D5500 beats the D3400 with its more advanced autofocus system
A headline feature of the original D5000 was its fully articulating vari-angle screen, which was useful for shooting movies and stills in Live View mode from tricky angles, and for self-portraits. The D5500 enhances this experience by making the vari-angle LCD a touchscreen, and boosting its resolution four-fold for really sharp, crystal-clear viewing.
For conventional shooting with your eye to the viewfinder, the D5500 beats the D3400 with a more advanced 39-point autofocus system, and a more superior metering module based on 2016 pixels instead of 420 pixels. A potential increase in image quality is enabled by the availability of 14-bit colour depth in RAW quality mode, whereas the D3400 only supports 12-bit colour depth.
Both cameras are relatively lightweight and compact, being based on a monocoque casing that’s made from carbon-fibre. Due to the mechanism for the vari-angle screen, however, the D5500 loses the vertical row of buttons down the left-hand side of the rear panel that feature on most other Nikon D-SLRs. On the plus side, it gains a Custom Settings menu for advanced camera set-up – something which is lacking in the D3400.
For wireless connectivity, the D5500 has built-in Wi-Fi, whereas the D3400 only has Bluetooth. The brand new D5600 adds Bluetooth as well (see our full review on page 104 for details) but, on paper at least, this is the only significant upgrade over the D5500.
Like the D3400, the D5500 is fully compatible with Nikon’s new AF-P and existing AF-S lenses, but both cameras lack a built-in autofocus motor. This makes autofocus impossible with Nikon’s older ‘AF’ lenses.
In our tests, the D5500’s light metering system sometimes produced slightly over-exposed results, but in terms of overall performance it’s definitely a step up from the D3400.