L ATEST 24.2- MEGAPIXEL ENTRY- LE VEL DSLR TESTED & R ATED
Guide Price: £ 649 ( body- only)/£ 729 ( with 18- 55mm) Image sensor: APS- C CMOS ( 23.5x15.6mm) Resolution: 24.2- megapixels Maximum image resolution: 6000x4000 pixels AF system: Multi- CAM 4800DX AF sensor module. Uses 39 AF points ( including nine cross- type sensors) Metering system: TTL using 2016- pixel RGB sensor Metering patterns: Matrix, spot & centre- weighted ISO range: ISO 100- 25600 plus Auto Shutter speeds: 1/ 4000sec- 30 seconds & Bulb/ Time Integral flash: Guide Number: 12 ( ISO 100, m) Frame rate: Five frames- per- second Storage: SD ( SDHC/ XC) Size: 124x97x70mm Weight: 465g ( including battery & card) Website: www. nikon. co. uk
THE ENTRY- LEVEL sector of the market is an increasingly competitive one. Every camera brand is desperate to acquire new users as once they've invested in a system, chances are they're less likely to switch to another in the future. With the advent of mirrorless models, digital SLR manufacturers have even more rivals to contend with. This has meant that, when a new model arrives, it's either a refinement of an existing model or a totally new camera. In the case of the new Nikon D5600, the former description is true.
The Nikon D5000- series has been around since 2009, providing novice photographers with a more robust and better- specified option to the budget D3000- series. The last model in the series was the D5500, released in 2015 and scoring a 90% Best Buy award when reviewed in our May 2015 issue.
As we'll reveal as we run through the test, there isn't a huge difference between the handling, range of features and performance of the Nikon D5600 compared to its predecessor, which isn't such a negative considering how good the older model is. The biggest change is the addition of Snapbridge connectivity, allowing the camera to stay connected to your smartphone/ tablet via the Nikon Snapbridge app ( see panel). The D5500 lacked this facility, although it did offer Wi- Fi and NFC. So has this and the other changes brought the D5600 up to speed? Let's find out.
The first thing that strikes you about the D5600 is its size and weight – it's a very compact unit and at 465 grams ( with battery and card), is extremely lightweight. While these characteristics usually result in the camera feeling a little cheap and plastic, that's not the case with the D5600, which feels nicely put together. The pronounced handgrip and rubberised panels allows it to be securely held and it's possible to use it one- handed without any major issues.
Due to the camera's shape, with its off- centre lens mount, the majority of function buttons and dials are located on the right- side of the body. With the D5600 aimed at relative newcomers, there aren't too many buttons to get used to and everything is clearly marked, so if you're looking for a user- friendly model this one fits the brief nicely. It's also aided by a variety of access points to key functions – along with the Menu button, there is an i ( info) button that brings up a number of variables on the screen. These can be highlighted via the four- way controller or can be selected using the touchscreen facility. This latter option is made all the more easier by the quality of the 1,037,000- dot screen and the size of the LCD monitor ( 3.2in), along with the excellent design of the on- screen readout. Another bonus of the monitor is that it sits on a swivel hinge, which allows it to be positioned at a variety of angles – useful for changing variables as well as for composing images.
Not so hot on the D5600 is the viewfinder, which I found to be a little too small for my liking. The screen is sharp and reasonably bright and the focus point overlay and exposure readouts are clear, but it only offers a 95% coverage and is quite cramped in use. Spectacle wearers will most likely want to use the dioptre control.
The D5600 uses the same 24.2- million pixel CMOS sensor ( without low- pass filter) that was used in the predecessor, which is no bad thing as it is capable of delivering very high quality results. It also uses the same EXPEED 4 image processor, which offers a sensitivity range of ISO 100- 25600 and a shooting rate up to five frames- persecond. Another similarity with its predecessor, which is less welcome, relates to the maximum resolution for recording video, which is unchanged at Full HD ( 1080p). This lags behind the everincreasing number of cameras boasting 4K.
The autofocus system uses Nikon's tried and tested Multi- CAM 4800DX system and features 39 AF points, of which nine are the
more sensitive cross- type sensors. The standard set of single, continuous and auto AF modes are available and as well as being able to have all 39 points or individual AF points active, you can also set it to use only 11 active points. Liveview is an excellent option on the D5600, thanks to the 3.2in LCD monitor, which provides a bright and large image, a 100% coverage and benefits from fast and accurate Liveview AF.
One other interesting option is that you can use your thumb on the touchscreen to change the AF point while looking through the viewfinder, which can be useful when following a moving subject.
While the range of features found on the D5600 might be limiting for enthusiasts, it should suit the novice photographer. A wide range of Scene modes are access via the main dial and rotation of the input dial, with a set of creative filters, such as Toy Camera and Miniature Effect, selected in a similar way. With an interval timer and a time- lapse facility also available, there are a few creative options for beginners becoming a little more adventurous with their photography.
There's a reason why Nikon did little in terms of upgrade to the D5600' s AF and exposure systems – both are extremely consistent and reliable. With static subjects, the AF locks on quickly, while continuous AF does a fair job in tracking moving subjects. As always, the Matrix pattern handles the majority of scenes with ease, while the White Balance proves accurate in various lighting conditions. Colour reproduction and contrast is excellent, while sharpness is excellent whether shooting JPEG or Raw.
While very little has changed between this and the previous model, the D5600 has enough about it to remain one of the very best entry- level models you can buy.
Above & below: The small size and light weight of the Nikon D5600 makes it a real alternative to mirrorless for those looking for a very compact but capable entry- level camera. The screen's interface offers an extensive level of detail and is modern and graphic.
Exposure: 1/ 800sec at f/ 2.8 ( ISO 200)