I’m a bit of a Canon fanboy from my time working at Best Buy and Circuit City, but when given the opportunity to review Nikon’s latest DSLR, the D5600, I jumped at it.
While I actually own a Canon Rebel T5i, I was excited to learn what advances have been made in the years since. Although I love my camera, I don’t always use it as often as I should due to occasional issues with transferring photos. It’s what I filmed the video blogs on my YouTube channel on though, and I do love the quality I can get despite my noob status.
Of course the biggest upgrade from the D5500 is SnapBridge, which maintains a Bluetooth connection to an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. NFC and WiFi connections are also possible (the latter is required to transfer photos to the smartphone). The idea intrigued me, though it’s a bit buggier than I’d have liked.
Overall, the D5600 is a great camera, but I still found it easier to transfer photos through a direct cable connection. It’s still a great start in the right direction, and I’m excited at the prospect of getting a hold of Canon’s version.
Under the Hood
The Nikon D5600 is a midrange DX-format camera with specs nearly identical to the D5500: a 24MP CMOS sensor, no optical low-pass filter (OLPF) and the brand’s latest EXPEED 4 processor. It has an ISO range of 100-25600, 5 fps burst shooting, and advanced depth perception using a 39-point auto-focus system, and can also record 1080p HD video at 60 fps.
Barebones, the camera body is $699.95, while the 18-55mm VR lens shown above brings the package to $799.95. A two-lens kit that adds a 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens costs $899.95, and an 18-140mm VR lens kit is $999.95.
Customization options run deep down to the point you can specify when sensor cleaning should take place (at startup, shutdown, both, or neither), and Nikon’s Stepping Motor provides a smooth and nearly silent autofocus.
Photo Quality and SnapBridge
If you’ve spent any time on my blog (or with me in real life), you’re aware I’m pretty lazy. It leaks into my work, and I’ll often take a minimalist approach to things. It wasn’t until late in 2015 that I was in the financial position to even buy a camera – until then my blog was built entirely from smartphone pics.
Having the D5600 available, I made a conscious effort to integrate it into my routine and try to use it for photo shoots. Here are a few pics I took on it from my recent run of product reviews. Keep in mind the pics are highly compressed before uploading on my website.
Now aside from the fact I’m not the greatest photographer, I did learn a few things while using the D5600 this month. One thing I already understood is better quality photos come with larger file sizes, so I was intrigued at how well the photos would transfer to my phone and how quickly said phone would fill up and freeze on me.
It turns out SnapBridge (which itself takes up less than 30MB) already compresses the files when transferring to your phone, although these settings can be adjusted to transfer the raw file. This made it easy to upgrade my Instagram images with professional-looking photos (although once I send this thing back to Nikon, I’m going back to the old way of doing things).
Initially setting up SnapBridge was easy enough, but the problem I had the first dozen times I tried to connect and download photos was a popup to login to the WiFi network on my Samsung Galaxy. This made it impossible to actually transfer the files manually (although it was able to transfer a handful of photos automatically the first night I used it).
I was also unable to pair the devices using NFC (which the Galaxy S7 is capable of, and I’ve used for a variety of wireless speakers and headphones so I know works on my specific phone). A cloud storage option (called ImageSpace) is available, but I knew the phone was a loaner and didn’t implement it to avoid being spammed.
When it did work, SnapBridge was very handy to have, but I spent so much time trying to coax it to work that I soon found myself just plugging the USB cable into my desktop, where the photos would ultimately need to go for some adjustments and uploading onto my blog anyway. A wireless connection to my laptop/desktop would’ve been much more useful in the long run.
The feature that really made good use of the WiFi connection is another app called WirelessMobileUtility that lets you use your smartphone as a remote. I often find myself needing a remote and having to make do with other ways (i.e. turning the camera on manually, positioning myself, then trimming that off the beginning). Like SnapBridge, WirelessMobileUtility was great…when I could convince my phone to stay connected.
Although buggy, the few glimpses I got into a working connection between my phone and camera were enough to see how useful it could be.
I wasn’t exactly happy with menu navigation however. Taking a video on my Canon is a one-button affair, whereas on this Nikon D5600, I found myself jumping through hoops figuring out how to do it. With only a touchscreen to navigate through some options, I would’ve hoped for a better experience touching the screen, but far too often I took a pic when I was trying to select an option.
Nikon’s D5600 has a lot of good things going for it – great sensors and lenses, customization options, and wireless connectivity. However, it takes two separate apps to take full advantage of the WiFi connectivity, and both were plagued with connectivity issues.
Still a great camera, I’d expect more for $800, which is about what I spent on my Canon that included a case, SD cards, tripod, and a variety of lenses/filters. I don’t know that I’d trade all that in for a spotty Internet connection.
With a fixed app, refreshed approach to menu navigation, lower price point, and 4K video, Nikon would have a hit on its hands. For now, we’ll make due with what we have.
Final Grade: B+