Nikon D5500

The Nikon D5500 is the company’s third camera in the D5xx series, positioned as a solid entry-level body between the D3300 and D7200. All three share the same image quality. The differences? The D5500 is Nikon’s only DSLR with an LCD that is both fully articulated and touch-sensitive, features which Gordon finds quite attractive. But the D5500 is far from perfect. It has lost the built-in GPS from the previous D5300 and the 18-55mm kit lens doesn’t match up to the 24MP sensor.

Doug and Gordon use the D5500 as a launching point for two general topics: (1) the value (or not) of having built-in GPS, and (2) the relative merits of optical viewfinders (OVFs) such as in this camera versus electronic viewfinders (EVFs) found in mirrorless cameras.

Read Gordon’s in-depth review at

Buy the D5500 from B&H, (US) or (UK).

Mentioned in the show: gps4cam to log your locations and sync with images.

  • I just recommended this camera to a family member and now you’re making me sad. 😉 It sounds like the OVF is pretty weak. You were drawing comparisons with mirrorless cameras, which seems reasonable in this price range. It still seems like there is more discussion to be had though. Mirrorless systems have advantages, but also a number of disadvantages, that I felt like you might have expanded on more. Limiting the discussion to APS-C, there are 3 choices, Sony a6000, Samsung NX and Fujifilm. Of those 3, you can barely find a decent lens for a6000 or Samsung NX. Fuji has some good choices, thankfully. None of them compares to the lens and accessory options you have with Nikon Dx, and can be really limiting, when you want to grow into a new area. Sony and Samsung have very high frame rates that are fun to say, but the in-focus rate with a moving subject, at least according to Tony Northrup is about 20%, so it is hard to say the added frame rate is a feature. The last item that is worth discussing is that adding MFT cameras to the comparison is not really fair. You can site features that are more advanced, such as nearest eye focus, but you can’t really say that out of context. The real context there is that MFT is one stop worse in all areas. Base ISO is effectively 2x APS-C and widest aperture is 1 f stop higher, the best dynamic range is 1 stop worse, and the diffraction limit is 1 f stop lower. That means, by physics, and not by how it feels or what number they advertise with, that if you put a good MFT next to a good APS-C camera, the MFT will have more noise, less DOF control, less dynamic range, less low light capability and less ability to stop down to do long exposures. That difference is 2x. The game is being fought at the 1/3 stop level, so a 1 stop loss of performance and control is a big number. If you compare to full frame, you can double most of those numbers to describe the performance gap.

  • Hi Gordon. Thanks for getting back to me. I really enjoyed the article you pointed me to, and I see your points. Obviously there is a whole range of shots you can get effectively with a great MFT camera, especially with low handheld shutter speeds or conditions that are in the middle of the exposure triangle. It looks like you have the ability to shoot handheld travel, landscape and interiors at f/4ish and get good DOF. I don’t know how fair it is to compare a $2000 body and lens combo to a $800 one. That might actually prove how good a value the D5500 is. As far as I can tell, the base ISO of the EM5 II is 200. That has about the same actual noise as ISO 400 on the D5500, which can also go to ISO 100 natively, meaning the D5500 can produce 2 stops less noise at base ISO. Granted that noise is harder to appreciate in JPEG images, but it still means the Olympus has less dynamic range and resolving power at its best, when it isn’t limited by the lens. The inability to stop down aperture or run lower native ISO reduces the ability to conveniently force long exposures without an ND filter. Also the ability to intentionally reduce DOF is limited on MFT by one stop compared to APS-C. The high ISO limits can be a problem even at the widest aperture, since the subject blur won’t be fixed by IBIS. So even though there are really amazing engineering feats in the MFT world, the physics don’t allow them to outperform an equivalently priced APS-C camera. With a comparable lens on both a MFT and an APSC body, you can get lower noise, shallower DOF, greater dynamic range, less diffraction limiting and more resolving capacity. You can use this to do all the same shots as the MFT, but also push shutter speeds 1 stop higher via ISO (for free) and 2 stops lower (at better quality) by stopping down one stop further to get the same DOF and dropping the ISO to 100.

  • >