Nikon D5300 Review

November 19, 2013 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 24 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 8Mb.

The Nikon D5300 produced images of excellent quality during the review period. The D5300 produces noise-free JPEG images at ISO 100-1600, with ISO 3200 also looking pretty good. ISO 6400 only shows a little noise, while the fastest settings of ISO 12800 and 25600 are quite a lot noisier and suffer from softening of fine detail and a loss of saturation, but the images are still perfectly usable for small prints and resizing for web use.

The images were a little soft straight out of the D5300 at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting for JPEG files. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and bulb mode allowing you to capture plenty of light. Red-eye was not a common occurrence with the built-in flash, and when we did encounter it, it was very moderate and easily cured by setting the flash to red-eye reduction mode.

Active D-lighting managed to squeeze most of the dynamic range captured by the sensor into the JPEGs the camera produced, while the HDR mode greatly expands the dynamic range by combining two shots taken at different exposures. The Picture Styles and creative Effects help to get more out of your JPEG images.

Noise

There are 9 ISO settings available on the Nikon D5300 and the ISO speed can be adjusted in 1/3 EV increments. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and RAW on the right.

The Nikon D5300 also has ISO Sensitivity Auto Control, activated from the shooting menu. If set to On, the camera will automatically adjust the sensitivity if proper exposure cannot be achieved at the value chosen by the photographer. The user can put a limit on the maximum sensitivity selectable by the camera.

JPEG

RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg
   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg
   

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg

File Quality

The file quality settings available on the D5300 include Basic, Normal and Fine for JPEGs, plus you can also store your photos in Nikon's proprietary raw format (NEF).  Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Fine (10.2Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (6.84Mb) (100% Crop)

quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg
   

Basic (2.35Mb) (100% Crop)

RAW (24.1Mb) (100% Crop)

quality_basic.jpg quality_raw.jpg

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes by changing the Picture Styles.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Flash

The pop-up flash on the D5300 has several settings including Auto, Fill-in flash, Red-eye Reduction, SlowSync, Red-eye Reduction with Slow Sync, Rear-curtain Sync and Off. These snaps of a white wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (82.5mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (82.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. The built-in speedlight caused no red-eye effect in this test.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The Nikon D5300 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. There is an optional long-exposure noise reduction function that can be activated to filter out any hot pixels that may appear when extremely slow shutter speeds are used. Do note that this works by way of dark frame subtraction, which effectively doubles the exposure time. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 30 seconds, aperture of f/8 at the ISO 100 sensitivity setting.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

D-lighting

D-lighting is Nikon's dynamic range optimisation tool that attempts to squeeze the full dynamic range of the sensor into JPEGs. The available settings are Off, Low, Medium, High, Extra High and Auto. The following examples demonstrate the differences between the various settings.

D-lighting - Off

D-lighting - Low

dlighting_01.jpg dlighting_02.jpg
   

D-lighting - Normal

D-lighting - High

dlighting_03.jpg dlighting_04.jpg
   

D-lighting - Extra High

 
dlighting_05.jpg  

HDR

The Nikon D5300 has a HDR mode with four levels of manual exposure and an Auto setting. The camera only combines two shots, one under and one over exposed, to produce the final image, and it's only available when shooting JPEGs.

HDR - Off

HDR - Low

hdr_01.jpg hdr_02.jpg
   

HDR - Normal

HDR - High

hdr_03.jpg hdr_04.jpg
   

HDR - Extra High

 
hdr_05.jpg  

Picture Controls

Nikon's Picture Controls are akin to Canon's Picture Styles in being preset combinations of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. The available choices are Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape. The following examples demonstrate the differences across these options.

Standard

Neutral

picture_controls_01.jpg picture_controls_02.jpg
   

Vivid

Monochrome

picture_controls_03.jpg picture_controls_04.jpg
   

Portrait

Landscape

picture_controls_05.jpg picture_controls_06.jpg

Effects

The Effects shooting mode provides 9 different creative filters that can be applied to both still images and movies.

Night Vision

Color Sketch

effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg
   

Toy Camera

Miniature

effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg
   

Selective Color

Silhouette

effects_05.jpg effects_06.jpg
   

High Key

Low Key

effects_07.jpg effects_08.jpg
   

HDR Painting

 
effects_09.jpg