Review Nikon D5600: ALWAYS CONNECTED
The Nikon D5600 is a new SLR camera from Nikon with an APS-C ("DX") sensor. The camera looks like a twin of the Nikon D5500 and shares nearly all that camera’s technology. What’s new on the D5600 is SnapBridge. That ensures that the camera can easily connect and stay connected with smartphones and tablets. You can thus share pictures easily.
The Nikon D5600 has largely the same body as the D5500. Both models are a good deal smaller than the D5300, which they replace. The camera is amply equipped with setting options and has a great LCD screen that can fold out and turn, and which also functions as a touchscreen. That touch option ensures that the switch from a smartphone to a real camera like the D5600 is not such a big step. The D5600 has the same sensor and auto focus module as the D5500, although according to Nikon there have been small improvements made. What disappears are the infrared sensors for the remote control. That is a logical result of the addition of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and NFC on the D5600. With a free app on your smartphone, instead of an extra IR remote control, you can operate the Nikon D5600 remotely.
USER-FRIENDLY WIRELESS CONNECTION
The D5600 has SnapBridge. SnapBridge can make a connection with a smartphone or tablet via a Bluetooth connection, which uses very little energy. That low energy usage is a big plus relative to Wi-Fi. This means the camera can stay connected all the time, as long as you don’t turn it off and the smartphone stays in range of the camera. Thanks to NFC (Near Field Communications), you can also make the connection the first time very easily with smartphones that have the same technology. Once that has happened and SnapBridge is on, you don’t have to do anything else. Using SnapBridge, the camera can send a 2-megapixel jpeg version of every photo you take to the smartphone. That happens in the background, without you having to do anything for it. When you then want to share or send a photo, you just have to go to the camera roll on the phone and choose the right photo. To transfer larger files to the phone, you do have to select those files. Then SnapBridge makes a Wi-Fi connection to send these files quickly.
Nikon D3400 vs D5600
D5600 is the best Nikon for starters
Relative to the Nikon D3400, the D5600 has so many extras that a D5600 becomes a serious contender for even a starting photographer, even though the D5600 is a few hundred euros more than the D3400. First, the D5600 has an automatic dust filter, so that you will not have as much trouble with dust on the sensor. However carefully you change lenses, at a certain point you will get dust on the sensor. With a Nikon D3400, you will have to remove that manually (or have that done). The automatic dust filter on the D5600 avoids that.
A difference that might be even more attractive is the screen that folds out and turns, so that you can create a good composition from impossible angles. The D5600 also offers a number of features that ensure that you will not have to buy a new camera at a later stage, when you start using the camera in new ways. That means a starting photographer is going to get off easy if as the love for the hobby grows, because the D5600 can keep up.
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With the D3400, you can only send files wirelessly with a maximum size of 2 MB. That’s more than enough for social media, but if you want to transfer your RAW files wirelessly, that’s not enough. The D5600 gives you extra freedom with that. If you don’t look too closely at the pixel level, then the D3400, D5300, D5500 and D5600 differ little from each other when it comes to image quality.
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BUILD QUALITY & Features
The D5600 is a small camera. When you put a lens on it, from the top it looks mostly like you just have a box with a handgrip behind the lens. There is hardly any body on the left-hand side. The hand grip is nice and deep, which makes holding the camera easy despite its small size. The body is made from fiber-reinforced composite and is thus very lightweight. Everything looks as it should, but the resistance to weather is less than it is on the Nikon D7200. The Nikon D5600—like nearly all amateur cameras—is not a camera for extremely severe weather. The battery is the EN-EL 14, good for 800 shots according to Nikon, and good in our test for more than 500. More than enough for amateur use.
VIEWFINDER AND CONTROLS
Because the camera housing of the Nikon D5600 is so small, space was a real challenge for the designers. The buttons are thus spread across the front, back, and top. No separate button for ISO or AF. There is only one setting wheel, and of course the familiar 4-way switch. You can use the Fn button for that. In comparison with the D7200 or the D750, the spacing is all a bit tight. Fortunately, you can do a lot with the good touchscreen, so that you do not need the buttons as often. The level for quickly switching to Live View is a change that makes working with Live View a good deal easier. The screen itself is great; there is an eye sensor so that it shuts itself off when you use the viewfinder. Many photographers who are switching from using a smartphone as their camera to a unit like this D5600 will have the tendency to primarily use the screen for taking pictures. That works reasonably well, and the ability to rotate the screen makes photographing from close to the ground or high above your head easy. When it’s sunny and there’s a lot of light on the screen, it’s much better to use the viewfinder. That always gives a clear, bright picture, and you often hold the camera still much better when you have it up against your face. The camera also responds more quickly when you use the viewfinder instead of Live View.
HIGH RESOLUTION AND IMAGE QUALITY
The 5600, just like the D5500 and the larger D7200, has the familiar 24-megapixel sensor with 6000x4000 pixels. The D5600 does not have an anti-alias filter; that doesn’t make much difference with these pixel numbers. In theory, with a perfect shot from the D5600 you can make a perfect poster in A1 size (23.4 x 33.1 inches). All the conditions do have to be met for that: no motion blur (always the most important reason for loss of quality) and a good lens set to an aperture in the mid-range, say, between f/4 and f/8. At larger apertures, lens errors are often visible, and at smaller apertures the resolution drops unavoidable due to the physical phenomenon of diffraction. The resolution of the D5600 is very good, and it gives nothing up to that of the much more expensive D7200—not entirely a surprise since they have the same sensor. Even at high ISO values, the camera continues to perform well.
The dynamic range is the property of rendering both light and dark areas. You can see it on the histogram, which can be called up on the Nikon D5600 with a few clicks of the 4-way switch: if the range is too small then you see peaks on the left and right that indicate the clipped areas. In our lab test, the camera, just like previous Nikon cameras, did well. With the D-light setting, the exposure curve is a bit stretched out on both sides, but without that improving the dynamic range. We noticed with this camera that the D-light option engages automatically with in the Scene modes.
The standard image style of jpg files from Nikon cameras is very true to nature. Some amateur photographers prefer a picture with more saturated colors and higher contrast, which you get with the landscape style, for example. If you photograph in RAW and want to choose a different image style afterwards, you can do that in Lightroom or Photoshop in the “Camera calibration” tab. By default, that is set to "Adobe," but a drop-down menu lets you choose any image style that you have on your camera. The color reproduction of the image styles in Lightroom or Photoshop is not 100% the same as that of in-camera jpg files, but it comes close enough to the original for a great many users.
The Nikon D5600, just like the D5500, can film in full HD, 1080 60p, which is to say at 60 frames per second. Other speeds, like 30, 25 and 24 frames per second, are naturally possible as well. To film, you flip the Live View lever that is next to the setting wheel. You do not have to choose between photographing and filming (like you do on Nikon’s more expensive models). There is a separate start-stop button for filming. Very handy. The image quality of Nikon video recordings has increased over the years. They are great, clean images with a low signal-to-noise ratio and beautiful, neutral color reproduction.
Focusing can be done the “normal” way with phase detection and the use of the viewfinder. It can also be done via Live View. Then you only use contrast detection on the sensor. Switching quickly between AF-S and AF-C and the different field modes requires using the quick menu; there is no separate button for it. There is a maximum of 39 focus points. The phase detection AF is reasonably fast (from infinity to 1.5 meters within half a second), works well in the dark (down to -1 EV, although focusing takes around a second then), and you can even track moving subjects reasonably well. Even in Live View and video, the auto focus works reasonably smoothly, even though of course you won’t match the speed of phase detection AF.
ConclusiON Nikon D5600 review
Compare the Nikon D5600 with another camera, or check our list of all reviewed cameras.