Nikon D5500 (comes in black as shown or candy-apple red, 16.4 oz./466g body-only with battery and card, about $797; $897 w/18-55mm VR or $1,097 with 18-140mm lens; same prices for red body-only, red body with 18-55mm VR II and red body with 18-140mm VR); shown with my favorite three-year-old 35mm f/1.8 DX. enlarge.
Nikon does not seal its boxes, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged or used camera, a customer return or if the warranty has already been registered online to someone else! The approved sources I use ship from secure, remote automated warehouses where salespeople or other customers never, ever get to touch your camera, and they have the best prices, selection, service and return policies.
This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use any of those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks for your support! Ken.
Rear, Nikon D5500. enlarge.
Top, Nikon D5500. enlarge.
Nikon D5500. enlarge.
Sample Image Files top
Light, shadow and color: the D5500 looks great!
Hand-held astronomical shooting? No problems; ISO 10,000 looks great! Note that at f/1.8 only the green trees on the left are in focus.
It's all about light and color. The foreground comes right up to the bottom of the frame, and is of course out of focus.
With the D5500, hand-held night shooting is trivial. This is what my iPhone 6 Plus can't do: get brilliant, colorful images shot in the dark without flash. ISO 1,000 is trivial; it's sharp and clean, and with an f/1.8 lens, easy to shoot at night hand-held.
The D5500 is so sharp you can count the nubs on the seed balls on the tree at the left:
Crop from left side of above image. If this is 6" (15 cm) wide on your screen, the entire image printed at this same high magnification would be 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meters)!
D5500: Sharp and colorful and well exposed; the images just look great as-shot! These are all shot in JPG BASIC as I shoot everything; with Nikon, there's no need to waste time with shooting raw.
I love my Nikon D5500 because it weighs almost nothing, produces the same big-camera results I get with my full-frame DSLRs like my D810 — even at high ISOs (sorry, Nikon) — and is super fast and easy to use with its new touch screen.
This is the first and only touch screen ever in a Nikon DSLR, and it's a significant step forward in speed and usability. I can set many things with a single tap that used to take several button pushes clicking-around a screen with a touch controller.
Not only does one tap select among numerous options or zoom and scroll playback, I can flick up and down in menus to see all the options. It's a real touch screen like an iPhone; it looks great and works great with the softest touch and instant response.
With its touch screen, my D5500 suddenly makes all my older DSLRs like my D810 feel like 1970s PCs before the mouse was invented. No longer do I need to click up/down/left/right a zillion times to get someplace on the screen; with my D5500, one tap and I'm done.
The touch screen is a huge advance; the D5000 series used to be much slower to handle than the D7000 series since it lacks direct-entry buttons, but today, my D5500 handles as fast as the D7000 series — and faster than my D810!
Live View and a flippy screen lets me shoot photos and videos while held away from my head.
Compared to pro cameras I often haul, the D5500 is a dream to carry, and when I'm more relaxed, I make better pictures. If you've got good lenses, the image quality is the same!
The D5500 weighs significantly less than the old D5300, and its touch screen lets it handle twice as fast. I never liked the D5xxx and D3xxx series for serious daily use since too many things were in menus, but now with the touch screen, they handle as fast as my pro Nikons since the pro Nikons are still burdened with only one up/down/left/right control to try to navigate their menus.
The D5500 has higher resolution than the $6,500 Nikon D4s, and its pictures are otherwise the same — and the D4s has no swivel screen or touch controls! The D5500's shutter is much quieter than the D4s; you can shoot the D5500 in places where the loud D4s shutter would get you thrown out. The AF areas of the D5500 also fill more of its frame than they do in the D4s, too.
The only reason to pay more (and lug more) than the D5500 is if you subject your camera to daily physical and environmental abuse. The D5500 is a flyweight camera which I love, but if you regularly get splashed by motorcycles or shoot in sandstorms you might want something tougher. I don't; I'll take lighter weight any day.
The D5500 has its exposure modes on a big dial on top, while pro models handle more slowly because they demand you hold a button and spin a knob to do the same thing.
If you just want great photos easily or want a super-lightweight high-performance camera, the D5500 can't be beat.
Superb image quality; ultra sharp, great highlights, shadows and color and great performance at hyper ISOs.
Excellent built-in flash.
Ultra light weight.
Superb touch screen and interface design for effortless handling.
Fast and competent autofocus.
No diagonal scroll on playback from the thumb controller (up/down/left/right only), but so what: use the touch screen and you can scroll any way you want — and zoom instantly.
No power switch lock to protect against accidental turning on of off, but no other Nikon does that today either. Nikon stopped doing that with the F5.
Compared to a professional D4s for $6,500, the things missing are things most people won't miss:
No one-click playback zoom (pressing (+) only zooms in a little, not all the way), but a two-finger spread does the same thing.
No depth-of-field preview button.
No voice notes (used by newsmen to record spoken notes with the images).
No battery percentage number, just a three-bar battery icon.
No auto LCD brightness control, but I never missed it.
No easy way to set Auto ISO ON/OFF or image size etc. directly; you have to use the touch screen.
Built-in flash can't work as a commander for wireless flash.
No second memory card slot.
For $5,600 less than the D4s, I think I'll live, and the D5500 has a built-in flash sorely lacking in the D4s!
Nikon D5500. enlarge.
Today's Lenses (AF-S and/or G)
Nikon is not expecting people who buy the D5500 to use it with ancient lenses, and therefore saves everyone the expense and weight of including the parts needed in more expensive cameras to ensure compatibility with the older lenses below.
Modern AF-S and DX lenses are the best lenses for the D5500. I own and have used older lenses on my D5500, and they aren't as good optically or ergonomically.
If you insist, here's what happens:
1980s AF Lenses (screw-focus)
Unlike heavier DX and FX cameras, the D5500 has no internal autofocus motor, so it will not autofocus with old-style screw-drive autofocus (AF) lenses.
Everything else works perfectly with older-style AF lenses, except that you'll have to turn the focus ring manually and look either for a sharp viewfinder image or the electronic focus confirmation dot at the bottom of the finder.
Manual Focus Lenses (Non-CPU, 1959-today)
The D5500 gives you a dumb "Lens not attached" and flashing "F--" warning with old manual-focus lenses — unless you set the top dial to M (manual).
If set to Manual, you can shoot all you want. Focus by looking for a sharp image on the finder screen, or look for the green "AF OK" dot at the lower left.
Live View works with manual lenses, but only if the mode dial is set to M. Oddly even through the live view is always exposed well, you'll still have to guess at the correct manual exposure setting.
See more details at Nikon Lens Compatibility.
Nikon D5500. enlarge.
See also Nikon's D5500 specification page.
DX (23.5 x 15.6 mm) CMOS.
No anti-alaising (optical low-pass or blurring) filter.
6,000 x 4,000 pixels native (LARGE, 24 MP).
4,496 x 3,000 (MEDIUM, 13.5 MP).
2,992 x 2,000 (SMALL, 6 MP).
NEF (12- or 14-bit compressed raw), JPG, or both.
Auto: ISO 100 - 25,600.
Auto ISO allows setting the slowest speed as well as minimum and maximum ISOs, as well as setting the slowest speed to set itself automatically to the lens focal length, and you may then set that speed to vary ±2 stops from the focal length. In other words, the D5500 has the best and most flexible Auto ISO settings in the business.
Manual: ISO 100 - 25,600.
0.46x magnification with standard 28mm lens (0.82x magnification with 50mm telephoto lens).
-1.7 to +1.0 diopters.
17 mm eyepoint.
2,016 pixel RGB meter sensor.
3D Color Matrix, center-weighted and spot.
39 points, 9 cross-type.
Also settable to only 11 points for faster selection.
AF-S (single), AF-C (continuous), and AF-A (auto selection between the other two modes).
Single-point AF, Dynamic AF, Auto Area AF.
LV -1 to +19.
1/4,000 to 30 seconds in 1/3 or 1/2 stops, bulb.
Maximum speed with flash (sync speed): 1/200.
Up to 5 FPS.
QUEIT mode selectable in a menu.
ML-L3 (get one!)
Wireless remote controller WR-1 or WR-R10.
Remote cord MC-DC2.
1/200 sync speed.
Built-in TTL flash.
GN 12 meters/39 feet.
Optional manual control in a menu.
Does not work as an i-TTL commander.
1,920 x 1,080 at 59.94p, 50p, 29.97p, 25p or 23.976p.
1,280 x 720 at 59.94p or 50p.
ISO 100 to 25,600.
Non-standard (cropped) 640 x 424 at 25/30p 29.97p or 25p.
Up to 30 minutes per take, 20 minutes in 1080 50 or 60 p or only 3 minutes in "miniature" mode.
H.264/MPEG-4 and linear PCM audio stored as .MOV files.
Nikon claims Full-Time AF, but I seriously doubt AF works well.
Stereo mic built in.
Flip screen, Nikon D5500.
3.2" (8.1 cm) swivel.
720 x 480 pixels (1,036,800 R, G or B dots).
SD memory card, one slot.
SDHC-, SDXC- and UHS-I compliant.
Nikon approves only some SanDisk, Lexar, Toshiba and Panasonic cards.
DO NOT tempt fate with no-name cards.
Type C mini-HDMI.
NTSC or PAL analog A/V via a proprietary connecter.
Proprietary remote connector.
3.5mm stereo mic input.
Battery weight: 1.700 oz. (48.1 g.), measured.
Carbon-fiber monocoque frame.
Up to 85% RH.
IEEE 802.11b: DSSS/CCK.
IEEE 802.11g: OFDM.
2,412 to 2,462 MHz (channels 1 to 11).
WPA2-PSK and AES encryption.
Rated 30 meters (100 feet) under perfect conditions only.
5.1 x 3.9 x 3.1 inches.
129 x 98 x 78 millimeters.
16.445 oz. (466.2 g) with battery and card, actual measured.
Battery alone: 1.700 oz. (48.1 g), actual measured weight.
Nikon rates it at 16.6 oz. (470 g) with battery and card.
Nikon rates it at 14.9 oz. (420 g) stripped naked.
Made in Thailand.
Bottom, Nikon D5500. bigger.
Nikon D5500 box side. bigger.
(a lens if you buy a kit)
BF-1B Body Cap
DK-25 Rubber Eyecup
UC-E23 USB cable
EG-CP16 Audio video cable
Nikon Model Numbers
Black body only: 1544.
Black with 18-55mm VR II: 1546.
Black with 18-140mm VR: 1548.
Red body only: 1545.
Red with 18-55mm VR II: 1547.
Red with 18-140mm VR: 1552.
12:01 AM, 05 January 2015, New York City time.
Early February 2015.
Box, Nikon D5500.
USA Nikon D5500 box end. bigger.
In the USA, be sure your box has "US" after "D5500" and the color code ("BK" on this black one) above the UPC bar code on the lower left.
If the letters are different, you got ripped off with a gray market version from another country. This is why I never buy anyplace other than from my personally approved sources. You just can't take the chance of buying elsewhere, especially at retail, because non-USA versions have no warranty in the USA, and you won't even be able to get new firmware or service for it — even if you're willing to pay out-of-pocket for it when you need it!
Always be sure to check your box while you can still return it, or just don't buy from unapproved sources, so you'll be able to have your camera serviced and get free updated firmware as needed.
Most importantly, the legal USA version has a gray warranty card from Nikon USA, and there is a white "U-S" sticker on the plastic bag holding the manuals:
USA Nikon D5500 box contents. bigger.
The important part is the Nikon USA warranty paper, whose serial number must match the one on your camera. If you have that, don't get too bent out of shape if the sticker on the manuals says U-K or the box is a little different. If you've got a Nikon USA warranty card with a matching serial number, you're OK.
I LOVE my D5500. It's tiny and weightless so I carry it everywhere, and with its new touch screen it's super fast and easy to set and use.
It's not 2007 anymore; today, DX cameras take the same pictures as full-frame cameras.
I have no problem creating professional work on my D5500; it's picture quality is as good as every other Nikon DSLR today.
The D810 has a little more resolution that you'll never see unless you really do print more than 10 feet (3 meters) wide, and the D5500 has more resolution than the most expensive D4s and has great low-light performance as well.
No news here; the meter works well.
If it doesn't, it errs on the side of overexposure with subjects against dark backgrounds. No big deal, if an image is too light, hold the +/- button and set it to -0.7 or -1.0 and it's perfect.
ISO 10,000: Moonrise hand-held!
High ISO performance is spectacular.
Can you remember 2006, back when we avoided ISOs like 3,200 because they looked ratty, noisy, blotchy and off-color, even seen at small sizes? As I show below, D5500 images shot at ISO 12,800 look the same at normal sizes as those shot at ISO 100, a huge testament to the incredible performance we take for granted today.
Only at ISO 25,600 do the shadows become a little lighter, but so what? If you need ISO 25,600 for a sharp photo, use it. Otherwise, the shadows and highlights and colors and everything look the same. A few years ago ISO 25,600 would have had blotchy faded colors and lifeless black shadows, while the D5500 looks great at ISO 25,600.
To see the tiny differences between these today, download the camera-original files and compare them at home. You'll see a little less fine detail in higher ISO shots, as well as less texture. Look for the details in the wood grain: the wood grain is smoothed-over by the noise reduction at the higher ISOs — but you'll never see this at normal print sizes or online.
These minor differences don't matter: a sharp, in-focus and unblurred photo at ISO 25,600 with the D5500 is always going to be sharper than one with less depth of field or blurred from a using a slower ISO if things are moving or if it's night and you have no tripod. If you need ISO 25,600, use it.
Click any for its 4 MB camera-original LARGE BASIC JPG file.
Click any for its 4 MB camera-original LARGE BASIC JPG file.
Crops from the above images at 100%
These are crops at 100% pixel-to-pixel from the above, the equivalent of extremely large prints.
If these below are about 6" (15 cm) on your screen, then the entire image printed at this same magnification would be huge 40 x 60" (1 x 1.5 meter) prints!
As you will see, the noise looks about the same up to about ISO 12,800.
What changes more than the noise is that all the fine textures go away as the ISO increases. While sharp edges (the numbers on the clock) stay sharp, subtle textures in the wood grain completely disappear as the ISO increases! This is because today's noise reduction works by smoothing-over the fine details, which smooths both the noise as well as the image. At the highest ISOs, it's as if the image got wet and smeared!
There isn't any significant noise until ISO 25,600, while finer details start going away at much lower ISOs. Subtle textures go away at middle ISOs, and at the highest ISOs, look how the fine circles around the edge of the clock face simply disappear!
This is how all noise reduction works. It tries to throw away noise, and at the highest ISOs it throws away some picture, too.
The full images above look swell, even at ISO 25,600. What this shows us below is that the degradation at higher ISOs only matters if you're making huge prints — and then standing this close to them.
Crops from the above images at 100%
Click any for its 4 MB camera-original LARGE BASIC JPG file.
The finder is as expected: small, but sharp and bright.
Odd is that that my D5500 seems to have dim digits; the data along the bottom often isn't as bright as I'd like it.
The advantage of this is that they don't interfere with our composition, but I'm used to brighter digits. There is no adjustment for this; like other Nikons they automatically adjust depending on ambient light.
There's more data in the finder than most people will ever want, although there is no indication of the P, S, A or M exposure mode.
As covered at the top, ergonomics are way ahead of the previous model because of the touch screen. The touch screen works as well as an iPhone, and everything is well thought out and just goes. Bravo!
The tiny grip actually feels great in my big American hands. It's thin, but fairly long from front to back, so I don't feel like I'm holding a kid's camera.
All the controls except the MENU button are all on the right side, making it easy to shoot and play back with one hand. Bravo encore!
It's difficult to find the Advance Mode button (under the lens release button) by feel. It doesn't poke out and is flush to the body, so good luck.
It has two different buttons marked "info" and "i" which do similar things, but even I figured it out after using it for a while.
The mode dial is less comfortable than previous cameras because it has a sharper edge along the top. Older cameras were more rounded and had deeper knurling for better grip.
These are my only petty whines. The D5500 is a much faster and easier to use camera than I had imagined, and sets a new benchmark for tiny camera usability.
The shutter is typical; it's moderately loud. It's not as quiet as some Nikons, but a lot quieter than the D4s.
Forget "Quiet" mode; it's not any quieter than the usual mode, but it slows down shooting, and doesn't cock the shutter for the next shot until you take your finger off the release. The quiet mode is as loud as the usual mode, and you get two shutter noises for each shot instead of just one.
The built-in flash works great; there's no need to use an external flash.
Exposure is swell and it recycles quickly.
It will not work as a remote commander to control other flashes, but it does work great in TTL and can be set to manual as well.
Mine fell out of the passenger seat of a large American-made SUV three feet (1 meter) to the concrete.
It works perfectly, and it took me quite a while to find the tiny marks on the plastic.
Playback is fast and easy, and you can use fingers on the touch screen to zoom and scroll!
Sometimes it goes into an odd data screen mode right after you take a shot if you turn the control dial, but everything goes back to normal as soon as you hit PLAY.
There's no diagonal scroll with the up/down/left/right thumb controller, but so what, you can scroll any way you like with your finger on the screen.
The screen is reasonably resistant to fingerprints, and the LCD is bright, sharp, clear, accurate and colorful.
Cards are correctly formatted as "NIKON D5500."
The D5500 weighs two ounces less than 2013's D5300 and adds a touch screen. For your privacy, the D5500 has no GPS — but you can plug one in if you like.
* this is the same; anything more than 6 MP is more than enough for anything. Picture quality is NOT dependant on resolution; today that's just a specification used to scare people into paying more for the latest camera.
** the D5500 and D5100 have very sharp, smooth and detailed images, while the fewer dots of the D5000's LCD make it look a little bit more grainy, but even the D5000 has a perfectly fine LCD.
*** Again probably irrelevant; there won't be much if any visible difference with more resolution here; the biggest difference is that the newer cameras make much bigger files that take up a lot more room on your card and hard drive!
**** If playing back on a home theater system or a computer with stereo speakers, stereo sound makes a huge difference in sound quality over the mono mic of the older D5100 and D5000.
***** The 39 point system is nice, but the 11 point system works great, too. Heck, Nikon's top pro cameras until 2007 all had only 11 points or less, and no one complained!
To set the advance mode, which includes the fast and slow frame rates, self timer, remote control and Quiet modes, press the tiny button just below the lens release button. The rear LCD lights up, tap the screen, and you're done.
Set the Self Timer as above.
The self timer resets after each shot.
File Number Sequence
Set FILE NUMBER SEQUENCE ON at MENU > CUSTOM (pencil) > d2 File Number Sequence > ON.
If left at its default of OFF, it will reset to DSC_0001.JPG every time it can, and after a while you'll have dozens of photos all with the same file number that you can't put into the same folder when you want to make a book.
Setting this to ON ensures that you can take 10,000 photos before the D5500 uses the same file number again.
My Nikon D5500 is fantastic: it's tiny and weightless and makes breathtaking images in any light. Colors are fantastic, and it focuses and works well in dim light or at crazy high ISOs unheard of just a few years ago.
The D7200 is marvelous, but honestly with the fast handling of the D5500's touch screen and identical image quality, I don't see much reason to pay more for the D7200 unless you need compatibility with manual focus and old-style screw-focus AF lenses. You're better off using the money you save with the D5500 to get new DX lenses. The other reasons you may want a D7200 is if you want its built-in flash to work as a commander, or if you need to swap between two completely different sets of settings with the D7200's U1 and U2 presets on its mode dial.
Here's another hint: the only real reason to pay twice as much for a heavier Full Frame FX camera and its bigger lenses is to get a bigger viewfinder! The pictures are the same! There is very little difference in picture quality today in 2015 between full frame FX and these DX cameras. In fact, the biggest picture difference is that DX cameras like this D5500 always get more in focus (have a deeper depth-of-field), while full-frame FX cameras like the D610 get less in focus under similar conditions. Colors, sharpness and noise are the same today; these cameras are all that good.
Nikon does not seal its boxes, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, damaged, used, customer return or if the warranty has already been registered online to someone else! The approved sources I use ship from secure automated warehouses where no salespeople or customers ever get their hands on your camera, and they have the best prices, service, return policies and selection.
Thanks for your support!
The built-in flash is excellent; don't buy another until you try the one that's already there.
If you need something that recycles faster or has more range, the small but discontinued SB-400 is what I use. They're easy to get on eBay or at Amazon. You don't need bigger flashes unless you're trying to shoot sports at long distances and at high frame rates, which you probably aren't doing with a D5500.
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Thanks for reading!
05 January 2015
numerous colors and kit forms.