Nikon D5600 DSLR Review
What We Love. The Nikon D5600 has a lot of features aimed at helping beginners transition from an automatic camera to a DSLR. With a touch-enabled and articulated LCD, this model aids those who are used to shooting photos with a smartphone. Yet it also delivers advanced shooting features that give photographers with some experience with DSLRs something to love too. Your photography skills will grow as you learn to use this camera. For the price you'll pay, the D5600 has a lot to offer.
What We'd Change. It's tough to understand why Nikon chose to add such a limited number of new features with the D5600 compared to predecessors like the D5500 and the D5300. There's almost no reason for anyone who already owns one of these older Nikon entry-level DSLRs to spend the money on an upgrade. It'd be nice to have 4K video resolution in this camera as well.
Pick This Up If... You want a first DSLR camera that delivers excellent levels of operating performance and image quality for the price. Those who would like a second camera to pair with a full-frame Nikon DSLR camera -- allowing you to save some money by continuing to use the same lenses -- also will appreciate the D5600.
| 24 mm | F/5 | 1/320 | ISO 100 |
The Nikon D5600 DSLR camera has quite a few great features that make it a lot of fun to use. It's not a camera that professionals are going to want to use on a regular basis, but its performance and image quality are definitely good enough for those seeking a first DSLR.
Some experienced photographers may want to use the D5600 as a second camera, as its lightweight design is perfect for carrying on vacation for a day of sight-seeing or hiking. The D5600's price point certainly is low enough to justify its use as a second camera, especially when you can use the same lenses with it that you use with your advanced Nikon DSLRs.
Although the D5600 is a really nice camera, it's tough to recommend a purchase to those who already own the D5500. There aren't enough design upgrades in the D5600 versus the D5500 to justify a switch. Both cameras have the same APS-C image sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor. Even the weight and dimensions of the two cameras basically are the same.
So if you want a camera as an upgrade to the D5500, we'd look elsewhere. But if you want a first DSLR camera or a good entry-level companion camera, the D5600 has an excellent level of performance for the price.
- 24.2MP, APS-C sensor size (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
- 3:2 aspect ratio
- Nikon F lens mount
- JPEG and RAW 12- and 14-bit image formats
- Eye-level pentamirror SLR viewfinder (95% coverage)
- TTL autofocus with 39 AF points
- TTL exposure metering
- ISO range 100-25,600
- Shutter speed range 1/4000 to 30 seconds
- Exposure compensation: -/+ 5 stops in 1/3 or 1/2 increments
- Flash exposure compensation: -3 to +1 in 1/3 or 1/2 increments
- High-speed continuous shooting: 5 shots per second
- Maximum video resolution: Full HD, 60 fps
- 3.2-inch LCD, 1,036,800 pixels (tiltable)
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity
- Size: 4.9 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches
- Weight: 14.7 oz. (body only)
WHAT'S IN THE BOX
- Camera body
- Battery Pack EN-EL14a
- Battery Charger MH-24
- Neck Strap AN-DC3
- Eyecup DK-25
BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN
The first time you pick up the Nikon D5600, you may do a double-take. It may look like it should weigh quite a bit, but it has a lightweight design that feels well-balanced in the hand. Its weight may remind you a bit more of a mirrorless ILC instead of a DSLR.
Even with a lightweight design, this camera feels solidly built. There's no loose parts or any areas that look like they'll fail under normal usage conditions. The camera body consists of carbon fiber composite rather than metal materials, but it's still a sturdy piece of a hardware.
We really like the size of the right-hand grip on the Nikon D5600. It's easy to handhold the camera steady, even when shooting in tough conditions or when shooting one-handed. This design feature isn't always found on entry-level DSLRs or on mirrorless ILCs.
Both the thumbpad on the back and the right-hand grip have a rubbery coating on them, which further enhances your ability to grip the camera securely.
The size of the control buttons on the back of the camera could be just a little bigger to make them easier to press accurately. This is more of a nitpick, as the size of the buttons is functional. But it would be better if the buttons were just a touch larger.
Those who are used to using advanced Nikon DSLRs also will be disappointed that the D5600's button lineup is limited and that it has only one command dial. You'll have to enter the 'i' menu to make some camera settings changes with this model, where advanced DSLRs will have specific buttons dedicated to those settings.
The shutter button is perfectly positioned on the top of the camera, making it easy to find and reach, even when you're looking through the viewfinder. The power switch is a ring design that surrounds the shutter button, which is convenient.
The mode dial at the top of the camera has only eight options, which is perfect for beginners, helping them avoid confusion. Four of the mode dial options are made for manual control shooting, and four are made for auto mode shooting. Some camera makers put far too many choices on the mode dial, but Nikon smartly kept things simple here.
Another great feature of this Nikon DSLR is the inclusion of a Live View toggle switch that surrounds the mode dial. This switch is easy to use and perfectly placed.
MENUS & DISPLAYS
The menu structure for the D5600 looks a lot like menus used with past Nikon cameras. The settings are split into various categories, making them well-organized.
The D5600 does not have a Guide mode that helps beginners learn to use the camera. However, this isn't necessarily a negative, as some Guide modes almost hinder use of the camera for those who have any photography experience.
Nikon gave the D5600 menu screen a custom setting menu, so you can save commonly used settings, which is a nice feature not always available on entry-level DSLRs.
Both the LCD screen and optical viewfinder are of a high quality. The LCD measures 3.2 inches diagonally, which is an above-average size.
The viewfinder has a 95% coverage area, which should meet your needs in the majority of shooting situations. If you have a particularly tight scene, you may want to double-check that the camera is aimed properly by using the LCD screen.
The D5600 has an articulated LCD screen, which is a great feature. You can use it to shoot odd angle photos. It's also handy to use when you have the camera attached to a low-sitting tripod. The swivel LCD sets the D5600 apart from other entry-level Nikon DSLRs, including the D3400 and D3500.
Additionally, this camera gives you touch screen control, which is another nice feature, especially for beginners, who may be used to shooting photos on a smartphone touchscreen.
SPEED & AF PERFORMANCE
| 29 mm | F/4.2 | 1/125 | ISO 100 |
The Nikon D5600 offers 39 autofocus points, which is an above-average number versus other entry-level DSLRs on the market. Nine of the 39 AF points are of the cross-type variety, providing better accuracy.
The autofocus performance of the D5600 is a plus for the camera most of the time. It works quickly and delivers a good level of accuracy.
However, if you're using autofocus in Live View mode (instead of using the viewfinder), you may notice just a touch of performance lag, especially when shooting in low light situations. This isn't a big deal most of the time, but if you're trying to capture an elusive subject or a spontaneous photo, you may miss the shot waiting for the Live View AF to dial in the scene.
We should also mention that the D5600 does not have a built-in autofocus motor (which is a common situation for entry-level DSLRs). You'll have to use a lens with its own AF motor.
With the EXPEED 4 image processor, the Nikon D5600 has decent performance speeds. It can shoot up to 5 frames per second in burst mode, which is about average for an entry-level DSLR.
One thing that may affect the speed with which you use the camera is the way the kit zoom lens works. When the camera is not in use, you'll lock the lens at its smallest size. Before you can shoot a photo again, you'll have to press a button to unlock the lens and twist the zoom ring. We forgot to do this more times than we care to admit during our test shots, and we definitely would've missed some spontaneous shots while fiddling with the lens.
| 18 mm | F/11 | 1/160 | ISO 100 |
Compared to other entry-level DSLRs, the metering performance for the Nikon D5600 is about average. With heavily contrasted scenes, you may need to make a few adjustments using image editing software to compensate for some purple fringing. The majority of the time, however, this is only noticeable when making large prints.
Nikon included its Active D-Lighting feature with the D5600. This definitely helps the metering system pull more detail out of dark areas.
STILL IMAGE QUALITY
| 55 mm | F/5.6 | 1/80 | ISO 400 |
The quality of photos shot with the Nikon D5600 is really good. Image sharpness is excellent in good lighting conditions, and colors are realistically represented. As with most entry-level DSLRs, the D5600's image quality suffers a bit when shooting in lighting conditions that are less than ideal. But this camera's low light performance easily outdoes smartphone cameras or the majority of mirrorless cameras.
Similar to other entry-level DSLRs from Nikon, the D5600 uses a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sized image sensor. Certainly, the D5600 isn't going to approximate the image quality and performance that you'd find with an advanced Nikon DSLR that has a larger, full-frame image sensor. But considering its price and the audience of photographers at which it's aimed, the D5600's image sensor is a really good performer.
Nikon included a few special effect shooting options with this camera, which will be fun to use for photographers. There's nothing in the special effect menu that you couldn't replicate using image editing software, but it's easier to create these photos in-camera.
The D5600 has a popup flash unit that's centered directly over the lens. You'll open the flash unit with a button near the flash. It works well when you need to shoot a flash photo quickly, providing adequate light for the scene. You also can add an external flash unit to the hot shoe, which is also centered over the lens, when you want more control over the flash.
Our test photos are in JPEG, but you also can use 12-bit and 14-bit RAW image formats with this model. We shot all of the test photos published here and in our image gallery using the AF-P Nikkor 18-55mm VR kit lens that shipped with our test camera.
| 18 mm | F/5 | 1/30 | ISO 7200 |
The D5600 gives you a typical ISO performance range between 100 and 25,600. This camera's ISO results are a little bit better than other entry-level cameras. However, the D5600 cannot compete with advanced Nikon DSLRs when shooting at high ISO levels.
When shooting at settings up to ISO 400, you will not notice any stray noise in the images. At ISO 800 and 1600, you'll notice a bit of noise when making large prints, but the images easily remain usable in all sizes. At ISO 3200, we wouldn't recommend making large prints, but you still will have usable photos for sharing on social media.
Noise begins to become a noticeable problem at all image sizes at ISO 6400. Once you hit ISO 12,800 and 25,600, images will be greatly affected by noise.
You can judge the ISO results in the D5600 for yourself, as we've shot a series of ISO test photos that are published in our image gallery.
One disappointment with the D5600 is that Nikon chose not to include 4K video resolution with this camera. You'll have a maximum full HD 1080p video resolution available. Sure, full HD is good enough most of the time for recording movies, but it'd be nice to have the 4K option available in a newer camera.
A feature that's new to the D5600 versus the D5500 is the inclusion of time-lapse movie recording. This feature is fun to use, and it's something more commonly found with advanced Nikon DSLRs, so it's nice to see the feature trickle down to an entry-level model like the D5600.
Movie quality is pretty good with the D5600. The autofocus system works fast and accurately, even when you're moving the zoom lens. Audio is of a good quality with the built-in microphone, although it does pick up a bit of wind noise. You also can add an external microphone through the 3.5mm jack on the camera.
| 55 mm | F/8 | 1/400 | ISO 100 |
One of the features that was introduced with the D5600 versus other entry-level D5000 series DSLRs from Nikon is the use of Bluetooth technology. You can download the Nikon SnapBridge app to your smartphone and remotely control the camera. However, you cannot change the camera's settings remotely using SnapBridge.
With the Bluetooth connection, the camera and smartphone can be connected continuously without draining a lot of power from either device. You can use either the D5600's Bluetooth or WiFi connection to send photos to other devices. In fact, with SnapBridge enabled, you can download photos from the camera to the smartphone in the background while doing other things.
We tested SnapBridge with an iPhone, and it seemed to have some annoying lags and delays. Performance was choppy when paired with the iPhone. However, in reading online comments from users who had tested the camera with Android phones, the SnapBridge performance was smoother.
Even if you choose to use WiFi with the D5600, you shouldn't have to worry about draining the battery too quickly. Nikon has upgraded the battery life with this model, giving you several hundred shots per charge.
The D5600 also offers an NFC wireless connectivity option.
PROS & CONS
| 38 mm | F/25 | 1/160 | ISO 400 |
- Good performance for the price
- Image sensor delivers excellent image quality in most shooting situations
- Offers a touch-enabled and articulating LCD screen that's a bit larger than average size
- Viewfinder has good clarity and 95% scene coverage
- Camera's ergonomics are excellent
- Mode dial has a simple layout, avoiding unnecessary clutter
- Live View toggle switch is well-placed
- Adds Bluetooth connectivity versus its predecessor
- Lightweight design makes this camera perfect for travel
- Built-in flash yields adequate results
- Very good battery life
- Not enough updates versus its predecessor
- Autofocus performance lags a little in Live View mode
- No 4K video recording option
- Kit lens has an odd locking mechanism that may slow you down
- Buttons on the back could be a little larger
- SnapBridge app doesn't work perfectly with iPhones
- No Guide mode for beginners (although some won't mind not having this feature)
- Special effect features could be more extensive
For those who are seeking a first DSLR or who would like a second DSLR to pair with an advanced Nikon model, the D5600 is an excellent choice. Its image quality, performance levels, and ergonomics are all above average when compared to other entry-level DSLRs.
However, if you already own an entry-level Nikon DSLR, such as the D5500 or even the D5300, we can't see the advantage in spending the money to upgrade to the D5600. Nikon gave the D5600 a few features not found in those predecessor cameras, such as Bluetooth connectivity. But there just aren't enough differences to give you a good value when upgrading to the D5600.
When you take its predecessors out of the equation, though, the Nikon D5600 is an excellent camera for the price. It has a sturdy build quality, yet it's lightweight, making it an ideal travel camera. If you don't want to risk your full-frame Nikon DSLR when hiking in rough conditions or sight-seeing on vacation, the D5600 is the perfect companion camera.
Our recommendation: Those who own a fully functioning entry-level Nikon DSLR already probably will want to stick with what they own. But for those who want to purchase an entry-level DSLR model for the first time, the Nikon D5600 is a smart choice. Its performance levels outperform many entry-level DSLRs, yet it also has great ergonomics and build quality in a lightweight body. These features allow it to jump ahead of the majority of mirrorless camera options too.
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