Features & Controls

Nikon has included a 23.5 x 15.6mm, APS-C DX-format image sensor with the D5300, and it has 24.2-megapixels of resolution. All photos are recorded at a 3:2 aspect ratio, and only three image sizes are available: 6000 x 4000, 4496 x 3000, and 2992 x 2000.

You can shoot in JPEG, RAW, or both image formats at the same time. (Nikon uses the term NEF to indicate the RAW format.) Three JPEG image quality settings are available: Fine, normal, and basic.

The lens release button (shaped like a "D") is also visible in this photo on the right side of the lens housing.

Camera with lens.jpg
Nikon included a very nice kit lens -- the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f.3,5-5.6G ED VR zoom lens -- with the D5300. It includes a manual zoom ring that occupies the upper half of the lens in this photo, as well as a manual focus ring just below the focal length numbers printed on the lens. The small white dot on the ring indicates the current focal length setting.

The large white dot at the bottom of the lens matches up with the white dot to the right of the lens housing when you're attaching the lens to the camera.

Focus switch.jpg
On the side of the kit lens are a pair of switches. The A/M switch allows you to change between autofocus and manual focus, while the VR switch turns the Vibration Reduction feature in the lens on and off.

The D5300 can operate autofocus when used with AF-S and AF-I lenses, while other types of lenses will require you to use manual focus.

This camera offers 9, 21, or 39 autofocus points. Its lens servo autofocus options are autofocus (AF), single-servo AF (AF-S), continuous-servo AF (AF-C), auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A). An electronic rangefinder also is available.

The D5300 makes use of Nikon's multi-cam 4800DX autofocus sensor module, using through the lens (TTL) phase detection.

popup flash.jpg
The Nikon D5300 gives you a couple of options for shooting with a flash. You can use the popup flash included with the camera, or you can attach an external flash to the hot shoe.

The popup flash has a maximum range of about 40 feet under ideal shooting conditions, according to Nikon, although real-world operation is closer to half of that distance. You can open the flash using the flash button on the left side of the camera, which is visible in the lower right corner of this photo. The popup flash also will open automatically when the camera senses that it's needed.

The list of available flash modes are: Auto, auto with red-eye reduction, auto slow sync, auto slow sync with red-eye reduction, fill flash, rear-curtain sync, rear-curtain with slow sync, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction with slow sync, slow sync, and off. The flash modes that are available will depend on which shooting mode you're using. The flash can sync at speeds up to 1/200th of a second.

left side buttons.jpg
As you're holding the camera, the left side of camera near the lens housing contains a series of control buttons.

At the top you'll see the flash button, which opens the popup flash unit. You also can control the flash setting mode with this button. Hold down the flash button while you're in viewfinder mode, and the flash mode setting will turn yellow in the settings grid. Spin the command dial with your right thumb to scroll through the available flash mode settings.

You can adjust the flash compensation through this button too. Hold down the flash button and the exposure compensation button on the top of the camera near the shutter button at the same time. Then spin the command dial to change the flash compensation, which can be adjusted between -3 and +1 in intervals of 1/3 or 1/2.

Just below it is the Fn button, through which you can link a specific camera setting that you access most often. This feature is a nice way to customize the D5300 to better meet your needs. To access the Fn button assignment menu, press the Menu button on the back of the camera and then select the Custom Setting Menu, followed by f-Controls and Assign Fn Button. The options available to assign to the Fn button are: Image quality size, ISO sensitivity, white balance, active D-lighting, HDR, + NEF (RAW), auto bracketing, AF-area mode, viewfinder grid display, and Wi-Fi.

The white dot below the Fn button is used to line up the lens to attach it. Below the white dot is the lens release button.

And the lowest button in this photo controls the drive mode with the following options: Single frame, Continuous L, Continuous H, Quiet shutter release, Self-timer, Delayed remote, and Quick-response remote.

Top buttons.jpg
Another set of control buttons is located on the top panel of the Nikon D5300. On the far right of this image is the popup flash unit, which looks like an upside down V and is outlined by the grooved area. Inside the grooved area is a stereo microphone, while the camera's hot shoe is at the bottom of the grooved area. You can attach a variety of accessories to the D5300 using the hot shoe, including an external flash unit. When the popup flash unit lifts, the stereo microphone and hot shoe remain in place.

The mode dial is to the right of the hot shoe. The active shooting mode is indicated by the white bar to the left of the mode dial. The mode dial shooting options are:

  • Manual - M
  • Aperture-priority auto - A
  • Shutter-priority auto - S
  • Programmed auto - P
  • Auto - Camera icon in green
  • Auto (flash off) - Flash icon with slash through it
  • Scene modes - SCENE (scene modes other than the five listed below, including Night Portrait, Night Landscape, Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk/Dawn, Pet Portrait, Candlelight, Blossom, Autumn Colors, Food)
  • Portrait - Woman's head icon
  • Landscape - Mountain view in square icon
  • Child - Child's body icon
  • Sports - Runner icon
  • Close-up - Flower icon
  • Special effects - EFFECTS (multiple special effect modes, including Night Vision, Color Sketch, Toy Camera Effect, Miniature Effect, Selective Color, Silhouette, High Key, Low Key, HDR Painting)
With the mode dial set to Scene modes or Special Effects, you'll need to turn the command dial to see and select the options. (The grooves in the command dial are just visible in the lower right corner of the photo here.)

The switch to the right of the mode dial (marked with LV) allows you to easily toggle between Live View mode and Viewfinder mode. This switch is well placed and is a handy way to toggle between the two modes.

In the upper right is the shutter button surrounded by a power switch ring. Press the switch to the right to turn on the camera and to the left to turn off the camera. The shutter button is of a good size and is easy to access with your right index finger.

Just below the D5300's shutter button are three smaller control buttons. The button with the red dot is the movie recording button, allowing you to start and stop video recording. Pressing the Info button in the middle changes the data that's displayed on the LCD screen in Live View mode. Holding down the exposure compensation button on the far right highlights the EV box in the settings grid, allowing you to make changes by spinning the command dial.

Viewfinder buttons.jpg
The back panel of the camera includes the viewfinder, which is a pentamirror single-lens reflex model that offers approximately 95% frame coverage, both horizontally and vertically. The diopter adjustment dial is to the upper right of the viewfinder.

The Menu button is at the far left of the top of the back panel. Press this button to access the camera's various menus.

The i button allows you to change a variety of the camera's settings while you're in viewfinder mode. Pressing the i button will highlight different settings in the grid displayed on the screen, and you then can use the four-way button to scroll between the settings. Press OK to call up a popup screen that allows you to make changes to the camera's settings related to the highlighted box in the grid.

The AE-L and AF-L button on the far right is used to lock in the exposure or the autofocus, depending on which modes you've selected in the camera's autofocus and exposure menus. In Playback mode you can use this button to lock your stored photographs to protect them from deletion.

Right back buttons.jpg
To the right of the AE-L/AF-L button is the previously mentioned command dial, which is shown at the top of this photo. You'll use the command dial to scroll through certain menu selections.

The Playback button is below the thumb pad, and you'll use it to access photos stored on the memory card.

The four-way button surrounds the OK button, and these buttons are used to make various menu selections and to change the camera's settings.

At the bottom of the right side of the back panel are three buttons. The trash can icon button allows you to delete photos in Playback mode.

To the left are the magnification buttons (increased magnification on top and reduced magnification below). When looking through your stored photos, you can use these buttons to magnify the image on the screen or create a grid of thumbnail images. The lower button also is marked with a question mark icon, and if you see a question mark icon displayed on the screen, you can press this button to see additional information in a Help screen.

LCD screen.jpg
Nikon included a 3.2-inch LCD screen with the Nikon D5300. This display has 1.037 million pixels of resolution, three brightness levels, and a 170-degree wide-viewing angle.

Swivel LCD.jpg
You can swivel and twist the D5300's LCD screen to shoot odd-angle photos or self-portraits. You also can twist the LCD screen so it is facing the interior of the camera, thereby protecting the screen from inadvertent scratches or fingerprints.

Ports view.jpg

As you're holding the camera, a flexible hinged covering protects four ports on the left side. The stereo mic input port is on the top, the USB port is on the upper right, the accessory terminal is on the lower left for connecting devices such as a GPS port, and the HDMI port is on the lower right.

Memory card slot.jpg

On the right side of the camera you'll find a hard plastic hinged door that contains the memory card slot. The D5300 makes use of SD family memory cards.

Battery view.jpg
Nikon included a large rechargeable battery with the D5300 that fits inside the right hand grip through a hard plastic hinged door on the bottom of the camera. The battery is rated for about 600 shots per charge according to Nikon, and my tests found that number is fairly accurate as long as you're using Viewfinder mode. When you use Live View mode or some of the camera's other features, such as Wi-Fi, the battery will drain more quickly. A separate battery charger is included with the camera kit as well.

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