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Nikon D5300 Review and why DSLRs are dead for video

Andrew Reid

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Hi, I'm not really going to defend Nikon on the way they design the D5300, yes controls are real shit.   But over all I'm going to point out that image quality is really nice and you can shot a feat

I've re-written the review based on ScreensPro's suggestion:   ***   The undoubted highlight of the camera is the Baby Photo Mode which produces optimised, colourful JPEGs of your children for upl

Absolutely. In fact, most of this article just re-covered the ground of Andrew's fairly recent "Dear Nikon" article. I was hoping for a more in-depth review of the actual camera. Not another generalis

Pretty harsh review. :P But in all honesty, you are indeed right.

They have all the tech and know-how to make it happen, but they just don't.


Canon especially has been dragging the 18MP sensor for far too long. They had a head start with their 5DmkII and 550D (and all the models followed after), but started to lose their touch and had to see mirrorless camera's overtaking left and right because they we're not tinkering under the hood and weren't hitting the peddle to the metal. It's like entering the Formula 1 with one car and keeping it like that throughout the season, whilst others install performance upgrades and what not. Given that the new 70D is nice, it performs only marginally better than the in meanwhile ancient 18MP sensor (imho). The real power lies with the 5D. It was pretty ground breaking with the mkII and the mkIII opened a lot of new possibilities. But it's not really thanks to Canon, now is it? Great deal of the credit belongs to the amazing work from the guys over at Magic Lantern who can make it to something you can really get excited about. But why dumb down your own camera's when there's an audience waiting for the possibilities? Like you said, are you really just gonna ignore them and push 'em away towards the micro four thirds camera's?! If you'd just, like Panasonic, take notice of what people are saying and give them something to work with and get excited about, you can win too, but I guess they want to be at the losing end of things and stay cornered in the photo-specific corner. Because 'oooooeehh', you don't wan't to be known for your excellent video when making photocamera's.


Atleast Nikon is innovating. In the consumerline budgetfriendly camera's category, their sensors outshine Canon's by quite a bit. But they fail to recognize the wishes of cinematographers and video enthusiasts. And that would even be okay if there was a Magic Lantern realizing those wishes and completely changing how you can use the camera, but unfortunately there's no such thing, nor will there probably ever be. Which actually kinda pains me, because here you have Canon that more or less lacks potential, but they have ML. And then there's Nikon, actually quite capable in theory, but as they say: you can't polish a turd, and nobody is seemingly willing to (be able) to get their hands dirty.


The way things are going the only thing looking forward in terms of dSLR for video would be the 5DmkIV. And even then if they would just acknowledge the need for videofeatures on it and not dumbing things down so you can release a new camera after a little while with minor upgrades, you already could've provided months before. Same of course goes for the APS-C line of camera's from Canon and Nikon. It's like the story of Cinderella; a lot of potential wasted because it's being treated like dirt. But when given a proper chance and attention it could florish like a flower and win over hearts!


But anyways. It's gonna be too little, too late anyways I'm afraid. In meanwhile mirrorless camera's are performing better and better, but more so, provide dedicated videofunctionality that's lacking with dSLRs. And you can redicule the smaller sensor all you want, but it can keep up, but another prominent benefit thereof is keeping lenses very compact! That in combination with a small camera already opens up a world of possibilities and advantages allowing for small run-and-gun videomonsters that pack a punch. I'm personally very excited for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (which I'll probably be getting next month to upgrade from my GH2), especially because of the built-in stabilization. This should be a standard on all digital camera's! I'm using prime lenses most of the time anyways and especially with the MFT pancakes, you have sick possibilities in the smallest of packages, though still giving you stellar performance.


To take it to the next level we need high bitrates, focus peaking, various fps-selections including 1080p at or above 60 frames per second. 2.5K already would be awesome for implementing in your 1080p projects. And then deliver 4K and uncompressed output for people who want to really get jiggy with it. That is the future! And mirrorless camera's are starting to give it to us already! You got to love the day and age we live in. We get to experience all these next levels! And it's starting to get more accessible and affordable as we go along.


Things are moving in the right direction. It's just a matter of who takes it upon themselves to ride the wave... :lol:

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Andrew has aimed a lot of negative comments directly at nikon which apply to nearly every camera maker out there. I agree that 4K is the future, and panny seems to be leading the way, but to hammer nikon seems a bit inappropriate.

I own a D5300 and chose it specifiCally for its balance of ability to shoot both high quality stills and 1080p video without moire and aliasing. I looked at many cameras from the nikon D800 and D610, canon 6D, and panny GM1 and GH3 to sony nex7 and was unable to find a better all-around solution.

Perhaps if Andrew approached his review a bit less video-centric and recognized that many pros require a camera that can do both stills and video to acceptable stock photo standards, he might realize the humble little D5300 is, right now, about the best balance available on the market.

That said, I appreciate Andrew's website, insights, and all the work he does helping the video community.

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Perhaps if Andrew approached his review a bit less video-centric and recognized that many pros require a camera that can do both stills and video to acceptable stock photo standards, he might realize the humble little D5300 is, right now, about the best balance available on the market.

Is this really an appreciable percentage of the market? Professional photographers/videographers who need a sub-$800 camera with which they can reliably shoot stock quality stills and video?

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I like that the reviews are video-centric. If you want photo-centric reviews, there's many other sites that do that already -- and don't review anything video related!


The lack of AF autofocus sort of kills it for me. Just read about that at Ken Rockwell's site. I have a lot of AF-S lenses, but some good non-AFS too. What I really want is FX sensor, full AF support, 1080p, and no rolling shutter (and if that means shooting 60fps and decimating in an editor afterwards that's fine).


I may skip the D5300 and wait for a D600 successor.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

1-Great insight, lovely read. Thank you for sharing Mr. Reid.

2-It's a bit harsh, to be honest. I just picked one up two days ago, and yes the panasonic offering is crazily speced but that doesn't mean that all competing cameras are inferior because they don't shoot 4K or 10bit. Some (most) of this market segment certainly have no need for those. Plus the GH4 is a different price range and different market. It's a +2000 US dollars.

-What Nikon is doing is giving us the 3300USD 5D MK III performance (+ a bit more) in a small, 800USD package. I would say that's radical.

-The Nikon has a super 35mm sensor that's incredibly clean/noise free, no moire/alisaing, 60p, service availability/sale-resale value + high-grade stills. these alone make it a very viable choice over Blackmagic's pocket for most users, I would take these over raw any time! especially since it has a pretty close dynamic range (in ProRes)
-For others who need raw (the minority) of course BM is best. But it comes with a LOT of pain.

-This is "the" entry-level videographers/photographers camera to get. It takes the special place the t3i had a couple of years back.

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Great review. Actually you are describing Nikon, Pentax (the K-3 has IBIS, but doesn't activate it in video mode, while the K-5 had great video IBIS but didn't have manual control over ISO and shutter speed), and Olympus (the OM-D E-M1 which has amazing IBIS but only ever lets you shoot 30p). If only any of these camera makers could team up with Magic Lantern... they could make superb cameras for stills AND for videos. I honestly don't know what is keeping them from doing it.


I disagree that DSLRs are dead though. You complain about the build quality and the buttons? Try a Pentax K-3 or K-5. Small, nimble, and very solid. And there's nothing speaking against giving a DSLR ProRes, Cinema DNG, 4K, ... whatever you want. Except for the camera makers not getting it.


Btw., I wonder what image processor the D5300 has. Traditionally Nikon has been using the latest Fujitsu Milbeaut, but last time I checked that one seems to max out at 50/60i. Has Nikon made Fujitsu produce an updated processor? And how can it get these higher bitrates? Wouldn't that mean that just a bit of firmware fumbling is needed to increase the bitrate of cameras using these Milbeauts?


If only we could make camera makers invest a little in video. And in features that matter. I still don't get how Pentax has given the K-3 a video switch and record video button (at the same time sacrificing the still camera abilities... the AE-L button was pushed to a corner which makes it harder to use, and the switch used to be used to select the AF points), and they have given it a headphone jack and manual gain control, and then they screw up everything else video related. It is as if they actually tried to produce a more video centric camera, but just had no clue what such a camera would need.

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Thanks for the review, I am in some ways as anoyed as you about Nikon having all the tech but not using it to the fullest. I have been saying it for ages, if they want to make a splash in video world, they should do some revolutionary steps like at least internal 10 bit high bitrate or even raw nowadays. But credit should be given to them where it is due. I think that Nikon thought that giving uncompressed hdmi out 2 years ago would have done the trick, but unfortunately they could not guest that, most other manufacturer would follow rapidly and that Blackmagic and ML would follow. Taking them outside of the highlight. But in the mean time they have been constantly updating there camera to sampling more pixel and downscaling to get rid of moire/aliasing and giving very good low light and now adding 60fps at 1080p. More so that they are implementing those tech in there entry level camera first, not afraid to cannibalize there higher end camera at least in the video side. That is why you find yourself in the situation as you mentioned in your article that the low end camera is better than the higher end one. Would you have preferred that they keep that tech until they update the D4, D800, D600 and D7100. They are actually updating their camera line with the expeed 4 and a new D4s has been announced and we can expect a D7200 in the near future. The only problem is the Sony based Sensor D800 and D610 which might only do line skipping and that is perhaps why Nikon has been abandoning Sony sensors.


You have also been comparing the D5300 against a plethora of other cameras and each of them with their fort. The D5300 does not beat any of them at one thing but it might be todays most balance camera in the DSLR world. It might not match the 13 stop of DR of the pocket, But it matches by your say in Proress mode and so should be 1 to 1.5 stop better than the Canons. But it has a  Cine 35 mm sensor, no ugly moire/aliasing and will surely beat it in low light and you can do good slow motion. You could even add an external recorder to get high bitrate. Talking about external recorder, I have a Ninja with my D7100 and it really completes the Nikons, apart from the obvious high bitrate, you get peaking, false colour, zebras, sound monitoring in a very compact package.


I think the d7200 will be the Nikon camera to get shortly for photo/video hybrid Nikon users. The body will be much better in terms of button and construction. I don't know why the D5200/D5300 (perhaps Nikon doin it deliberately to differentiate camera), But the D7100 is nearly as sharp as a gh2. With a Ninja it is even sharper. My guess is that a D7200 would be very very close to a Canon C100 and have equal functionality with a Ninja with the added bonus of 60p for 1/3 the price.


Again I would have liked Nikon to be bolder, but this camera might not be better than any other camera in any specific domain, but it is good to very good in nearly every aspect of a camera. It would have been very nice to see it on one of your chart/scene to be able to compare it with the other cameras.

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Last year’s D5200 has an identical image in video mode



I've tested them side by side and found that for video, the noise handling on the D5300 is definitely much better than on the D5200, especially at higher ISOs. The improvement appears to be specific to video though because the stills are about the same in that regard. I suspect the faster processor in the D5300 has allowed more sophisticated down-sampling algorithms to be applied to the signal coming off the sensor at the speed needed for video.

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very simply, all of my camera purchases are on hold for the GH4. and I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat. nothing that canon or Nikon can put out this year will touch it, and every DSLR they have is obsolete.

Personally, Im more than happy with what the 5d3 ML RAW is doing for me. Not one bit tempted to sell it for a gh4
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