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Nikon D5100 versus Nikon D5500

The Nikon D5100 and the Nikon D5500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2011 and January 2015. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D5200 has a resolution of 16.1 megapixel, whereas the D5500 provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D5500

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5100 and the Nikon D5500. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D5200 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D5500
D5200 versus D5500 top view
D5200 and D5500 rear side
Body view (D5200 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D5500 is somewhat smaller (3 percent) than the Nikon D5100. Moreover, the D5500 is markedly lighter (25 percent) than the D5200. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D5200 nor the D5500 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D5200 gets 660 shots out of its EN-EL14 battery, while the D5500 can take 820 images on a single charge of its EN-EL14a power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D5100 (⇒ rgt) 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 no 2011 749discont. check
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft) 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 420 g 820 no 2015 899discont. check
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 no 2012 799discont. check
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 no 2010 699discont. check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 no 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 no 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 no 2014 499discont. check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 no 2013 799discont. check
Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 no 2012 599discont. check
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 78 mm 555 g 500 no 2012 749discont. check
Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 YES 2010 1,499discont. check
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 no 2010 599discont. check
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 no 2009 749discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D5200 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the D5500, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.


Sensor comparison: Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D5500

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the D5500 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D5100 and Nikon D5500 sensor measures
Sensor size

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the D5500 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 16.1 MP of the D5200. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.80μm for the D5200). However, it should be noted that the D5500 is much more recent (by 3 years and 9 months) than the D5200, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D5500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

D5200 versus D5500 MP
Sensor resolution

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D5500 has a markedly higher DXO score than the D5200 (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.6 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D5100 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p 23.5 13.6 1183 80
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1438 84
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 3264 1080/24p 21.7 10.8 644 60
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 22.1 11.5 784 66
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 13.9 1192 86
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1306 84
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.3 12.8 1385 82
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.0 13.9 1338 83
Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6016 4000 1080/30p 24.1 13.2 1131 81
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60i 24.2 13.9 1284 84
Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 10800/24p 23.5 13.9 1167 80
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 14.2 4608 3072 1080/24p 22.5 11.3 919 67
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 720/24p 22.7 12.5 868 72

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D5500 provides a faster frame rate than the D5200. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the D5200 is limited to 1080/30p.

Feature comparison: Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D5500

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D5200 and the D5500 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D5100 and Nikon D5500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D5100 (⇒ rgt) optical no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 922 Swivel no 4000 1.9 7 YES
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 3.7 13 no
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 5.0 7 no
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 921 fixed no 8000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 12 no
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 full-flex no 4000 4.0 17 no

Both the D5200 and the D5500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5200 was replaced by the Nikon D5200, while the D5500 was followed by the Nikon D5600.

Review summary: Nikon D5100 vs Nikon D5500

So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D5100 better than the Nikon D5500 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Nikon D5100:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in April 2011).

Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5500:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 921k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 140g or 25 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (820 versus 660) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the D5200 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D5500 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 3 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

D5200 03:11 D5500

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the D5200 and the D5500 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D5100 (⇒ rgt) 86/100 HiRec 76/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2011 749discont. check
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft) Rec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 899discont. check
Canon G1 X (⇒ lft | rgt) 79/100 Rec 76/100 Silver 4/5 4/5 4.5/5 2012 799discont. check
Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 77/100 Gold 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 699discont. check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 76/100 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 499discont. check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 799discont. check
Nikon D3200 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 73/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 599discont. check
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 749discont. check
Nikon D7000 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 80/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 1,499discont. check
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 84/100 HiRec 72/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 599discont. check
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 75/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 749discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.


Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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