Nikon D5500 vs D810
The Nikon D5500 and the Nikon D810 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2015 and June 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D5500) and a full frame (D810) sensor. The D5500 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the D810 provides 36.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D5500 and the Nikon D810? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D5500 and the Nikon D810 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D5500 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the D810 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D810 is considerably larger (49 percent) than the Nikon D5500. Moreover, the D810 is substantially heavier (133 percent) than the D5500. It is noteworthy in this context that the D810 is splash and dust-proof, while the D5500 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. A larger imaging sensor (as in the D810) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D5500). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|2.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|3.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|4.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|6.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|7.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|8.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|9.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|10.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|11.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|12.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|13.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|14.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|15.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|16.||Samsung NX30||127 mm||96 mm||58 mm||375 g||360||n||Jan 2014||999|
|17.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D5500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 73 percent) than the D810, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D5500 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D810 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D810 is 135 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 36.2MP, the D810 offers a higher resolution than the D5500 (24MP), but the D810 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 3.91μm for the D5500) due to its larger sensor. However, the D5500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the D810, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D810 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D810 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D5500 are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D5500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D810 are ISO 64 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 32-51200.
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 D810 offers substantially better image quality than the D5500 (overall score 13 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 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.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|4.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|5.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|10.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|12.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|13.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D5500 and the D810 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 viewfinder in the D810 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D5500 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D810 has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D5500 and Nikon D810 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The D5500 has a touchscreen, while the D810 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The D5500 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the D810 does not have a selfie-screen.
The Nikon D5500 and the Nikon D810 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D5500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D810 uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The D810 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D5500 only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D5500 and Nikon D810 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D810 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The D5500 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D810 (unlike the D5500) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D5500 and the D810 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D810 was replaced by the Nikon D850, while the D5500 was followed by the Nikon D5600. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D5500 better than the Nikon D810 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Nikon D5500:
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (124x97mm vs 146x123mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 560g or 57 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (73 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 6 months after the D810).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D810:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 23%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (13 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.57x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1037k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1200 versus 820) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2014).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D810 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 7 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D5500 and the Nikon D810 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D5500 and the D810 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|2.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|3.||Canon M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|4.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|6.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|7.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|8.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|9.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|10.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|11.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|12.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|13.||Nikon D800E||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|14.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|15.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|16.||Samsung NX30||3/5||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||999|
|17.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Nikon D5500 vs Nikon D810
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D5500||Nikon D810|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2015||June 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 899||USD 3,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D5500||Nikon D810|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||64 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||32 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||EXPEED 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||84||97|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.1||25.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.0||14.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1438||2853|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D5500||Nikon D810|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1037k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D5500||Nikon D810|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D5500||Nikon D810|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D5500||Nikon D810|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||820 shots per charge||1200 shots per charge|
124 x 97 x 70 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||420 g (14.8 oz)||980 g (34.6 oz)|
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