During last weeks Nikon MEA and NiMar gave me chance to test for the first time the new reflex D5500 underwater. I had chance to dive in Italy (Banco di Santa Croce) and Khorfakkan (Sharjah, UAE, both wreck and reef dive). One year ago I had chance to do a similar test at the Banco di Santa Croce with the D3200 (but in that case it was not the first test for that DSLR)
Differently than the D3200, Nikon D5500 belongs to the mid-range segment of the reflex market; I expected, then, a better image quality. In addition, I had one more year of experience in underwater photography at my disposal. Nevertheless, I did not expect to shoot pictures so beautiful as to be actually published on the Nikon Middle East Facebook page.
Let’s review in details what impressed me in this camera when compared to the D3200. The sensor is a great CMOS APS-C manufactured by Sony with 24MP and without low-pass filter; it’s slightly bigger than the one in the D3200. The larger the sensor the more light it will be able to capture, increasing the quality of the image.
Sensitivity to light is much higher, from 12,800 ISO to 25,600 ISO; the higher level of ISO allows capturing more light, avoiding shades and allows to take good pictures in situations where there is less light. However, higher ISO setting will result in images of lower quality.
The battery lasts longer than the D3200 and than the older model of the same series (D5300) because of the absence of the GPS; in fact it’s possible to shoot 220 more pictures than with the 5300. This is important as, when you are diving, the possibility to go underwater several times without having to open the diving gear ensures the safety of the equipment (normally, I place the camera in its housing before getting to the diving site and open it only in dry conditions).
While in the water, the touch screen and the viewer are unused, but they are both useful once on the surface.
The camera body is slightly smaller; this might be a problem when mounting bigger lenses, but in the water it makes no difference.
There is some room for improvement in the picture review mode. The predefined mode includes a large, dark band at the bottom of the screen that, inevitably, covers the lower part of the picture and makes reviewing laborious. To select other reviewing modes, you need to access first “main menu/review/options” and activate the “only image” or “panoramic” mode. Less experts photographers might not be able to find this setting.
I couldn’t say that the Nikon D5500 is very different than the 5300 (of which is just an evolution) because all main characteristics (sensor, AF and viewfinder) are rather identical. The only doubt is on the price that at launch is quite high; however the quality of the pictures I took with this camera definitely satisfied me.
Let’s now talk about the housing: the NiMar housing for DSLR Nikon D5500 is in transparent polycarbonate and fits the camera perfectly.
The new stainless fasteners with clip safety assure an efficient waterproofing down to a depth of 60 meters. The buoyancy is slightly positive, even with lights on, to avoid risk of sinking if losing the camera.
The camera also features ergonomic side handles, practical mechanical controls, optical viewfinder with 1.5x magnification; additional accessories complete the offer.
Technical Details – Nikon D5500:
- Extraordinary image quality: Nikon DX format; focal length equivalent to approx. 1.5x that of lenses with FX-format angle of view without OLPF
- Superior performance in low light conditions: ISO 100-25.600
- Vari-angle monitor: 8.1-cm/3.2-in. (3:2) with ample viewing angle
- Sensitive touch screen: one-touch focus & shooting or one-touch regulations for settings like diaphragm, ISO and exposure
- Fn touch function: quick regulation with one finger of key settings during shooting with the viewfinder
- Built-in Wi-Fi: easy sharing of extraordinary photos through compatible smartphones or tablets
- Slim design: lightweight body. Camera measures 124×97×70mm e weighs only 420gr (with no battery and memory card)
- AF system with 39 points: including 9 cross-type sensors
- Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame: 20% faster than D5300 in Live View
- Image processing processor: EXPEED 4 fast and powerful
- Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution 5 frames per second
- Full HD Movies: Support for production at 1080/50p/60p and Full HD at 60p
- Picture Control 2.0: precious instruments to take pictures and videos as you wish them. Includes the new uniform setting “Flat”
- Built-in stereo microphone and compatibility with Nikon ME-1 stereo microphone
- Viewfinder: 95% frame coverage and 0,82% Magnification
- 10 special effects for pictures and movies
- 16 scene modes
- Creative tools: Retouch images, bracketing functions, HDR photography, fixed interval shoting, and more
- Expandable system: compatible with the full range of DX Nikkor lenses and specific Nikon flashes
- Compatible with WR-R10/WR-T10 remote controls
Technical details – NiMar underwater housing:
- Housing material: transparent Bayer Makrolon (High Quality Polymer)
- Depth rating: 197′ (60m)
- Overall dimensions with handles, eyepiece and eyepiece guard: L. 34 cm H.17 cm. D. 26 cm
- Weight with handles: 2.70 kg
- Set-up in water: lightly positive
- 4 Aisi 316 S/S fasteners with clip catch
- Removable lens port in black Delrin with bayonet coupling, flat lens, s/s gear for adj. the zoom on the lens AF-S Nikkor 18/55 mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR.
- Removable optical viewfinder, magnification 1.5x
[How to dive there..]
For more information about dives at the Banco di Santa Croce, you can contact A.S.D. Bikini Diving, a team of International Instructors of Scuba diving, and scuba professionals
Via Bonito 14 c/o Hotel Montil, 80053 Castellammare di Stabia
Ph: +39 338 944 9567
7Seas Divers has been established since 1994 and is located in the heart of Khorfakkan City, the East Coast of the United Arab Emirates.
Ph: +971 09 238 7400