Movie mode

The D5300 is strong in terms of video recording features, offering a maximum resolution/frame rate of 1080/60p (the D5200 was capable of 1080/60i only) and uncompressed HDMI output. Its built-in stereo microphone allows for level adjustments, and the camera provides a port for external microphone input. Here's how its various resolution/framerate options break down:

MPEG-4
  • 1920x1080 (60/50p): 38.8 Mbps Avg
  • 1920x1080 (30p):
  • 1920x1080 (24/25p):
  • 1280x720 (60/50p):
  • 640x424 (30p)
  • 640x424 (25p)
Audio Linear PCM

Video Features

The D5300 assembles a set of quite serious video features for its entry-level class bearing. Videographers will appreciate the D5300's flip-out LCD for movie recording, an advantage over models with a fixed LCD. Video footage uses compression of the H.264/MPEG-4 video codec.

Like all of Nikon's recently released higher-end DSLRs, the D5300 offers the ability to record uncompressed video over its HDMI port. For video professionals, the benefits of shooting uncompressed video lie in avoiding compression artifacts that can hinder grading options in post-production. Whether using HDMI-enabled output to record the highest possible quality footage or to simply use an external monitor as viewfinder, this is a feature that is becoming more common, though in the case of Canon and Sony, it is reserved for decidedly higher-end models like the EOS 5D Mark III and SLT-A99.

Uncompressed video can only be sent to an external recorder that's connected to the D5300's HDMI port. This footage is enormous, so it makes sense that you're prevented from recording it straight to your SD card. Unfortunately though, you cannot record 1080p video to the SD card as a 'safety' backup while recording to the external HDMI device simultaneously. Whenever video is recorded to the card, the HDMI output drops to 720p. We'd like to see the option to record full HD alongside the uncompressed footage.

Autofocus can be 'pulled' by moving the AF point around the frame from a near subject to one in the distance, and vice versa. The transition is relatively smooth, though there's a little bit of hunting just before it's locked on to a new target. A touch screen would also come in handy for this kind of video work, something that the D5300 is lacking.

Handling

The camera's articulated LCD gives it an edge in terms of handling as a video tool, making it easier to hold the camera steady at waist or chest-level and frame a shot. All live view displays are in 3:2 format, and though most of them have grey bars or small white hashmarks noting the 16:9 crop used for video, in the field both are hard to see on the screen.

Recording video on the D5300 first requires you to engage live view via a lever that sits alongside the camera's mode dial. You can then initiate a recording by pressing the red movie record button sitting just behind the shutter release. To prevent accidental operation, the record button is disabled when live view is turned off.

There's also a confusing bit of overlap between D5300 the Video Camera and D5300 the Stills Camera when using manual exposure mode in live view. Like other Nikon APS-C cameras, aperture can't be adjusted in live view shooting. You can change the aperture value displayed on the screen, but the aperture itself won't move until you've fired the shutter. This gets confusing when you start recording video in manual mode, since although you can change the aperture number that appears on the screen, you'll really be using whatever aperture was set when you entered live view.

For this, Nikon engineers present 'Manual Movie Mode' as a workaround. Picking this option from the shooting menu imposes a minimum shutter speed of 1/60sec, and prevents the aperture value from changing - thus, the aperture it says you're using in live view is the one you're actually using when you hit 'record.' It's possible to change the aperture in a roundabout way - switching to aperture priority mode or leaving live view, adjusting and taking a still. Manual movie mode also enables live exposure preview in live view manual shooting.

Video Quality

The D5300's video clips are much like the D7100's, which is to say, very good. It even outpaces the D7100's maximum framerate of 1080/60i, which is only available in a 1.3x crop mode. We didn't find the D5300 to be prone to rolling shutter more than any other camera of its class. Moving subjects with vertical lines like cars will present a bit of the effect, but it's not significant.

Sample 1

The sample below uses full-time-servo AF and subject tracking focus, locked on the front edge of the streetcar as it moves through the frame. There's some moiré noticeable in the buildings in the background.

1920x1080 60p, 11 sec, 57.3 MB Click here to download original file

Sample 2

Though the D5300's sensor readout is fast enough to avoid dramatic instances of rolling shutter, a little bit creeps into the end of the clip below as cars speed out of the frame. Otherwise, motion in the clip is fluid and detail is pleasantly sharp.

1920x1080 60p, 19 sec, 97.9 MB Click here to download original file

Sample 3

In this handheld clip, the water in the foreground looks natural but toward the distance begins to look a little distorted and 'shimmery' as we noted in our D7100 review. The sample below used the 18-140mm's VR stabilization, correcting for slight movement on the x and y axis of the sensor plane, but not the slight rolling motion of the unsteady hand of yours truly. This wobbling is noticeable toward the edges of the frame - not a fault of the camera's, and if anything it's doing a good job correcting shake.

1920x1080 60p, 12 sec, 59.7 MB Click here to download original file

Sample 4

This clip demonstrates the D5300's low light video capabilities. As expected there's some noise in the scene, made more obvious when auto exposure brightens as the bus moves through the frame. Overall though, it's a good result straight out of the camera.

1920x1080 60p, 15 sec, 77.3 MB Click here to download original file