On Friday morning I joined Nikon South Africa at the media launch of their new Nikon D5500 camera. It was the kind of launch that makes people think I have the best job in the world: a stroll around Woodstock in Cape Town, taking photographs of anything I thought looked interesting. I don’t usually attend launches, and I sure as hell don’t usually give glowing shoutouts like this… but I have to say: I like this camera. DSC_0418

The Nikon D5500 is – as the sales pitch will tell you – a “small and lightweight compact DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi, 24.2MP with touch screen Vari-angle display, records full HD 1080/60 and more”.

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So here’s what I liked about it. (And remember, I say all of this without having the first clue about the camera’s pricing. Nikon put a camera in my hand, and told me to play with it.)

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I liked the display. It twists out, giving you the option of having it flat against the camera, or turned around so that the screen is hidden, or open and tilted up, down, or to the side. That is incredibly useful – especially if you’re a family man and you want to take photos of your kids. I’m a good few centimetres taller than my seven-year-old daughter, so if I take photos from my POV, I’m getting shots of the top of her head. Drop the camera down to her head height, and the pictures are a billion times better. With the display opened up and angled up, I can see what I’m shooting, while holding the camera at an unnatural (for me) angle.

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I liked the tech. I had to (of course) hand the camera back to Nikon at the end of the day, but I got to keep my photographs. (Those’ll be the arty, poorly composed, badly lit high school efforts you see on this page.) The way that works is, you download a Nikon app, which then connects your D5500 to your smartphone via WiFi. Simply import your photos from the camera to your phone, and you have a back-up (or something to post to social media). I know this isn’t unique to this particular camera or this particular manufacturer… but it’s still a flippin’ handy feature.

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So who would want a camera like this one? It’s too entry-level for professional photographers. (There were a few on the launch, and you could see they were missing their “proper” cameras.) And it’s a step above your compact point-and-shoots (and way, way up from your camera phone). It’s probably best for people who want a decent camera, which will take good pictures, and which has a back-up feature in case the camera gets stolen or the SD card goes missing.

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If that’s you, and if the price – whatever that turns out to be – is right, then you might want to consider the Nikon D5500.