When the D5300 was announced I used the headline “Nikon Drops D5300 on the Market. Thud.” Well, folks, it’s deja vu all over again.
Today Nikon announced the D5500.001, otherwise known as the D5600. But not in the US. This isn’t the first time Nikon has released a consumer DSLR in foreign markets first before eventually releasing it in the US. Who knows why Nikon does that. Okay, I know: cost cutting and inventories. Dropping a camera in Asia is cheaper than fast shipping it to the US and Europe, though in this case Europe will get some D5600’s. Probably because inventories of the D5500 aren’t high in Europe, but are in the US.
All this micromanaging of very small things.
So what is a D5600? As my snide comment above implied, it’s almost exactly a D5500. The only changes Nikon talks about are the inclusion of SnapBridge (both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, ala the D500, not like the Bluetooth-only D3400), the addition of the Time-lapse feature, and a couple of changes to the way the touchscreen works. The latter two probably could have been firmware updates to the D5500.
What Nikon doesn’t talk about is some subtle cost cutting, primarily the IR receivers for remote wireless triggering. "Use SnapBridge for that,” Nikon says. At least flash power and a few other things that got dropped on the D3300 to D3400 transition didn’t happen on the D5600 as far as we can tell. But don’t be surprised if there aren’t a couple of other simplifications. Indeed, I note that ISO values have changed, but that’s mostly because Nikon changed HI1 to 25600. So there are some EXPEED tweaks in the new model, as well.
On the positive side, the D5500 was a very fine camera. Arguably as good a consumer crop sensor DSLR as you can find significantly under US$1000. Nikon didn’t need to advance the image sensor that was already state-of-the-art, didn’t need to add anything to the pivoting LCD (though more pixels would have been nice), and just didn’t need to change anything significant. In the old days this would have been called an “s” model (as in D5500s): same product, some small tweaks.
Still, the Nikon faithful are anxious. They were already anxious about a lot of things: lack of a viable mirrorless entry, where are the DLs, when will the D610/D750/D810 updates happen and what will they be, where are the DX lenses (buzz, buzz), and more. Nikon’s recent financials added some more concern to the Nikon fan. The weak D3400 and D5600 upgrades are ominous, portending one of two things: (1) the next upgrades will be big (mirrorless?); or (2) the ceiling has been hit and the idea factory empty.
Knowing Nikon as well as I do, I’d vote for #1, but #1 is coming awful late in the game when it eventually arrives. And “big” better truly be “big.”