Nikon D5600 review (updated for 2022)

Short answer: yes. You should get it.

Slightly less short answer: it’s good enough in enough situations that the main thing holding it back is the glass you plant on the front and, to a lesser extent, the technique and experience of the person on the other end.

I could not find a use for the included 18-55 kit lens. It’s a fine lens. It takes good pictures, focuses fast enough, and would probably cover most of the needs of most photographers. But next to the refurbished vibration-reduced non-kit 70-300 lens I bought with it, the kit 18-55 is completely useless. Absolutely pointless. I could have saved $50 and put it toward another lens.

The D5600 with a normal-person lens in the sub-pro category performs best with plenty of light. That’s true of any camera, but especially true of a camera with a crop sensor where most people will use it with lenses with apertures that, at best, open to f3.5. Lenses in the same price range that open wider are also generally 100mm and wider primes, so you lose versatility in exchange for more light. But the camera shoots in 14 bit raw. That’s trillions of colors, and gives you a lot of wiggle room on an underexposed photo.

What I’ve had to accept is it’s not going to shoot birds on a cloudy day with lenses I can afford to buy on a system that will probably be obsolete in 10 years. I won’t try to tell you it’s fine and good enough for all purposes like some reviewers, but what you can do with it is good enough that most people are better off spending the premium cost of a better body on a D5600 and better glass instead. You can rent that better camera and an above-average lens for much less than the premium you would spend on a D5600 and a better lens to know for sure, but I can guess how that would turn out.

There are some nice-to-haves it lacks that I’ll look for in the future when I move on to mirrorless. After I get all I can out of the D5600.

  • Presets: Most higher level bodies have two or more presets on the mode dial. You select it, set it, and everything returns there when you select it. I use manual mode a lot, and would like to have a preset for taking pictures of birds in the sky and for taking pictures of birds and bugs on plants. The ideal shutter speeds are at opposite extremes, and the automatic modes make some questionable decisions. A more advanced focusing and metering system would probably help with that.
  • More wheels: I can access all the settings like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed from any semi-automatic mode or manual mode by pressing a button and turning the dial. This is slow enough that I often miss shots.
  • More cross-type autofocus points: The D5600 has 11 out of the 39 total. The difference in precision stands out when I move to one of the old-fashioned contrast focus points at the outer edges. I avoid them when I can because they struggle on too many things.


That time I got two defective refurbished Nikon D3400s from Adorama

I had long wanted to get serious about photography. I used a Canon PowerShot SX100 IS until it died on me, and quit photography. I just didn’t have the money for another camera, and phone cameras were inadequate.

One day, I finally saved enough to get a proper DSLR in the form of a Nikon D3400 with the kit 18-55 lens, plus the vibration reduced DX 70-300 lens.

Adorama had a great deal on a refurbished camera and refurbished lens. Everyone said refurbs were as good as or better than new because they had special attention from a tech at Nikon. That turned out to be false. I don’t doubt that every blog post and comment stating this was from someone who had a good experience and believed it to be true, but either I got a bad run or something changed.

The first camera had a big line up and down every image. Bad pixels. Hot pixels. Dead pixels. I don’t know. Adorama sent me a return label, and I shipped it off for a replacement. I had to spring for about $5 in packaging since I was only sending the camera back and the box was sized for it and the big zoom lens.

A replacement arrived around midday. I took a lot of great shots, and then I saw it. The faster the shutter got, the more obvious it was I got another defective camera. The picture was unusable by 1/1000 and almost completely black by the maximum shutter speed. Obviously, it’s not Adorama’s fault the camera was defective, but their support person said someone would check it before sending. They obviously didn’t do a thorough enough check. I was out about $10 for packaging this time since I already sent the big box back with the first camera.

I sent it and the lens back, and decided not to try again until I could buy new. By then, I was already pushing the return window on the 70-300 lens, and I couldn’t risk getting another bad camera to go with a lens I couldn’t send back anymore. To Adorama’s credit, they processed the returns and refund without fuss. The only problem was with the first camera where they processed it as a refund instead of a replacement, added a new order for the same camera, and I had to ask them to suspend it for a few days so the money could get back in my bank. They did, though, and that matters. Companies mess up. It's a fact of life. What matters is how they deal with it.

Who failed here? I don’t know. I do know Adorama no longer has Nikon D3400s, refurbished or otherwise, in stock as of this writing. The lesson not to put too much weight on what people say online cost me $15 and some time at the UPS store, and I consider it worthwhile.

When it wasn’t obviously broken, I got enough use out of it to realize I would probably be happier with a mirrorless camera. Those are still much more expensive and fall short in some areas. In the interim, I went with a new Nikon D5600.

DistroKid Review

I was skeptical about DistroKid, the music distribution service that sends as much music as you can produce to streaming and sales sites for a yearly fee. The guy behind it likes to tout the fact that the founders of his main competitors have endorsed his service. Any kind of high profile recommendation makes me immediately suspicious. But…

It’s okay. I signed up. Sold some music. Made enough referrals to cover the signup fee. Left for 3 years while I worked on other things. Now I’m back! Short version: it's still good! And I still don't mind sharing my referral link so you get a 7% discount and I get a small referral fee.

The first roadblock: the artist name I used back then was no longer of interest to me, but it still occupied the one slot on the account. I contacted DistroKid. They weren’t able to delete it, but they did add a free Artist slot so I could upload for a new project.

The uploader still has no bulk option. It’s not so bad for uploading a 4 track EP, but it might get a little old if I make a full album. DistroKid wants you to “be prolific,” but this is friction in the way of doing that. You can’t set things in bulk, and at least for me, everything except the track name is the same. It does at least let you copy the songwriter name to all tracks with one click.

It didn’t pull the track name from the metadata in the FLACs I uploaded. That’s a missed opportunity for taking back some of the friction added by not having any bulk upload or edit options. The data is right there. This seems like an oversight more than an intentional thing on DistroKid’s part.

I ultimately took advantage of the 14 day upgrade discount window and moved over to a Musician Plus plan. I have plans for the extra artist slot, and the daily stats are nice to have. It’s nothing I can’t get from setting up an account on each service, but this brings it into one dashboard. DistroKid provides an album UPC and ISRC codes for the tracks that you can add to Bandcamp so it’ll report sales to SongScan. This is handy if your marketing strategy involves getting on charts.

They’ve added a bunch of services since I was last on there, so I’ll briefly review the few I tried.

Wheel of Playlist

I always end up bumped by someone else within an hour or so, but they do give you another spin before the 24 hours are up when this happens. But the playlists…most of this is not music I’m into. You have to follow all their playlists, from country to gospel to metal, to get a spin on it. I don’t want all this messing up my Discover Weekly magic playlist. It would be better if I could pick 1-2 playlists to follow. As it is, I have to stop using it or make a burner account just to use this function. I stopped using it entirely.

Dave

DistroKid’s music analysis AI. The data looks like the Spotify analysis you can get by API: BPM, danceability, energy, etc. I think they’re just pulling Spotify’s data for the song. That’s okay to me. I’d rather they not spend money on doing too many non-distributory things and drive up prices.

For the most part, they’re tools that go well with a music distributor. I will probably use Vizy to make the promo video when I set up Bandcamp subscriptions.
DistroKid does what it says it’ll do on the sales page: sends your music to the stores, gets you paid. Simple. Support is still responsive three years later. I expect to stick around this time.

Use my referral link for a 7% discount.