Which is Better the Nikon 5500 or the Canon 70D?

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The advanced entry-level camera market is crowded with Nikon and Canon both offering a number of cameras in their lineups with the Nikon D500 and the 70D being two of the most popular cameras out there.  Capable of capturing excellent images, both cameras are advanced and a lot of fun to shoot!  Let’s see how they compare!

The Similarities

The D5500 and the 70D share a number of similarities including the use of a CMOS sensor that captures images in the cropped sensor format, which Nikon calls DX and Canon calls APS-C.  In the case of the D5500, the resolution is 24.2 megapixels, while the 70D only has 20.2 megapixels.  Both cameras have a sensor cleaner built into the camera.  In addition, both cameras have a crop factor associated with the sensor size with the D5500 having a crop factor or 1.5X while the 70D has a crop factor of 1.6X.  In both cases, this means that normal lens are 1.5X to 1.6X longer than the same lens used on a full-frame camera

Another similarity between the two cameras is their use of a touch screen display that can be used to navigate the camera’s various menus while making changes to the settings of the camera.  The touch screen can also be used to select the focus point on a subject when using the live view function found on both cameras.  In use, both touch screens are bright, easy to use and accurate.  This allowed a significant amount of time to be saved changing the camera’s settings.

The D5500 and the 70D both have a single memory card slot that is capable of using SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards. Images are stored in either JPEG or RAW formats on both cameras, although the 70D can also store images in the JPG format as well.  Images are processed using processors that have similar capabilities, with the D5500 using the EXPEED 4 processor, while the 70D uses the DIGIC 5+ processor, which is slightly faster.

Both cameras have the capability to shoot video in a number of formats including full HD.  In the case of the D5500, VGA format is also available and with the 70D, SD format is available.  Depending upon the type of format used, the video is recorded at 24-60 frames per second and is recorded in .MOV format.  Video quality is excellent in both cameras.

Other minor similarities between the D5500 and the 70D include the absence of GPS, while both cameras do have wireless and WIFI capabilities.  The rear LCD displays on both cameras are both articulating and similar in size with the Nikon D5500 being slightly larger at 3.2” compared to the 70D’s 3.0”.  In both cases, the cameras have a variety of modes including manual, program, aperture priority, shutter priority as well as a number of scenes  and creative modes.

The Differences

The D5500 and 70D have significant differences starting with the speed of the cameras,  In the case of the D5500, the shutter speed of 1/4,000 seconds is slower than the 1/8,000 seconds found on the 70D.  The D5500 is also slower as it is limited to shooting at 5 frames per second compared to the 7 frames per second on the 70D.

The viewfinder on the D5500 only provides 95% coverage compared to the 98% coverage found on the 70D.  However, in the viewfinder the D5500 has up to 39 autofocus points, while the 70D is limited to 19 points.  In both cases, the autofocus points are evenly distributed in the viewfinder.

Another difference between the two cameras is in ISO range.  The D5500 has a native ISO range from 100-25,600, while the 70D’s native range is 100-12,800.  While it is true that the 70D can go to ISO 25,600, this is the expanded limit and not the native range.

The size and weight of the D5500 and the 70D is also significantly different with the D5500 being smaller and lighter than the 70D.  In the case of the D5500, the camera measures 4.9” x 3.9” x 2.8” compared to the 5.5” x 4.1” x 3.1” of the 70D.  The D5500 weighs 14.9 ounces compared to the 23.8 ounces of the 70D!

The Pros and Cons

The D5500 and the 70Dboth have a number of positive and negative traits.  These pros and cons need to be weighed by the photographer prior to making a decision on which camera is the best for their style of photography.

The biggest positive feature of the D5500 is it a newer camera.  Digital cameras change year to year, which is why we continue to see new cameras continuously introduced.  While still a very capable camera, the 70D is two years older than the D5500.

The biggest negative feature of the D5500 is the size and weight of the camera.  While generally smaller and lighter is better, the type of lenses that are going to be used, as well as the way the camera feels when handled is critical.   Some people will find the camera uncomfortable to hold for extended periods of time and may find the balance off when using larger lenses due to the small size and lightweight.

The biggest positive factor of the 70D is faster shutter.  When photographing sports or aircraft in flight a 1/8,000 second shutter speed is critical to stopping the action when capturing the image.  While the shutter on the D5500 is sufficient for most types of photography, it is lacking if photographing high-speed sports.

The biggest negative factor of the 70D is the cost of the camera, which has in most cases, technically inferior specifications due to the age of the camera.  It has fewer megapixels, fewer autofocus points, and an inferior native ISO range, yet the D5500 body is almost $300 less than the 70D body!

Just the Facts, A side-By-Side Comparison

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Nikon D5500 and the Canon 70D both have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Item Nikon D5500 Canon 70D
Year Introduced 2015 2013
Format DX APS-C
Megapixels 24.2 20.2
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Processor EXPEED 4 DIGIC 5+
Image Format JPEG And RAW JPEG, JPG, RAW
Sensor Size 23.5mm x 15.6mm 22.5mm x 15.0mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes Yes
Auto-focus Points 9, 21 or 39 19
Metering Modes Aperture-Priority (A), Auto, Auto (Flash Off), Manual (M), Programmed Auto With Flexible Program (A), Scene Modes, Shutter-Priority (S) Program AE, Shutter Priority AE, Aperture Priority AE, Manual, Custom Shooting Mode
Metering TTL With RGB Sensor TTL With 63-Zone Metering Sensor
View Finder Type Eye-Level Pentamirror Single-Lens Reflex Ewe-level SLR With Fixed Pentaprism
View Finder Coverage 95% 98%
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 5 7
ISO 100 – 25.600                     100-12800
Lowest Expandable ISO N/A N/A
Highest Expandable ISO N/A Up To 25,600
Shutter Speed Range 1/4,000 – 30 Seconds 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash Yes Yes
Card Slots 1 1
LCD Size 3.2” 3.0”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Swivel Swivel
Video Yes Yes
Video Type Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), HD and VGA At Speeds Ranging From 24 – 60 FPS Depending Upon Video Type Used Full HD (1,920 x 1,080), HD and SD At Speeds Ranging From 24 – 60 FPS Depending Upon Video Type Used
Video Format .MOV .MOV
GPS Optional No
Wireless Yes Yes
WIFI Yes Yes
Battery EN-EL 14a Rechargeable Li-Ion Rechargeable LP-E6
Moisture and Duct Resistant No No
Body Construction Plastic Plastic
Unique Features In Camera Editing And HDR Capabilities, Available With Either a Black or Red Body Touch Screen, Ability To Save And Recall A Single Preferred Setting
Size Without Lens 4.9” x 3.9” x 2.8” 5.5” x 4.1” x 3.1”
Weight Without Lens 14.9 Ounces 23.8 Ounces
Manufactured In Thailand Japan
Body Only or with Kit Lens Sold As Body Only As well A Kit With Two Options Being Available Body Only
Included Accessories DD5500 Body, BF-1B Body Cap, DK-25 Rubber Eyecap, AN-DC3 Strap, EN-EL14a Battery, MH-24 Charger, US-E23 USB Cable, EG-Cp16 Audio / Video Cable, CD-ROM Software EOS 70D, Eb Eyecup, LP-E6 Battery Pack, LC-E6 Battery Charger, EW-EOS 70D Wide Strap, IFC-130U USB Interface Cable, EOS Digital Solution Disk & Software Instruction manual CD, Camera Instruction Manual
Cost, Body Only $899.95 (For the latest discounts and prices.) $1,199.00 (For the latest discounts and prices.)
Cost With Kit Lens $999.95 –

$1,399.95 Depending On Kit Lens Selected


*Information from the Nikon USA and Canon USA websites, including pricing.

My Overall Recommendation

I really like both the Nikon D5500 and the Canon 70D, as they both fun to shoot and more importantly they both take excellent photographs. As with all cameras, there is no such a thing as the perfect camera and there are always going to be tradeoffs.  At the end of the day when looking for a new camera, the photographer is going to need to carefully weigh the pluses and minuses, as well as budget restraints when making a selection

That being said I do prefer the Canon 70D for a number of reasons.  First, the shutter is significantly faster than the D5500 and this is important, as I shoot a lot of sports and action shots and a shutter speed of 1/8,000 is critical to the type of photography that I do.  Second, it shoots 2 frames per second faster than the D5500.  Third, I prefer the heavier and larger 70D because it just feels better in my hand and is easier to control and more balanced with larger lenses attached.  While I did like the grip on the D500, it was too light and too small for me to shoot for extended periods of time.  Fourth, I really like the “C’” setting on the 70D which gives me the capability to save a custom setting in the camera and instantly recall it by simply turning the dial.  Finally, I like the touchscreen rear LCD and to a lesser extent the menu system on the 70D better to the same similar system found on the D5500.  Canon has been using touch screens on their cameras for a number of years now and Nikon is still new to it.  However, the D5500 is still an excellent camera, that is cheaper and newer than the 70D and may be the perfect choice for you!

The Camera Guide Team

The Camera Guide Team is a group of writers, shutterbugs, and professional photographers. We know the challenge of looking through different cameras or accessories. We want you to learn everything about cameras. We provide honest reviews, detailed guides, and helpful comparisons. We have everything you need. We are here to help you find the perfect click.

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