D5500 Is Nikon's First DSLR with a Touchscreen

LAS VEGAS — What happened to the D5400? Who cares? While many camera companies are saving new products launches for later in the year, Nikon unveiled its first ever touchscreen DSLR, the D5500, which succeeds the D5300 from 2013. Nikon also released two new lenses along with the D5500 at CES 2015 this week.

The D5500 comes in a choice of black or a gorgeous shade of ruby red, with a price tag of $900 for just the body, an even $1,000 for a kit with an 18-55mm lens. A kit with Nikon's 18-140mm lens runs $1400. The 24.2-megapixel camera’s standout feature is its 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD touchscreen, which tilts and swivels and fallows you to set a focus point with a tap.

Other improvements on the D5500 include a redesigned plastic monocoque body, which adds extra strength without increased heft. In fact, the new 14.9-ounce D5500 (body only) weighs 10 percent less than the 16.9-ounce D5300 (see review).

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In a brief hands-on with Nikon’s new shooter on the CES show floor, I got a chance to feel the subtle differences of its reinforced body. Unlike the D5300, the D5500 has a more contoured grip that lets you really wrap your fingers around its right side. Despite being constructed from plastic, rather than the magnesium of more-expensive DSLRs, there was zero flex anywhere on the body.

I'm a Nikon shooter, and my years of pent-up frustration waiting for Nikon equip a camera with a touchscreen washed away as I tapped the 720 x 480 display to focus and shoot with a single touch. Nikon’s first touchscreen DSLR has been a little overdue, but it seems the delay has been worth the wait.

New lenses, too

Along with the D5500, Nikon also added two news lenses to its already impressive arsenal: the 300mm f/4E PF ED VR (image stabilized) telephoto lens for its full frame DSLRs, and a 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR II zoom lens for DX (mainstream APS-C sensor) cameras like the D5500.

The 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens

The 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens

Billed as “the world’s lightest 300mm full-frame fixed focal length AF lens,” at 3.5 x 5.8 inches and 26.6 ounces, the $2,000 full-frame 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens is almost 30 percent shorter and 1.5 pounds lighter than its predecessor, according to Nikon. The weight loss comes thanks to the use of what's known as phase fresnel optical technology. (That’s what the PF in the names stands for.)

The lens doesn’t come with a tripod collar (which does save weight). Since it’s about the same size and weight as the NIKKOR 24-70 f/2.8, the 300mm can use that zoom lens’ tripod collar. And, Nikon says that the VR delivers 4.5 stops of image stabilization so you should be able to handhold this baby.

The new 55-200mm DX lens makes a perfect companion for the D5500’s 18-55mm kit lens. Priced at $350, the new zooms gives you additional reach and flexibility for a great two-lens system with a combined full frame equivalent range of from a wide 27mm to a very long 300mm. The VR tag denotes the new lens's vibration reduction ability, which can compensate for up to three stops of light, especially useful for reducing camera shake at full zoom.

The D5500 and both new lenses will all be available in early February, so start saving up if you are looking to get the hottest new tech from Nikon’s CES showings.

Sam Rutherford is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him @SamRutherford on Twitter. Theano Nikitas (@TNikitas1) contributed to this post. Follow Tom's Guide on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).