London Street Photography with a Nikon D5500

The Nikon D5500 is something of an unsung bargain in the Nikon DX camera lineup. The Amateur Photographer magazine gave it a pretty good review when it came out, praising it's relatively quick  autofocus system, great colour rendition and high quality, 24 megapixel DX APS-C sized sensor with no low pass filter and a rendering engine that produces gently rolled off highlights to give surprisingly good images of over 12 stops dynamic range at ISO 100.

For me though, this camera was all about the fully articulated screen (making it easy to get sneaky street shots in confined spaces) the surprisingly good rendering, the light weight, small body size and the excellent handling characteristics, all of which added up to a great street camera that could use many of my existing lenses. It's light weight, compared to my stable of full frame Nikon DSLRs, also made it very attractive, particularly with an excellent 35mm DX lens bought to accompany the 55-200mm zoom lens I acquired when I bought the camera.

With this relatively tiny kit to hand, I spent many a happy day walking my various routes through London streets and capturing many a good 'moment' to remember. Like this 'Last Kiss' image, which is significantly cropped from the full frame, but still looks really good given it was one of the very first grab shots I took on my initial outing with it in Victoria Railway Station. Caught as they said their final goodbyes - love this shot!

 The Last Kiss - 35mm f1.8 1/100sec ISO 125

The Last Kiss - 35mm f1.8 1/100sec ISO 125

Here's the full frame, which shows just how good this little camera / lens combination is ...

 The Last Kiss - 35mm f1.8 1/100sec ISO 125 - Full Frame

The Last Kiss - 35mm f1.8 1/100sec ISO 125 - Full Frame

While still on the theme of goodbyes - here's a hug she won't forget in a hurry .....

 Until Next Time - 35mm f2 1/100sec ISO 100

Until Next Time - 35mm f2 1/100sec ISO 100

And quite possibly my favourite image from that Victoria session was this wonderful Vicar, who seems to have the patience of a Saint as he was stood alone on that spot for ages - Waiting for God(oh)!

 Waiting for God(oh) - 35mm f1.8 1/100sec ISO 110

Waiting for God(oh) - 35mm f1.8 1/100sec ISO 110

Some time later I was sitting in the Photographers Gallery cafe looking out at the street opposite and I noticed this in a window just above street level .........

 A Window on Time - 55-200mm f4.5 1/80sec ISO 800

A Window on Time - 55-200mm f4.5 1/80sec ISO 800

Walking back through Seven Dials later that day I came across a scene that I thought might have potential, so I stood prepared on the opposite side of the road and waited for what I hoped would happen. Sure enough, if you wait long enough, you are often rewarded!.....

 Hair Loss - Sigma 18-35mm f4.5 1/80sec ISO 800

Hair Loss - Sigma 18-35mm f4.5 1/80sec ISO 800

Travelling back down to London by train the following week, I was thinking about the number of people who had their heads buried in their phones and iPads. Even families with kids all had their electronic distractions, so it was rather a pleasure to see the gent opposite me with his attention firmly absorbed by a rather more traditional iBook ........

 No Batteries Required - Sigma 18-35mm f5.6 1/125 sec ISO 800

No Batteries Required - Sigma 18-35mm f5.6 1/125 sec ISO 800

Got to love the shadow detail in that image.

My next trip down to Soho yielded some rather amusing shots. I love the timing of this one, which raises a possible question - in passing?

 Harmony - Sigma 18-35mm f5 1/100sec ISO 800

Harmony - Sigma 18-35mm f5 1/100sec ISO 800

Then walking in the back streets, behind Leicester Square, I chanced upon these two characters ....

 Silvered Selfie - Nikon 24-120mm f5.6 1/80sec ISO 1600

Silvered Selfie - Nikon 24-120mm f5.6 1/80sec ISO 1600

 Parental Guidance? - Nikon 24-120mm f4 1/160sec ISO 1600

Parental Guidance? - Nikon 24-120mm f4 1/160sec ISO 1600

Walking through Covent Garden a few weeks after taking the image above, I was standing opposite some of the stores in the inner section of the old market and I caught sight of these two security men. Their facial expressions and body language fascinated me. As you can see, they look bored stiff, indifferent, yet watchful, but seeing nothing, as they wait for their shift to finish. Given they were standing directly in front of the store's entrance I can only imagine how mean potential customers decided not to attempt entry. Heaven knows how much potential business these two frightened off!

 Dior Forever - Nikon 24-120mm f4 1/320sec ISO 2200

Dior Forever - Nikon 24-120mm f4 1/320sec ISO 2200

On another walkabout, taking my usual route from Oxford Street through the back lanes and into Soho; as I came through one of the alleys into Compton Street, I noticed out of the corner of my eye, an extravagantly dressed chap walking behind me just as he moved to pass me on the pavement. Thinking I could spin around, with camera ready, to grab a shot, I did just that. Quick as a flash, he changed direction and turned to face me at exactly the same moment, and, Boom! He was standing directly facing me, ready, posed, with a big smile and a 'Thumbs Up'! He'd guessed exactly what I was going to do and was ready for me before I even turned around!

 Result! - Sigma 18-35mm f2.2 1/200sec ISO800

Result! - Sigma 18-35mm f2.2 1/200sec ISO800

While en-route in the pouring rain from Oxford Circus to Soho, my usual stamping ground for StreetLife work, I suddenly noticed the reflections in the pavement puddles as I had my head down avoiding the drips from overhead buildings, and this image caught my eye. It has a mysterious quality to it which I thought was worth including here and it looks as if it might have been taken many, many years ago.

 Inflection - Nikon 24-120mm f4 1/320sec ISO 2500

Inflection - Nikon 24-120mm f4 1/320sec ISO 2500

Finally, it's not often I take images of cars these days but this one really took my attention and the D5500 has made a cracking job of rendering the tones in the lights and the bodywork - a little stretch from Street Photography perhaps, but a very rewarding shot nevertheless.

 Street Porsche - Nikon 24-120mm f5.6 1/320sec ISO 360

Street Porsche - Nikon 24-120mm f5.6 1/320sec ISO 360

Well, I think you can see from these images, that I have been very happy with the time I've spent using the Nikon D5500 on StreetLife projects. I'm particularly pleased with the image quality this camera can produce and how easily those images take post processing.

For the price of this camera, you really can't go wrong if what you are looking for is a relatively inexpensive, light weight, but very capable camera for Street Photography or for general family and travel shooting. The lightweight stock zoom kit lens is more than adequate for general use and the inexpensive DX 55-200mm is a surprisingly good lightweight and small power zoom to accompany it. I would also recommend the new 35mm DX lens to go with this camera body, as it's capable of producing some really crisp images, especially as the D5500 has no anti-aliasing filter on the sensor, which means you'll get as crisp and image as possible from this 24 megapixel gem!