In the first review of the Nikon D5500, I focused on a kayak trip. Everything was shot with a kit lens (18-140mm) to simulate an off-the-shelf purchase of the D5500 package. Taking it a bit further, I enlisted my two border collies and my dad for some action photography.
It comes down to the speed of the camera and how fast the glass is. Is a kit lens good enough for basic action sports – your kid’s soccer games, random events at the park or in my case, two handsome ass border buddies.
The answer is yes with a caveat. You can get better stills from a prime lens. But, I didn’t want to pull out a prime lens so I could see the upper limits of what Nikon’s entry DSLR could handle.
A Wild Blue Merle Appears
Our first subject is this fella. Yeah, he knows he’s handsome, but he appreciates any and all compliments.
Yeah, he knows there’s a soccer ball in his future. How well do images from the 18-140mm play on social media? It had over 120K views on Reddit and made it to the first page of r/aww. Yeah, Lightning is internet famous.
Ok, he may not make the national team, but he can punch one hell of a header. And let’s be real. He’s more of a lady’s man than Ronaldo.
Here’s where fast processing on the Nikon comes in handy. Rattle off five shots and you get soccer ball juxtaposed with my dad’s head. And Lightning looking only mildly crazy.
A lot more speed in this photo. You can see the performance dip a little, but it’s still a fun image. You won’t win any awards, but you get to show the charm of the mini-humans wrapped in fur.
Same speed, better performance. And I almost get nailed by a 38-pound border collie at top speed. Thanks dad. I do realize I have a sizable life insurance policy. You can see in the image, the AF speed on the Nikon D5500 can track fast moving subjects. You won’t get more erratic movement than a border collie chasing his soccer ball.
Thunder Mixes With Lightning
Not to be left out of the fun, Thunder finally trots out to join the impromptu test of the Nikon’s speed.
His toy of choice? A tennis ball and a ton of OCD. Grab one and Thunder comes running. It’s a more sedate shot, and the 18-140mm handles it with ease.
The tennis ball with Thunder is a bit more of a challenge. It’s a pain to track, and Thunder happily punches it all over the place. Set yourself up at a slight angle for the best results using the 18-140mm kit lens.
You can see the autofocus points working pretty well in tracking Lightning as he tracks the ball. Protip? Never get in the way of this guy and his ball if you want to keep your ACL intact.
Here is why you shoot multiple frames per second. The first image blurs out, while the second completely nails the string of frames. Having a prime lens would further boost quality shots over throwaways, but both work in their own way.
Here’s another from the same set showing both border buds heading for the ball. The AF and camera processing handle it with ease.
Straight on action shots seem to work the best, but it’s a bit dicey sitting on the ground and this is in the viewfinder:
Angled shots, in this case, present a bigger challenge for the kit lens. Expect to be testing the frames per second, but you can get quality shots if you’re patient.
The day comes to a close once Thunder has had enough and decided it’s time for the couch. The $300 dog bed? Nah, that’s decoration. He’s a couch man.
Wrapping Nikon D5500 and Action Photography
In a perfect world, you’d buy a prime lens. But, you can’t discount the ability of the 18-140mm from Nikon to do a lot of things well. It won’t be perfect, but for an entry-level camera, perfection isn’t the goal. It’s how much fun you had outside with your dogs and dad that day.
It’s not supposed to make you feel like a sports photographer, but it can make lasting memories. And the blue merle internet famous for a day.
**Nikon provided a loaner D5500 for the purpose of this review**