Quick Tips Needed - Nikon D5500

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I bought a Nikon D5500 from a pawn shop yesterday for $250. It came with a 18-55mm lens. No charger though. I ordered batteries and a charger off Amazon, and they will arrive tomorrow. That said, I plan on leaving Friday to chase, and I've never used a Nikon before. I just thought it was a good deal, so I bought it.

Does anybody have any tips they can give me about shooting storms with it (best settings to use, quirks with that model, etc).

Thanks in advance!
Last edited:
Sep 7, 2013
Strasburg, CO
First thing to do is a factory reset so any balancing the previous owner did will be eliminated. Then, just my opinion, toss it in auto-no flash and shoot away. Don't worry about your settings just yet. The best time to play with the settings and really learn is not the time when you need every shot to count.

And as cheeseball as it sounds, try out some of the preset scene filters. I've found that the sunset digital filter on my camera actually takes really nice storm photos (but not all the time), although they can be a bit dark.

Go here for some info:
Restoring Default Settings - Nikon D5500 User Manual [Page 288]

Good luck on Friday! I'm hoping to get out as well.
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Reactions: ScottCurry
Jun 18, 2015
Not setting related, rather how to find some of the settings, get the Nikon Manual Viewer 2 app, then download the owners manual in PDF to your phone. Good to have on hand until you get use to Nikon's menu layout.
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Reactions: ScottCurry
May 18, 2013
I have a Nikon D5600, which is similar and here are my tips:

1) The 18-55mm lens that I got in a kit with mine has to be extended before you can use it. There is a button on the zoom ring that has to be pushed and then you turn the zoom ring to at least 18mm. I stow it all the time, pull it out to shot, and it will not work (until I extend the lens).
2) To shot video, you have to open the screen, pull the "Lv" lever next to the dial (that has the auto, no flash, etc settings), then you press the red button on top next to the main dial. To take out of video mode, you hit the red button again to stop recording, and pull the "Lv" level again.
3) Before shooting video, I recommend you take a photo on auto first, then switch to video. Otherwise your video may be out of focus as focus is hard to see on the screen especially in sunlight.
4) When in auto focus mode (the Green auto on the dial), press the shutter button lightly to focus and all they what to take a pic.
5) Make sure you turn it off. On my old Nikon I always left it on and came back to dead batteries.
6) Like Marc said, in most cases putting it on auto no flash, pointing, and shooting works very well.
Make sure to test fire a lot of photos and videos. Look at them on a large monitor or take them up to full res on a screen and make sure they are sharp. Otherwise you might have a bad lens, focus issue, etc. Don't trust auto focus on video. Use manual or set to focus lock so the camera does keep seeking focus. Use a tripod. Have a back-up battery fully charged. Read the manual completely. You can find them on line. Become very familiar with the dials, settings, etc. If you accidentally move something you will want to be able to fix it quickly.
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Reactions: Marc R. O'Leary
Thank you everyone. I was happily surprised when my batteries and charger I ordered off Amazon came in early. I love their 24 hour shipping!

I had a chance to turn the camera on last night and play around with it a little bit.

@Marc R. O'Leary, I reset the settings as you recommended and played around with the scene filters a little. It left some noise, but overall wasn't too bad. The auto no-flash wanted to shoot at 12,400 ISO for some reason, so I may have to use P Mode.

@Brian Noble, I downloaded the Manual Viewer 2 app, but I probably won't dig into it too much until after my chase is over. Thanks for pointing this out to me.

@Randy Jennings:
  1. That was one of the first things I figured out, even before I got the camera to turn on (just using the viewfinder)
  2. I did read about this, and was able to test it out yesterday, although with only 1080p video, I doubt I'll be using this camera for video.
  3. This is actually a really cool tip. I like using the photo with auto focus as a hack to get the video in focus.
  4. Thank for the tip. Could also be used in conjunction with (3), or do I have to actually take a photo to get the lens in focus?
  5. Good reminder. Thanks.
@Warren Faidley, All great tips, but not enough time to do all of that before tomorrow. I had a chance to take a few test shots without a tripod yesterday, and zooming in on the playback until the zoom was green (I assume green meant I was seeing the actual pixels without being zoomed in or out), the photos were sharp, but had some noise. I assume the noise is because the auto no-flash wanted to shoot at 12,400 ISO. Increasing the noise reduction caused blur in the photos (the higher the noise reduction, the more blur). Tripod should arrive today, so I'll have that to shoot on. Batteries arrived yesterday, so I now have 2 new batteries, and one old battery the camera came with, and one charger that has both 110v and car charger options.

My eventual goal is to go full @Daniel Shaw style and have 3 tripods set up... one with wide angle lens for storm structure, one with zoom lens, and one for video. This camera makes #2 and will most likely be used for storm structure once I get the right lens. Now... I just need to save up $2,000 for that full frame 4K camera I want (Sony a7 III).