I picked up this camera because I wanted a lightweight, travel camera that would be more versatile than a point-and-shoot. I also liked the fact that it had built-in WiFi and GPS capabilities. At the time, it was the only DSLR that included both without the need for an external dongle. The camera came with the 18-140 kit lens - which turned out to be a very capable lens in its own right.
I've found the camera to be a lot of fun. It's took a while to get used to the menus, but once I learned how to add my most frequently used items to the "My Menu" screen, making adjustments on the fly has become much easier. The rotating screen is a big hit with those who shoot DSLR video, but I'm not one of them. However, I do like the fact that I can close the screen before I put the camera back into my bag - which eliminates the chance of scratches during transport.
The D5300 is comfortable in my hands, and the AE-L/AF-L button is positioned perfectly for thumb use as a focusing mechanism. Assigning that button to focusing duty was a snap. Other buttons, such as the zoom in/out buttons are placed in relatively intuitive positions, albeit they are a bit small. With lenses the size of the 18-140 or the Tamron 17-50 (both with 67mm filters), the camera balances nicely in my hands. Larger lenses can be used, but the nice balance will be diminished and the camera will be a bit front-heavy.
As for performance, the camera produces excellent images. The auto white balance is very accurate, and the in-camera distortion control works quite well with ultrawide lenses such as my Sigma 10-20. Focusing speed with AF-S lenses depends on the individual lens motor, but even with my old Tamron 17-50, I am pleased with the results. Low-light focusing is usually not a problem except in instances of VERY low lighting.
Battery life is excellent - unless you are using the WiFi or GPS functions. Using these will turn the camera into a battery eating machine. The good news is that the batteries are really small so you can drop several into your camera bag without weighing it down. I keep two extras in my BlackRapid RS-4 camera strap for times when I am without my bag.
I like the Retouch Menu, although I don't use many of the items in it. I do use the "Trim" (crop) function quite a bit. It's a handy tool to have when you want to crop a photo before sending it via WiFi to your phone for sharing with others. I've added the "Trim" function to the "My Menu" list for ease of access.
My only two gripes about the camera are the previously-mentioned small buttons on the back of the camera, and the 24MP file size. The smaller buttons are unavoidable due to the large rear LCD screen. But the large files produced by the camera really slow down my photo transfer/processing time. A 16MP file would have been perfect for this camera.
I really enjoy shooting with this camera. Coupled with a quality lens, it is truly one of Nikon's outstanding offerings.