Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera Review

Nikon is focusing their shift towards their DX format DSLRs after a full year renewing their full frame lineup. The latest model to roll out is the Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera, which fills the slot between the D3200 and D7000. Until the release of the D5200, the predecessor D5100 was the choice for most beginners. The D5100 is a good blend of image quality, features, and competitive price tag. The introduction of the model raises two questions – has Nikon improved the successful model or added a few more features for the additional expense.

Pros

  • Good image and video quality
  • Light and compact design
  • High ISO sensitivity
  • Five FPS continuous shooting speed
  • A decent autofocus system

Cons

  • Reduced external controls for settings
  • Lacks weather sealing
  • Slow autofocus positioning in live view
  • Noisy kit lens performance

Nikon D5200 1The Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera has incremental changes over its predecessor, the D 5100. The resolution jumps to 24.1 megapixels against the 16.2 million in the D5100. The increased megapixel is sure to attract beginners. There is a considerable change in the measurement of the D5200 sensor. While the D5100 measures 23.6 mm, the D5200 measures 23.5 mm. The size difference could mean that the sensor in the Nikon D50 200 is different from its predecessor. On the contrary, the processor is the new generation EXPEED 3 against EXPEED 2 in the D5100. While the ISO sensitivity remains the same as opposed to the continuous shooting speed that now stands at five fps against the four fps of its predecessor. The full HD video recording adds the 60i capturing ability with a built-in stereo microphone. The ISO sensitivity is expandable up to 25600. Like most of the Nikon DX cameras, the D 5200 misses the inbuilt autofocus motor. Therefore, autofocus is possible with the use of AF-S and AF-I lenses. The AF-S uses the Silent Wave Motor while the AF-I lenses use the Internal Focus Motor.

The Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera body is marginally big than its predecessor. However, it weighs 2 ounces lighter in weight. To increase the accuracy of the autofocus system, Nikon incorporated the 39-point multi-CAM 4800 autofocus system. The system first appeared in the D7000. The addition of NEF/JPEG shooting option gives a greater ability to the users (NEF stands for Nikonese for RAW). The camera also allows SD, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards. Nikon approved the use of cards made by Panasonic, SanDisk, and Lexar. The Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera is available as a body only or along with a kit containing 18-55 or 18-105 mm lenses. The kit is available along with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and charger, rubber eye, camera strap, body caps, an accessory shoe cover, USB and A/V cables, printed user manual, and CD-ROM software.

Nikon D5200 2

An invaluable feature in the Nikon D5200 is the addition of a 3-D focus tracking ability especially useful during sports and wildlife photography. The focus tracking mechanism shifts the focus point automatically that follows the movement of the subject in the frame. Additionally, it is intuitive to calculate and forecast the position of the subject based on the measurement of the speed and movement of the subject within the frame. The predictable autofocus system may or may not be of that interest to a user, who is barely in the first stages of his/her photography lessons. The following are the five autofocus modes available in the camera:

  1. Single point AF
  2. Dynamic AF with the option to choose between 9, 21, or 39 points
  3. Auto area AF

The functionality of the focus modes is available only when the camera is in AF-A (auto servo), AF-S (single servo), AF-C (continuous servo) and manual servo. The Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera further embraces the 2016 pixel metering sensor that is mostly available with Nikon’s advanced DSLRs. Both the D600 and the D7000 use the pixel metering sensor, which is now slowly filtering down to find its use in the affordable camera lineup. Users gain the ability to set the exposure compensation in increments of 1/3 or ½ EV to a maximum of +/-5EV. The D5200 also has an additional option that uses the exposure compensation during recording a video, if there is a change in the lighting conditions. It will enable the user to capture the video with uniform brightness and contrast.

In comparison to its predecessor, the D5200 differs by featuring a vary angle display. The addition of the vary angle display gives a high degree of flexibility during angled shooting. However, it misses the touch screen like that on the Canon’s 650D – the rival of the D5200. The screen is on 921k-dot resolution measuring 3 inches from corner to corner. It is sad to see that Nikon did not include GPS and Wi-Fi as the inbuilt features. With every manufacturer offering GPS and Wi-Fi as an inbuilt feature to both compact digital systems and DSLRs, Nikon is still lagging behind the times. However, Nikon is offering GP-1 GPS unit and WU-1a wireless mobile adapter at additional cost. It is useful for those who feel the features are basic requirements.

To attract the customers, Nikon D5200 features impressive full HD video recording with the option to shoot in 60i/50i with 24, 25, and 30fps. The essential fact about the recording system of the camera is that it utilizes central crop of the sensor when capturing a video at 50i settings. The settings also provide a unique opaque border along the frame, which helps the user to compose their recordings. Additionally, the camera compresses the video files in .MOV format using the H.264 or MPEG-4 compression engines.

Another option that is quite amusing is the functioning of full time servo that is capable of recording video and autofocuses simultaneously.  Nikon further provided the on-screen audio monitoring system, which makes it easy to check out the audio source of a recording. The availability of the 3.5mm port helps users to attach an external microphone. However, the camera misses the audio-out port, which does not help monitor the audio through headphones.

Design

Other than subtle changes, the D5200 is very much similar to D5100. The moderate changes reinforce the fact that Nikon is concentrating on upgrading/updating the internals rather than experiment with the exteriors. All with all the tests, there is nothing better than comparing the design with that of another camera. To begin with, the D5200 weighs 2 grams less than the D5100. It is interesting to see how the company reduced the weight of the product despite maintaining similar dimensions. The handgrip of the camera receives a marginal upgrade but not as muscular as the D7000. It sits comfortably between the two while it offers convenient handling. There is a possibility that users with large hands may feel their little finger resting at the bottom of the body. It is a minor point and does not affect the handling of the body.

Ergonomically, the Nikon D5200 receives a negligible change for the button placements. Instead of the top plate LCD, the body now hosts the mode dial with a toggle type Live View switch. The placement is perfect and offers spontaneous access to the Live View. There is a possibility that a few photographers may consider the conventional button that usually resides beside the screen. A new button is available to the right of the Live View switch. It provides easy access to continuous shooting and self-timer settings. Ideally, using the button to control the ISO would have been better, as the Nikon D5200 misses a dedicated button for choosing preferred ISO. However, the function button available on the side of the pop-up flash gives the flexibility to assign different settings. Users can assign a particular parameter according to their convenience. Speaking about the graphic user interface, the improved black guide makes the dial and markings clearer. While the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed are at the top, the AF mode and other settings are beneath. Nikon paid close attention to the GUI as the graphic for the aperture even mimics the movement of the blades that open and close according to the settings. The graphical representation is intuitive and makes it easy for a beginner to understand the operation of the blades and its importance.

Coming back to the basics, the rear end receives an updated d-pad. As with the most DSLRs, users have to use the dial for a single command, meaning that one will have to hold the exposure compensation button during the shift between aperture and shutter speed. The setting does not affect the handling, especially if users are familiar with handling DSLRs with two dial scrolls. The use of the single command dial is preferable for those who seek a compact body that is convenient for carrying and affordable. On the brighter side, Nikon retained the same EN-EL14 battery, giving the opportunity for users who already own D3100, D3200, or D5100. The simple and efficient design pattern is fresh and offers new life for beginners and for those who are seeking an upgrade from older Nikon DSLRs or compact digital cameras.

Performance

The Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera is capable of capturing high-quality images in any demanding situations. It is necessary to remember that the use of DX-format lenses is the only way to achieve autofocusing. When coupled with the DX format lenses or a telephoto zoom lens, the camera performs admirably and offers excellent quality. An interesting point to note is the ability of the camera to track the movements of the subjects. The availability of the 3-D tracking mode is a great addition that is useful in wildlife and sports photography. Although the D5200 is available with the standard lens of 18-55 mm kit lens, it may not be suitable for those who seek speed and performance. It is preferable to use premium glass lenses to check for the speeds of the autofocus system and the ability of the camera to track the movement of the subject.

The use of Nikon’s 39-point multi-CAM 4800 autofocus system helps in acquiring accurate focusing on the subject. Additionally, the D5200 is totally in a different league in comparison to its competitors. It is in rare cases that the AF point system fails to cover the subject. Astonishingly, the AF targeting system functions with similar accuracy even in live view mode. Users gain the flexibility to position the target even to the edges of the frame. The only downside is the speed that the AF system takes to move around the frame. It would have been better if the system performed at a faster rate, as there is an opportunity to lose a frame when the AF system reaches from one point to another. Live view focusing is terribly slow in comparison to the viewfinder. However, the autofocus system provides good accuracy when it locks the focus on the subject. The results are sharper, right, and clear.

Nikon carried across the creative effects that were available in the D5100 model. Some of the features include selective color, night vision, and silhouette. Just like its predecessor, the D5200 lags during the preview of nature affect modes and color sketch in real-time on the LCD. It can be irritating at times, causing the user to lose patience during critical situations. The camera is capable of capturing five frames per second in a reasonable time. However, the buffering time prevented the action that further increased the delay. There is a delay of six seconds under the camera is ready to record the identical burst. Nonetheless, switching over to fine JPEG resulted in an unlimited shooting of images at the same frame rate. The vary angle LCD offers excellent convenience, giving complete freedom to position the screen at different angles for almost any shooting position. The zoom button provides quick access to inspect images and the button to the left of the command dial protects the image from deletion by accident.

Tone and Exposure

The 2016 pixel sensor incorporated from the D 7000 provides a better matrix, spot metering, and center-weighted modes. When the Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera operates in matrix mode for general shooting, it produces well-exposed images on the screen. Further study of histograms in Photoshop reveals that the metering mode functionality is accurate and appropriate. Further detailing is achievable with the help of the Active D-Lighting setting where the camera carries out digital processing of the image.

ISO Quality

The Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera handles the color noise and luminance commendably. Faintest traces of noise appear in images when the ISO goes beyond 800. Even ISO 1600 and 3200 are usable. However, the images require filtering the noise with the help of post processing software. Applying the noise reduction filter will significantly reduce the noise in the pictures shot at ISO 1600 and greater. It is better to use the camera with a maximum setting of ISO 3200. Further increase in the ISO sensitivity will add chromatic aberration.

Conclusion

The Nikon D5200 24.1MP Digital SLR Camera is a perfect camera for beginners with performance and speed. The internal developments over its predecessor result in an impressive specification for the consumer model. It delivers fantastic images and is suitable to capture in any given condition.  Nikon added a few features to make the model an advanced camera while maintaining compactness and affordability. It may be unable to offer innovative features like the rest of the models in the Nikon’s lineup, but the D5200 is an excellent performer in terms of handling, flexibility, image quality, sharpness, and features.

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