D5200 is second model in current Nikon DSLR lineup, just above D3200 and below the newly announced semi-pro D7100. In terms of features and especially size or ergonomics it is pretty much the same as both its predecessor the D5100 or the current base model D3200. Since I already published D3200 review and D5200 is rather similar camera, I will cover only the differences and overall user experience in this review.
Compared to its predecessor, the D5200 has a new 24 MP sensor, more advanced focus system with 39 AF points, 2016 pixel color sensitive metering sensor and stereo microphone for video recording. The Auto-ISO option is also upgraded and now allows automatic setting of minimum shutter speed based on the lens focal length – pretty important for zoom lens users. Movie aficionados will love the option of manual setting of shutter, aperture and ISO during movie recording. Everything else is practically the same as on D5100.
NIKON D5200 GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS
- Announced: 2012.
- Type: DSLR
- Dimensions: 129 x 98 x 78 mm
- Weight: 555 g
- Sensor: CMOS 24MP (6000 x 4000 pixels)
- Lens: Kit lens: 18-55 VR (28-82 in 35mm), F/3.5-5.6, optical stabilisation
- ISO range: Native 100 – 6400, Extended 100 – 25,600
- Dust and moisture protection: No
- Flash unit: Pop-up flash, hot-shoe
- Continuous shooting: 5 fps
- LCD screen: 3″, 921,000 dots, articulated
- Memory card: SDHC
- Battery: Li-Ion EN-EL14
- Video: 1920 x 1080 (60i, 30p, 24p), 1280 x 720, 640 x 480
- Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, 3.5mm stereo microphone input, GPS connector
SENSOR AND IMAGE QUALITY
It is logical to assume the 24 megapixel sensor used is the same well known Sony unit, but Nikon stated it isn’t. To tell you the truth, I don’t care who developed it as long as it has good performance, and this one has them. Colors can really pop-out and high ISO noise is under control. For the most part, I can’t tell the difference between the image quality from D3200 and D5200. D5200 could have a slight edge in high ISO, but without having both cameras at the same time, it’s really hard to tell anything for sure.
LCD unit is fully articulated. It has a diagonal of 3″ and 921,000 dots. Sharpness and color reproduction are nice, but LCD has poor visibility in daylight, as you can see on the image on the left. All of the camera options are set via LCD interface and poor visibility might be a problem in some shooting situations.
The D5200 doesn’t have an AF motor, so although you can use them, there is no support for auto focus with older Nikon lenses; only those with “G” designation can auto focus on this camera. Somehow I feel most buyers of this camera won’t ever remove the kit lens, but keep this in mind anyway.
AF system is very similar to the one in D7000. It has 39 AF points (9 of them cross type). AF points are very well spread across the frame and it’s easy to focus on something away from the center of the frame. This is very useful for vertical portraits or any shot involving main subject framed using rule of the thirds.
The sheer number of AF points is most usable in action shooting like sports or wildlife. With more pocus points the camera easier follows the subject as it moves. If you shoot a lot of action photos, this is a clear advantage over the cheaper D3200 model.
OVERALL HANDLING THOUGHTS
Nikon D5200 has a solid feel in hand. The grip is covered with rubber and all of the buttons are easy to reach. It would be nice if the vertical grip was available since D5200 sometimes felt a bit too small in my hand, but Nikon produces it only for more expensive models like D7000 and up.
The “Fn” button on the side is programmable (I used it as an ISO button) but there are no other possibilities besides it to have direct access to often used settings like WB, AF modes, file format etc. All of them are adjusted using quick menu on LCD. Novice users probably find that very appealing but anyone interested in quick adjustments via external controls will need to cash out for D7000 or the new D7100.
D5200 supports latest SDXC cards and has a Li-Ion battery strong enough for around 500-600 shots using optical viewfinder. On the left side there are USB 2.0 and mini HDMI connectors, as well as 3.5 microphone input and a special connector for external GPS module.
Nikon D5200 is a very nice camera overall. Image quality is excellent, but you might want to invest in a better lens. Kit lens is nowhere near bad but the excellent sensor in D5200 deserves more; 35mm F/1.8 G might be the best to start with (also very inexpensive). Handling is good as long as you don’t need very fast access to various settings since most of them are adjusted via LCD and require a lot of button pushes.
D5200 has three main advantages over D3200; articulated LCD, intervalometer and more advanced AF system which can make a difference for sports and wildlife shooters. If you think those features are not important to you, save the money and buy the cheaper D3200. Image quality and handling are the same and there’s no need to pay extra $ 300 for the features you will not use.
NIKON D5200 PRO:
- Good image quality
- AF system
- Good Auto ISO implementation
- Fast and responsive operation
- Articulated LCD
- Intervalometer built-in
NIKON D5200 CONS:
- Low LCD visibility in daylight
- Direct controls almost non-existant
NIKON D5200 PHOTO SAMPLES:
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