I’ve owned a Nikon D5200 for almost two years now and as an amateur photographer, I can say that I am very pleased with its performance. It’s a camera with solid photo and video quality, and some of the camera issues of the old Nikon D5100 are now completely fixed, making it a big improvement over its predecessor.
The D5200 has the same auto focus and metric system that debuted in D600, plus an upgraded viewfinder and the result is a much better shooting experience with truly remarkable results. Even though it’s not considered a professional camera, it’s more than suitable for those memorable family trips and even taking nice portrait photos.
Quality of images
When we’re talking about a good camera, what’s more important than its body, appeal and weight is, of course, its ability of producing high quality photographs.
As is the case of the D5100, the quality of the still and moving images is very good. With all of the new DSLR releases, the Japanese company claims that the processing engine for the images has indeed been updated, and there is quite a noticeable increase in image quality.
The camera does a great job in optimizing JPEGs but the RAW version files offer greater control. I recommend everyone to shoot RAW. If you’re not quite ready to switch to RAW you will notice some improved sharpness and noise reduction in the JPEGs the camera outputs.
Normal ISO ranges between 100 and 6400 with an extended mode letting you reach for 25,600. Images look good all the way up to ISO 1600 and at ISO 800 images are still very clean and sharp. Overall the exposure and the dynamic range look good. The camera does have a tendency to produce somewhat dark exposures though and sometimes I find myself overexposing half stop or so to compensate. I don’t know, maybe it’s just my preference. Still, the image quality is really good, especially for a camera in its price range, partially thanks to the larger enhanced sensor.
It manages to reproduce colors with good accuracy and it’s often better to leave the default/standard mode on – meaning that you don’t need to be playing around with saturation and contrast too much. The difference between standard and neutral modes only seems to be the sharpness, which you can always easily alter in a photo editing program like Photoshop or GIMP.
The performance of Nikon D5200 compared to D5100 increased due to an updated auto focus system. I’ve done a comparison test and you can definitely feel the slight increase in focusing and shutter speed. However, considering that the D5200 has no AF motor built, it all really comes down to the AF lens. Unfortunately, the lens that comes with the camera, the classic 18-55 mm, doesn’t have an outstanding performance. But if you’re willing to spend an extra $200-$300 you can buy a fixed 35 or 50 mm lens which has a significantly better performance. Some people might just want to purchase the camera body only and buy a lens separate.
The camera opens and shoots quite quickly – in about 0.3 seconds. Time to focus, exposure and shutter in good light is about 0.5 seconds while in low light it’s about 0.8 seconds. You can shoot in 0.2 second bursts for JPEG or RAW, increasing the “distance” between the flash burst at 1.2 seconds.
Nikon cameras usually have a great auto focusing exposure and the D5200 is no exception. However, the AF area is relatively devoid of intelligence, so to speak, similar to one of D5100’s known problems. It tends to select either the nearest or the brightest area, and you need to get used to the camera and the “hand motion” in order to select what you want to reveal – something completely unacceptable for a more expensive DSLR, but considering its current price range, it shouldn’t be chewed over as a problem.
HD footage is very good, although it’s noisier than more expensive cameras (even D7000) or Canon appliances in the same price range. The display has more contrast which can sometimes be a little deceiving. To tell the true quality of an image you’ll probably need to copy it to your computer.
Like most DSLRs in this class, D5200 is made of plastic but feels pretty solid in my hands. Buttons remain similar to those of the D5100 – the upper right is crowded with wheel mods and a Live View – if you want to see the photograph on display. The video record button, info and exposure are right behind the shutter. On the front there are the classic Nikon buttons, which are large and convenient to press.
The Nikon D5200 comes with both an LCD and a viewfinder, hence making photo capturing ideal regardless of conditions. Battery life is somewhat average, accounting for no more than 500 shots per charge. The camera does not come with Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities, but if you really need those you can consider purchasing the optional Nikon Wu-1a WiFi’ adapter which costs around $55 extra.
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