Review Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200 – useful around the corner  
The Nikon D5200 is the third edition of Nikon’s APS-C format SLR with folding screen. The screen can hinge but also rotate. The advantages of such a screen are obvious, especially when you are working from “difficult spots:” on the floor, over your head or even around corners. You can even rotate it all the way forward, to the subject. The disadvantage is that the body is slightly thicker; it is obviously a more fragile construction, and the body is inevitably more expensive. The D5200 differs from predecessor D5100 because of an improved focusing system with more fields, but especially because of the sensor: it now has no less than 24 megapixels!

The Nikon D5200 has as many pixels as the Nikon D3200, yet the sensor is not the same. That of the D3200 comes from Sony, that of the D5200 from Toshiba. The image quality of these two sensors, which we later come back to, is almost equal. There are a few more differences between these two models: the D5200 has two continuous positions and is faster, has more pixels in the metering system, more AF areas, and it has bracketing options.



The Nikon D5200 looks just like the Nikon D5100. You have to look for the differences, but they do exist: a ‘drive’ button has been added to control the self-timer and the continuous shooting (in the picture bottom right), and some controls are changed here and there. The microphone for filming is now a stereo microphone and is away from the body as far as possible, near the flash. This reduces the background noise when focusing and zooming.

The body is mostly made ​​of plastic, but the bayonet is made of metal. The body has not become heavier than the D5100. It lies in the hand well. The hinge of the folding screen is on the left, so the buttons on the left of the LCD screen on most Nikon SLRs have had move to the right. The right handle is therefore somewhat larger too, which is only beneficial.

Convenient of the folding screen is that you can rotate it; it thus protects the LCD screen when you are not using the camera. The loose and scratch-sensitive cover that is present on the Nikons without folding screen is therefore lacking. The four-way switch could have been a bit bigger; there is room enough on the body (see picture).

The Nikon D5200 does not have built-in GPS or Wi-Fi. There is an optional adapter, the WU-1a, which you can plug into the accessory socket, so you can control the shutter remotely with your Android phone or tablet. That never is really handy of course.

There are two other remotes available that work with IR work; the body has an ‘eye’ for that on both the front and the back.



Nikon D5200 versus D5100 – the most important differences

  • 24 megapixels (D5100: 16 MP)
  • Stereo microphone (D5100: mono)
  • Separate button for fast transport
  • Improved autofocus with 39 fields (D5100: 11)
  • Some menu items have been added

Nikon D5200 versus the competition

There are not many SLRs with a folding screen. The Olympus OM-DE M5 and the Sony SLT-A58 do have a tilting screen, but they are not real SLRs. The Canon 60D and 650D are though; the 650D also has a touch screen. Both Canons have fewer pixels than the Nikon D5200, but these are specified heavier (and more expensive) on some points.

When the swivel screen is no important item for you, the Nikon D3200 is a logical alternative; it also has 24 megapixels and is equal to the 5200 in terms of image quality.


Viewfinder, screen and menu

I regularly see that users of an SLR use the LCD screen as a viewfinder in the way that they are used to from their compact camera or their mobile phone. Please do not! The viewfinder image through an optical viewfinder is so much better, especially in the outdoors with lots of ambient light and/or reflections. Yet, I have seen better optical viewfinders than the one of this camera; the viewfinder is rather small, and can barely be overlooked due to the thick body, making your eye be a little further away from it. It covers 95% of the image with a magnification of 78%.

The Nikon menus are traditionally endlessly long. Fortunately, using the I-button, you can go straight to the most common settings without having to use the menu. It is a shame there is no separate ISO button. You can set the Fn button as such. That is what we would always do.


Sharpness: resolution Nikon D5200

The Nikon D5200 delivers a jpg file with an average resolution of 3200 lines per picture height with a good fixed focal length lens such as a 50 mm f/1.8. In RAW, this is 2800; the difference lies in the operations that the camera performs itself (noise reduction, sharpening) and that lead to a seemingly higher resolution, or sharpness. For the RAW conversion, we use Lightroom by the way. With the mostly in kit form 18-55 mm lens included, you certainly do not get these resolutions!

Overall, the D5200 scores very well on the topic ‘resolution;’ it is in the top 5 of all the cameras that we have tested so far.


Dynamic range Nikon D5200

The total dynamic range in RAW averages 12 stops at ISO 100, which is an excellent value; at 100 ISO, only the Nikon D600 and Nikon D800E score as well. At the highest ISO’s, the Nikon D5200 performance in the middle with 7.2 stops, but those are not “normal” operating conditions. Here too, the Nikon D5200 appears in the highest echelons of all bodies examined by us. Dynamic-Range-100-ISO

Noise Nikon D5200

Experience shows that if the noise is less than 2.5%, a photo can be printed on A3+ without the noise being disturbing. The Nikon bodies excel by a very good noise level, thanks to excellent noise repressing software. It is repetitious, but also on ‘noise,’ the D5200 achieves a place in the top five. This picture below of the transmitting station in Kootwijk (“the cathedral”) has been ‘picked up’ in an image-editing program; in the dark areas, you will usually see noise quickly – if not in this beautiful shot.

Color reproduction Nikon D5200

The color reproduction is most certainly good; Imatest shows a slight shift to yellow. See our Nikon D5200 test report for our Imatest measurements. Please recall that the manufacturer of a consumer camera is not necessarily committed to the most faithful reproduction, but to the reproduction that the customer experiences as the most attractive one. Especially with portraits, such a color shift from red to yellow is often attractive. Of course, you can set the color reproduction in the camera just the way you like it. However, this usually does not make it better. In 98% of the cases, we just shoot with the white balance set to Auto ourselves.

Built-in flash

The Nikon D5200 has a built-in flash. At 35 mm (@FF) focal length, there is hardly any visible vignetting. Using the real wide angles, some vignetting occur in the corners. We do not find that too objectionable. The flash guide number is about 12 at 100 ISO.

It has no built-in GPS unit or a Wi-Fi adapter though. You can purchase these separately, but this makes the already not so cheap body even more expensive. Moreover, experience shows that you usually do not have these accessories with you when you need them most.

d5200 flits front

Autofocus speed and accuracy

The autofocus is fast and reliable. The AF has more fields than the Nikon D3200, up to 39 instead of 11. Compared to other SLRs in the consumer segment of Nikon, we cannot identify any significant differences. Much depends on the body/lens combination of course; in low light, a bright fixed focal lens will outperform a cheaper kit lens.

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Conclusion Nikon D5200 review

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  • Lightweight and handy
  • Many pixels for an APS-C camera
  • Resolution, dynamic range and noise level very good
  • Part of a large system, so many accessories and lenses available
  • Convenient articulated screen
  • Not really cheap
  • Optical viewfinder can be better
  • No GPS, no Wi-Fi
The Nikon D5200 is a lightweight, convenient and pleasant SLR with excellent image quality. The articulating screen is a nice addition, although it is somewhat at the expense of the optical viewfinder. We find it unfortunate that the Nikon D5200 doesn’t offer Wi-Fi or GPS. You can buy optional accessories though. In terms of image performance, it belongs to the best APS-C cameras currently out there.

In comparison with the (cheaper) Nikon D3200, the Nikon D5200 has the advantage of the articulating screen; it offers about the same image quality, but has bracketing and HDR capabilities, and more AF areas. Our Nikon D7100 test will soon appear. The Nikon D7100 does not have an articulating screen, but (even) more possibilities, and we will soon know whether it will make the Nikon D5200 drop a place in our overview of all tested cameras. See our Nikon D5200 test report for our Imatest measurements.



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