Nikon D5200

The D5200 is a very good all-rounder, ideal for beginners dipping their toes into SLR photography, or more advanced users looking for good image and video quality with a small body.


8.5
CNET Rating
9.0
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


The Nikon D5100 was a solid workhorse that catered well to the photographer wanting something a little more than just an entry-level camera. Its follow-up, the D5200, continues to improve on an already-strong package by adding a few more usable features and continuing to deliver excellent images.

Design and features

In terms of design, the D5200 does not deviate too much from previous Nikon SLRs of this class, and houses all buttons and controls within easy and logical reach. The mode dial at the top of the camera gives access to full program, aperture, shutter and manual modes, while also making it easy for photography newcomers to pick up, thanks to a range of preset modes such as portrait and landscape.

Specific scene modes grab their own notch on the dial, while filters for images can be found under "Effects". All the standard options are available, such as miniature effect, selective colour, silhouette, high key and low key. There's a built-in HDR mode as well; however, it only takes two exposures and stitches them together, which doesn't really deliver the same sort of effect as a manually derived HDR photo.

A regular exposure (left) and HDR photo (right).
(Credit: CBSi)

The D5200 comes with a 3-inch rotating 921,000-dot LCD screen that can pivot out from the side of the camera, making it useful for photographers who like to shoot from different angles. Graphics have had a bit of an overhaul, too. When shooting using the viewfinder, the screen can display exposure information with a series of three circles representing shutter speed, aperture and ISO. When adjusting the settings, the dials on-screen turn accordingly, which is a nice touch. There is no sensor that turns the screen off automatically when lifting your eye to the viewfinder, though.

Photographers who prefer to compose using Live View can easily flick this feature on and off, thanks to the dedicated switch underneath the mode dial.

Rather impressively, Nikon has equipped the camera with a 39-point AF system and nine cross-type sensors at the centre. The AF overlays in the viewfinder have also been improved and enlarged, which makes it easier to see what the camera has picked as its focus point.

As is the case with other Nikon SLRs released in 2012, video shooters will not feel left behind, with a range of features catered to movie recording. The D5200 can shoot at 1080p or 1080i, at 30/25/24fps and 60/50fps in each respective setting. A stereo microphone that sits just in front of the hotshoe will ensure in-camera audio recording is improved over the D5100, though photographers also get access to a 3.5mm microphone jack, as well.

The D5200 is compatible with two devices for remote shooting: the WR-R10 transceiver and WR-T10 transmitter. They allow functionality such as half pressing the remote button for autofocus, movie recording, continuous shooting and quiet release mode. Wireless connectivity is not built in, unfortunately, but it is accessible using the optional WU-1a wireless mobile adapter that lets photographers share photos and videos across Android or iOS devices. The D5200 supports both SDXC and UHS-I cards.

Though it won't trouble the majority of users, the D5200 does not have a built-in AF motor, meaning only AF-S lenses will autofocus on the body. This is the same as all other Nikon cameras of this class. While not a major issue, it is worth flagging for anyone who expects to be able to use old glass on the camera and have autofocus abilities.

Like several other Nikon models, the D5200 comes with a built-in intervalometer for easy access to time-lapse photography.

One interface quirk that might frustrate some photographers is the lack of a dedicated ISO button. When shooting in manual modes, to change the ISO setting you need to press the "i" button to switch through options.

Compared to

Nikon D5200 Nikon D7100 Canon EOS 650D
24.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS 24.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS
3.0-inch, 921,000-dot articulating LCD screen 3.2-inch, 1229K-dot LCD screen 3.0-inch, 1040K-dot articulating touch LCD screen
Full HD video (1080p, 1080i, 30/25/24fps, 60/50fps) Full HD video (1080p, 1080i, 30/25/24fps, 60/50fps) Full HD video (1080p, 24/25/30fps)
39-point AF system 51-point AF system 9-point AF system
No wireless flash control Wireless flash control Wireless flash control

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot time
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 0.30.60.80.3
    Nikon D5200
  • 0.30.40.50.1
    Canon EOS 650D
  • 0.30.40.40.2
    Canon EOS 60D
  • 0.30.60.70.3
    Nikon D5100
  • 0.30.20.30.1
    Nikon D7000

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 7
    Nikon D7000
  • 5.3
    Canon EOS 60D
  • 5.1
    Nikon D5200
  • 5
    Canon EOS 650D
  • 3.8
    Nikon D5100

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Autofocus performance is very good on the D5200, with the camera responding well to a range of general shooting situations from fast-moving subjects to static objects. It's not lightning quick, but definitely fast enough for most photographers — and, more importantly, accurate. Low light does increase the time it takes to grab focus.

Image quality

In line with the previous generations of cameras, the D5200 delivers excellent photo quality for its class. In automatic modes, colours appear vibrant, but not oversaturated.

We tested the D5200 in conjunction with the 18-105mm lens. This lens proved to be a responsive and capable companion to the camera, ensuring quick and accurate autofocus and a generous focal length range for beginner and intermediate photographers.

Though the D5200 uses an entirely new 24.1-megapixel sensor from the D5100, the way the camera renders dynamic range has not changed much at all. Exposures are even, and without too many blown highlights. While quite a lot of shadow detail can be recovered when shooting RAW, more extreme recovery measures involving several stops of compensation in post will produce a fair amount of grain.

Straight out of the camera on default settings, there is a touch of softness to JPEG images when inspecting at full magnification. The D5200 handles noise quite well, though the bump in resolution does result in a few more artefacts on images at lower resolutions, compared to the D5100.

In general, noise is well controlled up to and including ISO 1600, with ISO 3200 showing up some coloured noise at full magnification. Details do begin to look a little smeared as the sensitivity climbs higher.

The D5200 does make its JPEG images look a little more rich and vibrant than the original RAW files.
(Credit: CBSi)

Video quality is very good. Continuous autofocus is available — Nikon calls this AF-F — though it is a little twitchy, and you can quite clearly see the lens pulling in and out of focus to lock on to a subject. For casual use, it works just fine, though, and anyone seriously looking at improving their video recordings will be choosing to shoot with manual focus anyway. You can hear the lens movements in very quiet situations when using the internal mic, but outdoor use presents no problem.

Photographers can choose to shoot video using manual exposure modes, as well as tweak audio levels of the external microphone.

Speaking of sound quality, the internal stereo microphone is very good for most purposes, though there is a fair amount of wind noise picked up outside. There is no wind-cut feature for the internal mic.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/200, f/11, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/200, f/4.5, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/60, f/14, ISO 3200

Exposure: 1/50, f/11, ISO 200

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

The D5200 is a very good all-rounder, ideal for beginners dipping their toes into SLR photography, or for more advanced users looking for good image and video quality with a small body.



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chamal gaj posted a comment   
Australia

I am into photography. I am just wondering which is better own it. i am also confused about "Canon 700D and Nikon D5200". I Would love own my dslr but i don't know What to choose from.I normally shoot landscape,Macro and sunset photos.What camera has better display? please help me

 

mpdan21 posted a comment   
Australia

Which one is better to buy?
D5200 or D7100 ?
both have awesome features, but D7100 have auto focus where D5200 don't have.
very confuse which is better..
Help please

 

PhilipM1 posted a reply   

The d5200 does have autofocus and it works quickly and quietly. I use both Nikon AF-S and Sigma HSM lenses on my D5200 and am getting terrific results. Much lighter than my D2xs.

 

lukeyp198 posted a comment   
Australia

Hi Lexy,

I'm looking to upgrade my D3100 to either the D5200 or the D7000. I take shots mainly of aviation, macro, landscapes and travel.

Just wondering which camera has the image quality as the 5200 has the more megapixels, etc and is it worth paying the extra money for the D7000?

Thanks so much!

Luke

Will1505 Facebook
9
Rating
 

"Great all rounder"

Will1505 posted a review   

The Good:Image quality, Video quality, extrodinary battery life

The Bad:White balance in darker conditions, focus can be off

Been using this on a US trip for the last few weeks. Using it with an 18-105mm lens. It is easily the best camera I have had. Lightning fast response time.

Pros
Been using the camera but with the screen put away. With the screen away, I've managed to get over 1200 shots with the battery still being on 3 bars. Shutter response is brillient. When using a standard SD card, I can generally take 20 shots continually without a hicup. The pictures come out beautiful, the videos come out beautiful.

Cons
I found using the 39 point AF occasionally annoying, not always focusing on i wanted. I changed the setting to 9 point with centre focus as a preference and its perfect everytime. In low light, colours can become a little washed out which I beleive is to do with how the camera white balances on auto.

It is the best camera I have ever used. Highly recommended.

Will1505 Facebook
9
Rating
 

"Great all rounder"

Will1505 posted a review   

The Good:Image quality, Video quality, extrodinary battery life

The Bad:White balance in darker conditions, focus can be off

Been using this on a US trip for the last few weeks. Using it with an 18-105mm lens. It is easily the best camera I have had. Lightning fast response time.

Pros
Been using the camera but with the screen put away. With the screen away, I've managed to get over 1200 shots with the battery still being on 3 bars. Shutter response is brillient. When using a standard SD card, I can generally take 20 shots continually without a hicup. The pictures come out beautiful, the videos come out beautiful.

Cons
I found using the 39 point AF occasionally annoying, not always focusing on i wanted. I changed the setting to 9 point with centre focus as a preference and its perfect everytime. In low light, colours can become a little washed out which I beleive is to do with how the camera white balances on auto.

It is the best camera I have ever used. Highly recommended.

 

DONDON posted a comment   

Hi Lexy,
I'm tossing between D5200 and Alpha A77 (currently own an A33), can you please advise me which delivers better image quality (RAW

 

TrevorT posted a comment   

Hi, can you recomend which lens would be best for a beginner, I plan to do a bit of travelling so guess most shots will be of scenery but also would like something versatile,
cheers

 

Will1505 posted a reply   

I've been using the 18-105mm. It's a great all rounder.Easy to manual focus if wanting to do more personalises photography, easy for zoom and 105mm is generally the most you will need on a day to day basis.

 

Will1505 posted a comment   

This will be my new DSLR in a few months. Body only prices online have seemed to have stablised around $700.

I know this has a similar AF system as the D7000 which had a few issues. Do you feel that the AF system is better in the d5200 Lexy?

 

Lexy Savvides posted a reply   
Australia

Than the D7000? It was so long ago that I tried out the D7000 so my memory is a bit hazy, but I feel it's just as good - if not better. Waiting to see what the D7100 is like though, given the upgrade...

 

Will1505 posted a reply   

Yeah the d7100 looks like a beast. Looks like nikon is slowly reducing their DX offering

 

AnthonyH6 posted a reply   

Will1505, where are you looking for prices? Are they grey imports?

 

Will1505 posted a reply   

A place called DWI. They are importers but have proper warranties

 

AvivaL posted a comment   

but i think, it still need more button. not just changing color and megapixels.
i have D5100. it's a good camera. but with more button, it will be very very good camera.
see my photoblog with D5100 camera: http://kalamata.me

 

Evsta posted a comment   
Australia

Have you guys got your hands on this camera yet? Just wondering when the review will be in?


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User Reviews / Comments  Nikon D5200

  • chamal gaj

    chamal gaj

    "I am into photography. I am just wondering which is better own it. i am also confused about "Canon 700D and Nikon D5200". I Would love own my dslr but i don't know What to choose from.I normally sh..."

  • mpdan21

    mpdan21

    "Which one is better to buy?
    D5200 or D7100 ?
    both have awesome features, but D7100 have auto focus where D5200 don't have.
    very confuse which is better..
    Help please"

  • lukeyp198

    lukeyp198

    "Hi Lexy,

    I'm looking to upgrade my D3100 to either the D5200 or the D7000. I take shots mainly of aviation, macro, landscapes and travel.

    Just wondering which camera has..."

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