Overview – Nikon D5200
The Nikon D5200 sits nicely in the middle of Nikon’s wonderful DX line of DSLR cameras. The DX line feature APC sized sensors and are slightly more ergonomic and compact than the more expensive FX line of full frame sensor cameras. The D5200 is an excellent choice for the budget minded photographer who still needs professional results. With a street price of around $700 for the body only, this camera is an excellent choice for photographers who need to get great images and don’t need all the bells and whistles of the higher end models.
The D5200 is the update from the D5100 of 2011 and the D5000 of 2009. These camera’s are very similar in many respects. Improvements have been made as they’ve evolved. Personally I think you’ll get the best quality by sticking with the most current model, but all are capable of wonderful results if you know what you’re doing.
I purchase most of my equipment from the wonderful B&H Photo. This and all of the reviews on this website are done from my own personal experiences – in other words, I don’t do paid reviews. This allows me to be honest with the reviews that I do. They are of course, my opinions but hopefully they will help you become better informed about cameras that we discuss. If you do decide you want to order a D5200, you can help the site by using the affiliate links on this page. You don’t have to use them, but you can help the site out by doing so which allows me to bring you more reviews, podcast episodes and content.
Is This My Next Camera?
So is the D5200 the one to get? This depends on a few specific needs. Essentially this is the same wonderful camera as the Nikon D3200 with a few added features. If you need more versatility with auto-focus, this camera wins with 39 AF points (9 cross type) over the D3200’s 11. If you shoot mostly fast moving subjects like sports or wildlife then this camera will provide a better AF system.
The Nikon D5200 has a little more ISO range in that its expandable to ISO 25,600. I personally don’t think this is a reason to buy as the higher ISO settings are noisier and have much less definition than lower ISO’s. If you need more light I think its wiser to spend your money on a nice flash and not worry about trying to do this in camera.
If you shoot videos and need the flip-out screen, the D5200 has it – the D3200 doesn’t.
Most of the other features are only slightly better and not very significant. But for the special uses described above, this camera will make you a little happier in the end.
Features of the Nikon D5200
The Nikon D5200 implements a 24.1MP, DX sized CMOS sensor and EXPEED III image processor. This is pretty much the standard setup across all of the current DX cameras which means you can expect the same high end image quality across the line. What you are paying for (or not paying for) when choosing the camera are the features built on to this foundation. As with any camera purchase, its important to weigh your needs against your budget to make a choice you are going to be happy with.
The Nikon D5200 features a 39 point auto focus system that is very fast. Its capable of tracking both still and moving subjects based on its internal “3D” tracking system.
Nikon’s wonderful scene recognition technology compares what you’re shooting with its internal 2,016 pixel RGB sensor to determine the correct brightness and contrast to the scene you are trying to capture. This culminates in a more precise rendering of focus, white balance, i-TTL flash and exposure precision.
The D5200 has a moderately high 5 frames per second shooting capacity for photographers who need burst capability. This is obviously much slower than the top of the line cameras and your results will vary depending on if you’re shooting RAW, JPEG or a combination of both as the buffers on the less expensive cameras tend to fill up quickly. This will certainly suffice for most situations, but is clearly not a substitute for the higher end cameras in sports or wild life applications.
The Vari-Anlge LCD monitor is exceptionally nice for photographers who prefer live view shooting for stills or video. The ability to move the screen around and optimize the angle for high or low shooting is quite nice.
The camera also features face-recognition technology when recording HD movies using auto-focus. However for critical application, this is still a bit of a gimmick for the spec sheets. You can get professional looking video on this camera, but as with the higher-end DSLR’s you’ll want to use manual focus for better results. These cameras just don’t do auto-focus well with video and its usually noisy and can be heard in the clip. If AF is important with video, camcorders are still a better choice. What is nice though is being able to control ISO and shutter speed while shooting video.
The menu settings have been nicely simplified in this camera compared to previous versions. Cameras have come a long way over the year and the UI on these keeps improving. The D5200 is more ergonomic and intuitive, though you still need to learn the menus.
The Nikon D5200 also features built in HDR and Active D-Lighting for challenging scenes that require a higher dynamic range than digital cameras are capable of producing. Personally I like to shoot in RAW and control this myself in Photoshop or Lightroom, but they do work nicely if you know what you’re doing. Honestly I haven’t tried the built in HDR but if this is your thing its there and probably convenient.
And finally the Nikon D5200 is wireless capable using the optional WU-1a Wireless mobile adaptor. I’ll admit this will be useful someday, but as it is now you can wirelessly send your images to your Android or iPhone using Nikon’s app. Then you can edit them or upload to photo sharing websites as you like. For results in the field this could be promising, but raw support and other general professional features remain challenging.
Sensor: 24.1MP DX Format CMOS Sensor
Image Processor: EXPEED III Image Processor
LCD: 3.0″ 921K dot LCD
Auto Focus: 39 AF Points | 9 Cross Type
ISO Range: 100-6400 (Extended Mode: 25600)
Shutter: 1/4000 – 30 sec
Flash Sync: 1/200 sec
Frame Speed: up to 5 FPS burst mode
Viewfinder: 0.78x magnification
Video: MPEG-4, AVC/H.264, MOV
Video Frame Rates:
1920×1080: 60fps, 50fps 30fps, 25fps, 24fps,
1280×720: 60fps, 50fps
640×424: 30fps, 25fps