Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Nikon D5200

(Credit: Nikon)

For the D5200, Nikon took the body of the D5100 but significantly updated the inside. That includes a new, higher-resolution CMOS sensor, and the same new autofocus and metering systems that debuted in the D600. Though it's been announced in Europe and is slated to ship there in December, the official word from Nikon US is, "Nikon Corporation announced a new product in select markets worldwide but not in the U.S. at this time." However, the D5100 is over a year old, so I can't imagine that the U.S. announcement for the camera is very far behind. Note that the D7000, an all-around excellent camera, remains widely available for less than $1,000, which may affect the company's pricing and release decisions.
The only notable problem with the D5100 in my view is the performance; the D5200 incorporates a newer version of the Expeed processing engine plus updated autofocus, so I'm hoping that the speed gets a needed boost from that. It also has improved video specs -- not so much in its the ability to do a meh 1080/60i as the desirable 720/60p -- plus a built-in stereo mic. While it adds Nikon's full-time AF for video, it's not as fast or quiet as Canon's STM contrast-AF implementation; on the other hand, it doesn't require a whole new set of expensive lenses.
Here's how it compares to some of its competitors, assuming that it's priced about the same as the D5100:
 Canon EOS Rebel T4iNikon D5100Nikon D5200Pentax
Sony Alpha SLT-A65V
Sensor effective resolution18MP hybrid CMOS16.2MP CMOS24.1MP CMOS16.3MP CMOS24.3MP Exmor HD CMOS
22.3mm x 14.9mm23.6mm x 15.6mm23.5mm x 15.6mm23.7mm x 15.7mm23.5mm x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier1.6x1.5x1.5x1.5x1.5x
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 - ISO 12800/ 25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 6400/ 25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 6400/ 25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 12800/ 25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 16000
Burst shooting5fps
6 raw/22 JPEG
4 fps
n/a raw/100 JPEG
8 raw/30 JPEG
8fps (10fps with fixed exposure)
13 raw/17 JPEG
Viewfinder (mag/ effective mag)95% coverage
0.85x/ 0.53x
95% coverage
0.78x/ 0.63x
95% coverage
0.78x/ 0.63x
100% coverage
0.92x/ 0.61x
Electronic OLED
0.5 inch/ 2.36 million dots
100% coverage
1.09x/ 0.73x
Autofocus9-pt AF all cross-type; center cross to f2.811-pt AF
center cross-type to f5.6
(Multi-CAM 1000)
39-pt AF
9 cross-type
(Multi-CAM 4800DX)
11-pt AF
9 cross-type
15-pt phase-detection
3 cross-type
AF sensitivity-0.5 to 18 EV-1 to 19 EV-1 to 19 EV-1 to 18 EV-1 to 18 EV
Shutter speed1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync1/6,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/180 sec x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/160 x-sync
Metering63-zone iFCL420-pixel 3D color matrix metering II2016-pixel 3D color matrix metering II77-segment1,200-zone
Metering sensitivity1 to 20 EV0 to 20 EV0 to 20 EV0 to 22 EV-2 to 17 EV
VideoH.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/30p/ 25p/24p; 720/60p/ 50p1080/30p/ 24p; 720/30p/ 25p/24p H.264 QuickTime MOV1080/60i/50i/ 30p/25p/24p; 720/60p/50p/ H.264 QuickTime MOVH.264 QuickTime MOV 1080/24p/ 25p/30p; 720/ 50p/60pAVCHD 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps
AudioStereo; mic inputMono; mic inputStereo; mic inputMonoStereo; mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in videoYesYesn/an/aYes
Maximum best-quality recording time4GB/12 min20 minn/a4GB/25 minutes2GB/29 min
ISOpticalOpticalOpticalSensor shiftSensor shift
LCD size3 inches articulated, touch screen
1.04 MP
3 inches articulated
921K dots
3 inches articulated
921K dots
3 inches fixed
921K dots
3 inches articulated
921K dots
Memory slots1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC
Wireless flashYesYesNoYesYes
Battery life (CIPA rating)440 shots660 shotsn/a480 (lithium ion); 1600 (lithium)510 shots
Size (WHD, inches)5.2 x 3.9 x 3.15.0 x 3.8 x 3.15.1 x 3.9 x 3.15.1 x 3.8 x 2.85.3 x 3.9 x 3.3
Body operating weight (ounces)20.819.619.6 (est)22.9 (est)22 (est)
Mfr. price$849 (body only)$799.95 (body only)n/a$849.95 (body only)$899.99 (body only)
$949 (with 18-55mm lens)$899.95 (with 18-55mm VR lens)n/a$899.95 (with 18-55mm lens)$999.99 (with 18-55mm lens)
$1,149 (with 18-135mm STM lens)n/an/an/an/a
Release dateJune 2012April 2011n/aJuly 2012October 2011
While it sounds like a potentially nice camera, the D5200 doesn't really stand out from the specialized competition: Canon has its video-optimized AF system, Pentax has its weather-resistant bodies, and Sony has its speedy models with built-in geotagging. The D5200 supports wireless, but only through the Wireless Mobile Adapter WU-1a USB dongle. Still, based on the popularity of the D5100, I suspect if Nikon decides to ship the D5200 here it would sell enough to justify its existence.

Ever since Nikon put a 24-million effective pixel sensor in theD3200 we've been expecting this pixel count to reach a little further up the manufacturer's Buying Guide
Best DSLR: top cameras by price and brand
Best DSLR: top cameras by price and brandSLR line-up. So the announcement that the D5200, which usurps the Nikon D5100 from its position immediately below the D7000 in the range, has a CMOS sensor with 24 million pixels wasn't really a surprise.
However, some may raise an eyebrow when they learn that the D5200 doesn't have exactly the same sensor as the D3200. The D5200 uses a new 24.1-million effective pixel sensor that has not been seen elsewhere and according to Nikon we can expect the new device to have a more extensive dynamic range.
Nikon has paired this sensor with its EXPEED 3 processing engine and in the D5200 this enables a native sensitivity range of ISO 100-6400, which is expandable up to the equivalent of ISO 25,600.
In addition, the D5200 can shoot at a maximum continuous rate of 5fps, up 1fps on the D5100, which could make it just that little bit better for sports photography.
Nikon D5200
The D5200's sport and action photography credentials are further enhanced by the presence of the same 39-point AF system (with 9-cross type points) as in the D7000. This improved frame coverage should make the autofocus system more precise and better at tracking moving subjects.
Another feature borrowed from the D7000 and which improves upon the D5100 is the 2,016-pixel RGB sensor for light metering and white balance assessment. This feeds information into the improved Automatic Scene Recognition system which attempts to match the exposure settings, autofocus and white balance to the scene.
According to Nikon UK's Simon Iddon, Product Manager for DX Products, the size of the minimum recognisable target for the Automatic Scene Recognition system has been reduced, making it more precise. It's tracking performance has also been improved so that the camera is better able to exposes faces across the frame.
Naturally the D5200 is capable of recording Full HD video footage, like the D5100, but the frame rate range has been expanded to include 60i and 50i as well as 30p, 25p and 24p.
Nikon D5200

Build and Handling

Most people would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the Nikon D5200 and the D5100 as they look almost identical. Nevertheless, we are told that the D5200 is a little bit smaller and lighter than the older camera.
Any weight or size reduction hasn't been made at the cost of build quality, because the D5200 still feels nicely put together. As we'd expect, it's not a tough feeling as the likes of the Nikon D800 or Nikon D4 in the professional section of the company's SLR line-up, but it feels reasonably solid and built to withstand regular use.
Although D5200 has a nice deep grip with a textured coating that gives it good purchase in the hand, as is often the case with smaller SLRs, most users will find that there is only space for three of their fingers and the little finger must tuck underneath the camera body. It is still comfortable to hold and use one-handed though.
Nikon has stuck with the same 3-inch 921,000-dot variangle LCD as the D5100 has for the D5200. While this is useful for composing images from a wide variety of angles, it's a little disappointing that the company hasn't made it touch-sensitive.
We're also a little surprised to see that Nikon hasn't made any changes to the Special Effects modes available on the D5200 via the mode dial, it's the same seven that are available on the D5100: Night Vision, Color Sketch, Miniature, Selective Colour, Miniature, Silhouette and High and Low Key. These are still JPEG only options for stills photography unfortunately.
We'll have to experiment a little more when we get a full-production sample of the D5200 in for testing, but our first impression is that the new processing engine makes the Live View feed a little smoother than before when these modes are selected.
Nikon D5200
While the control layout of the D5200 is the same as the D5100, the graphic user interface (GUI) has been updated. This looks more modern and cleaner as well as a little more advanced as befits the enthusiast target audience of the camera.
There are relatively few buttons on the D5200 as most settings adjustments are made via on-screen controls. All that is required is to press the 'I' button to bring up the information screen and then navigate to the feature that you want to adjust, press OK to select it and then make the changes. It's simple and effective.


So far we have only seen a pre-production sample of the D5200 and we weren't able to examine the images that we took with it. However, we can be fairly certain that the image quality from the D5200 is going to be at least as good as from the D3200 as, even though they have different sensors, the two cameras have (near enough) the same pixel count and the EXPEED 3 processing engine.
This bodes well for the D5200's ability to resolve detail as the D3200 knocks most of the competition out of the park in this respect at the lower sensitivity settings. It also achieves a respectable signal to noise ratio and its dynamic range is impressively high.
Nikon D5200
Nikon has had a few issues with white balance and colour, with the D800 sometimes making images a little on the green-side and the LCD screen appearing to over-emphasise this colour. We also found that the D3200's screen has a tendency to make images look a little cooler than they are. We are hoping that these problems won't trouble the D5200 as we haven't encountered them with the recently arrived Nikon D600.
WIth 39-AF points instead of just 11, the image frame is well-covered and we found the D5200's AF system very responsive. Naturally, we want to use the camera in a variety of conditions before committing, but the Multi-CAM 4800DX module has proved itself very capable in the D7000 and we see no reason for it to be any different with the D5200.
It's a similar story with the 3D color matrix metering II that uses the dedicated 2,016-pixel RGB sensor. We've seen it before and know that it performs well in most conditions, although the D7000 is sometimes prone to overexposing mid-tones.

Early verdict

Provided you are happy not to have an array of buttons and dials allowing quick access to key features, the D5200 looks like a great option for enthusiast photographers looking for a small, versatile camera.
Obviously we have to add the caveat that we haven't actually seen any images from the D5200 yet, but its pedigree and the fact that we have seen the majority of its constituent parts in action elsewhere, leads us to be fairly certain that this camera will be capable of delivering high-quality results.
The fact that the D5200 doesn't introduce anything new apart from the sensor is a bit disappointing. It is a fairly predictable upgrade to the D5100 that borrows features from the D7000 above it in the line-up. It would have been nice if Nikon had added a few new Special Effects, perhaps a high-contrast black and white mode, and made these effects available when shooting raw and JPEG files, rather than just JPEGs.
We'd also have liked Nikon to take the next step with the screen and made it touch-sensitive, allowing the AF point etc to be selected with a touch of a finger.
All things considered, the D5200 seems like a solid proposal, even if it doesn't have anything very new or exciting to offer.

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