The Nikon D5200 seems to be a unique combination of features of earlier Nikon models. Housed inside the body of a D5100 is a high-resolution 24.1MP image sensor from the D3200; the auto-focus 39-point system module from the D7000; and the Expeed 3 image processing engine from the professional grade D4. Thus you can expect exceptionally good image quality  from this camera even at higher ISO.

A DSLR enthusiasts would love to own

A DSLR enthusiast would love to own

Features and design

The Nikon D5200 reportedly uses an APS-C image sensor manufactured by Toshiba, as opposed to the traditional APS-C image sensor manufactured by Sony. As with all non-full frame Nikon cameras, this camera also has a crop factor of 1.5x.

Intuitive user interface

Intuitive user interface

The placement of the dials is similar to most Nikon models. This brings a comfortable level of familiarity to its various modes of operation for any Nikon user. The mode dial button is placed on the top, to the right of the in-built flash. The live mode switch sits below this dial. The release mode, where you can select single, continuous, low or high number of frames, is further to its right. This switch also allows you to set the self timer, the usage of delayed and quick response remotes and the quiet shutter release mode. However, we did not find the “quiet shutter release” particularly quiet.

Control panel and memory card reader

Control panel and memory card reader

Towards the right of the camera grip is the memory card slot, which supports SD, SDHC, SDXC cards. Towards the left side of the camera are the accessory terminals and ports for USB, A/V and the wireless adapters (optional accessories). The Wireless Mobile Adapter WU-1a allows transferring images wirelessly to smartphones and tablets. Also available are WR-R10 (transceiver) and WR-T10 (transmitter) using which the camera can be controlled remotely from larger distances and even through obstacles, unlike IR remote control. We wish these features were integrated in the camera.

The exposure triangle (Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO) are conveniently displayed as three circles on the monitor as soon as you switch on the camera. The maximum burst speed is 5 fps. We liked the way the monitor displays the aperture expanding and contracting when adjusted. The ISO doubles as the mode dial button when rotated.

Mode dial and plenty of external controls

Mode dial and plenty of external controls

The D5200 is one of the few DSLRs to have stereo microphones and speakers in its segment. They are placed on top of the camera, in front of the hot-shoe for the external flash. The flash unit (external and internal) synchronises to 1/200 of a second, which is standard for most Nikon cameras. The rear curtain and front curtain modes create interesting shots for fast moving objects. Rear curtain creates light trails behind any light emitting object (such as tail lights of vehicles), since the flash fires just when the shutter is about to close, whereas the front curtain sync happens when the shutter opens, so the flash illuminates the moving object at the beginning.

Like the Nikon D3100, this camera too has a Live View mode. As with most cameras in this category, there was a time lag in Live View mode; it was definitely much lesser than the D90, though. The Live View also allows you to zoom into the frame to check for sharpness in the selected area.

Fully-articulating display makes shooting from odd angles easy

Fully-articulating display makes shooting from odd angles easy

The monitor at the back is of the fully-articulating type that can be swiveled and rotated up to 180 degrees—handy for shooting self-portraits, bug’s eye-level shots of pets and babies or shots with camera held above the head (like in a crowded discotheque). 

The Time Interval mode is useful if you want to record the activities in an area over a long period of time. The interval can be set anywhere between 1 second to 24 hours.  The shots can then be used to create time-lapse videos or HDR photos. 

The D5200 can record videos at full HD, though we wouldn’t recommend shooting using some of the effect modes enabled. In video recording mode, you can see the crop indicators, which helps determining the composition to the dot. The Live View display indicates information such as remaining recording time, sound level, focus point and over/under exposure. The sensitivity of the microphone can be adjusted and high levels are indicated in red.

Build quality and ergonomics

The camera is pretty lightweight at about 550 grams and fits very snugly in your hand. With the dials and buttons within easy access of your fingers, it is very easy to operate. However, one has to be careful with the monitor, especially if he has a tendency to just drop the camera into the bag without remembering to flip it closed. Given its size, it is very convenient to carry around in a small camera bag.

Performance

The D5200 has a reasonably exceptional performance in image reproduction. We used this camera in a studio setup and shot at ISO between 100 to Hi-2. As you can clearly see, the camera performs very well even at the highest ISO level at Hi-2 mode (equivalent to ISO 25600). The noise is extremely well-controlled at up to ISO 3200. Check the image sharpness, noise performance and colour reproduction in these shots of the test setup (click on the images for full view).

ISO 200 - 100 percent crop

ISO 200 – 100 percent crop

ISO 800 - 100 percent crop

ISO 800 – 100 percent crop

ISO 3200 - 100 percent crop

ISO 3200 – 100 percent crop

ISO Hi2 - 100 percent crop

ISO Hi2 – 100 percent crop

ISO Hi2 re-scaled to 1280x720. Looks good, doesn't it?

ISO Hi2 re-scaled to 1280 x 720. Looks good, doesn't it?

There are some excellent filters packaged into this mid-sized camera, one of them being Selective Color. Here you can select the colour you wish, with the option to increase or decrease the strength of the colour. Miniature, Color Sketch, High Key, Low Key, Silhouette and Night Vision are some of the other effects. Night Vision shoots photos in monochrome, and we found the results too grainy.

Sample shots

The D5200 is excellent at capturing light and shadow details

The D5200 is excellent at capturing light and shadow details

Very good highlights and shadows

Very good highlights and shadows

Punchy colours and crisp details straight out of the camera

Punchy colours and crisp details straight out of the camera

Shot using Selective Colour filter

Shot using Selective Colour filter

Light trails shot at slow shutter speed

Light trails shot at slow shutter speed

Verdict and price in India

At an MRP of Rs 46,950, the Nikon D5200 is definitely a worthy consideration for enthusiasts—it’s ideal for someone walking up the path to becoming a professional photographer. If you own a Nikon D5100 and are looking to upgrade to a higher-end model, rest assured this camera won’t let you down. You can opt only for the body, which costs Rs 41,450, if you already have multiple lenses or don’t need the stock 18-55 mm lens (NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR).

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