After the development of high-end models during the start of the last year, Nikon spent the other half of the year (and the beginning of 2013.) developing new entry and mid-level models. New generation of presented models consists of the D3200 model at the lower-entry level, D5200 at the mid-entry level, and D7100 model in high-entry level. The models have a much greater number of megapixels, presenting new and specific 24-megapixels sensors for each model.
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Today we’ll pay attention to the middle model of this group, Nikon D5200, which is a good choice, both for beginners as well as for advanced amateurs, who, aside from the high-quality photos, want quality recordings in FullHD resolution. Inside the chassis of the same dimensions as its predecessor, Nikon put the completely new 24 MP processor, with advanced AF mechanism with 39 points and with 3D-tracking support, face detection and object-tracking in Live View mode. Sensor also has 2016-pixel RGB lighting sensor, while new and fast EXPEED 3 processor is in charge for signal processing. Widened ISO span of 100 to 25600 will certainly make the work easier in bad lighting situations, while recording FullHd videos in 25p, but as well as 50i and 60i with stereo sound, will be a pleasure to all videophiles.

D5200 comes in three colors: matte black, glossy red and brown, and weighs only 10g more compared to its predecessor. Along with D4200, WR-T10 wireless adapter and remote controller was presented, with much bigger range (up to 60m) when compared to traditional infrared controllers.

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 The chassis, inherited from the D5100 predecessor, is of solid make, and despite it being made of plastic, gives a sense of sturdiness without cracking sounds and with secure weight in your hands. In comparison with the predecessor, the new additions are slight changing of the lines and curves and implementing a stereo microphone on the top of the device and a mode selection button right next to the trigger. The camera itself is pleasant to hold, gives a good support, quality grip and has a nice resting place for the thumb on the back side of the chassis. What can come as a surprise to users of DSLR cameras are two color models which don’t have the traditional rough matte finish of cameras, in favor of more attractive, polished metallic finish which definitely gives a strange feeling while held, luckily, the grips are also made out of high-quality rubberized plastic.

Button layout on the chassis varies between the logical solution and a really weird layout on the back panel. Like the other Nikon DSLR cameras, on the right side of the lens, there are three familiar buttons - for unlocking the lens, flash activation and control and multi-purpose Fn button. Fn button can be set to function as many different buttons, but the most useful option is setting ISO values due to lack of a button for setting it. On the upper surface there’s a mode selection wheel, around which are ergonomically placed four additional buttons – video recording button (of course, only in Live view mode), exposure compensation, info button which shuts down the LCD screen and mode selection button for taking pictures – a novelty on this model – which enables the choice of recording mode – single, burst, bracketing, timer, remote (with or without the timer) and silent mode (quiet shutter release) which will slow down the ascending and descending of the mirrors, which enables a more silent use, without vibration but at the expense of increased delay time (lag). Mode selection wheel has “PASM” mode, smart mode, specific scenery mode and a mode for applying different artistic effects. On the right side of this wheel, there’s a lever which turns on the Live View.

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The main feature of the back side of this camera is the LCD screen with a 3-inch diagonal of high resolution (921.000 pixels), around which there are the usual DSLR controls of the camera, even though on non-standard positions. Menu button and fast settings button are moved the most, on the left and right side of the lens. Button for exposure lock and focus, as well as the mode selection wheel are located next to the thumb grip. Around the cursor button are buttons for reproduction, zoom in and out, as well as a button for deleting the photos. The cursor button itself is of standard four-button configuration with an additional “OK” button in the middle, but unfortunately, unlike the most competition, Nikon still doesn’t believes that this button should have the functionality of a wheel. Basic interface of the LCD screen was improved graphically considerably and shows all relevant information during use. You can access fast settings while pressing the “i” button, while menu button will bring you to Nikon’s standard structure for menu settings. A great addition is the existence of “recent” or “my menu” menus that in the former case contain a list of all settings you’ve accessed, while the latter enables you to make your own list of most frequently used options.

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In use

The main advantage of Nikon D5200 is that it introduces in the amateur class the advanced Multi-CAM 4800 DX autofocus that was previously used by its big brother D700. This autofocus enables the focusing in 39 points (as opposed to 11 on D5100) on a much larger cadre surface. There’s also 3D tracking of objects in three dimensions and position-prediction during taking the shot. Other focusing modes include – AF in one point, automatic focus on the surface (9, 21 and all of 39 points), while use can be defined as automatic AF-A, continual AF-C, single AF-S and manual focus MF.

Switching to the Live View mode, the camera uses contrast AF module, which, aided by the aforementioned EXPEED 3 processor, enables tracking and focusing of faces, as well as tracking the selected objects which will continue to track and focus said object after selecting the point and pressing the OK button.

New lighting sensor on the other side enables accurate measuring of the lighting and presents a choice of environments for automatic adjustment, although if you want to only just slightly change the exposure, you have at your disposal an impressive range of ±5 EV. Very good news is that Nikon gave up on the idea of arbitrarly limitation of recording in bracket mode, so D5200 enables the recording of up to three videos of up to ±2 EV.

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Recording with effects mode has the same creative effects as its predecessor, such as – Color Sketch, Miniature Effect, Selective Color, Silhouette, High Key, Low Key and Night Vision, which, in theory raises the ISO sensitivity up to 102.400. Although, we have to say that Live View display is lagging quite a bit during effects application.

Video recording mode enables the recording in FullHD resolution in MOV format with H.264/MPEG-4 compression. It should be noted that microphones will also record the sound of focus motor of the kit lens, which we didn't like at all.

Nikon D5200 
Effective resolution 24 MP APS-C (23.5x15.6 mm) CMOS
Max picture size 6000x4000 pix
Max video resolution 1920x1080 pix(60-24 fps), 1280x720 pix(60, 50 fps), 640x424 pix(30, 25 fps)
ISO Auto, 100 - 6400 (25600 with boost option)
Exposition 30-1/4000 s
Lens Nikkor 18-55 VR kit lens
Flash Pop-up
Display 3.0″ articulated LCD display, 921,000 pix
Dimensions 129 x 98 x 78 mm
Weight (no battery) 555 g
Price US$ 700

It's important to note that, if you plan on uprgrading from some of the D5200's predecessors – new 24 MP sensor will potentially exceed the maximums that your additional equipment can support. On the one hand, kit lens which is also supplied in the package (and which many amateurs already have) is a versatile and cheap lens, but in order to achieve maximum details and sharpness which new sensor enables, you have to get better optics. The other, fortunately, smaller problem is that the new sensor creates large files, which, especially in Live View mode, take a long time to bi transferred from buffer on SD card, so purchase of a high-speed SD card is recommended.
d5200 rd 18 55 frt34l-sD5200 is definitely one of the best choices for amateur DSLR cameras under US$ 1000. Improvements in comparisson with its predecessor – especially the new 24 MP sensor and advanced AF module definitely shorten the gap between amateur and semi-pro groups of camera (D700), so this model, even though it has a few flaws, definitely deserves our reccomendation.