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Covering Every Angle: The Nikon D5200

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Simon Stafford takes a first look at the D5200, the latest DX-format Nikon D-SLR (All pictures courtesy of the Nikon Corporation)

Nikon has been prolific in its introduction of new camera models during 2012, with four FX-format (D4, D800/D800E, and D600) camera models being added to the range; however, the smaller DX-format looked somewhat neglected by comparison, with only the D3200 having been introduced to date. Offering some redress to this situation Nikon has today revealed its latest DX-format D-SLR, the D5200, as a direct replacement to its predecessor, the D5100.

The D5200 has been designed to appeal principally to the dedicated enthusiast who requires a DX-format sensor in a lightweight and compact camera body, for recording both high resolution stills pictures and full HD (1080p) video. The new camera features a 24.1-million (effective) pixel Nikon DX-format (23.5 x 15.6 mm) CMOS sensor, providing a maximum resolution of 6,000 x 4,000 pixels, or put another way at a file resolution of 300 ppi (pixel per inch) the camera can produce a 20 x 13.3 inch (50 x 33 cm) print, essentially A3+ size, without any interpolation. In-camera processing is handled by an Expeed 3 image-processing engine, with a performance similar to that used in high-end models such as the D4 and D800.

The new camera offers everything from fully automated point and shoot photography to complete manual control, with the usual compliment of exposure modes (aperture and shutter priority, programmed-auto, and manual), Auto, Flash cancelled, sixteen dedicated Scene modes, plus a new innovation in the ability to preview in real time a range of seven special effects modes (Selective Colour, Miniature, High and Low Key, Silhouette, Colour Sketch and Night Vision), while the camera is in Live View mode, for either stills photography, or video recording. It retains the same articulating 7.5 cm / 3 inch, 920K dot LCD monitor screen as its predecessor that facilitates viewing from high, low, or difficult angles, when shooting either stills pictures, or video.

Similar to the D3200, the D5200 has a single Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot, which is compatible with Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC) and UHS-1 standards. It also supports wireless connectivity, via the Nikon WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter (requires use of a dedicated Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility application, available free from the Apple App Store, or Google Play), allowing transmission of images to an Apple, or Android smart device, plus a limited degree of remote camera control from a compatible smart device.

The D5200 has a revised appearance to its shooting information display and menu pages to improve clarity, a full range of the now familiar Nikon Picture Controls, an Active D-Lighting feature, built-in High dynamic-range (HDR) feature, and a plethora of in-camera image editing functions, for example, NEF (Raw) processing, cropping, colour/contrast adjustments, and application of special effects.

As you would expect the D5200 is fully compatible with the Nikon Creative Lighting System and external Nikon Speedlight flash units, including the SB-700 and SB-910; however, its built-in Speedlight does not support any command function for remote, wireless control of external Speedlights as part of Nikon's Advanced Wireless Lighting system.

Key features

  • DX-format, 24.1 megapixel CMOS image sensor
  • EXPEED 3 image processing
  • Broad ISO range (100-6,400), extendable to 25,600
  • 39-point AF system with nine cross-type sensors in the centre
  • 2,016 pixel RGB metering sensor
  • Scene Recognition System optimises exposure, autofocus and white balance immediately before the shutter is released
  • Continuous shooting up to 5fps
  • 7.5cm (3.0-in), 921k dot vari-angle LCD monitor screen
  • Compatible with Wireless Mobile Adaptor WU-1a to transmit images from the camera to Apple™ or Android™ smart device and remote shooting
  • Built-in 2-shot High dynamic range (HDR) feature
  • Active D-Lighting
  • Full (1080p) HD video recording
  • Live View contrast-detect autofocus works when recording video, including full-time servo AF for tracking a moving subject
  • In-built stereo-microphone for improved sound quality
  • Updated new generation GUI Design
  • 16 Scene modes: Automatically adjusts camera settings, including Picture Controls and Active D-Lighting, for optimal results.
  • Effects mode - seven effects including Selective Colour and Miniature, which can be applied in pre-shoot, for more creative movies and stills
  • Compatible with WR-R10 Wireless Remote transceiver and WR-T10 Wireless Remote transmitter for remote radio control of key camera functions; offers three separate channels for operation of multiple cameras
  • GPS compatible using the optional GP-1 unit
  • Available in three colours: black, red and bronze
  • Lightweight body (505g) with an intelligent design and superior ergonomics

Sensor

The D5200 features a new DX-format (23.5 x 15.6 mm) CMOS sensor developed by Nikon, with 24.1 million effective pixels, and has a pixel pitch of 5.49-microns. It provides image dimensions of 6,000 x 4,000 pixels at full resolution, with options for 4,496 x 3,000 pixels at the medium setting, and 2,992 x 2,000 pixels at the small setting. The camera offers a normal ISO range of 100 to 6,400, adjustable in 1/3EV steps, plus an extended range equivalent to 0.3, 0.7, 1.0, and 2.0 EV above ISO6400 (ISO 25,600)

Supporting the new sensor is Nikon's third-generation image processing engine, EXPEED 3, which is also used in the D4, D800, D600, and D3200 models. It handles 14-bit analogue-to-digital conversion, followed by 16-bit image processing. Data processing is significantly faster than the EXPEED 2 processing of previous Nikon D-SLR cameras, with enhanced noise reduction algorithms that produce cleaner stills and video files, even at high ISO settings. Image files can be saved in the proprietary Nikon NEF (Raw) as 14-bit compressed, (there is no option to save in 12-bit, or as either lossless compressed, or uncompressed raw files), as well as in the JPEG format, with three levels of compression.

Shutter

The D5200 features a newly designed shutter mechanism, with Kevlar/carbon fibre composite blades, which has been tested to 100,000 cycles. The unit has a shutter speed range of 1/4000 to 30-seconds, with a shutter release lag is 90-milliseconds. Somewhat disappointingly the flash sync is pegged back to just 1/200-second, which is going to frustrate those photographers who use daylight fill-flash frequently. The shutter mechanism has been modified to reduced power drain during Live View and video recording, when the mirror is raised for protracted periods. When shooting stills pictures from Live View, the D5200 keeps the reflex mirror in its raised position, so when the shutter release is pressed the only movement is the operation of the shutter, which helps to eliminate internal camera vibration and thus achieve a sharper image, plus reduces the noise of camera operation.

The camera has a full range of shutter release modes, including single-shot, continuous, self-timer, Quiet-shutter, remote-release, and mirror lock-up. The shutter can cycle at up to a maximum of 5 fps (frames per second), with full AF and auto-exposure operation.

The higher resolution of the D5200 sensor compared with the D5100 (16-megapixel) has resulted in a significant reduction in the buffer memory capacity of the former, which can store only 8 NEF Raw (14-bit, compressed), or 35 JPEG (Large/Fine), whereas the D5100 can manage to save up to 16 NEF Raw (12-bit, compressed), or 100 JPEG (Large/Fine) before reaching the buffer memory capacity.

Metering

The D5200 incorporates a 2,016-pixel RGB sensor for its 3D Color Matrix metering III system (this is exactly the same component as used in the D7000). The metering system is fully integrated with the AF and auto-exposure systems, in what Nikon called their Advanced Scene Recognition System. Unlike metering sensors used by other manufacturers that group pixels into segments, the metering sensor of the D5200 uses each pixel as an individual sampling point, which not only improves scene analysis for increased exposure accuracy but also improves the abilities of the AF system, in particular it subject tracking capabilities, even with subjects that are small within the frame area. This high level of sampling of the scene also enables the D5200 to recognise human faces within the frame and report their location to the AF system, when it is set to Auto-area AF, plus optimise exposure accordingly, even in difficult lighting conditions.

Autofocus System

The Multi-CAM 4800 FX AF module used in the D5200 has been engineered to provide excellent low-light AF performance down to -1EV and, in conjunction with the enhanced Scene Recognition System, improves AF response speed and subject tracking capabilities. The AF system has a total of 39 AF points, with the central cluster of 9 being cross-type sensors sensitive to detail in horizontal and vertical orientations. The user can select a single AF point or configure 9-, 21-, or all 39 AF points, with full AF operation possible with any AF Nikkor lens that has a maximum aperture of f/5.6, or wider; unlike the recently announced D600, the D5200 does not support AF operation down to a maximum lens aperture of f/8.

Given the smaller area of the DX-format the 39 AF points cover a good proportion of the frame, allowing autofocus on off-centre subjects (see diagram). The range of available AF modes for stills photography, using a phase-detection AF system, is the familiar line-up of: AF-S (single-servo), AF-C (continuous-servo, and AF-A (auto-servo). The AF-area modes for stills are likewise the well-established options of: Single-point, Dynamic-area, 3D-tracking, and Auto-area. The options for AF mode and AF-area modes used for the contrast-detection AF system when shooting pictures or video in Live View are the same as the D7000.

Video

Video is now an accepted feature of any D-SLR as the convergence of technologies in the capture of stills and moving images has become increasingly important in D-SLR cameras.

The D5200 offers full HD (1920 x 1080p) resolution with selectable frame rates of 30p/25p/24p, plus for slow motion the camera can record at 60i, or 50i fps. It can also record HD video (1280 x 720p) at 60p and 50p fps, and low-resolution video (640 x 424) at either 30p, or 25p. The D5200 employs H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC compression with B-frame compression, which can use both previous and forward frames for data reference to get the highest amount of data compression. The maximum duration of a video clip is almost 30-minutes (approx 29.59 mins). Similar to the D7000, the D5200 provides manual control of the shutter speed and ISO during video recording, provided the camera is set to its Manual exposure mode; however, the aperture value must be selected before entering Live View. The camera supports AF-F (full-time servo) autofocus when recording video to assist in tracking moving subjects, plus face-priority AF that is optimized for focusing on a human face.

Audio has not been over looked, as in addition to the built-in stereo microphone; there is an external stereo 3.5 mm microphone port, with the camera providing 20 distinct recording levels, plus an auto option. The D5200 provides a visual monitoring of the audio recording level; however there is no audio-out port for connecting a pair of headphones.

Remote Control

The D5200 supports the new Nikon WR-R10 Wireless Remote transceiver and WR-T10 Wireless Remote transmitter that enable remote radio control of key camera functions, and either simultaneous, or separate shutter release of multiple cameras. In addition to the D5200, the WR-R10 and WR-T10 can be used with a variety of different Nikon D-SLR cameras that have a 10-pin remote accessory terminal (D300s, D700, D3s, D3x, D800, D800E, and D4) via the WR-A10 adapter. By using radio signals remote control to be performed over greater distances (at least 20 m / 65 feet), and without the necessary line-of-sight required by an infrared remote control device. These devices, which support three separate radio channels, allow control of autofocus, video recording, plus continuous shooting and quiet shutter release modes, as well as of a specific camera feature allocated to the function button of the WR-T10

Battery & Power Options

The D5200 body can accommodate a single Nikon EN-EL14 (7.0V 1900 mAh) rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, the same battery used by its predecessor, the D5100. Based on CIPA Standards testing it will power the camera for 500 stills pictures, or approximately 60-minutes of video recording. The camera is compatible with the Nikon EH-5B/EP-5A mains AC power (240 -110 V) adapter and power connector accessories.

There has been no announcement of an optional battery pack for the D5200, so it is unlikely that Nikon will offer one in the future.

Summary

The high specification and enhanced feature set of the D5200 are an indication of how camera manufacturers must now design and build D-SLR cameras to differentiate them from models in the increasingly popular 'mirrorless' camera market.

The new camera can be best summed up as a significant upgrade to the D5100.The benefits of the new 24.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, supported by Nikon's latest Expeed 3 image processing regime, should come not just from the higher resolution and improved colour, contrast, and noise characteristics, but also the great scope for cropping images when required, while maintain a good image quality. The 39-point autofocus, Scene Recognition, and 2,016-pixel RGB metering systems inherited directly from the D7000, will make the autofocus capabilities noticeably better than those of its predecessor. This added to the established features, such as the 7.5 cm/3-inch, variable-angle, LCD monitor screen, and broad ISO sensitivity range (100 - 6,400, extendable to 25,600), will make the D5200 a very flexible photographic tool. Of course we will not know for sure how the characteristics of its sensor and Expeed 3 processing will convert into overall image quality until there has been the opportunity to use the camera in real world conditions, but we should not have to wait for very long, as Nikon expect the camera to start shipping to dealers during December 2012.

Camera Specification: Nikon D5100 versus Nikon D5200

Feature Nikon D5100 Nikon D5200
Sensor resolution 16.2 million pixels 24.1 million pixels
Sensor type CMOS CMOS
DX-format 23.6 mm x 15.6 mm 23.5 mm x 15.6 mm
Pixel Pitch 4.78µm 3.85µm
Built-in sensor cleaning Yes Yes
Image size 4,928 x 3,264 6,000 x 4,000
File format NEF (12-bit, compressed), JPEG NEF (14-bit, compressed), JPEG
Image processor EXPEED 2 EXPEED 3
Buffer capacity (approx.) 16 x NEF (Raw) / 100x JPEG (Large/Fine) 8 x NEF (Raw) / 35x JPEG (Large/Fine)
Viewfinder type Eye-level pentamirror Eye-level pentamirror
Viewfinder coverage 95% vertical / 95% horizontal 95% vertical / 95% horizontal
Magnification 0.78x (approx) 0.78x (approx)
Eye point 17.9 mm 17.9 mm
LCD Monitor 7.5 cm/ 3-inch 921K-dot vari-angle LCD, 100% frame coverage 7.5 cm/ 3-inch 921K-dot vari-angle LCD, 100% frame coverage
Built-in flash Yes Yes
Guide Number 12/39, 13/43 annual flash (m/ft, ISO100) 12/39, 13/43 annual flash (m/ft, ISO100)
Flash sync-speed 1/200 s 1/200 s
Sync terminal No (use AS-15 adapter, optional) No (use AS-15 adapter, optional)
Storage media 1x SD, SDHC, SDXC 1x SD, SDHC, SDXC
Max frame rate 4 frames per second 5 frames per second
Shutter speeds 1/4,000 sec - 30 s, bulb, Time 1/4,000 sec - 30 s, bulb, Time
Exposure metering TTL metering / 420-pixel RGB sensor TTL metering / 2,016-pixel RGB sensor
Metering patterns 3D Matrix, centre-weighted, spot 3D Matrix, centre-weighted, spot
Exposure modes P, S, A, M, Auto, Scene modes P, S, A, M, Auto, Scene modes
Exposure compensation -5 to +5 EV (0.3, or 0.5 EV steps) 5 to +5 EV (0.3, or 0.5 EV steps)
Special Effects modes Yes Yes (plus real-time in Live View stills and video)
Base ISO ISO 100 ISO 100
Normal ISO range ISO 100-6,400 ISO 100-6,400
Extended ISO range ISO 25,600 ISO 25,600
Autofocus system (phase-detect) Multi-CAM 1000 Multi-CAM 4800DX
AF points 11 points (1 cross-type) 39 points (9 cross-type)
Video Yes Yes
Max video clip duration 20 minutes 20 minutes 59 seconds
Max video resolution 1920×1080 @ 30p, 25p, 24p 1920×1080 @ 30p, 25p, 25p, 50i, 60i
Video compression H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
Audio recording Built-in monaural microphone; sensitivity adjustable

Optional external ME-1 stereo microphone
Built-in stereo microphone; sensitivity adjustable

Optional external ME-1 stereo microphone
Built-in GPS No No
GPS (optional) GP-1 GP-1
Wired remote (optional) MC-DC2 MC-DC2
Wireless remote (optional) ML-L3 (infrared) WR-R10 / WR-T10 (radio)
Wi-Fi Support N/A WU-1A
Battery EN-EL14 Lithium-ion Battery EN-EL14 Lithium-ion Battery
Battery capacity 660 shots (CIPA) 500 shots (CIPA)
Battery charger MH-24 Battery Charger MH-24 Battery Charger
USB interface 2.0 2.0
Weight (Body Only) 510 g (18 oz.) 505 g (17.8 oz.)
Dimensions 128 x 97 x 79 mm 129 x 98 x 78 mm

RRP:

Body only: £719.99 / €899.00

Body & 18-55mm VR lens: £819.99 / €1029.00

Sales start date: December 2012

© Simon Stafford

November 2012

Posted on: Wednesday 7 November 2012

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