Nikon D5200 Review

4.5
January 14, 2013 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 24 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 8Mb.

The Nikon D5200 produced images of excellent quality during the review period. The D5200 produces noise-free JPEG images at ISO 100-1600, with ISO 3200 also looking pretty good. ISO 6400 only shows a little noise, while the fastest settings of ISO 12800 and 25600 are quite a lot noisier and suffer from softening of fine detail and a loss of saturation, but the images are still perfectly usable for small prints and resizing for web use.

The images were a little soft straight out of the D5200 at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting for JPEG files. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds and bulb mode allowing you to capture plenty of light. Red-eye was not a common occurrence with the built-in flash, and when we did encounter it, it was very moderate and easily cured by setting the flash to red-eye reduction mode.

Active D-lighting managed to squeeze most of the dynamic range captured by the sensor into the JPEGs the camera produced, while the HDR mode greatly expands the dynamic range by combining two shots taken at different exposures. The Picture Styles and creative Effects help to get more out of your JPEG images.

Noise

There are 9 ISO settings available on the Nikon D5200 and the ISO speed can be adjusted in 1/3 EV increments. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting, with JPEG on the left and RAW on the right.

The Nikon D5200 also has ISO Sensitivity Auto Control, activated from the shooting menu. If set to On, the camera will automatically adjust the sensitivity if proper exposure cannot be achieved at the value chosen by the photographer. The user can put a limit on the maximum sensitivity selectable by the camera.

JPEG

RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The file quality settings available on the D5200 include Basic, Normal and Fine for JPEGs, plus you can also store your photos in Nikon's proprietary raw format (NEF).  Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Fine (8.94Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (6.38Mb) (100% Crop)

   

Basic (2.11Mb) (100% Crop)

RAW (24.4Mb) (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes by changing the Picture Styles.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Flash

The pop-up flash on the D5200 has several settings including Auto, Fill-in flash, Red-eye Reduction, SlowSync, Red-eye Reduction with Slow Sync, Rear-curtain Sync and Off. These snaps of a white wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m using the kit zoom.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (82.5mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (82.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. The built-in speedlight caused no red-eye effect in this test.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Nikon D5200 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. There is an optional long-exposure noise reduction function that can be activated to filter out any hot pixels that may appear when extremely slow shutter speeds are used. Do note that this works by way of dark frame subtraction, which effectively doubles the exposure time. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 15 seconds, aperture of f/8 at the ISO 100 sensitivity setting. We've included a 100% crop for you to see what the quality is like.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation

The Nikon D5200 does not offer body-integral image stabilisation, but the kit lens bundled with the camera features Vibration Reduction, Nikon's proprietary lens-based optical stabilisation system. This allows you to take sharp hand-held photos at slower shutter speeds than with lenses that lack this function. To illustrate this, we took two photos at both ends of the zoom, with VR turned on and off. At a shutter speed of 1/3 second - which is very slow for hand-holding - the photo taken with VR was still commendably sharp, but the one without VR was decidedly blurred, as the 100% crops below clearly show.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Image Stabilisation Off (100% Crop)

Image Stabilisation On (100% Crop)

1/3 sec / 27mm
     
1/3 sec / 82.5mm

D-lighting

D-lighting is Nikon's dynamic range optimisation tool that attempts to squeeze the full dynamic range of the sensor into JPEGs. The available settings are Off, Low, Medium, High, Extra High and Auto. The following examples demonstrate the differences between the various settings.

D-lighting - Off

D-lighting - Low

   

D-lighting - Medium

D-lighting - High

   

D-lighting - Extra High

 
 

HDR

The Nikon D5200 has a HDR mode with four levels of manual exposure and an Auto setting. The camera only combines two shots, one under and one over exposed, to produce the final image, and it's only available when shooting JPEGs.

HDR - Off

HDR - Low

   

HDR - Normal

HDR - High

   

HDR - Extra High

 
 

Picture Controls

Nikon's Picture Controls are akin to Canon's Picture Styles in being preset combinations of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. The available choices are Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape. The following examples demonstrate the differences across these options.

Standard

Neutral

   

Vivid

Monochrome

   

Portrait

Landscape

Effects

New to the Nikon DSLR range is the Effects shooting mode. This provides 7 different creative filters that can be applied to both still images and movies.

Color Sketch

Miniature Effect

   

Selective Color

Silhouette

   

High Key

Low Key

   

Night Vision

 
 

Entry Tags

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