PROS / An articulating LCD screen facilitates shooting at any angle.
CONS / Battery life is below average.
VERDICT / The Nikon D5200 offers a good price, exceptional image quality and a fully articulating LCD screen. It's an excellent choice for a beginner DLSR.
Nikon has been at the forefront of DSLR manufacturing for quite some time and has garnered a good reputation as a camera maker. With outstanding product support and a large number of compatible accessories and lenses, Nikon is a good choice for a beginner DSLR. The D5200 offers excellent image quality, user-friendly features and an attractive price. For these reasons, it's one of Nikon's best entry-level DSLRs and our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award winner.
Image quality in cameras typically depends on a camera's sensor quality and size, as well as the quality of the lens you have attached. Because most entry-level DSLRs feature a sensor that is APS-C sized and similar kit lenses, it often comes down to performance testing for dynamic range, low-light performance and color depth to determine which cameras perform best.
If you've ever taken a photograph of a sunrise or sunset, you know that it can be difficult to properly expose a shadowy foreground without losing details of the bright sky. Dynamic range refers to the camera's ability to capture a wide range of information, from the brightest to the darkest parts of a photo.
Dynamic range is measured in exposure values. Anything over 12 EVs is considered excellent. The D5200 leads the entry-level category in dynamic range with a DxOMark score of 13.9 EVs.
Oftentimes, getting the right shot in low light comes down to the ISO sensitivity of your sensor. Setting the ISO to a higher number, like 1600, makes photos brighter but also adds noise to your images. According to DxOMark testing, the D5200 can produce quality images all the way up to ISO 1284. This allows you to shoot at high shutter speeds or in low light without having to sacrifice image quality.
When shooting in controlled lighting environments, color depth becomes the most important measurement. Color depth denotes a camera's ability to differentiate subtle changes in color. With a DxOMark color depth score of 24.2 bits, the D5200 delivers best-in-class color depth. This makes for true-to-life portraits with great color rendition.
The D5200 also boasts robust video capabilities. You can shoot at a variety of resolutions like 1080p, 1080i, 720p and 424p. Its highest frame-rate setting is 60 frames per second, which can only be captured in 1080i or 720p. Whether or not you plan to capture a lot of video with your camera, these options provide a lot of versatility for an entry-level DSLR.
Entry-level DSLRs are designed to facilitate manual exposure controls, but if you're more comfortable shooting on auto, the D5200 has 16 scene modes that help you produce well-composed images in any situation.
This camera doesn't feature built-in Wi-Fi, but Nikon offers a Wi-Fi adapter that allows you to access and control your camera remotely. It does, however, sport a built-in GPS that can automatically tag all of your photos with geographic information.
Battery life in the best beginner DSLRs typically spans from between 500 and 700 shots per charge. While its battery life isn't terrible at 500 shots, it's at the low end of the range.
The body of the D5200 is well designed and easy to use. All of the controls are well within reach, including the manual settings. Unlike some of its competition, it features a small AF illuminator lamp, which helps when autofocusing in low light.
It also features a convenient 3-inch articulating LCD screen. When using live-view mode, the LCD becomes a viewfinder. It's incredibly useful to tilt the screen when framing shots from awkward positions.
Support from Nikon is extensive. All of Nikon's cameras are covered by a one-year warranty. The company website is home to helpful information from user manuals and how-tos, to troubleshooting tips and specification lists. If you fail to find answers to your questions on the site, you can contact Nikon representatives via phone or email.
For a fully featured, entry-level DSLR, the Nikon D5200 is one of the most cost-effective options out there. Excellent image quality and convenient features, like an articulating LCD screen, make it rewarding to shoot with. Whether you're a casual shooter or a budding photographer, the D5200 grants you the tools you need to consistently capture great images.