19/02/2013 18:00 | By Rob Clymo, contributor, MSN Tech

Nikon D5200 review

See how Nikon's mid-range DSLR snapper earnt itself a 5 star review

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What is it? The Nikon D5200 is a megapixel-popping mid-range DSLR that makes the perfect place to start for aspiring enthusiast photographers.

Whats great? The 39-point autofocus, all-new 24-megapixel sensor and zippy Expeed 3 processor combination makes it a perky performer while the fiery red model adds a touch of flair.

Whats not? The D5200 lacks the increasingly expected touchscreen functionality of some rivals and is also missing built-in wireless functionality, both of which are increasingly being demanded.

The bottom line: The Nikon D5200 is an extremely likeable DSLR, with a compact but stylish design and oozes plenty of potential for producing great shots. There are rivals, and some features are missing, but anyone keen to take their photography to the next level will find it very appealing.

Nikon D5200 review on MSN Tech (© Nikon)

Nikon D5200: Review

If you're planning to bite the bullet and move on up to a fully-fledged DSLR camera and ditch your compact once and for all, then the new Nikon D5200 makes a great place to start. You get many of the features, plus impressive performance, that higher-end DSLRs offer, but at a lower price. The D5200 is also pretty petite compared to some of its bigger relatives, so you get the chance to boost your photographic skillset without busting a gut lugging it around.

Nikon always has Canon to worry about when people are looking to buy however, and in this case, the rather good Canon EOS 650D is a comparable model to check out before you part with the readies, and in some ways offers quite a few more features too. Similarly, Fuji's funky X-E1 is an obvious rival, as is the often-overlooked Pentax K-5 II, both of which carry similar price tags. Meanwhile, the D5100, also from Nikon, is one other cheaper option to look at.

Nikon D5200: Design

Anyone who is tired of the conventional black finish found on many DSLRs might well warm to the brash red option that's available for the D5200, while there's a little less flash bronze-looking variation on the theme that doesn't score quite so highly.

See also: Sony NEX-3N review

Whatever your colour preference, the D5200 is easily spotted as a Nikon, with a slick and stylish design that is relatively minimalist in terms of the buttons and bits that you have to master on a DSLR. It also has a doppelganger in the aforementioned older and slightly heavier Nikon D5100, with many of the same design characteristics. And, in that respect, it makes quite a good place to start if you're a newcomer to the additional power of these cameras. Also a boon, if you're looking for additional ease of use, is the vari-angle rear screen. This is particularly great if you like to try out unusual angles during your photographic forays.

Nikon D5200: External features

The D5200 certainly feels nicely put together, and anyone familiar with Nikon will spot many familiar features. If you haven't worked with a camera like this before then the bonus is that on the exterior there's not actually that much to get your head around. At the back, there's that 3-inch vari-angle screen, which gives you access to all of the menu options inside, all of which are nicely delivered in a simplistic and user-friendly way that Nikon always does so well. Also cool are the virtual on-screen dials that display shutter, aperture and ISO settings, making a refreshing change from the more traditional list-style options.

There's no doubt that a touchscreen would have perhaps been an additional plus point though, but working your way through the options using the rear-mounted controls is easy enough all the same, and the zesty new interface is great on the eyes. Of course, the D5200 also allows you to enter the world of changeable lenses, so you can plump for an out of the box kit option, or add on optics suited to all manner of shooting occasions as and when your budget allows.

Switching lenses on the front of the camera is child's play and can be done momentarily, which is a real boon if you're keen to move from landscape to macro and then back again in fairly quick succession. We also like the chunky rubber finger grips built into the body of the Nikon, which is vital when you need to get extra purchase on your pride and joy as you scramble across muddy fields or cling to craggy hillsides.

Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200: Internal features

At the core of this particular Nikon is the 24-megapixel sensor and brand new Expeed 3 processor, which enables you to push the D5200 along very nicely indeed. The ISO range of 100-6400 makes the camera good for most situations. Although Wi-Fi capability doesn't come built-in, there is an optional accessory that you can purchase for about fifty quid that allows you to hook the D5200 to your smartphone and/or other cable-free gadgets and gizmos.

There are a variety of special effects to choose from, some of which are better than others, plus an HDR option for anyone interested in trying this interesting area of image manipulation in-camera. Annoyingly, however, the effects only work in the JPEG file format and not the higher-quality RAW. Not a big deal, but little things like this can tend to become irritating, especially when you've just shelled out a lot of money for your shiny new toy.

HD video capture is on hand and there are two stereo microphones on-board, but this feature doesn't seem to work quite as well as the option on comparable Canon models, so if its a vital item on your shopping list you may be advised to look elsewhere.

Nikon D5200: Performance

You'll find plenty to keep you happy in terms of the performance characteristics packed into the D5200, including that 39-point autofocus and the same metering and AF systems that you get on the more advanced Nikon D7000. It's worth noting though that if you baulk at the outlay for the D5200, then a good cheaper option with similarly zesty performance is the Nikon D3200, which actually sports the same pixel count. However, once you start putting it through its paces, the D5200 really shines just as long as you don't push your luck with the higher-end ISO settings.

Keen photography enthusiasts might lament of the lack of a more comprehensive external control set, but for the novice who's just getting started, this particular Nikon is a blast. We found the fact that you can shoot in both RAW and JPEG formats, and that you can shoot continuously up to a maximum of 5 frames per second means that the D5200 is pretty handy for action and sports-style photography.

Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200: Verdict

We love the simplistic charm of the D5200 but, make no mistake, Nikon is up against it having produced a DSLR that could be bypassed by those who require more sophisticated features, such as the touchscreen functionality of the Canon EOS 650D. Similarly, many of the new compact system cameras are packing just as much of a punch as the D5200, while also offering more advanced user functionality into the bargain.

Nevertheless, if you just want to get out there with a couple of lenses and dip your toes into the world of DSLR photography, then this loveable little Nikon is a great place to start. It's been very well nailed together, the new menu interface is easy on the eyes and, ultimately, the D5200 produces excellent images thanks to that impressive technical specification.

5 stars

Nikon D5200: Available now - £720 body only £820 with 18-55 VR kit lens

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