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Review Nikon D7200

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D7200: for pro(-sumer) & ambitious amateurs

The Nikon D7200 is the newest top-end APS-C camera from Nikon, with a new 24 megapixel sensor without low-pass filter, a larger buffer for series shots and built-in WiFi (NFC). Externally, the D7200 strongly resembles the D7100. It's a camera built like a brick, well-sealed against the elements and simply suited for heavy semi-professional use. Everything you want is on it, perhaps with the only exception being built-in GPS.

D7200front

 APS-C (DX) or go to Full-Frame (FX)?

Do I choose a camera with an APS-C (in Nikon terminology: DX) sensor or a more expensive, larger and heavier camera with a one-and-a-half-times-larger full-frame (FX) sensor? Many photographers wrestle with that question. Full-frame equipment is in general more solid, bigger and heavier. That applies both to the bodies and to the lenses. It is also significantly more expensive! For a body plus 2-3 lenses, count on paying two to three times as many euros. Full-frame has more pixels, and those pixels are also larger, so that the image quality and the noise performance is in general better, and the ISO range is larger. For DX, there are fewer wide-angle lenses available than for FX, and no ultra-wide angles at all with a fixed focal length. FX lenses do fit on DX bodies, but not the other way around. And you get a 1.5x telephoto effect for free, which is really great for nature photography. Because with an FX lens on a DX body, you do not use the corners, you eliminate edge flaws. A moderate FX lens can become a good DX lens this way. Don't expect that you can use such a lens if you later switch to FX, since then the results will be disappointing.

DX bodies have, in our opinion, improved relatively more in the past years than FX bodies, so that the performance of the two systems have become more similar. Those who seldom or never print shots at A2 or larger can work very well with a top-end DX body like this Nikon D7200. In that case, do buy good lenses as well!

koers3 web

Shot with 1/2000 at f/11. Due to the high frame rate, the D7200 is outstandingly suited for this kind of photography.

 

D7200 vs D7100: a bit faster and more shots

The D7200, as we wrote in the introduction, does not differ at all in appearance and internally on parts from the D7100. The number of pixels of the D7200 is no different than that of the D7100 (6000 x 4000). Even so, the sensor is different; as they say, the D7200 has a Sony sensor, and the D7100 has a Toshiba sensor. Nikon does not confirm that, and in order to be sure, you would have to destroy the camera. The D7200 has no low-pass/anti-alias filter anymore. We witnessed years ago that such a thing is really unnecessary with the large numbers of pixels used today. In theory, you could have trouble with moiré effects, but in practice shots, that seldom occurs. Both Nikons include Capture NX software for free, and Lightroom or Photoshop can simply handle any moiré, if that should be needed.

The most important update is perhaps the built-in WiFi and NFC connection with which you can make a connection with a smartphone.

D7200zijkant

You can operate the body remotely (within certain limits). Furthermore, the internal storage buffer is larger. The D7200 is 20% faster than the D7100 (6.2 frames per second in JPEG, 5.3 in 14-bit RAW), but due to the larger buffer, you can now shoot 25 JPEGs large/fine in succession, and 11 RAWs. That is a significant improvement, since series shots in the continuous setting of less than one second (as with the D7100) are often rather pointless. The processing of a full butter also takes time: more than a minute and a half was not unusual.

In our tests, we got the following results for images per second and number of shots to a full buffer:

  • JPEG basic 6.2 fps, 59 shots
  • JPEG Large/Fine 6.2 fps, 25 shots
  • 14-bit RAW (NEF) 5.3 fps, 11 shots
  • 12-bit RAW (NEF) 4800x3200 pixels, 6.1 fps, 16 shots
  • D7100 14 bits RAW: 6 fps, 6 shots

Nikon D7200 versus Canon 70D

 zwaan web

Nikon D7200 with Nikon 18-105 mm lens @ 18 mm, 1/2000 seconds at f/8

In terms of specifications, the Canon 70D comes very close to the D7200. It is just as fast and has the same size buffer; it also has WiFi and full-HD video, and nearly the same ISO range. The 70D has just one card slot and fewer pixels (20 MP), but has a tilting LCD screen. For Live-View photography, that's a big advantage, especially because the field of view of such a screen is rather limited. That screen on the Canon is also a touchscreen. Modern users love that, since they are not used to anything else with their smartphones. Canon also has a hybrid, "dual-pixel" focusing system, with which focusing is done during filming on the basis of "left-looking" and "right-looking" pixels.

Build and operation

The Nikon D7200 has a very solid body in which there is a great deal of light metal used. It has a fixed, not rotating or tilting, 3" LCD screen. It is (still) the only APS-C camera from Nikon with a focus motor in the body, you can also use older lenses without AF-S. The electrical connections (and there are quite a few) are tidily concealed behind rubber covers. There are two SD card slots. The operation is done with two settings discs. We do not find Nikon menus to be super-handy; you have to scroll too much. The camera has buttons on the front, the top and the back. The rotating knob on the top of the body is secured against unintended turning. If you want to choose another setting, then you have to simultaneously turn the safeguard and the knob. That is not always really handy.
Of course there is Live-View; you choose photo or film with a switch. For filming, there is a separate release button. There is a connection for an optional external grip with extra batteries, but the built-in EN-EL 15 battery pack, which is also used in the D800, has enormous capacity. According to the specifications, it's good for more than 1000 shots in the D7200. That seems to us to be enough! The camera has a built-in flash. You can use it as a 'regular' flash; the shortest synchronization is 1/250 of a second, but you can also use it to drive external flashes via the Nikon CVS system.

Further, everything you could want in terms of options and possibilities is on it, and we are not going to discuss them all. Only built-in GPS is missing. According to Nikon, it is often requested but seldom used.

 

Perfect image quality

The Nikon D7200 is equipped with a 24 megapixel APS-C / DX sensor without moiré filter, which delivers a performance that comes very close to that of the Nikon D5300 and D7100, which are also equipped with a 24 megapixel sensor. Where image quality is concerned, it's a neck-and-neck race. They are all three state of the art.

Auto focus

One difference between the Nikon D7200 and its predecessor is a somewhat improved auto focus module; the improvement is in the light sensitivity. Where the 7100 could focus at a light value of -2, the D7200 does that at -3 LW. In order to put this in the right perspective: that corresponds with a shutter time of 1/80 of a second at f/1.4 and ISO 25,600. Then you really can't see your hand in front of your face. The camera is more sensitive than the human eye.

The auto focus is not only light sensitive, it is also fast: with AF-S lenses, you really don't notice that you're focusing. There is a whole arsenal of AF options. For photographers of a bike race, we used the 3D setting; the camera then follows, on the basis of color information, the subject on which you initially focus. The shot shown here is from a series of 15, whereby the camera kept following the green helmet of one of the racers, who covered more than 25 meters between the first and the last shot.

For the techno-freaks: the camera has a fine setting with which you, by lens, can correct for possible front-focus/back-focus problems.

koers0 web klein

ISO and noise

The ISO range of this camera runs up to 25,600; those are real ISOs, not high settings. The noise is then still quite acceptable, even without engaging noise reduction (see the shot shown here). Above that, there are 2 high settings, but those produce exclusively black-and-white pictures! Given that shots in the high settings are typically useless due to the color noise and color shift (both for Nikon and for other brands), we don't think this is such a terrible choice. The noise performance of the D7200 is a bit better than that of the D7100.

siemensster web klein

Resolution and dynamic range

 

The resolution of the D7200 sensor is, as long as it's provided with a high-quality lens, very good. We used both the Nikon 18-105 mm and the Nikon 55-200 mm zooms in the practice test. The first gave the best-looking results. For the Nikon D7200, a Nikon 70-200 mm f/4 or a Nikon 80-400 mm seem to use to be better choices than the Nikon 55-200 mm.

The dynamic range (the rendering of the black and white parts in a contrast-rich subject) might be the same. The photos shown above of the peloton in that bike race I mentioned give an indication. There is hard back lighting and nonetheless, the histogram shows only very light clipping of the highlights: the sunlight reflected on the cyclist's helmet. The D-light option, which in the jpg file could have delivered some improvement, was switched off. The shot shown here (white house, bright son) also shows well-rendered highlights. Our Imatest measurement for the dynamic range of the D7200 came out a bit higher than that of the D5300 or the D7100. DxO Mark saw the same trend. In practice, all three did very well.

vuurtroen web klein

 

Even more versatile, now with NFC

Everything that you need is on it. Perhaps the only exception is built-in GPS, which Nikon—probably in order to maximize the battery life as much as possible—has omitted. NFC (Near Field Communication) offers the ability to transfer files to your smartphone without fussing with passwords. That's particularly practical if you want to share a great picture that you just took with a friend or family member by sending the shot to their smartphone.

HDR

Next to the D-light options that are slowly becoming accustomed to, and by which the histogram is stretched out a bit on the light and dark side without actually increasing the dynamic range, the D7200 also has a real HDR option, with which two shots are made in quick succession and then combined with software. We are thus really talking about two individual shots—you hear the shutter click twice, but the mirror does not return in between. You can set the "strength" of the HDR processing yourself. The maximum setting gives the greatest effect, but at the same time, it also sometimes produces ugly halos. Compare the photo of the flower below without (left) and with (right) HDR high. A more modest HDR setting would have been better.  tuin web HDR klein
hdr bloem web 

No built-in Panorama mode

pano brouwersdam web

The D7200 has no built-in panorama mode; that is, given the target audience for this camera, not an illogical choice. On the other hand, cameras offer ever-more options for processing the image in-camera or applying an Art filter, so that it can then be immediately shared via social media.
This shot of the Brouwersdam between Schouwen and Goeree was made by stitching together seven shots in Photoshop. In order to get a usable length-to-breadth ratio, we always make these kinds of shots in the portrait mode. All the shots are evenly exposed (so on M), otherwise you will always see the transitions. 1/800 at f/8. On the right, a boat of the Coast Guard, the same location, with the kit zoom in the telephoto setting (200 mm).
vliestroom web klein

 Filming

Of course, the Nikon D7200 can also film. Before filming, the live-image switch has to be pressed and set to film. Then focus by half-pressing the shutter button. Then there is a separate start/stop button for film. Making photos while filming is possible, but then the filming stops.
The Nikon D7200 has the same video functions as Nikon's professional cameras with a full-frame sensor. You make Full HD video (1920 x 1080) with a speed up to 25 images per second (25p/30p). When you switch to the 1.3x excerpt, you can advance the recording speed to Full HD at 50 frames per second (50p/60p).
Experience videographers will be happy with the Picture Control setting "Flat" because it creates the space to play so that you can optimize the sharpening, exposure and color gradations in post-editing.

In a special film menu, you can save all the film settings in one place. Film recordings will be saved on the two SD memory cards or simultaneously exported via HDMI to an external recorder or monitor.
For fluid transitions between dark and bright situations, you can make recordings with auto-ISO sensitivity in the M mode. With the Show highlights mode, you can see exactly where the highlights are clipped.
There is a built in stereo microphone with audio regulation so that you can select the sound range (broad/speech) or reduce wind noise when recording with the built-in microphone. There is also a connection for an external microphone.

Picture Control: Standard Picture Control: Flat
DSC 0945Histogrammini DSC 0946HistoMini
If you photograph in RAW, then you have enough room left to play in order to correct any over-exposure or under-exposure, to adjust the white balance or to optimize the sharpness. You do not have that room to play with video. Experienced videographers therefore swear by an image style where the shadows are made lighter during recording, so that under-exposure can be prevented as much as possible. In addition, the highlights will be dampened in order to prevent over-exposure. Every brand has an image style with its own name for this. On the Nikon D7200, you can use the Flat Picture Control.
In particular in situations where the subject has very high contrast, or for shooting in the dark, this new image style offers advantages. Our first experiences with this are positive. The shots above are stills from Full-HD video recordings: on the left an unedited video recording with standard picture style, where over-saturation of the red tree and over-exposure of the green grass are clearly visible. This quality loss cannot be repaired afterwards. On the right, a shot made with the Flat Picture Control. Not only do the red and green show up better, but the general sharpness is also nicer.

 

Review conclusion

The Nikon D7200 is the DX top model and really a fantastic camera about which there is little to criticize. Few bodies score as high in terms of image quality. And those are often full-frame cameras. Build quality, ease of use and versatility also make this a full-value top model of the Nikon DX series. 

D7200video

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Prosumer
Year:2015
Overall score:8.0
Resolution:7.5
Dynamic Range:8.2
Noise:8.5
Color:7.3
Whitebalance:7.0
Megapixels:24
Sensor:APSC
Sensor magn.:0.63
fps:6
Weight (gram):675
MSRP NL (Euro):1199

 

Pros

  • Very good resolution, little noise and extremely high dynamic range
  • Solidly built, beautifully finished
  • Very complete in terms of execution and options (NFC)
  • Fast continuous mode, a large buffer, long series are possible
  • High-quality video
  • More user-friendly for video in comparison with its predecessors

Cons

  • No folding screen
  • Not inexpensive, but it is worth the money
  • No GPS

Nikon is a brand that puts the emphasis on photography. At the same time, the user-friendliness and the image quality of the Nikon D7200 are so high that they can be given a bit more publicity. The photographer who occasionally makes a high-quality video recording does not need to carry around an additional video camera and will do really well with this camera.
The Nikon D7200 is not inexpensive, bit it's worth it's price, on the basis of the solidity and the complete design. We stick with our usual recommendation: invest in quality lenses as well, preferably with vibration reduction. The lenses that are typically part of a combo package (kit) are good, but with a more specialized and/or brighter lens, the Nikon D7200 comes even more into its own.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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