Nikon D5200 vs D7100 : Which Should You Buy?

Nikon D5200 vs D7100

The Nikon D5200 outclasses any Canon camera in its price range, at least for the time being. It is faster, with a better AF system and image sensor than any of the “Rebel” series cameras, and in many ways surpasses even the (admittedly out-dated) Canon 60D, making it the obvious choice for most photography enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the choice is not so easy when the new Nikon D7100 enters the discussion. Which one is right for you? Below, I’ll compare the most significant differences.

Nikon D5200 vs D7100: What’s the Difference?

To begin with, we can take a look at the most significant specs for the D5200 and the D7100. I’ve also included those of the Nikon D7000, a camera that has been exceedingly popular with amateur and professional photographers alike for the past few years.

    
ModelNikon D5200Nikon D7100Nikon D7000
Price (body)
$696$996.95$896
Price (with 18-105 kit lens)
3/15/2013
$1096$1496$1096
Body MaterialPlasticPartial Magnesium Alloy Frame, PlasticPartial Magnesium Alloy Frame, Plastic
Sensor Resolution24.1 Megapixels
(Toshiba)
24.1 Megapixels
(Toshiba)
16 Megapixels
(Sony)
Anti-Aliasing Filter
(Reduces sharpness, prevents moire)
YESNOYES
ISO Range100-6400
+12800
+25600
100-6400
+12800
+25600
100-6400
+12800
+25600
Total AF Points395139
Cross-Type AF Points9159
AF Motor In Body
(For Using Older AF Lenses)
NOYESYES
AF Light Level Range-1 to +19 EV-2 to +19 EV-1 to +19 EV
Autofocus Fine Tuning
Adjustments
NOYESYES
Shutter Speed Range1/4000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
1/8000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
1/8000th - 30 sec.
+bulb
Expected Shutter Life100,000 Shots150,000 Shots150,000 Shots
Max Frame Rate5 fps6 fps
(7 shots in 1.3x crop mode)
6 fps
Max RAW Burst
(buffer size)
8 shots, compressed 14-bit7 shots lossless 12-bit
6 shots lossless 14-bit
11 shots lossless 12-bit
10 shots lossless 14-bit
Max JPG Burst
(fine, Large)
353331
Flash Sync Speed1/200th sec.1/250th sec.
(1/320th* sec, or slower,)
1/250th sec.
Wireless Flash
(Built-in Commander)
NOYESYES
Auto FP Flash Mode
(High Speed Sync)
NOYESYES
Media Slots1 SD / SDHC / SDXC2 SD / SDHC / SDXC2 SD / SDHC / SDXC
LCD Size3.0"
921,000 pixels
3.2"
1,228,800 pixels
3.0"
921,000 pixels
LCD ArticulatedYesNoNo
Body Weight505g (no battery)
555 g (with battery)
675 (no battery)690g (no battery)
780g (with battery)
Battery Life500 shots
CIPA Standards
950 shots
CIPA Standards
1050 shots
CIPA Standards
Viewfinder Coverage95% Frame
.78x Magnification
100% Frame
.94x Magnification
100% Frame
.95x Magnification
Video CodecMPEG-4 / H.264
.mov
MPEG-4 / H.264
.mov
MPEG-4 / H.264
.mov
Video Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60i, 50i, 30, 25, 24 fps)
1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps)
640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)
1920 x 1080 (60i*, 50i*, 30, 25, 24 fps)
1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps)
640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)

*only in 1.3x crop mode
1920 x 1080 (24fps)
1280 x 720 (30, 25, 24 fps)
PAL or NTSC
Video Length Limit29 min 59 sec.29 min 59 sec.About 20 Minutes
Headphone JackNoYesNo
Internal MicStereoStereoMono

.

Build Quality

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the D7100 and the D5200 is in their construction. The D5200 is smaller and lighter, with a body made entirely of polycarbonate, while the D7100 is heavier and built for durability, with a metal (magnesium alloy) back and top.  Since the D5200 also uses a smaller battery, the carry-around weight of the D7100 is about 30% more than the D5200.

Whether this is an advantage or disadvantage depends on your photographic needs; some photographers (especially those with larger hands) prefer a larger camera with some ‘heft’ to it, while others prefer something more lightweight and easy to carry around, especially travelers and hikers. Needless to say, those who work in harsh conditions will also prefer the D7100’s weather sealing and heavier-duty construction, as a matter of practicality.

The Sensor : Lack of AA Filter Probably Not Significant

The success of the D800e may have led directly to Nikon’s decision to produce an APS-C camera without an anti-aliasing (AA) filter, but whatever led to the fact, the D7100’s sensor is naked.  Before the D800e, all of the major SLRs produced their sensors with an AA filter: essentially an extra layer in front of the sensor that blurs the image slightly, in order to reduce the jagged edges and moire that have traditionally been associated with digital capture. With modern improvements in image processing software, though, Nikon was confident that the moire and jaggies could be avoided without the AA filter, so they opted to remove it and allow the cameras to capture finer image detail.

Comparisons of images produced by the D800 (AA Filter) and D800e (no AA Filter) have shown that the principle works; there are subtle improvements in fine detail in the D800e’s images. However, we should not expect such significant improvements in the D7100’s images. The receptors on the 24 megapixel sensor of the D7100 are already much, much smaller than those of the D800e. In fact, the D7100 fits about 56% more pixels into the same sensor area than the D800e1.

Why does that matter? Even with the much larger receptors of the D800, lens resolution has become a serious bottle-neck for image quality2. The dramatically higher pixel density of Nikon’s 24 megapixel sensors will tax lens resolution even more, meaning that the D7100’s images won’t get much sharper unless lenses get sharper first.

So, it is reasonable to expect that the center portion of images taken with the D7100 and your best lenses will show slight improvements in fine detail compared to the D5200, but don’t expect much more… and that is assuming that you’re using a tripod and other best-practices for maximizing sharpness.

Auto Focus Systems

Unlike most entry and mid-level SLRs, the Nikon D5200 has a very sophisticated autofocus system. While cameras like the Canon T4i and 60D have 9 autofocus points, the D5200 has 39, though only 9 of them are cross-type 3.  As you can see from the chart above, this autofocus system, which also incorporates color information, has been adopted from the Nikon D7000.

The D7100, however, shares the same AF system with the flagship Nikon D4 and the D800: 51 AF points, including 15 cross-type… the best system available in a Nikon body.

For all but the most dedicated action photographers, the system in the D5200 (and D7000) will be more than sufficient, even if you’re buying a camera primarily for shooting sports. If your paycheck, however, is going to depend on your focusing system, the extra several hundred dollars will be well spent on the D7100.

D7100 vs d5200 back

Speed

When it comes to speed, the differences between the D5200 and D7100 are more modest that you might expect. The D7100 does have a top shutter speed that is one full f-stop faster than the D5200’s (ie, 1/8000th vs 1/4000th). When it comes to shooting bursts of photos, though, the D7100 only provides an additional frame per second over the D5200’s 5 fps (unless you’re shooting in 1.3x crop mode, in which case it will give up an additional frame per second).

More importantly, though, the under-sized buffer in the D7100 does not allow longer bursts than the D5200; in fact, the D5200 comes out on top in this case. While the D5200 can shoot bursts of 8 RAW (or 35 JPG) shots, the D7100 can only shoot 7 RAW (33 JPG) before the buffer is full. Compare this to the 15 RAW shots allowed by a Canon 60D or 25 in a 7D4, and it will be clear that neither Nikon is probably ideal for photographers who rely on the machine-gun method of action photography.

Overhead, Nikon D7100 and D5200

The D5200’s Downfall

Flash. With the popularity of “Strobist” techniques over the past several years, flash photography has become increasingly important to amateur and semi-pro photographers, and this is where the D5200 falls short: it lacks high-speed-sync (Auto FP Flash, henceforth AFP) and external flash control with the built-in flash. External flash control may not be a big deal; many of us prefer to use radio-units instead… though the built-in IR system can be very useful with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS).

The lack of AFP, however, is a serious problem. Consider this situation: you’re shooting a portrait outdoors during the day, and you want to use a large aperture to blur the background… perhaps f/2 or f/1.4 . This will push your shutter speed beyond 1/1000ths of a second, much higher than the camera’s 1/200th sec. maximum sync speed. So, if you want to use a flash to soften the shadows or create a catch-light in the eyes of your subject, forget it: the flash will not sync. The same is true if you want to use flash for sports and a high shutter speed, and while you can purchase external command modules or radio transmitters for off-camera-flashes, there’s nothing you can buy to work around the lack of AFP. You’d need to buy the D7100 instead.

All the Little Things

There are a few other assorted differences that deserve mention here, but they’re mostly the same differences that we saw between the D5100 and D7000. First, the D5200 does not have an autofocus motor built into the camera body, so it will not be compatible with the full range of (old school) Nikon lenses, while the D7100 does posses the motor. And speaking of “focus”, the D7100 is capable of micro adjustments to correct for front or back-focus problems on lenses, while the D5200 is not.

As should be obvious from the images above, the D5200 has an articulated LCD screen, which some people find helpful for ground-level shots and video but others find a breakage hazard or amateurish. The D7100, on the other hand, has a slightly larger LCD at 3.2 instead of 3.0 diagonal inches.

Finally, if you are interested in video, the D7100 has been given a headphone jack for monitoring audio while you shoot. The jack is absent in the D5200 (and D7000).

Which to Buy?

The Nikon D5200 is a great camera, and I’d recommend it for most amateur photographers except for those who need superior flash capabilities.

To summarize, you should buy the D5200 if you:

  • want a great, all-around camera
  • shoot primarily with natural light or studio strobes
  • have smaller hands, or need the lightest body while maintaining high performance
  • need an articulated LCD screen for video or photos

Buy the D7100 if you:

  • are hard on your equipment and need a more durable body
  • use flash for action or fill and need high-speed sync
  • use Nikon’s CLS and want to use the built-in command module
  • have first-rate lenses and shoot images that depend on the sharpest detail
  • shoot macro (or other focus critical work) and need to make micro adjustments to your lenses
  • shoot a lot of video and want a simple headphone jack on your camera

For the sake of simplicity I’ve tried to focus on only the differences that, in my experience, will actually be important. There are, of course, numerous differences between the two cameras, though, and some features may be more important to particular photographers.
If you think that I’ve left out something important, please feel free to let me know.

Please Comment!

If you have additional questions or comments, please let me know, below. I’ll do what I can to answer questions and clear up any confusion.

Finally, if you have found this article useful, please support us by following one of our links if you decide to buy a camera. It will cost you nothing, but will help support additional independent, unbiased comparisons such as this. You can buy from Amazon here for the D5200 and D7100, or B&H Photo here for the D5200 and D7100.

  1. Further details and measurements can be found on DigicamDB.
  2. See this DxO Mark article for further details.
  3. If you don’t know why cross-type points are so important, I recommend watching the first half of our Photography Notes video
  4. with the most recent firmware upgrade. Originally, the 7D also shot about 15 RAW frames before filling the buffer

198 Comments

  • Sandy Trand says:

    What sports lens would you suggest to get for the Nikon d5200? I already own the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. I am in the process of selling my Nikon 55-300mm because it was a terrible sports lens and was too clunky for anything else.

  • Joe says:

    Hi, Matt. Talking about D5200’s downfall (lack of flash commander), can we overcome this by using Yongnuo YN-622 wireless commander? It’s around US$ 36 each on Amazon (around $78 for a couple). Thank’s in advance. I have D5200 for about 2 months now.

  • Rechelle says:

    Wow very insightful – one more question. Would you say the canon t5i w/ 70-200mm f/2.8L would be of any comparison to Nikon d7100 w/ 70-200mm? Which brand better or camera offers more? Sports photography mainly occasional portrait

    • The T5i isn’t really a comparable camera… either the Canon 70D or 7D would be closer, though the 7D is set to be replaced next month.

      There’s no answer to the question which brand is better. A good photographer with the appropriate camera from either brand will be able to make excellent photos. In my experience, Canon is more popular with sports photographers, but Nikon is certainly very capable. Canon’s super telephoto lenses are probably better than Nikon’s, but many of Nikon’s wide angle lenses and some of their portrait lenses are better than Canons. In the end, it’s a matter of personal choice.

      The most important thing is to know your camera, practice with it all the time until the controls are second nature, so that you can forget about the camera and just do your job of watching what’s going on, composing and capturing.

      In any case, the Nikon D7100 is better than the T5i with the same lens, mostly because of its autofocus system.

      – Matthew

  • Rechelle says:

    Would Nikon D7100 with 18-140mm Lens be a good fit? Primary focus: sports photography or do you suggest a different type of lens

    • Hi Rechelle,

      The kit lens is a great all-around lens, but it’s not great for sports. There are two problems:

      1. Most sports photographers use 200mm, 300mm, and 400mm lenses for shooting sports. Otherwise, it’s really hard to fill the frame with your subject from the sidelines. A 140mm lens will work some of the time, but you’ll miss a lot.

      2. For sports, especially at night, you want a lens that can let in as much light as possible. That makes focusing faster and it also allows you faster shutter speeds and lower ISO so that you get less noise/grain. At 140mm, the kit lens has a maximum aperture of f/5.6, which doesn’t let in a ton of light.

      Alternately, if you used a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens… an f/2.8 aperture lets in 4 times as much light as the f/5.6.

      Lenses like that are expensive, though. The Nikon costs about $2500. The Tamron version, on the other hand, is just about as good as the Nikon, and costs $1000 less. Still not cheap… but it’s on Amazon here: Tamron 70-200 f/2.8

      Alternatively, you could go with a 300mm zoom, which would solve half of the problem. The 55-300mm is a little less expensive, but the 70-300 is a little sharper.

      At amazon, and probably elsewhere, the D7100 is available in a kit with the 18-140 and the 55-300.

      – Matthew

  • Anshuman Dev says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for the article.
    I had bought 5200 few months back and experimented a lot,but somehow am not satisfied with the outcome. Now,i really feel i should have spent somemore and got d7100….
    I received an offer today for a used 7100 with 18-200 lens at 1/3 price.
    Should i go for it ?

    Please illuminate……

    Anshuman Dev
    dranshumandev@gmail.com

    • It really depends on what sorts of issues you’re having with the images from your D5200; the cameras are so similar that it’s very likely that your issues are caused by the camera setup or shooting technique rather than a failing in the camera itself.

      That said, a D7100 at 1/3rd price is a good deal… it would be hard to pass up, regardless. I personally would not use the 18-200mm lens; the optics simply are not sharp enough for the high resolution sensor of these cameras (or even for a 12 megapixel sensor, for that matter, in some parts of the zoom range), but you could almost certainly sell the lens or keep it in reserve as a backup.

      I’m afraid that without knowing more about why you’re dissatisfied with your D5200’s images, I can’t be any more specific than that.

      – Matthew

  • Kate says:

    Thanks for comparing them but I’m still not sure.. . What is the best camera for traveling & day trips? I want to make pictures of nature, people & animals. I’m a girl, not that big and the d5200 is smaller en lighter but the nikon d7100 is wheater sealed. I’m a beginner but I use the S, P & A mode quite often.

    • Shine says:

      If i have to choose between Nikon D5200 and Canon 700D Which one you suggest ? I am looking for good image quality, easy to use and video.

  • Luis Ramos says:

    Thanks to this discussions I opted to the 7100. Nice camera so far. One thing I am missing and will love to do is to shoot films at very low frame per sec, say one every 10 minutes, then watch at normal speed. That is great to see natural events that you can’t perceive normally. However the 7100 allows to shoot frames at every defined time, so one can make a film. That will require a special program… Any hint on this regard?
    Thanks! Luis

    • Hi Luis,

      After you have taken the shots, there are a variety of programs that will let you convert them into a film. The easiest one for me is Adobe Photoshop, but Adobe After Effects is a close second… and of course Adobe Premier also will do the job.

      In fact, any video editing program should be able to do the job (Sony Vegas, for example)… just import your images as a JPG sequence (rather than a movie clip).

      – Matt

  • gui3415 says:

    soy ex fotógrafo técnico, poseo fuelles,duplicador de negativos, lentes macros de la linea nikon F y microscopio con accesorio para nikon F.
    Pregunto: con una nikon d5200 como es con mi viejo sistema en la compatibilidad de dichos lentes y accesorios desde ya le estoy agradecido por su opinion

    • Hi Gui3415,

      The quick answer is Yes; they are compatible. All of Nikon’s SLRs, digital and film, use the same “F” lens mount. Older autofocus lenses will not retain autofocus capabilities, and some of the more advanced metering information will be lost, but you can still use the equipment.

      The longer answer is that they are compatible, but there will be some differences. Since the D5200 uses a smaller sensor, your negative duplicator (depending on the type) may crop the edges of your images, and your macro and micro equipment may appear to give you greater magnification than intended.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

  • Ask Burlefot says:

    I’m considering either the D5200 or D7100. I’ leaning towards the D5200 as the D7100 won’t mean that much reduction in bulk compared to my D600. However, when I believe I have made up my mind I’m getting more uncertain about the importance of this advantage since they use the same lenses and I’m worried that they won’ balance that well on the smaller body. My hands are not that big, but the D7100 are easily the better camera to hold. Also anadvantage with the better battery life. All the other smaller systems camera I have tried doesn’t have a battery that lasts a whole day.

    • I haven’t used the D600 enough to have a good idea of it’s body size, but I know that the D7100 feels quite a bit smaller than my Canon 5D Mark III and my Nikon D300.

      My general feeling is that if you’re really on the fence between the two cameras, get the better camera and go with the D7100. It’s really unlikely that afterward you’ll feel that you made the wrong decision, whereas if you buy the less expensive one, you may own it for several years and wish that you had gone with the better model.

      With moderate shooting, I haven’t had a problem with Nikon’s smaller SLR batteries going dead in a single day… but with heavy professional shooting, even their full sized batteries get stretched. If you’re planning on anything like professional use, though, you’d certainly want to go with the D7100 anyway.

    • salvador says:

      gracias a sus consejos pude comprar nikon d5200. La pregunta es si puedo usar mis viejas fotocelulas para comandar un flash a distancia como relleno del flash incorporado, se puede usar u flash en la zapata de la maquina anulando el incorporado

  • Andrew says:

    Hi,

    Great write up. I’m fairly new to photography and have a couple of questions. The type of photography I’m interested in is;
    – snaps of the family
    – landscapes
    – to a lesser extent, sports photography.
    I just cant decide between the D5200 and D7100. I think I’m leaning towards the D7100 for the size and the few extra features. As I’m fairly new some people point me towards the entry level cameras, but I want something I can grow in to. I don’t want to get something then find it’s not enough for me in 12 months time. What is your opinion for what I want to capture? Also, what lenses would you recommend for everyday use and for landscapes? Some people say there are better options than the 18-105mm VR that comes in the kit. Basically to buy the body only and the lenses separately. What are your thoughts on this also?

    I appreciate your time.
    Regards
    Andrew

  • Kiden says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I’m planning to buy either D5200 or D7100. I’m very skinny person that my hands get shaky when holding a very heavy camera such as my dad’s Canon 5D. So D5200 is preferable for me. However, after reading your reviews I think I go for D7100 because it has good features than the D5200. I love taking pictures of just about anything and wanted to go pro. I have a D60 and I’m quite disappointed with the result eventhough it’s lightweight. I prefer taking pictures using my dad’s 5D because of its sharpness and the focus is good but the only disadvantage is the weight.

    So I’m in between of choosing this 2. Either I go for the lightweight but not much features and cheaper or the heavy one with so good features but expensive.

    Which would you recommend for me?

    Oh and sometimes I like to take videos. Which of these 2 are best on video recording?

    • Hey Kiden,

      First, there’s no major difference when it comes to video… so that shouldn’t be a concern.

      If you’re thinking about going pro, I think that some of the flash features of the D7100 are important to get to know, eventually… though certainly not necessary. It’s worth keeping in mind that although the D7100 is a little heavier than the lightweight D5200, it’s still not a heavy camera, and it’s significantly smaller than the Canon 5D. I still consider it a pretty lightweight camera. No matter what camera you buy, though, what really ends up being heavy are the pro-quality lenses; they are always big and heavy… so it’s probably as good a time as any to start doing what you can to get your arms ready for some heavy loads :) I’m relatively skinny myself, but after 25 years of lugging heavy cameras around, I don’t even notice the weight anymore… at least, not for a few hours :)

      With something as personal as the weight of the camera being an issue, though, I’d go to a local shop and get the D7100 in your hands, and see how it compares, and whether the weight would really make a difference to you. Sorry I can’t be more help.

      – Matthew

      • Kiden says:

        Thanks for your reply!

        It’s good to know that the D7100 is smaller than Canon 5D (I keep imagining it’s bigger than the 5D) :) And I will take your advice and get a hands-on the D7100

        Thank you! Keep this website alive and informative! :)

  • Mj Ces says:

    I’m glad I saw your post. Your comparison of the D5200 and D7100 is very helpful for a very confused amateur like myself. The best among those I’ve read so far as it helps me with my decision. Thanks!

  • Mark says:

    Well done!! I always purchase a bit more than I’m comfortable spending and seem to be happy with my purchase most of the time. Purchasing the D7100 will make me go hmmmmm, do I really need this? Buying a D600 would give me cotton mouth and sweaty palms so I’d reluctantly purchase the D7100 knowing thatI should be getting the D5200 But will be happier with D7100. You can buy the D7100 body at ajrichies for $884.00, I think BestBuy will price match that. Reading great articles like this always helps ease the sticker shock and reassure me in my decisions, thanks.

  • Carolina says:

    Mathew,
    Great overall review!
    I would love to receive your feedback about the best camera when you need to take product photos indoors or outdoors. I also love to take photos for my kids.
    I love the fact that the D5200 is light and compact. However, I want to purchase a good camera for product shots.
    I was not sure if the flash will be an issue for photos indoors or outdoors.
    Thank you, Carolina

    • Hey Carolina,

      If you’re talking about product shots for the internet, then both cameras are excellent (overkill, in fact). Flash won’t be an issue indoors; it’s possible that you’d run into some issues outdoors using flash, but they’d be rare and should be pretty easy to work around.

      It sounds to me like the D5200 would be a great choice for you. If you’re going to be using your product photos in print, and the pictures are going to be high quality, glossy prints and full page or larger… you MIGHT be able to see a difference between the D5200 and the D7100 if you use impeccable technique and a top-quality lens. But I wouldn’t count on it :)

      – Matthew

  • Erik Maes says:

    Hi Matthew,

    In January I bought a D5200 with a Nikkor 18-200 lens and ever since I’ve had mixed feelings about my purchase (thanks for your great advice in a previous posting btw). On many occasions the camera produces great and crystal sharp pictures, but far too often I’m disappointed by the results I get. Most recent case was a series of pictures I made this weekend of my children running around in the garden and not a single picture was well focussed (okay, except a few maybe).

    The question I’ve been asking myself is: why? Are my expectations of the camera just unrealistically high and should I have gotten a more high-end model, is it the lens, or is it the guy pushing the button (me thus). As the D5200 focussing qualities are praised in every review, I’m tempted by option 3. Settings were full auto, centre single point AF and continuous high speed shooting. Pictures were taken outdoors on a sunny afternoon. On the centre single point AF: for some reason I have little faith in the 39-point dynamic-area AF. Every time I’ve tried that that mode I felt that the camera most of the time didn’t select the point that I felt it should. Maybe also linked to my first-focussing-then-framing style dating from the analogue days.

    So basically my question comes down to the following: when you were testing the D5200, did you leave in full auto mode or did you have to do something extra to come to good focussing results?

    Many thanks in advance for your answer
    Kind regards
    Erik

    • Hey Erik,

      A few things. If you spend any amount of time lingering around this site, you’ll find that I really hate the Nikkor 18-200 VR (though I still own one….). It’s not especially fast focusing, and even when it focuses properly, it has really awful resolution in parts of the zoom range (mostly the wide end). So the lens may have something to do with what you’re experiencing.

      However, blur can enter your pictures in several different ways, so first you should make sure that what you’re looking at is really a focus issue. You might want to check out my article on the subject (4 reasons your photos are blurry). The chart on the last page sums it up.

      In any case, when I’ve used the D5200’s AF system I’ve used either a single AF point or the dynamic area (I don’t like letting the camera choose an AF point with no guidance from me :) ) and I haven’t had any particular problem with it.

      – Matthew

  • chad says:

    got the D7000 in Jan. 2013 and now in august i have close to 9,000 shutter actions and zero issue love the camera i am wondering if nikon will be putting the D7100 on sale or the D600 on sale at christmas time if so that would be a great time to buy one get a tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 lens or a prime lens to see what that sensor can do its amazing

  • Michael says:

    Hi Mathew,

    Thank you for your review. I’m planning to take pictures of birds and animals in action and shutter speed can be very important to be able to capture and freeze the moment in action. D5200 delivers half the speed but what does it mean in practical real terms? If I need to take a shot of a fast flying bird will D5200 be able to capture the moment or will the image be not clear?

    Another question is about durability. I live in Africa and it is very dusty here no matter where you go. Does D7100 body gives that extra protection against moisture and dust as opposed to D5200?

    Thank you in advance for your comments.

    Michael

    • Hey Michael,

      In practical terms, 1/4000th of a second will stop most anything.

      This shot of an egret fishing was shot at only 1/1500th second. All of the water and movement was easily stopped. Sometimes, with quick movement I’ll get a little touch of blur at 1/2000th, but I’ve never seen any at 1/4000th… and there’s rarely enough light in the conditions I work under (late date, early morning light) to get 1/8000th sec at low ISO anyway.

      So, if that’s your main concern, I wouldn’t worry too much… I can’t think of a situation in which I really Needed to have 1/8000th sec.

      The D7100 will be better with dust and moisture; it has superior weather sealing and there’s no articulating screen to get gummed up with dust and grime… and it does have  a metal body (mostly). So, you might consider buying the D7100.

      – Matthew

  • robin says:

    hi, i want to take only personal photographs and for friends and occasions. would be the nikon d5200 a good one? or the sony a65?

    • Hi Robin,

      Yes, the D5200 should be perfect for you. The A65 is also a good option, but some people have trouble with using an electronic viewfinder rather than an optical one. The sensors are very similar, so you wouldn’t see a huge difference in image quality. The Sony would be faster if you were shooting sports, but the Nikon is a Nikon… so there’s a huge selection of lenses and other accessories. You probably would not find the improvements in the D7100 useful. Good luck!

      – Matthew

  • amatuer says:

    Hello there.
    I am amateur about photography. I want to get one level up and from my IXUS 100 IS want to buy a dslr.
    Mainly I am taking pics of nature(plants, insects animals or just beautiful areas) or family photos.
    I once saw some macrophotographic pictures and loved em.
    So I wan to buy a dslr and I am between d5200 and d7100(tho is a bit expensive). What do you recommend?
    Do I need an extra lens for macrophotography or the one on the kit will do (18-105).
    Or as an alternative buy the d3200 with more lens.
    Thanks a lot.

    • Mark says:

      I recently purchased the D7100 and had the same dilemma as you. I am very happy with the D7100 and though is a bit pricier I believe that I won’t outgrow it in a year. I have some samples here if you’d like to check them out (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrcranny/) All of the picture of the car show were taken with the D7100 and a Tokina 11-16 f2.8 or a Nikon 35 f1.8. I’m not really sure how the 18-105 performs but it’s my opinion that lenses with such a wide range won’t perform as well as a lens in the range of the Nikon 35-70 f2.8 which can be had on ebay for $200-300 and produce professional quality images. Just my opinion and I’m by no means a great photographer just wanted to chime in.

  • Mike says:

    Question!!

    I am at stand still and I don’t know which camera to get for the things I want to do. I don’t know if I should get the 5200, 7000 or 7100. The type of photography I want to do is landscape and night photography (stars). I’ve had a Nikon D60 before and I want to upgrade, but I don’t know which camera will be the best for what I want to achieve. I know all have the “Bulb” mode, but my fear (which I thought applies to lower end camera 5200 or D60) is that when I take a star shot (not the streaks) it will be noisy. I’ve attempted at this a few times and it was so noises that “purple” vignette started to appear and it was grainy or nosey. So to avoid all this which is the best camera for me? Can any one help? The camera will purely be used for outdoor photography (sunsets, Long stream silky water shots, Star shots, and some videos on my travels) and it’s one I want to keep for a while, but to achieve the results I want.

    Overall I’ve been leaning between the 7000 and 7100 but I heard the major difference is the mega pixels? Are these the right camera to jump from a Nikon D60 to achieve the type of shot I want to do?

    -Thanks!

  • RJ says:

    I just have a couple of day left to decide between the Nikon D5200 and Nikon D7200, probably I will be willing to spend $1500 maximum including lens. I know nothing about DSLR, except for what have been able to read the last week days or so. Since I do not want to spend more money on lens anytime soon after this purchase, these are my questions.
    Would the D5200 with a ~$700 lens take better picture that D7200 with the Kit lens?
    Which lens would you recommend of for the D5200?
    My reason to get one of these 2 cameras would be to take pictures of my 9 month child as he grow up, and also potential create some semiprofessional musical videos targeting the YouTube audience.

    Thanks for you help!

  • Jack says:

    Hi,
    i’ve just discovered your website and I really like this article, finally a well written, not too in depth but straight to the point comparison between two cameras.

    I’m an amateur enthusiast who is seriously planning on upgrading to a DSLR from my already excellent Sony RX100. I’ve been looking for weeks into reviews of entry level DSLR and I’m getting closer and closer to my final decision. The Nikon D5200 seems the perfect camera for me. However how do you think it stands compared to a Sony SLT 65/77?

    Cheers

    • The Sony a65 is the more comparable camera to the D5200, and their sensors are very similar (Sony makes great sensors, you’d get very similar image quality) but the Sony has some significant advantages over the Nikon:

      • It supports high speed sync for flash
      • it has much faster burst speeds (10 fps)
      • it will shoot 13 RAW files in a row
      • It only costs $648 right now, $50 or so less than the Nikon (about $697)

      That said, to make a choice, you really should compare the entire camera system: lenses, flashes, future bodies, radio triggers, etc. Nikon has a large, well respected line of professional lenses… while Sony is still entering the market there, and the Nikon CLS (flash system) is the most sophisticated available. So, those things are worth thinking about. Also remember that battery life tends to be shorter on SLTs, since there is no passive viewing.

      The Sony a77 ($898) is an ever better camera, with a better (metal) build quality and faster speeds.

      – Matthew

  • Hi Laura.
    I was on the fence between the D5200 and the D7000 series (specifically the D7100). Being on a tight budget as well, I opted for the D5200 with better glass than the kit lens (I have the Nikkor 16-85 and the Nikkor 35 f/1.8). Both these lenses are outstanding, and very sharp! Check out my images when you get a chance, and you’ll see that this kit produces supberb image quality, likely better than the older D7000 and on par with the more expensive D7100. Granted, the D7000 range has a few more “Pro” features such as metal build, top LCD panel, High Speed Sync, Flash Commander Mode, etc., but it comes with somewhat larger and heavier bodies. Life’s a trade-off! Me? I opted for a lighter (yet still robust) body with articulating LCD monitor, and exceptional image quality, likely the best APS-C image quality on the market right now. Good luck!

  • Linda says:

    I am looking to upgrade from a D70 and I use 70-200 f4.5-5.6. I am primarily looking for something that will allow me to take good action shots indoors (ie: wrestling). What do you recommend D5200 or D7100?(keeping my current glass – my budget is relatively limited)?

    • Hey Linda,

      Both cameras are very similar when it comes to image quality, both have excellent autofocus systems, both have a good frame rate. For your purposes, the only major difference that I think would be important is the flash. I’ve shot quite a bit of wrestling, and the light is almost always bad, even when it’s the preliminary matches at a district meet… so I almost always shoot with flash. If your only significant light source is going to be flash, then you should be fine with the D5200.

      However, if you plan on balancing ambient light and flash, you’ll need a shutterspeed that would stop action… and that means using flash on high-speed sync, and that’s something that you can only do with the D7100 or D7000.

      Good luck!

      – Matthew

      • Darren says:

        Hi Matthew.

        I noticed you said you have photographed some wrestling so could you advise me? I’ve just upgraded to the D5200, my first SLR and thought I’d worked it out. Attempted to use it for the first time last night at a wrestling event and it seems that whenever I zoom in and out the lens seems to lose focus even on auto and everything blurs meaning I spend ages trying to refocus it every time. I’m using the 18-55 lens it comes bundled with.

        Thanks

        • Hi Darren,

          It’s not unusual for a camera to lose focus when you make significant changes to the composition of the image… but I’m not sure why the zooming would be posing a special problem for you; the camera should be able to re-acquire focus almost instantly. If its not, the problem is more likely more general… ie, that your camera is having trouble focusing under that particular lighting situation. I’m assuming that you’re looking through the viewfinder, incidentally… on all SLRs these days (with the exception of the Canon 70D), live-view is simply not suitable for action photography (it doesn’t use the camera’s phase detection focus points).

          There are several things that affect a camera’s ability to quickly focus. Most importantly, there have to be contrasty edges in the scene, and there has to be sufficient light. If it’s too dark, the AF just won’t work very reliably.

          To increase the contrast and amount of light getting to the AF sensors, it helps to use a lens with a larger maximum aperture. Your 18-55mm, for example, has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 when you’re shooting at 55mm. A lens like the 50mm f/1.8G lets in a little more than 8 times as much light to the AF sensors (and the the image sensor, when shooting at f/1.8). It also lets you use a much lower ISO or much faster shutter speed. The same is true of other large aperture lenses like the 85mm f/1.8 , and to a lesser degree, any f/2.8 lens (they give you just over 4x more light than your lens at f/5.6).

          Alternately, you can use a flash that has a focus assist light on it. Its not perfect, but it can make a big difference.

          Good luck!

          – Matthew

  • Laura says:

    Hi there
    I’m a photography student upgrading from the D3000 range, looking possibly to further study photography after school. Photography is also a hobby of mine and I’d like a better camera for all shooting. I’d love to follow it as a career path, into professional photography, but I can’t afford the pro range yet! Is the difference in price worth getting the D7000 as opposed to the D5200? Does the mega pixel difference really matter, if I don’t have the super expensive lenses yet to maximize it? I’m assuming that the D7000 range is superior to the D5000, just as the D5000 range is superior to that of the D3000. Because of your comments about the flash and such as well as other research, I am swayed towards the D7000 range…. I was wondering what your recommendation would be please? Thank you

  • trixie says:

    are you going to review the d7100 vs the 70d?

    • Hi Trixie,

      Yes, I probably will :) I am hoping to get my hands on a 70D before I do so, though… and that might take a little while :) I’m curious about the image quality of the 70D; I suspect it won’t be significantly better than Canon’s current cameras, which would be slightly disappointing. But time will tell.

      – Matthew

  • Lesley Hathway says:

    I have a Nikon D50 and would like to upgrade to either the D5200 or the D7100 or any other Nikon in this price range. I usually take Landscapes and Wildlife and would like to try astro photography as I have 3 telescopes. What would be your recommendation.

    • Sounds like the D5200 would be perfect for you. For the kind of work that you mention, the flash shortcomings won’t be a concern, and you’ll get great image quality with high resolution.  If you don’t already have one, T-adapters for telescopes (like this adapter) are pretty inexpensive online.

      – Matthew

       

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