nikon 7200 vs d5500 banner

Nikon D5500 vs D7200: Which Should You Buy?

For most photographers, the new Nikon D5500 will be more than sufficient, but certain photographers will need a couple of features that it lacks. I'll explain below.
We have written an updated version of this article, comparing the new Nikon D5600 and the Nikon D7200. Click here to read the new article, or click here to open it in a new tab.

The newly announced Nikon D7200 has finally been given a significant performance boost, making the choice between it and the D5500 (a less expensive camera that provides identical image quality) a much more difficult one to make.  It’s also worth noting that the changes between the new D5500 and D7200 and their predecessors are not very significant, so you may prefer to save money and buy the older models while they’re still available. My general advice is always this: buy the least expensive camera that will meet your needs, and buy the best lenses that you can afford. Below, I’ll cover the differences between these cameras and explain which types of photographers will find the different features useful.

New In the D5500

If you’re deciding between D5500 and older D5300, here’s the difference:

  • a touch-sensitive screen has been added to the D5500
  • built-in GPS have been removed in the D5500
  • the top of the ISO scale has been increased by a stop to 25600, though it may be more accurate to say that the “expanded” ISO of 25600 has been incorporated as “native”
  • its a millimeter shorter and narrower, 5mm thinner, and about 60 grams lighter (about the weight of an egg) than the D5300

That’s it! The D5500 and D5300 are virtually identical, otherwise, so as the price drops on the D5300, many photographers who don’t care about having a touch-screen or who want built-in GPS will be able to pick it up at a great price. Currently, the D5300 body costs $597 while the newer D5500 body costs $747.

The Nikon D5500, left, is slightly smaller than the D5300, and about 60g lighter.
The Nikon D5500, left, is slightly smaller than the D5300, and about 60g lighter.

Nikon D5500 vs D7200: What’s the Difference?

To begin with, we can take a look at the most significant specs for the D5500, D7100 and the new D7200.

 Nikon D5500Nikon D7100Nikon D7200



Price (body)
$746$796$1096
Price (with 18-140mm kit lens)$1046$1096$1396
Body MaterialSereebo, (carbon fiber reenforced plastic) body-chassisPartial Magnesium Alloy Frame, PlasticPartial Magnesium Alloy Frame, Plastic
Dust/Weather Sealed BodyNoneYesYes
Sensor Resolution24.2Megapixels
24.1 Megapixels24.2 Megapixels
Anti-Aliasing Filter
(Reduces sharpness, prevents moire)
NONONO
ISO Range100-25600100-6400
+12800
+25600
100-25600
Total AF Points395151
Cross-Type AF Points91515
AF Motor In Body
(For Using Older AF Lenses)
NOYESYES
AF Light Level Range-1 to +19 EV-2 to +19 EV-3 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 Shots
Max Frame Rate5 fps6 fps
(7 shots in 1.3x crop mode)
6 fps
(7 shots in 1.3x crop mode)
Max RAW Burst
(buffer size)
6 shots, compressed 14-bit7 shots lossless 12-bit
6 shots lossless 14-bit
18 shots 14-bit
Max JPG Burst
(fine, Large)
10033100
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 Size3.2"
1,036,800 pixels
3.2"
1,228,800 pixels
3.2"
1,228,800 pixels
LCD ArticulatedYesNoNo
LCD TouchscreenYESNoNo
Built-in GPSNoNoNo
Built-in WiFiYesNoYes
Body Weight420g (no battery)
470 (with battery)
675 (no battery)675 (no battery)
Body Size124 x 97 x 70 mm136 x 107 x 76 mm136 x 106.5 x 76 mm
Battery Life820 shots
CIPA Standards
950 shots
CIPA Standards
1,110 shots
CIPA Standards
Viewfinder Coverage95% Frame
.82x Magnification
100% Frame
.94x Magnification
100% Frame
.94x Magnification
Video CodecMPEG-4 / H.264
.mov
MPEG-4 / H.264
.mov
MPEG-4 / H.264
.mov
Video Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60p, 60i, 50i, 30, 25, 24 fps)
1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps)
1920 x 1080 (60i*, 50i*, 30, 25, 24 fps)
1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps)
640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)
1920 x 1080 (60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps)
1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps)
640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)
Video Length Limit29 min 59 sec.29 min 59 sec.29 min 59 sec.
Headphone JackNoYesYes
Internal MicStereoStereoStereo

back view nikon d7200 and d5500

Build Quality

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the D7200 and the D5500 is in their construction. The D5500 body is significantly smaller and lighter, built of carbon-fiber reenforced plastics (Sereebo), while the D7200 is heavier and built for durability, with a metal (magnesium alloy) back and top, and importantly, it is weather sealed. Since the D5500 also uses a smaller battery, the carry-around weight of the D7200 is about 40% more1 than the D5500.

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 D7200’s weather sealing and heavier-duty construction, as a matter of practicality.

Nikon D7200 with grip
Nikon D7200 with optional battery grip

The Sensors : Exactly the Same

Like the previous generation, Nikon’s D5500 and D7200 both have 24-megapixel sensors, and neither one makes use of an anti-aliasing filter. Consequently, if you shoot RAW files, you will not be able to detect any difference in image quality between these two cameras, and since both cameras now use the same processor, the JPGs should be equally indistinguishable.

More AA Filter Info
The success of the D800e may have led directly to Nikon’s decision to produce an APS-C camera without an optical low-pass/anti-aliasing (OLP/AA) filter, but whatever led to the fact, the D7200’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 1 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 it2 and allow the cameras to capture finer image detail.

With the success of the D7100, Nikon also decided to remove the AA filter from the D5300 and D5500’s sensors, and now the D7200. For all practical purposes, there is no difference between the sensors the D7200 and D5500, so there should be no difference in image quality if you shoot RAW. Though this lack of AA filter does provide the potential to for the camera to produce sharper images, don’t expect too much.

Why does that matter?
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 D7200’s images. The receptors on the 24 megapixel sensor of the D7200 are already much, much smaller than those of the D800e. In fact, the D7200 and D5500 fit about 56% more pixels into the same sensor area as the D800e.

Why does that matter? Even with the much larger receptors of the D800, lens resolution has become a serious bottle-neck for image quality. Nikon has already produced a special list of lenses that can allow you make the most out of your D800 sensor. The dramatically higher pixel density of Nikon’s 24-megapixel APS-C sensors will tax lens resolution even more, meaning that the D7200 and D5500’s images won’t get much sharper unless lenses get sharper first.

Auto Focus Systems

Unlike most entry and mid-level SLRs, the Nikon D5500 has a very sophisticated autofocus system. While cameras like the Canon T6i and 70D have 19 autofocus points, the D5500 has 39, though only the central nine of them are cross-type 3 . This autofocus system, which also incorporates color information, has been adopted from the Nikon D7000.

The D7200, however, shares the same AF system with the flagship Nikon D4 and the D810: 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 D5500 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 D7200.

Speed

When it comes to speed, the differences between the D5500 and D7200 are more modest that you might expect. The D7200 does have a top shutter speed that is one full f-stop faster than the D5500’s (ie, 1/8000th vs 1/4000th). When it comes to shooting bursts of photos, though, the D7200 only provides an additional frame per second over the D5500’s 5 fps (unless you’re shooting in 1.3x crop mode, in which case it will give up an additional frame per second).

However (unlike the D7100) the D7200 has a significantly larger buffer, allowing longer continuous bursts of shooting. While the D5500 (and D7100) can only shoot 6 14-bit RAW files in a row before filling the buffer and getting bogged down, the D7200 can shoot 18 RAW images in a row, three times more than the D7100 (though it still lags significantly behind Canon’s original 7D, which could shoot 25).

Shooting JPG gives you even more freedom to hold down that shutter button. The D7200 can shoot bursts of 100 frames or more (at 6 fps), just like the D5500. The D7100 was only capable of shooting 33 in a row.

The D5500’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 D5500 falls short: it lacks high-speed-sync4 (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 D7200 instead.

In some instances, a neutral density filter can be used to bring the shutter speed down within the range of the D5500’s sync speed. There are several problems with the method, though: the image through your viewfinder can become quite dark, making it hard to frame your shot and making it hard for your camera’s AF system to pull focus, you lose flash power, if you’re shooting with a telephoto lens, shutter speeds at the camera’s sync speed might not be safe for hand-holding, and they’ll always be too slow for sports or fast action (if you’re balancing flash and ambient light).

Nikon SB-910, SB-700, and SB-500
A Nikon Flash Trio

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 D5500 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 D7200 does posses the motor. And speaking of “focus”, the D7200 is capable of micro adjustments to correct for front or back-focus problems on lenses, while the D5500 is not.

Nikon D5500 articulated screen
The Nikon D5500’s swivel screen.

As should be obvious from the images above, the D5500 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 D7200 has dual SD card slots. It’s can be nice to have two slots if you want to record JPGs to one card and RAW to the other, perhaps sending JPGs to an Eye-Fi card, for example. However, if you only need storage space, a single slot is fine. These days, a single 64GB SDXC card costs only $30, and I rarely shoot more than 32GB per day, even at all-day events.

The D5300 has built-in GPS tagging, a feature that requires additional equipment with the D7200. This feature was dropped in the D5500, perhaps the result of the ubiquity of smartphones and apps such as GeoTag Photos Pro, but there are also reports of problems with battery drain using the GPS in the D5300, among other issues that I have yet to confirm.

Finally, if you are interested in video, the D7200 has been given a headphone jack for monitoring audio while you shoot. The jack is absent in the D5500 (and D5300, D7000). All of these cameras can shoot video at up to 1080p 60fps, except for the D7100, which can only shoot at 30fps at that resolution.

Which to Buy?

The Nikon D5300 and D5500 are great cameras, and I’d recommend them for the vast majority of amateur photographers, with the exception of those who need superior flash capabilities.

To summarize, you should buy the D5300 if you:

  • want a great, all-around camera
  • shoot primarily with natural light or studio strobes
  • need an articulated LCD screen for video or photos
  • want built-in GPS
  • want to save some money to buy the best lenses possible. At Amazon, the price for the D5300 body is $597

Buy the D5500 ONLY IF you:

  • really care about the weight of your camera. The D5500 weighs about 60g less than the D5300; that’s about the weight of a large chicken egg.
  • think you’ll really enjoy using a touchscreen.
  • find that the current prices are very similar. At Amazon, the price for the D5500 body is $747

Buy the D7100 if you:

  • don’t shoot bursts of action in RAW format and want the other features of the D7100
  • At Amazon, the current price for the D7100 body is $797

Buy the D7200 if you:

  • shoot lots of action, especially in long bursts
  • 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
  • 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
  • don’t need to worry about spending a little more. At Amazon, the price for the D7200 body is $1097

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.

  1. Actually 38.6%
  2. To be more precise, the Nikon D800e does have an AA filter, but it also has an AA-canceling filter, so it does not have one in practical terms. The D810 does not have an AA filter at all, nor do the D5500 and D7200.
  3. If you’re not sure what cross-type points are, or why they’re important, check out our short video on the subject, here.
  4. For a quick explanation of what high-speed-sync is, watch our video here.
More from Matthew Gore

Adobe Lightroom is FAST Again

For years, Lightroom has been painfully slow. Importing images will always be...
Read More

305 Comments

  • Hi Matthew

    I hope you have the time to answer my question. I’m new to dslr cameras. My main reason for a nice camera is for filming just short 3 – 4 minute videos for music I make. Also breath taking images of mother nature. I’m an independent musician and slowly building a self sufficient arsenal of music equipment and everything related to promoting myself. With a side hobby for learning the basics to taking wonderful photos from a camera that can also film in hd quality. I’m currently looking at the d5500 what is your opinion on this? Thank you in advance!

    • The Nikon is fine for video, but Canon’s cameras have some distinct advantages, and in fact, the Panasonic MFT cameras are even better. For photography, though, I prefer an SLR like the Canons or Nikons, but that will be a matter of personal preference.

      The Canon 70D has the best video autofocus of any DSLR (except the Canon 7D II, which has the same AF system) and their video quality is very high. In comparison, the Nikons are slow and inaccurate. The Canons also support Magic Lantern firmware, giving them a whole host of professional quality audio and video options.

      That said, Nikon and Canon can currently only shoot up to 1080p, while the Panasonic GH4 and Panasonic G7 both shoot 4K video, and have excellent video features. They’re mirrorless, so autofocus is not a problem. The GH4 is one of the best 4K cameras at any price.

      Still, if photography is also an interest, I’d probably go with one of the Canon cameras. The 70D is now just under $1000, and the T6s is significantly less. Both support STM lenses (quiet and accurate, for shooting video).

      – Matthew

  • Hi Matthew…this is a different Michelle with a question about the Nikon D5500 that I bought about a week ago. I took it to photograph my nephew playing football today and noticed a dust spot in the view finder. A few minutes later there were two! When I got home, I was able to use a rocket blower to clean it out but I’m concerned that they got in there so easily. I hadn’t changed lenses or anything like that and they weren’t there when I got to the field. I’m not sure if this is normal or if I should return the camera (it’s still within the return period). I’m also wondering if I should get the D7200 instead. I like to photograph birds, family events, and occasionally a sports event. I also have the Nikon SB 700 speed light. Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated. I don’t WANT to spend more money but if it’s worth it to do so I will while I’m still within the return period.

    • Hi Michelle,
      I wouldn’t worry too much about the dust that you can see through the viewfinder. First, that’s on your focusing screen, not your sensor, so it won’t affect your image quality. Sometimes, with new lenses, dust from the manufacturing process and travel can come loose during the first couple of weeks you’re using the equipment. As you zoom your lens, the lens groups moving inside act like the plunger in a syringe and create some air movement, and that dust gets into your camera body. Your camera’s sensor cleaning system should keep that from being a problem, and you already know how to deal with it on your focusing screen. (This was an even bigger problem back in the days of push-pull zoom lenses).

      Whether you should get a D7200 is another question. Photographing wildlife and sports are two of the places that a D7200 can be a bit of an advantage over the D5500, although it’s a very minor advantage if you don’t shoot RAW. So, if you shoot RAW (and you should!), it’s worth considering. If not, then I wouldn’t bother. Really, the D7200 will just give you that extra frame per second, and will allow you to shoot longer bursts. The AF systems on both cameras are excellent.

      – Matthew

    • Also, other advantages of the D7200 over the D5500 that may be relevant to you, are that the 7200 has weather sealing which is better for outdoor and sports photography keeping more dirt, rain and even light splashes out of your camera, and also seeing as you have an SB700, you can use the flash off-camera with Nikon’s remote commander which is built into the 7200.

  • I had recently purchased Nikon D5500 to capture my 1 Year Kid activities.

    I had some issues using with P mode, My kid face comes dull(like blur) in it.

    Also Im not sure if I can use flash to take my Kids as he is still 1 year, could you please throw some light if you are aware of it.

    • As young children move around a lot, the blur may be due to motion. If you are shooting indoors, you may need to brighten the room with more lights, boost your ISO (light sensitivity) to get a high enough shutter speed to limit the blur. Flash shouldn’t have any negative affect on your child, though it can be startling. If you can’t get enough light without flash, I would encourage to not be too close, look into a flash diffuser or bouncing the flash and not firing too many sequential shots. Another thing is the preflash can startle children (and induce blinking in adults) to using your flash in manual mode so you only have the one primary flash and no preflash will lead to better results.

  • Hi Matthew! I’m so thankful that you’ve been so through with the comparisons of these Nikon DSLR. I’m an art student and have yet to take a photography class. I’m in need of a camera that will give me quality portfolio pictures of my 3 dimensional art, mainly sculptures and furniture. I’m also a mom of 3 and want this camera to be beneficial for capturing family events. The user friendly touch screen interface looks nice ans simple but I’m worried about it malfunctioning over time and its fragility. I like the size and weight of the 5500 but the flash lag concerns me, not sure if buying an external flash will fit what I need. The 7200 is significantly heavier and more expensive and seems a bit more complicated but I could definitely learn to use it. Both have snap bridge and WiFi which is a must for me.

    I just purchased the 5500 from Costco as a package deal with 2 Nikkor Lenses AF-SDX 18-55mm f/305-5.6G VRII and AF-SDX 55-300mm f/4 ED VR, 2 batteries 32GB card and system case for $1099. The 7200 comes with the same thing but for $1450. I think the 5500 will sit in the box until I hear from you.

    I definitely want this camera to last me for a very long time and I don’t want to reflect back 3 years from now wishing that I had spent just a little more. Any advice that you can give will definitely help.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Unless there’s something that really worries you about the D5500 (that you haven’t already mentioned), it sounds to me as though you’ve made the right choice. The D5500 has is an awesome camera, and even though it is lightweight, it’s really very robust. The lack of high-speed-sync is a surprisingly minor issue, for reasons that are too complex to explain right now… but you shouldn’t miss it.

      The more that you learn about your camera and photography in general, the more you will understand that the camera body you use is not very important (unless you have some very specific needs). Lens choice, composition, and light are much, much more important.

      If you’re just getting started with the basics of photography, you might consider spending 8 minutes to watch this video I made to explain the 3 basics.
      – Matthew

      • Thank you! That does help a lot and the video was a perfect tutorial! Now I when I set up shows or installation art most of my pieces are lit over head from various angels and the rest of the space may be dimly lit more so when pieces are light or white and I want to play with how shadows and light fall on my pieces/ sculptures. It seems that the 7200 is a hair better in low light situations, is there a lens or light that you might recommend for the 5500 in this set up?

        • Hi Michelle,

          The D7200 is actually not any better in low light, by itself. At high ISO, if you’re shooting JPG instead of RAW, it might be slightly less noisy, but at that point, either image would be very noisy, and not a good quality photograph. That’s not what you should be aiming for.

          If you’re shooting your art indoors, your best option is generally going to be to use a tripod. If you do that, you can use ISO100, so you won’t have any graininess/digital noise. You can use a small aperture to get as much depth of field as you want (or a large one to get less). That will result in a slow shutter speed, but that’s OK because you won’t get any camera shake (its on a tripod) and your subject won’t be moving (if it’s like most artwork). And you can buy a decent tripod for less than $100.

          There are lenses that will help you shoot in low light. Nikon makes relatively inexpensive 50mm and 35mm f/1.8 lenses. If you shoot them at f/1.8 (which is 1/3rd of a stop less than f/2) it will be letting in a little over 8 times more light than your 18-55mm lens at f/5.6. That’s a significant difference… it will allow you to use a much lower ISO and higher shutter speed. However, the drawback is that it will give you a very thin depth of field, so if your artwork has any depth to it, much of it will be out of focus. Sometimes that can be used for a good effect, but it can also be very limiting.

          The bigger problem that you’ll run into is that when you’re shooting pictures of a light subject against a dark background, the camera’s metering system will be confused, and it will try to make the darker background nice and light. That will, in turn, make your subject too bright… so bright that it will be washed out and lose detail. The only way to counter that is to learn how to adjust your exposure. I have to do the same thing with my $3000 camera… that’s not a camera problem :) .

          Regardless, using a tripod will allow you to shoot with the lights that you have set up in your gallery space. Using a flash on your camera (especially your pop-up flash) will remove all of the interplay of light and shadow in your piece… it will look flat and lose its dimensionality.

          However, using multiple off-camera flashes with light modifiers will give you excellent quality of light. But that’s a steep learning curve, so it’s best not to try to tackle that until you’re really familiar with your camera.
          – Matthew

          • Thank you Matthew!

            I took the D5500 to the maker faire and museums at Balboa Park yesterday. After having watched your video on the 3 Basics I played a bit with the aperture and shutter speed. I know I have a lot more to learn about this camera and will definitely will watch more of your videos.

            Thanks again for being so kind and helpful to everyone here!

  • Excuse me… I will also like to add:
    Light conditions sometimes can get little compromised as it is intraoral!! though we have over head light… still. And, also I will like to add D7100 in the list.
    Look forward in hearing.
    Thank You

    • Incidentally, I just played with the 105mm lens that I mentioned before, and find that the minimum focusing distance is about 5-6″ from the end of the lens to the subject. Wider shots (more than 2 or 3 teeth) would require the camera to be perhaps a foot or two away, which would also make the light from your flash fall off a bit. I’d go with the 85mm or 60mm… but as I say, I don’t have much experience with this sort of thing.

      • HI Matthew
        Excuse me for this
        I have a couple questions please don’t mind –
        I am the one who asked you about photography in dentistry… I am curious to know how are mirror less cameras different or any better than Nikon dslr’s. Also, if you can mention any nicer mirror less cameras comparable to Nikon D5500 or Nikon D7200. And is any better over another.
        Thank you very much in advance!!

        • This is a very difficult issue. Let me start by backing up to what I mentioned before: the camera body itself doesn’t make that big a difference for the type of work you’re doing. What’s more important is going to be its compatibility with the accessories you’ll need.

          The Fuji XT-1 is an excellent mirrorless, but the flash options are limited and there’s only one macro lens available, which may or may not be the best size for you.

          The Sony A7 series cameras are awesome, but quite a bit more expensive than the Nikon DSLRs, and I’m not sure what flash equipment is available, but there’s probably something.

          All of the micro 4/3rds cameras are mirrorless, like the Olympus OM-D EM-1. They’re all going to be lower resolution (16 megapixels vs the Nikon’s 24) and have shorter battery life, but they’re nice cameras. Again, I’m not sure what kind of macro lenses or flash equipment you’ll find for them.

          Personally, I’d go for the Nikon DSLRs unless you can think of some good reason to go with a mirrorless.
          – Matthew

  • Hi Matthew
    Thank you for the detailed comparison between the two cameras. I am beginner in this arena but very much interested in photography. I am a dental surgeon and doing post-graduation; my program requires us to buy DSLR for case presentations and conferences. I am convinced that NIKON is somewhat better than CANON but I am confused with if I should consider D5500 or D7200. My pictures mostly will be surgeries what I do… I will really appreciate any suggestions you can give.
    Thank you

    • Dental photography has some very specific requirements, and actually, the camera itself isn’t very important except insofar as it is compatible with the things that are important. So, let me start with those.

      First and foremost, you’ll need a good macro lens. Nikon makes a few good ones, including a 105mm f/2.8 micro, an 85mm f/3.5 micro, and a 60mm f/2.8 micro. A true macro lens (which Nikon calls a “micro” lens) will give you 1:1 magnification of your subject; ie, it will be the same size on the camera’s sensor as the size of the object in real life. Using a longer lens, like a 105mm will, consequently, give you the exact same magnification as a shorter lens (like the 60mm) when they are focused as close as they can be focused… but the 105mm lens has to be further from the subject to be focused, which gives you more room around the camera to let light in, if you need it (but you probably wont).

      I have never done dental photography on a live human (and only on dead ones in graduate school for biological anthropology), so I don’t know which will be perfect for you. I’m assuming that frequently you’ll want to photograph a group of teeth rather than a single one, so you won’t be using the lens at it’s closest focusing point anyway. I have a Nikon 105mm handy, which I’ll check in a few moments, but my guess is that the 85mm is going to give you the best working distance (not too far, not too close). There is NO zoom lens that will be a substitute for one of these lenses. Both cameras are compatible with all of these lenses, but the D7100/D7200 will allow you to make micro-adjustments to the focus of these lenses.

      The second thing is that you’ll want a ring flash or other close-up flash setup. This will give your subject even illumination, and it fits to the END of the lens, rather than the top of the camera, so it will work perfectly for taking close-up photos. Ideally, you’ll want a true flash (rather than a ring of LEDs) because the amount of light that it gives off is great enough to allow you to use a small aperture and get more depth of field (more of your subject in focus at the same time). Currently, Nikon’s flash system is the R1 or R1C1, which is not a ring flash but a set of two small flashes, and they use the iTTL system from the camera’s flash for triggering and metering. This is ONLY compatible with the Nikon D7100/D7200, not the D5500.

      However, there are other options. Sigma makes a ring flash that costs about $350 called the EM-140, and it has a good reputation, and it will work with either camera. Using flash will also ensure that you don’t have motion blur in your photos.

      There are also lots of cheap LED ring lights out there. They’re not flashes… they’re continuous lights… which has drawbacks and benefits. It allows you to see exactly what the light will look like while you’re taking the picture, but the light it produces will not be as bright as a flash unit. They can be had for $25 – 50. This one costs about $38, and is probably as good as any (and comes with adapters to fit most lenses). You’re much more likely to have motion blur in your photos, though, and insufficient depth of field.

      So, I don’t know what kind of budget you have, but I’d probably lean towards the D5500 with the Sigma flash. If you would like to be able to adjust the focus point of your lens a bit (this shouldn’t be a big deal if you are using a small aperture), then go for the D7100 or D7200. As far as image quality and shooting capabilities, there’s nothing to recommend the D7200 over the D7100, though.
      – Matthew

      • Hi Matthew
        Thank you very much for the response, I sincerely appreciate your time.
        So, as per your expertise D5500 should be good enough… Thank you for the word.
        As far as lens goes… I am little confused; I request please help.
        I am looking to buy a bundled package with –
        Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens

        Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G AF Nikkor SLR Camera Lens
        52mm 2X Professional Telephoto Lens
        52mm High Definition 0.45x Wide Angle Lens

        Are these any good to me, with respect to dental photography?
        And will I be able to adjust the focus point on D5500 at all?

        Excuse me for little specific questions, but need/ request your expertise.

        Thank You

        • First, let me explain “micro focus adjustment”, because I don’t want to give you the false impression that the camera won’t focus at different distances at all. It certainly will.

          SLRs use an auto-focus system called “phase detection” with which a separate AF sensor (not the sensor that captures the image) detects exactly how far away the subject is from the sensor, and the camera uses that info to move the lens focus to what it expects the right place to be for that distance (as opposed to using the data from the image sensor itself to make that determination).

          But since the lens is being set to where it is expected to focus correctly (instead of where it is actually focusing correctly), if the lens wasn’t manufactured perfectly, or it’s damaged, or it’s otherwise just a little different from normal, it’s focus point might be just a little bit behind or in-front of where it’s supposed to be. “AF micro adjustment” gives you the option to fix that, so that the actual focus point matches the expected focus point.

          But this is a remarkably rare problem, and even when it is a problem, people rarely notice it. I wouldn’t worry about it.

          That said, the lenses that you mention are not suitable for dental photography. The “52mm 2x telephoto” and the “52mm 0.45x wide angle” lenses are actually just filters that screw onto the end of other lenses, and they’re really just toys, not quality optics. They’re thrown into these packages because they’re cheap and people don’t know what they are, so it sounds like you’re getting a lot.

          The 18-55 is a decent wide-mid zoom lens, and the 70-300mm is a decent telephoto zoom lens, but neither one is a macro lens: they will not allow you to take close-up pictures; they can’t focus that closely.

          If you want to buy a body with a kit lens, I’d recommend going for the D5500 with the 18-140mm instead (it’s a good convenient, general purpose, all-around lens), and then buying one of the macro lenses that I mentioned above… probably the 85mm or 60mm, separately.

          Or, just buy the body alone and buy a macro lens to go with it, if you’re only going to be using the camera for work.

          And the correct flash equipment really is just as important as the camera and lens.

          Good luck!
          – Matthew

          (PS – Keep in mind that I’ve never studied dental photography, specifically… only related subjects where teeth and small objects need to be photographed, so take all of this with a grain of salt.)

          • No, for your purposes they’re pretty evenly matched. The Nikon’s sensors may be very slightly better, but Canon also has some great macro lenses and macro flash equipment; either one would be just fine.
            – Matthew

            • Hi Matthew
              I sincerely want to thank you for your insights and sharing your expertise, I appreciate it.
              Quick question, for photographic needs… not just dental but overall… will a photographer like yourself say D7200 is way much better than D5500 or they are at par!
              Thank you again…

              • For the kind of work that I do, the D7200 has some distinct advantages; it has a heavier, metal body that will hold up better to being handled roughly in the field. It can shoot faster action photos (faster shutter speed, more frames per second), and it can shoot more of them in a row without pausing. It’s not a big difference, but it would be worth it to me.

                I also prefer the controls on the D7200, which are arranged a little bit better for someone how knows what they’re doing, while the D5500 tries to keep things simple.

                Ultimately, the D7200 is a better camera in some ways, which is why it’s more expensive. Many people won’t need its features, though… and there’s no reason that you couldn’t take photos of the exact same quality with the D5500. That’s not a simple answer, but it’s a true answer :)

                – Matthew

              • Yes true, that was not a simple answer!! ;P :))
                I asked that as I am curious to know what is the best camera. I am looking to get the best one there and at the same time dont want to get something what I will not be able to use… so asked!
                Thank you for responding. :)

  • Hello Matthew.
    Thank you very much for such great reviews and information!
    I’m currently looking to buy a DSLR because I’m ready to upgrade from point & shoot plus my Canon Powershot G3 that I owned for 12 years died out this year. I take a lot of indoor photos at museums, which can have very poor lighting. Also, I like to take outdoor photos of birds & butterflies. Which camera would you suggest between the Nikon D5500, D5300, D7200, or Canon T6i. Thank you very much for your input.

    • From what you’ve said, it sounds to me as though the D5300 or D5500 would be your best bet, along with a good lens for low-light. They’ll give you low-light image quality that’s as good as any other option (among APS-C options), and it will give you a little extra money to work with for a large aperture lens. The T6i would be a great alternate if you also want to shoot video.

      Lens-wise, you’ll want a lens with at least an f/2.8 aperture available, but ideally f/1.8 or f/1.4. Nikon makes excellent, relatively inexpensive options: a 50mm f/1.8G and a 35mm f/1.8G (less than $200) are both good, depending on whether you’d prefer something slightly wide angle (latter) or closer to mid-range/telephoto (50mm). Both will give you a ton of light to work with, and the 50mm is a pretty good portrait lens, too. There are many more options, but the prices will increase very quickly. The Nikon 35mm f/1.4, for example, will run around $1800… quite a bit more than the f/1.8.

      If your focus is going to be heavily on shooting action shots of wildlife and you want slightly faster bursts/fps and slightly better AF, then you might consider the D7200 as an alternative, but you really shouldn’t need it. The D53/5500 are really excellent.
      – Matthew

      • Hi Matthew,
        Thank you very much for your prompt response, I really appreciate it. This really gives me a jump start! Tomorrow, I’ll go to Best Buy and hold both the D53 & D5500 in my hands to see which is more comfortable.
        My current point & shoot Fuji FinePix really disappointed me at my Grandmother’s 90th birthday party this summer because it was very slow, which caused me to miss out on a lot of great moments plus the photo quality was very poor with the indoor lights! Luckily, one of my relatives had a Nikon camera & registered all of our party photos to Walgreens website!

  • Hello Matthew!
    First of all, a big thanks for replying to everyone’s question. I really appreciate it.
    I would like to know about normal zoom lenses for D7200, from both Nikon and third parties. Is 18-140 mm good enough?
    Regards

    • Hi Mark,
      It depends on what you want to do. In general, the 18-140 is really a very good lens… much better than the 18-200 (and longer) zooms that are out there. Like most consumer-level zooms, though, it’s not idea for shooting action in low-light situations, since the aperture will be no larger than f/5.6 when zoomed in to 140mm, which doesn’t give you a ton of light. It’s going to be great as a standard, walk-around lens because it’s relatively light weight and compact, with good optical quality.

      If there’s a specific use that you have in mind, though, let me know and I can suggest additional options.
      – Matthew

        • Hi Mark,

          Any f/1.4 or f/1.8 lens would be great for low light, including the 35mm f/1.8G. Most lenses will give you better sharpness and resolution if you stop down a stop or two, so if you want the best image quality, you should look for lenses that perform well wide open.

          The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART series is one of them, though it is quite a bit more expensive than the Nikon 1.8G. Similarly, the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 ART is excellent, even wide open, but it’s pricey.

          If you’re looking for something on a more reasonable budget, 35 and 50mm f/1.8 lenses from Nikon are a good place to start.
          – Matthew

  • Great analysis when read in conjunction with dpreview’s sensor comparisons.

    I’ve been shooting a D7100 for quite a while and have been frustrated by the tiny buffer and low-light focus hunting. Otherwise the D7100 is a super camera. The D7200 may be my crop-sensor upgrade as soon as the prices drop.

    Also… your speculation re: reason for removal of the GPS feature from the D5500 is off-mark. The problem with that feature was two-fold:

    1) It drained batteries within 2-3 hours when standby was not utilized. And under standby setting (which extended battery life) it would take too long to re-acquire location such that (when hiking or driving) you could shoot a quick sequence and be off to another location and that sequence would not be tagged at all because you didn’t allow time for the GPS to “wake up” and reacquire.

    2) You have to download an ephemeris from Nikon’s web site every 2-4 weeks (containing satellite positions) and load it into the camera. If you didn’t do this, then future sat acquisitions could take 20 minutes or longer…. I mean REALLY longer! The ephemeris data was only good for a month at a time.

  • thanks thanks. this is a real comparation. not like other where they compare tech spechs only.
    i fit into the d7200 needs. but i wonder does a d610 would be better?
    what i need is low noise. long exposure shots day and night. some flash shots.
    i like to take pcis of stars. city lights, smoth water (long exposure), in all i include a model. (the same each time:D) i have some lens, and a d3300 but after few months, i have got the d3300 at its limits and i need more. i was also thinking to get the d750, but …
    for the d7200 the best lens i can get is the new 16-80 2.8-4 or 17-55 2.8. boths DX . i need wide angle. but for a FX i have more options. i wish there would be a zoom option for a 1.8 at least, from nikkor. (for fx the best i can get is 14-24 f2.8 (no easy filters), but for dx i have 2 options)
    im reading everyday options and options, and i cant decide. i dont know if even im asking a question right now. any way. thanks for your article

    • “” For nightscapes, the performance of the d5500 and d7200 are not significantly different if you’re shooting RAW. However, if you really want a performance improvement, move up to any of the full-frame sensors.
      The D610 will be better than both. “”

      i havent read the coments. im so tired of reading. hope you understand. this gives me an idea. a good one. i also want to mention that im very afraid of other brands then nikkor, iv seen sigma tamron carl zeiss etc, but im afraid for a failure. what would be the best wide angle(f 2.8 , f1.8 f1.4 zooms, not tele) option for nikkor from a different brand? thanks

    • If low noise is important to you, I’d go ahead and get either a Nikon full-frame body (D610, D750).

      The Sigma “ART” series lenses are equals (optically) to any Nikon or Canon lens, from the tests that I’ve done so far (for example, see my video of the 35mm and 50mm lenses). At the wide end, that pretty much means the 35mm f/1.4 and for APS-C, the 18-35mm f/1.8 . I haven’t had a chance to test the f/2 full frame equivalent yet. Tamron’s new SP 35mm f/1.8 with stabilization should be good, too… but we won’t know until that hits the market at the end of the month.

      I’m in the process of testing the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, and I’ve been satisfied with it so far, but I’ll have to finish before I can give it a full vote of confidence.

      – Matthew

      • thanks for the reply.
        well. past 2 hours iv read some comments on different forums and blogs, about the tokina sigma etc. and everybody has to say something about them.
        im the kidn of person that if i dont like something i buy something alse as fast as posible so i dont get disappointed for long. so im sure if i buy different lenses other then nikkor and find that is something happening to them, or even “THINK” thats something wrong i will start thinking and regret. so for this not to happen i will have to go with nikkor and im sure i will be sure that if a pic is not good is my fault not like blaming a 3rd party lenses not beeing nikkor.
        so i will try to get the full frame option like d610 or d750. and then some nikkor lenses as in this moment what i own are dx only and i dont want black corners..

        thanks for the addvice and sorry im not convinced about other brands. i think ill feel better knowing i got the best. even if am amateur, i like taking nice pics and i find this step to full frame to be the best for the moment.

        thanks and have a good day

  • Hello and thanks for all the info!

    My husband and I are looking to purchase our first DSLR. Mainly to take pictures of family events, family portraits, kids games, recitals and travel. We also want to really take photography as a hobby (hey you never know where this will take us… maybe a side business to do family pictures, maternity pics and kids sessions.)

    With that being said we are looking at a few DSLRs (Canon 7D Mark ii and Nikon 7200, and now that you mention it maybe the Nikon 5500).

    My first choice would be the Canon 7d M2, because of its speed, but not sure how important 10fps is in what we want to do. We also like the auto focus for videos and crisp pictures. We like that it’s made of weatherproof material and I like the touch screen too. The dislikes are the lower megapixels, no wifi, and the weight, feels clunky.

    The NikonD 7200 would be a second close runner up. We like the way it felt when we held it, the greater megapixels, built in wifi and slightly lower price :) We found that it did not have the same speed nor touchscreen, which we feel would make taking pictures easier.

    So what would be a great starter camera? We want to not only take great pics and video but have the opportunity to learn and as photographers. We want a camera that would be a great second camera should this hobby go anywhere.

    We also can’t decide if we want a Canon or Nikon. I’m partially bias to Canon… Why? Not sure, as I’ve seen great pictures taken with Nikon as well… But I realize we should make a choice now as we start. If we want to upgrade to a better camera later on, sticking to a brand will be more cost effective. Any tips on how to devise? Both seem to have pros and cons.

    Thanks!

    • Making the choice between Canon and Nikon is tricky. Part of the reason that it’s so tricky is that it seems a LOT more important than it really is. Both are excellent systems, both have some excellent lenses, both have some amazing sensors. Whichever you choose, if you end up with poor photos, it’s probably your fault :) They’re all capable of producing excellent images.

      I also would go for the Canon 7D Mark II, if you’re interested in shooting video. It’s an amazing action camera, top-notch autofocus system, and a good sensor. Yes, the sensor of the D7200 is better when it comes to resolution, but if you’re shooting at ISO100-400 with high quality lenses, even 20 megapixels is more resolution than the lenses can generally produce, and it’s more than enough even for very large prints.


      If you were primarily going to be a landscape photographer or you were doing some kind of work where resolution is the critical factor and perhaps dynamic range played a more important role, I might lean toward the Nikon, but it sounds like your needs are better suited to the Canon. If portraits are important to you, you might also consider the 6D, which is not such a great action camera, but the full frame sensor will be a benefit when it comes to shooting portraits with a shallow depth of field.

      As for Wi-Fi, you can buy a 7D II bundled with an Eye-Fi card to give it wireless transfers, and it costs the same as the bundle without it! I use the eye-fi in my 5D Mark III when I’m shooting events so that I can send JPGs to a tablet or a printing station for immediate viewing, and it works nicely.

      Good luck!
      – Matthew

  • Hi Matthew. I’ve really enjoyed all of your reviews. I was planning to get d5500 with sigma 18-35mm f1.8 after reading a lot of reviews (and yours) recommending it. However, the autofocus issue made me hesitate. What’s your thought regarding it?

    • Hi John,
      It’s funny… I’ve shot with Sigma lenses (of and on at least) for 20 years now, and I’ve never had any particular focus problems with them. Focus problems are VERY common with large aperture lenses, regardless of the brand, because of the extremely shallow depth of field… but in my serious comparison tests with Sigma large aperture primes (the 35mm f/1.4 ART and 50mm f/1.4 ART), I did not encounter any AF problems. I have heard complaints of focus problems with them from new owners, though.

      I haven’t spent much time with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8, and haven’t given it a serious test, so I can’t give you a definitive answer, but personally, I suspect that most people are blaming the lens for a problem that is actually just their lack of practice with it.
      – Matthew

  • Hi!
    Is there anything that a D3300 can’t do and D5500 and D7200 can?
    Is D3300 no more than an advanced point and shoot camera?

    • There are certainly things that the more expensive cameras can do that they D3300 can’t, but mostly it’s a matter of degree: they have have more autofocus points (and generally a better AF system), the D7200 has a faster frame rate… but in general, the D3300 is a very capable DSLR, certainly better than an advanced point and shoot. I haven’t done a full comparison, so I can’t give you all of the details.
      – Matthew

      • I wish to learn photography and thinking of buying a D3300. I am interested in portraits, night photography including stars, capturing walking pets, and a little action here and there.
        Is D3300’s AF system good enough for my type of photography? How will it’s AF perform at night?

  • Hi Matthew!
    I can’t decide between the D5500 and D7200. Is D5500 capable enough to take action pics like kids playing, jumping and running in daylight and at night? Also, is D7200 too heavy for everyday photography? Which of these will be a better camera for me?
    Please help.

    • Hi Aaron,
      The D7200 is heavy compared to the D5500, but it’s still a small DSLR; it’s light compared to the D300, for example, or a Canon 5D. It’s only going to be heavy for people who are lightly built, or for people who need to save weight because they’re carrying lots of other stuff (hikers, climbers, travelers, etc).

      That said, the D5500 is more than capable for shooting general action and kids’ sports. I wouldn’t use it as a professional sports camera, but a good photographer probably could.
      – Matthew

        • In some cases, with some lenses, a camera will consistently focus slightly behind or in-front of where it is supposed to focus. AF-fine tune allows you to adjust where you lens focuses, slightly, so that the focal plane is exactly where you expect it to be.

          Usually, this is only a problem if you’re using very old lenses (many of which the D5500 is not compatible with anyway, for AF) or off-brand lenses (Sigma, Tamron, etc), and usually even then the amount that the AF is off is very minor… not something that most people will notice. Usually if there’s a problem it’s with the photographer, not the camera/lens. However, for people who shoot with large aperture lenses all the time or who shoot macro work, it can be worth taking care of.

          Generally speaking, I wouldn’t worry about it.
          – Matthew

  • HI there,
    4 questions:
    1. will be going to Africa on safari, looking for one of these two cameras. Will one be any better than the other in this usage?
    2. Which would be an equivalent Canon to look at? And would one of these two Nikons be better than an equivalent Canon?
    3. Costco has a bundle for $1100 for 5500, which includes AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm VR II and AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm VR Lens, 32GB SD Card, Extra Battery… worth it?
    4. if not this bundle with these lenses, which lens(es) would you recommend for my purpose of Africa safari?

    • Hi Ricky,
      Either one would be great to have, although you’ll also need to understand how to use it to get the most out of it. If you’re experienced with photography already, great. If not, make sure you take the time go learn the basics and get very familiar with your camera before your trip.

      That said, the D7200 will be a little better for capturing fast action sequences. If you happen to be tracking a cheetah tracking down an antelope, the D7200 will give you more and faster bursts of shots, though they both do quite well. The D7200 also has dust/weather sealing, so you’ll be less likely to have serious camera damage if you get caught out in the rain or a dust storm. If you’re going to be near a vehicle (or have a good camera bag handy), that might not be an issue.

      The Canon T6s is a good equivalent to the D5500, and the 7D Mark II is probably the closest equivalent to the D7200. The Canons don’t match up exactly. The 7D Mark II is an awesome, pro-level performance action camera: it has an awesome AF system (better than the Nikons) and it can shoot 10 frames per second for action shots, and it has wonderful video functionality. It is a couple hundred dollars more than the D7200, though, and it has a slightly lower resolution sensor (20MP rather than 24).

      The Costco bundle sounds fine (although similar bundles are available for a bit less on Amazon.com, for example). The 18-55 should give you good quality at the wide angle end, and the 55-300 should give you good telephoto reach at good quality. There are, of course, more expensive options if you have an unlimited budget, but most of us don’t :)

      Good luck!
      – Matthew

      • Many thanks for the quick response. Definitely plan to learn the camera before we go. Actually, for my daughter to use…..

  • Hi Matthew !

    I want to do nightscape photography, so the low noise high iso is important. Is there any winner here for this purpose ? Otherwise, I like (and my neck …) the articulated LCD screen of the d 5500, but I also like the weather sealing of the d7200 … So the image quality for this specefic application will define the best choice. Many Thanks,

    Jacques

    • For nightscapes, the performance of the d5500 and d7200 are not significantly different if you’re shooting RAW. However, if you really want a performance improvement, move up to any of the full-frame sensors.
      The D610 will be better than both.

  • Matthew, great review and e act,y the question I have been asking myself. I am a novice and have been using a D3000 with an 18-105 lens, the excellent 50mm AFS f1.4 prime lens and a speed light 750. Mostly I do Motorsport, friends & family etc and starting on landscapes and night time cityscapes. I also do some CCTV control room interior shots on a tripod without flash for work. There is a big difference in light levels around the room with overall light low but high light levels from the screens.
    Looking to upgrade to either 7200 or 5300. Think I can cope without the articulated viewfinder. Main drawback with my D3000 for me is noise at ISO over 400 but it was a good intro to DSLR.
    Any clues to which of the 2 would be best for me would help with my choice before I get my wallet out?

    • Hi Neil,
      For most of the things you mention, the D5500 would be just as good as the D7200. The only possible exception is going to be Motorsport shooting, where the D7200 will have an advantage… better AF and top shutterspeeds. But the D5500 should be fine.

  • Great article Matthew!
    One little suggestions though – the current must-have-lens that makes these cameras really shine is the Sigma 18-35mm F1,8 which fully replaces 3 prime lenses and produces sharper results than any of the primes (edge to edge!). The price is quite affordable (approx. $799) so even cheaper than buying 3 primes and it has it’s own motor (so works on the D5500). The only downside is that it’s quite heavy.

    • That’s what happens when you don’t read all the comment. I just seen you already recommended this lens, so my bad and good on you :)

  • Hi. This article really convinced me of buying d7200 as a good start in dslr field. I got a mirrorless last year but i sold it because the battery won’t last for a day. Admin, what lens you do know for a tight budget intended for landscape scenes? It is fine for me if i go with tamron or sigma as long as it produced better shots. Tnx

    • Lens choice is really difficult, since it’s so much a matter of personal preference, but I’m a big fan of the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 OS, which is good for low light and it’s good for everyday shooting and landscapes. It’s not cheap, exactly, but it’s much cheaper than the Nikon equivalent, and the image quality is very good.

      One of the best lenses you can buy, period, is the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. It’s not a lens for a tight budget at all, and the zoom range is a bit short, but the image quality is amazing, and it lets in more light than any other zoom lens made.

      If you want an even wider field of view, the Sigma 10-20mm is a good option.

      • Hi….after trying all d5300 d7200 and d610 for couple of years. ….i find d7200 is a good choice (d610’s sensor is amazing but its af is not, and far behind d750 in low light)
        More important if somebody planning to purchase sigma lens like 17 50 2.8 or 17 70 c ,18 35 1.8 art…… you shoud know about the scrolling and zooming issues with d5300 and d7100 when sigma lens is attached, but there are no issues with d7200 ..just my thoughts for someone might find it helpful. ..☺

      • I like the idea of teaming the sigma 17-50mm f2.8 with the Nikon. The risk of getting a front or back focusing lens together with the absence of in camera focus correction worries me though

    • Hi Jangiri,

      Actually, both cameras are equally well suited for high-key and low-key photography (these are more related to how you use your camera than which camera you use, as long as you know how to use your camera). If you’re thinking specifically about high-key portraits, for example, or still-life, the additional features in the D7200 won’t make any difference, so you’re just as well off saving the money and buying the D5500 and better lenses. If you’re shooting high-key with bright back-light, like shooting a portrait with the sun low and behind the subject, you’ll get a little more shutter speed to work with with the D7200, which will give you 1 stop of extra speed (1/8000 vs 1/4000), but I can’t think of any other situation in which the D7200 would be a benefit, specifically.
      – Matthew

  • Thanks Matthew for this great comparison. This has been my main difficulty in choosing a DSLR of my own for the first time (I do have moderate experience with other people’s and school-owned DSLR’s). I’m looking at one of these two to use for use in, and in order of increasing priority: concerts, travel landscapes, pro sporting events (baseball, hockey, football, basketball, golf), and close-up pictures/quick vids of my friend’s theater performances (potentially low-light) while seated about 10-15 feet from the stage. I’m trying to keep my budget under $2000, the less cost the better so I can afford better lenses down the road. Do you think a D5500 bundle of 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G + 55-300mm f/4-5.6G lens is enough for my purposes for now? Or should I get a D7200 with the same lenses but $500 more?

  • Hi, sorry if I don’t speak english very well, I’m spanish speaker. So, I have a Nikon d3100 and I want to change for something better, I’m not professional, I use my camera for travels and I like to take some photos, landscape, bokeh, but not every single day, It’s just a hobby, therefore, what you recomend for me? I thinking between d5500 or d7200. Thank you very much!

    • Hello Agustin,
      It sounds to me like the D5500 would be a great choice for you. The D7200 has some advantages for shooting sports and action, but the D5500 is excellent for landscapes and general photos, and the image quality will be just as good for any of those things.
      – Matthew

  • Matthew – firstly, to reiterate what others have said, thank you for a great comparison

    I have an ageing Nikon D60, I shoot mainly landscape and occasional action/wildlife. I have the Std 18-55 lens and also the 18-200mm lens as my go anywhere lens

    My photography is not at the stage where I can justify spending the money on a full frame DSLR, and the associated lenses! So, having read the above, I’ve just ordered a D5300 and will put money towards a decent lens for landscapes, which leads to my question…

    What lens should I buy? A decent DX lens or a full frame lens that I can ultimately use if I upgrade in the future? I suspect though that the latter won’t give me a wide enough angle?

    Many thanks once again

    • Hi Mike,

      In general, if you’re thinking about getting a wide-angle lens and you’re shooting APS-C, I’d get a lens that is designed for APS-C. If you’re thinking about a telephoto lens, get a standard full-frame lens. My favorite lens for just about everything (including landscape) is a 70-200 f/2.8, but for APS-C, the 17-55mm f/2.8 is also a good option. There are a few very good ones available: of course the Nikon, but also the Sigma and Tamron 17-50mms are quite good.

      However, if you’re looking for something wider, the 10-24mm range is also popular for really emphasizing foreground details and giving that exaggerated wide-angle perspective. Like most lenses of this type, the borders of the Nikon lens get really soft at the wide end until you stop down to about f/8, but otherwise, it’s a great lens all around. My personal favorite is the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 (the original and the II are both great), which gives the best optical performance, although it’s range is a little more limited than the others.

      And the nice thing is that if you buy high quality lenses, APS-C or full frame, when it’s time to move on to another set of lenses, they hold their value well if you want to sell them on Craigslist or Ebay, so you don’t lose much by switching.
      Good luck!

      – Matthew

    • Thanks again Matthew. Just ordered a Nikon 17-55mm lens from eBay in as new condition for less than 50% of retail!

  • Hello,i have been wondering whether i should get the d7200 or the d5500.price is no problem for me and i have started photography and am very interested please help me.i like to take portraits and wild life photographs.

    • Hello Abdullah,
      If price is not a concern, then the D7200 is the superior camera. The only reasons that you’d really want to go with the D5500 are the fact that it’s a bit smaller and lighter, or if you want a touch-screen or articulated/swivel screen. Otherwise, the D7200 is faster and stronger.
      – Matthew

  • Hi – great review of differences. I guess for me as a basic new hobbyist with a simple camera (Canon G7X) the image quality are about the same for each and more than good enough. What seems to be different then (apart from body size, AF, weather proofing etc) is the controls. I would have thought that was an important difference – having those extra buttons and dial. Do they make life easier or are the controls on the D5500 effective enough? Thanks Tom

    • Hi Tom,
      Sorry for the delay; it’s been a busy week! Personally, I find the extra buttons on the D7200 more convenient, but once you get used to the workflow of the D5500, it’s fine… of course, you can do everything that’s needed, and with the touch screen, access to all of the menus is fast if you need to get into a menu to make a change. All of that is a matter of personal preference, though… some people find that extra controls are confusing. We’re probably not in that camp :)
      – Matthew

  • Hi Matt,

    Firstly i wanted to thank you and appreciate the time and effort you have taken to write this article. It means a lot especially for someone like me trying to buy their first DSLR.

    I had precisely these choices: D5300/5500 vs. D7200 (overlooked 7100 lack of wifi). I also omit D5500 as i believe touchscreen gonna be nusansce of leaving finger prints on the screen! Though it provides better battery life (# of shots). Now, i’m left with D5300 vs. D7200 both at different spectrum of price points! Here are my questions to you:

    I currently have had a digital camera Panasonic DMC-FZ50 and predominantly use it only in Manual mode. These are the drawbacks i find: 1. Picture quality 2. Horrible low light photographs 3. Subject blurs in low light (e.g. my child’s action blurs if photographed inside house) 4. Biggest problem of all: Subjects have dark face (guess shadow) when photographed outside in daylight or with back light!!

    I’ll need good photographs of my family outside / inside (ligh tings) and wlldlife photographs as i hike a lot.

    Can D5300 be able to address the above issue and my need. Or will D7200 be better. This is my first and investment on a body for longtime to come so wouldn’t mind stretching my budget.

    Please recommend. (also is top deck display important? (D7200))

    Thank you so much!

    • Hello Krishnan,

      There are some problems that a camera can solve, and some that only a photographer can solve.

      Both the D5300 and D7200 will give you excellent image quality, when used correctly. They have excellent sensors and processors, and if you use them with good lenses, the images can be professional quality every time… at least in terms of quality.

      They both also have very impressive low-light quality. As you probably know, in low light, the camera has the option of either raising the ISO, which can cause digital noise and a grainy appearance, especially in older cameras, or it can use a slower shutter speed, which causes subject motion blur at first, and eventually camera-shake blur. The D5300 and D7200 both have good enough performance at high ISO that you can maintain a fast shutter speed without the image getting too noisy. That should address your points 2 and 3. Neither camera has an advantage there.
      If you’re not familiar with the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture, I recommend my quick video or my article on the subject.

      Dark faces in difficult lighting situations is something that some cameras might be able to deal with sometimes, but no camera will be able to deal with most of the time. This is something that requires some input from the photographer. There are a few different ways that you can deal with this:

      1. use exposure compensation to add extra exposure to the photo overall. This will make the background excessively bright, but the faces will be light enough.
      2. use spot metering. This takes the light reading from the specific place you choose rather than the whole frame, so if you meter on the face, then the face will be properly exposed (though the background will also be very bright).
      3. use fill flash. Flash can brighten up subjects that have shadows in their eyes or faces, and it will not make the background too bright, so you’ll have a more balanced photo, but using flash can sometimes make the image look artificial. There are ways around that, but it’s more than I can explain here.

      Each of those methods takes some familiarity with your camera and with photography in general. The D7200 has slightly better spot-metering, which may help, but it won’t solve anything by itself. You have to know how to use it.

      Since the D7200 will give you a higher top shutterspeed and better frame rate and burst length, it will be better for wildlife photographer, although they’re both pretty solid cameras for action.

      All of my cameras (since I starting shooting with autofocus cameras in 1991) have had a camera top display, and I’ve always used it and I still do… but I don’t know if that’s only because that’s how I first learned. It may be that if you didn’t have one, you wouldn’t miss it… I just don’t know. I love having quick access to that information, though.

      – Matthew

      • Thanks Matt for the prompt response! Agree with your comments and i never hesitate from playing with the manual controls even though i end up getting not great pics. But i believe learning and experience leads to perfection.

        Now, have two followup questions: Which brand would you recommend if i have to start building lenses slowly & steadily for the long run: Canon or Nikon (given that i’m starting from ground zero). As you would have noticed in my previous post Wildlife is one of my imp. area of interest.

        Guess telephoto lenses can become quite expensive.

        If you believe Canon, can i choose Rebel T6i over Nikon D5500?

        Thank you so much!

        Cheers – Krishnan.

        • Canon vs Nikon is a hard question, and the answer will depend almost entirely on who you ask. They’re both excellent camera systems, and a good photographer will be able to use either one effectively.

          They both have their strengths and weaknesses. I think that even most Nikon shooters would agree that Canon makes the best telephoto lenses. They also have the best autofocus systems.

          On the other hand, Nikon makes some excellent prime portrait lenses, and the sensors they have been better than Canon’s for the past few years, although that tends to flip back and forth.

          What I can tell you, though, is that if you want to go with a Canon, go with the T6s rather than the T6i. If you want more information about that, you can read my article that talks about the differences between the T6i and T6s here. The T6s has much better video AF than the D5500, if you shoot video, but the Nikon’s sensor will give you slightly (probably not perceptibly, usually) better resolution.

          -Matthew

  • Thanks for the enlightened comments.
    Have been toying with the idea of a D7200, with the view of getting a TAMRON 150-600mm to go with it. Wondering whether one can get away with teaming it up with the D5500 as I do like the idea of a touch screen. My main aspirations centre around shooting surfing scenes.

  • I’m planning for d5500 along with 18-140 mm & 35mm prime.Im not a professional but know how to handle manual mode.I like to use it for all round purpose casual ,street, portrait , landscape etc. M I going for the right camera n lenses? 35 mm I think is better than 50mm as I can use in tight spaces n it makes d camera easy to carry around n I can also shoot portraits.

    • Hi Tomal,

      The D5500 with the 18-140 is a great choice. Whether you go with the 35mm or a 50mm as a prime is really a matter of personal preference; 35mm is not generally considered ideal for portrait work because the focal length tends to distort features (noses appear a little too large, etc), although it’s a great choice for full-length portraits. I’d go ahead and get the 35mm, and if for some reason it turns out that it’s not as useful as you’d hoped, you can easily sell it for close to full price (Nikon lenses hold their value) and get a 50 or 85mm instead.
      – Matthew

    • I have same question as Tomal…35mm or 50mm . nikon india has a offer of DSLR kit+ combo lens (35mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.8) at reduced price..local storeoffering D5500 at 62,000 rs(mrp is 72000 rs) so at rs 70000 i can have one of theseprimes with D5500+18-140…looking for 50mm first …my priorities are flower photography(not macro) casual,portraits,landscapes…also how good 18-140mm at 35mm focal length?

      NICE REVIEW!! thanks
      looking for dslr after practicing over 7000 shots with nikon l820 since year and half

      • Hi Suyash,

        Again, lens choice is very much a matter of taste and personal preference. The 18-140mm range will cover both the 35 and 50mm focal lengths, so the question you’ll have to ask yourself is: which one of those lenses would you want to use at large aperture? Which would be more useful for you for low-light and/or portraiture work, or other work that requires background separation? For me, that’s usually the 50mm lens, but it may be different for you.

        Unfortunately, I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison of the zoom lens and the 35mm, so I can’t tell you how different the two lenses are at that focal length, but I can tell you that the 18-140mm is really nice and sharp; I wouldn’t worry too much about the resolution difference. There will be a difference in distortion (the zoom will have more) but not a ton more… the worst of that will be at the very wide end.
        – Matthew

  • Hi Matthew,

    I’m upgrading from a D5000 so at first glance, looked at the D7200 / D7100 and still thinking seriously about it. Outside of still pictures, I need a better video camera, my D5000 does not have Auto-Focus once you begin shooting and that’s one of my other key needs. I use an external SB-800 flash so i definitely need a camera that works / sync well with external flashes as well. Low light shooting is another need but I think both cover that well. So, between the D5500 and D7200 / D7100, which has better and continuous Auto Focus in videos? Also, been considering a D610 (used) which will end up at the same price as the D7200 (new).

    Thank you in advance for your advice.
    Babak

  • I’m still confused
    I’m a noob. I have used a D5300 and did OK. Still learning to shoot in manual mode.
    I shoot sports from late afternoon into night. Auto mode is fine while the sun is out but as soon as it goes down and the stadium lights g in I have to go into manual and play with App, Fstop and shutter.

    Seems like the 7200 mad fit best but it does scare me a bit (too Advanced for a noob) and its a bit pricey for my budget.

    • The D5500 and D5300 are also going to be great cameras for shooting sports, even in low light, though of course, not quite as good as the D7200 in some regards.

      As long as you have a good understanding of what Aperture, Shutterspeed, and ISO do to your pictures, you should be in good shape with any camera for sports. If you’re not entirely clear on those things, a good place to start would be my (short) video on The Three Basics of Photography. It’s quick and simple.

      – Matthew

  • Thanks for the detailed comparisons. I was flipping between many of these models, not sure whether the D7100/D7200 are worth the costs. I think I will start out with the D5300.

  • Nice incremental upgrades.

    I might have been tempted by the D7200 instead of the D750 I ended up getting for the cost and weight savings but had to go on a trip and the D750 timing worked the best for me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *