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Nikon D5200 - Image Quality Summary and Verdict

By Mike Topham



  • Recommended by TR
Nikon D5200


Our Score:


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Nikon D5200: Image Quality

Tone and Exposure

Employing the same 2,016-pixel RGB sensor that’s used in the D7000, the D5200 offers a choice of Matrix, Center-weighted and Spot metering modes. With the camera set to Matrix mode for general shooting, the D5200 produces images that appear to be well exposed on-screen, with closer inspection of the histograms in Photoshop and Camera Raw proving this to be the case. While the D5200 offers up to /-5EV of exposure compensation we rarely found ourselves needing to use any. In addition to EV compensation the D5200 also offers Nikon’s own Active-D Lighting technology, which aims to restore more detail in high-contrast scenes via in-camera processing. Six levels of strength are available in total: auto, extra high, high, normal, low and off.

Nikon D5200 sample image

White Balance and Colour

Images produced by the D5200 are bright and vibrant, with very lifelike colour accuracy. We did find that JPEGs are fractionally more saturated than their Raw counterparts though, no doubt as a result of the in-camera processing. As with all Nikon DSLRs the D5200 allows you to take control over the effects of this processing via the Picture Control options. Within the Picture Control sub-menu you’ll find options for: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape. During testing we tended to stick with the Standard and Neutral settings as these produce the most faithful results. Colour saturation remains vibrant even when the camera is set to higher sensitivities, although at ISO 25,600 images take on a subtle magenta cast.

Sharpness and Detail

The D5200’s 24.1MP sensor delivers impressive levels of detail, especially when a premium lens in employed. Attached to our Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG test lens, the D5200 managed to resolve 32 lines per millimetre on our resolution chart at ISO 100, with the aperture set to its sweet spot of f/8. This allows plenty of scope for cropping tightly into images without detrimentally affecting image quality.

Nikon D5200 sample image

ISO Performance

Given the high pixel count, we were especially interested to see how the D5200 performed at high sensitivity settings. The good news is that it handles luminance and colour noise commendably. It’s not until you push beyond ISO 800 that you begin to notice traces of noise creeping in to images, and then only when they’re viewed at 100%. ISO 1600 and 3200 are both perfectly useable too, as is ISO 6400, although you will need to move the luminance noise reduction slider to 35 within Adobe Camera Raw. If possible it’s best to steer clear of the extended settings; chroma noise becomes more obvious at ISO 12, 800 while ISO 25,600 also has an adverse affect on edge sharpness.

Nikon D5200: Verdict

Costing £649 body only, or £719 with the 18-55mm VR kit lens, the D5200 currently costs around £320 more than the equivalent D5100 package. The developments to the D5200’s internal specification – most notably the 39-point AF system and 24.1MP sensor – result in a truly impressive specification for a consumer model. It delivers stunning image quality and is a pleasing camera to use, but is it really worth the additional £300 or so? Well, if you plan on taking advantage of the higher resolution, 50i video frame rate and Wi-Fi compatibility with the optional WU-1a adapter, then yes it is. However if you can survive without these features and feel that the D5100’s 11-point AF system is adequate for your needs, then the D5100 may well be a better bet. To surmise, the D5200 is a worthy addition to Nikon’s APS-C DSLR range that borrows some features and specifications from the more expensive Nikon D7000 to bring additional functionality to a smaller and more affordable model. For these reasons, we’re only too happy to award it a TrustedReviews ‘recommended’ badge.

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Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Build Quality 8
  • Design & Features 8
  • Image Quality 9
  • Value 8


January 30, 2013, 6:07 pm

Thank you for the excellent review. While the high ISO/low light performance of the D5200 is very impressive indeed (I write this as an envious owner of a Canon T4i / 650D, which is notably inferior in this respect), there are some very strange patterns in the dark areas of the night-shot. See, above all, the weird gradations to the left of the light beam -- and, above all, at the upper left side of the photo.

Markus Arike

February 28, 2013, 2:13 am

Pretty low score for what is currently the best performing APS-C DSLR both for stills and video. Not sure why it's low, but I think I trust some of the other review sites in this case.
But thanks.


March 12, 2013, 4:27 pm

I am willing to use a D5200 for shooting car races because its AF seems pretty good. You have tested it with the basic 18-55mm lens... it looks like it does well with a more pro lens attached (see this Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 VR II review : http://www.photographydaily.... If I use this combination, will it really improve the autofocus performance ? What if I buy the 70200mm F4 ?


April 18, 2013, 5:21 pm

Hi everyone, I just picked up this camera from Costco on Tuesday. They had it in a bundle for $1050.00 until April 27th. It included the body(obviously), both 18-55 and 55-300mm lens, the wifi adapter, Nikon bag, and 16 mg memory card. This is our first DSLR and everyone we talk to tells us how great of a deal it is so we just wanted to share it with everyone.


August 25, 2013, 4:11 pm

Hi everyone!
Yes I'm new to dslr. After a little research & budget I finally settled my hands on Nikon D5200.
I learned the initial set up & started clicking ...
In this process I found two irritants as of now
1. When I put Auto ISO sensitive control(in the menu) to ON , the command dial don't change values when in P Mode! Is it a bug?
2. In focus mode if I set to AF-C then built in AF assist illuminator does not work? Is it a bug?
Pls help
Jiju Philip
Muscat, Oman

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