Nikon D7200 Conclusion

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At first glance, the Nikon D7200 might seem to be a very minor upgrade. Visually, it's nearly identical to its predecessor, with the exact same weather-sealed body and control layout. If you're familiar with its rugged enthusiast-grade predecessor, you'll be right at home with the D7200. But that's not to say that there's nothing to separate the two: The Nikon D7200 is going to give you a lot more camera for your money if you're a sports shooter, or even just like to snap family photos of your hyperactive kids and pets.

135mm-equivalent, 1/80 sec. @ f/5.3, ISO 100

Finally, the buffer we've been waiting for

The reason for that is simple: When it was creating the D7200, Nikon worked to resolve one of our main complaints with the earlier model. In our D7100 review, posted in the summer of 2013, we called out the limited buffer depth as a key concern. Now, the Nikon D7200 has triple the buffer depth of its predecessor, if not more.

That's a huge step forwards, and enough of an improvement that it would sway us towards the Nikon D7200 over its predecessor even bearing in mind that the older camera is now being discounted to some US$300 below the street price of the new model. It's not just sports and wildlife photography where you're likely to need that buffer, after all. Pets and kids can be just as active a subject, if not more so, and so the family photographer will doubtless make good use of that extra buffer capacity, as well.

120mm-equivalent, 1/125 sec. @ f/5.3, ISO 900

An already-great camera is now even better

And we'd point out at this point that even with the limited buffer of the earlier camera, the Nikon D7100 was good enough to merit selection as a Dave's Pick in our earlier review. With our main concern answered, this camera is even better than ever, and it gives you an amazing amount for your money.

Image quality of the Nikon D7200 is superb for its class, and thanks to that rugged, weather-sealed body you can rest assured that it will give good results no matter where you take it. And this is a very responsive camera, as well, making it truly a pleasure to shoot with.

210mm-equivalent, 1/250 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 110

A steep initial learning curve, but it's worthwhile

That's not to say you'll feel immediately at home, at least unless you're already a Nikon shooter trading up from an earlier enthusiast-grade model. With around 30 or more controls scattered around its body and countless pages of menus offering controls over every aspect of its operation, the Nikon D7200 is a camera which is going to take a while to master. But while initially a bit daunting, that's a good thing, because it also means it's a camera which isn't going to feel limiting down the road.

There's plenty of room for you to grow here, and to tune the D7200's operation to your particular tastes. And as you shoot with it, you'll learn the locations of all of those controls to the point where they become second nature -- at which point they'll free you from needing to dive into the menu system repeatedly, as you would with a more consumer-friendly camera. And that is really good news, because every moment in the menus is a moment spent disconnected from your subject, and a moment that's potentially a missed photo opportunity.

A camera which you can become one with is just what you need if you don't want to miss those moments when they arrive unexpected. And that, in the Nikon D7200, is just what you have.

60mm-equivalent, 10 sec. @ f/8, ISO 100

Some newer features are a little unpolished

That's not to say everything is perfect here, incidentally. There are still some rough edges in the Nikon D7200, and some areas in which we found it somewhat wanting. Perhaps the most significant of these is in its Wi-Fi connectivity, which we found to be rather troublesome, often failing to connect to our phone without first resetting both camera and phone's connectivity options completely.

And the Wi-Fi feature-set is also more limited than that of some competitors, which was rather surprising in a camera of this class. While remote live view and shutter release is possible, and the Nikon D7200 can also piggyback on your phone for GPS geolocation information, you can't change settings remotely. Nor can you even make settings changes on the camera body itself, without first disconnecting the Wi-Fi session.

142mm-equivalent, 1/160 sec. @ f/5.3, ISO 3200

If video is your primary focus, you may want to look elsewhere

And although there have been some worthwhile upgrades in the Nikon D7200's video feature-set -- key among them being zebra stripes to indicate overexposure, a new Auto ISO sensitivity function and 60p video frame rate at the highest resolution, in some respects the D7200 feels limiting in this area too.

Consumers will find the slow and somewhat erratic full-time autofocus in video mode isn't the equal of their long-retired camcorders. Pros will find the absence of focus peaking a great shame, as it's hard to really nail focus manually on the small live view image. And both will be frustrated by the fact that to change aperture, you have to exit video live view mode entirely, a limit that makes no sense at all given that the aperture can change without significant disruption to the still image live view.

210mm-equivalent, 1/250 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 22,800

An excellent buy for the enthusiast, particularly if you're already a Nikon shooter

But these concerns aside, the Nikon D7200 gives you a whole lot of camera for your money. It's not the best video shooter on the market, but its among the best options for an enthusiast-friendly still shooter, and it gives more than enough to satisfy if video capture and robust Wi-Fi aren't your primary goals. (And it's quite possible that the wireless connectivity situation will improve over time: Firmware updates for the body and app updates on the Android and iOS platforms could go a long way to making it easier to share your shots on Facebook.)

If you're a Nikon shooter looking to upgrade from an earlier enthusiast DSLR or to step up from a entry-level camera, the D7200 is a no-brainer: It will take your existing lenses and give them new life. Even if you don't already own any Nikon glass, the D7200 is still worthy of a close look if you enjoy the experience of shooting through a true optical viewfinder. There's something to be said for the immediacy and connection with your subject that a good viewfinder will give you that electronic viewfinders just don't match.

A clear Dave's Pick, the Nikon D7200 is the company's best effort yet in the enthusiast DSLR market. This rugged all-weather shooter will serve you well, give you room to grow as a photographer, and capture high-quality memories rain or shine for years to come!

 

Pros & Cons

Image Quality

  • Excellent image quality for its class
  • Outstanding dynamic range
  • Very high resolution
  • Revised JPEG processing produces crisper images and is more effective at suppressing noise
  • Revised JPEG processing struggles with low-contrast reds and generates more sharpening halos
  • Lack of OLPF means it's subject to aliasing, though anti-moiré processing seems to work fairly well
  • Overly warm results with Auto and Incandescent white balance indoors
  • Sensitivities greater than ISO 25,600-equivalent are only available in black-and-white mode

Performance

  • Very fast single-shot cycle times
  • Decent burst mode speed for a DSLR
  • Fast buffer clearing
  • Swift autofocus and improved low-light focusing performance
  • Low shutter lag
  • Quick startup and mode switching
  • Burst rate falls from 5.8 fps to 4.9 fps when shooting full-res 14-bit RAW files

Video

  • Video mode now supports Auto ISO control, allowing manual shutter and aperture selection while maintaining the metered exposure
  • Zebra-striping function makes completely manual exposure easy, and it can be enabled / disabled on the fly
  • High frame-rate 60p video is now possible at Full HD resolution
  • Optional 1.3x focal length crop will help bring distant subjects a bit closer, without having to buy another lens
  • Changing the aperture isn't possible if video live view mode is even active, let alone during recording
  • Full-time autofocus is slow to respond, and prone to hunting or seeking in the wrong direction
  • Time-lapse videos can show flickering with one-second step size, even with exposure smoothing enabled
  • 60p video is only available with a 1.3x focal length crop
  • No focus peaking in video live view mode

User Experience

  • Vastly improved buffer depths over predecessor (if you shoot sports, this alone is reason enough to get the D7200 instead of the D7100!)
  • Rugged dust- and weather-sealed body lets you shoot without fear of the elements
  • Excellent ergonomics and control layout
  • Very accurate viewfinder
  • Absolutely packed with physical controls that keep you out of the menu system
  • No need to enable ISO expansion to access the higher sensitivities
  • Excellent battery life has improved still further since the previous generation
  • Dual card slots
  • Only has magnesium-alloy body panels at top and rear; front, bottom and sides are polycarbonate.
  • LCD monitor is not articulated
  • No focus peaking in live view mode
  • Initial learning curve is quite steep with so many dedicated controls
  • Metering and function buttons are tough to reach if your hands aren't large
  • Menu system could be better organized
  • Built-in Wi-Fi functionality is rough around the edges, and has a limited feature-set

Optics

  • Optional 18-140mm kit lens is reasonably small and light for its focal length range
  • Fairly good build quality for a kit lens
  • Good sharpness even wide-open across the focal range (although at 140mm, it's not quite as sharp as it is when a bit wider)
  • Quick and near-silent autofocus
  • Three-stop Vibration Reduction works impressively well to help get sharp images
  • Reasonable macro performance, given this isn't a macro lens
  • Quite a bit of vignetting wide-open or at wider apertures
  • As much as 1% barrel distortion at wide-angle, and complex (if only moderate) mustache distortion at 24mm and above
  • A bit more chromatic aberration than we're used to from Nikon
  • Lens hood isn't included in the product bundle

Flash

  • Built-in popup flash is fairly powerful
  • Hot shoe is available for external strobes
  • Nikon's excellent Creative Lighting System is supported with the built-in strobe
  • Built-in flash has very narrow coverage

 



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