Nikon D7200 Image Quality


Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slightly higher than average mean saturation with slightly below average hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare ISOs, and click on them for larger images.

Saturation. The Nikon D7200 pumps dark blues by quite a bit, dark greens moderately and most other colors by a small amount, but slightly undersaturates bright yellow, light green, and cyans. Mean saturation levels are a little higher than average, but remain quite stable as ISO climbs. Mean saturation at base ISO was 113.3% or 13.3% oversaturated, a little higher than average, but as mentioned, much of that is because blues are pushed so much. Overall, we found the D7200's default saturation levels quite pleasing and vibrant. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. The Nikon D7200's Caucasian skin tones looked a bit too pink when using manual white balance in simulated daylight, however Auto white balance produced warmer, more yellowish tones. Both are not bad but ideally skin tones should probably be somewhere in between. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Nikon D7200 did shift cyan toward blue by quite a bit at base ISO, with smaller shifts in reds and orange. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors.) With an average "delta-C" color error of 6.34 after correction for saturation at base ISO, overall hue accuracy was a little lower than average (lower numbers are better), but still what we'd consider "good," and hue accuracy remained fairly stable across the ISO range. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images


Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color with the Manual white balance setting, but overly-warm results with Auto and Incandescent settings. Average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance,
Normal setting
+0.3 EV
Auto White Balance,
Keep Warm Lighting setting
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was very warm and reddish with the default Auto white balance setting. (We'd say unacceptably so, though unfortunately this is common.) Unsurprisingly, the D7200's "Keep Warm Lighting" option for Auto white balance produced even warmer results with a strong orange tint. The Incandescent setting was also too warm, with more of a yellow/green cast. The Manual setting produced the most accurate results by far, if just a touch cool. The Nikon D7200 required an average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +0.3 EV (most cameras require +0.3 EV for this shot). Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

Outdoors, daylight
Very good results under harsh outdoor lighting.

Manual White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Default (0 EV)

Outdoors, the Nikon D7200 performed well, requiring +0.7 EV exposure compensation for our "Sunlit" Portrait shot to keep the mannequin's face reasonably bright, though her eyes are still a touch dim. (The average for this shot among cameras we've tested is about +0.7 EV.) We preferred skin tones from the Manual white balance setting as the Auto setting produced tones that were a little too yellow, though they are a bit too pink. Contrast is quite high as you might expect under such harsh lighting, but the camera did a very good job of holding onto detail in the highlights and shadow detail is excellent with low amounts of fine-grained noise. The Nikon D7200 produced vibrant colors and a good exposure without any exposure compensation in our Far-field scene (above right). A few highlights are blown (mostly specular highlights) but shadow detail is excellent. Overall, very good performance for its class here.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

~2,850 to ~2,950 lines of strong detail from JPEGs, a bit higher from ACR processed RAW files.

Strong detail to
~2,900 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,850 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,950 lines horizontal
ACR processed RAW
Strong detail to
~2,900 lines vertical
ACR processed RAW

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,900 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to about 2,850 lines in the vertical direction. Some may argue for higher numbers, but lines start to merge and aliasing artifacts interfere with detail at these resolutions. Extinction of the pattern didn't occur until around 3,400 to 3,600 lines. We weren't able to do significantly better with NEF files processed through Adobe Camera Raw, only about 50 more lines in both directions. Color moiré is more evident in the ACR converted RAW files, however it's not as high as we'd expect for a camera without an optical low-pass filter. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Sharp images but with visible edge-enhancement artifacts visible on high-contrast subjects. Mild to moderate noise suppression visible at base ISO.

Very good definition of
high-contrast elements,
but with evidence of
edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
though detail remains strong in
the darker parts of the model's hair here.

Sharpness. The Nikon D7200 produces images that are crisp and sharp when coupled with a sharp lens as used in the above left crop. Some edge enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the halos around the border and text, but default sharpening looks to be a good compromise between crispness and sharpening artifacts when printed. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows some mild to moderate noise suppression at base ISO, as the darker and lower-contrast areas of the model's hair show some smudging where individual strands of hair merge. Chroma noise is more effectively controlled than from its predecessor, however subtle details in the red channel can be reduced as a result, as can be seen in the red flowers in our Indoor Portrait shots (click on the hair crop above right) or in the red-leaf fabric of our Still Life shots (click on the bottle label crop above left). Still, a very good performance here considering the difficult lighting. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

Aliasing. You can see aliasing artifacts or hints of them in a number of our D7200 test shots, however the Nikon D7200 does a pretty good job at suppressing color moiré in JPEGs for a camera that doesn't have an optical low-pass filter.

Camera JPEG ACR RAW conversion

Notice above how the in-camera JPEG on the left has virtually no color moiré compared to an Adobe Camera Raw conversion of the same shot, though you can still see luminance moiré patterns (they're a little difficult to spot because of the reflections in the glass). As mentioned, the Nikon D7200's color moiré suppression seems to work quite well, but it can lead to other artifacts, such as small dots and lines that break up fine patterns, as well as more noticeable luminance moiré in some cases.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Nikon D7200 does a great job at capturing lots of fine detail in its JPEGs, but more detail can often be obtained from carefully processing RAW files, while at the same time reducing sharpening artifacts. Let's have a look at base ISO:

Base ISO (100)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to the matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.0 (right) using default noise reduction with some moderate but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (200%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

As is frequently the case, the demosaicing in Adobe Camera Raw and sharpening in Photoshop deliver finer detail than the camera JPEG, with fewer sharpening artifacts. Looking closely at the images, ACR extracts some detail that isn't present in the camera JPEG, especially in the red-leaf swatch where the conversion was able to resolve some of the fine thread pattern, while the camera's JPEG engine tended to blur it away as if noise. As expected, the ACR conversion does however show more noise at default noise reduction settings than the camera at its default settings. All-in-all, though, the D7200 did a very good job at reducing noise while maintaining excellent detail in most areas of our target. Still, for maximum detail (and flexibility), using a good RAW converter does yield slightly better results than in-camera JPEGs, as is usually the case.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good high ISO performance for a 24-megaxpixel APS-C model.

Noise Reduction = Normal (Default)
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400 ISO 12,800 ISO 25,600

Noise levels are fairly low at ISOs 100 through 400, though some minor loss of detail due to noise reduction is evident even at base ISO. At ISO 800, we see a slight softening of fine detail due to stronger noise reduction, however fine detail is still very good. At ISO 1600, noise levels increase with a touch more blurring in the fine details and more visible grain, but detail is still pretty good and chroma noise remains low. This trend continues as ISO rises, with progressively stronger luminance noise that remains fairly fine-grained but blurs out fine detail, along with low levels of chroma noise. But by ISO 25,600 almost all fine detail is gone, luminance noise is high, and chroma noise in the form of purple and yellow blotchiness in darker areas becomes more evident.

High ISO noise performance does appear to be noticeably improved over the D7100 (apart from the aforementioned loss of subtle detail in the red channel), but most of the improvement is due to more effective noise reduction processing as noise in RAW files looks quite similar. Still, very good noise performance overall for a 24-megapixel APS-C model. See our Print Quality analysis section below for recommended print sizes at each ISO.

A note about focus for this shot: We shoot this image at f/4, usually using one of three very sharp reference lenses (70mm Sigma f/2.8 macro for most cameras, 60mm f/2.8 Nikkor macro for Nikon bodies, and Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 for Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds bodies). To insure that the hair detail we use for making critical judgements about camera noise processing and detail rendering is in sharp focus at the relatively wide aperture we're shooting at, the focus target at the center of the scene is on a movable stand. This lets us compensate for front- or back-focus by different camera bodies, even those that lack micro-focus adjustments. This does mean, though, that the focus target itself may appear soft or slightly out of focus for bodies that front- or back-focused with the reference lens. We know this; if you click to view the full-size image for one of these shots and notice that the focus target is fuzzy, you don't need to email and tell us. :-) The focus target position will have been adjusted to insure that the rest of the scene is focused properly.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range, and low light tests
Very good detail in both highlights and shadows, with good dynamic range despite high contrast. Excellent low-light performance, capable of focusing and capturing bright images in near darkness.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

The Nikon D7200 handled the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above well. Though contrast is high, shadow and highlight detail are both very good. As mentioned, the +0.7 EV exposure did the best job here, producing a reasonably bright face without blowing out many highlights, though some users may prefer the +1.0 EV exposure as the eyes are brighter. It's really up to the user and whether you plan on doing any adjustments in post. Despite the bright appearance in white areas, there are relatively few clipped highlights in the mannequins's shirt and the flowers at +0.7 EV, and shadow detail is very good with very low noise and little color pollution. Excellent performance here, but be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above, or shoot in the shade when possible.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Face Detection (0 EV)
0 EV
Auto mode
0 EV
Live View
with Face-priority AF
0 EV

Face Detection. Here, we can see the effect of the Nikon D7200's full Auto mode as well as face detection enabled in Live View mode. As you can see from the shots above, full Auto which selected Portrait Scene mode produced a well-exposed subject and background. To do that, it boosted ISO to 800, applied Active D-lighting and selected an aperture of f/5.6. In Live View mode using Aperture-priority, Face-priority AF mode also greatly improved the exposure versus Aperture-priority with the optical viewfinder, selecting a slower shutter speed of 1/30s versus 1/60s to brighten the image (since the other two exposure variables of aperture and ISO were fixed).

Active D-Lighting
Active D-Lighting attempts to preserve detail in both highlights and shadows in high-contrast situations, while maintaining moderate levels of contrast. The series of shots below show the effect of the various Active D-Lighting settings available on the Nikon D7200 on our high-contrast "Sunlit" Portrait scene. Note that Active D-Lighting is different from the touch-up menu's D-Lighting, as it is performed during image capture instead of after. (It does affect only JPEG images though, Nikon very properly doesn't apply tonal adjustments like this to RAW file data. NEF files, however, are tagged so that Nikon software can automatically apply the effect when converted.)

"Sunlit" Portrait Active D-Lighting (0 EV)
ADL Settings:






Extra High

Mouse over the links to see how the various levels of Active D-Lighting affects our "Sunlit" Portrait shot at default exposure. Click on a link to get to the full-res image. (Active D-Lighting's effect can be a little subtle in shots like those above, so we decided to use a mouse-over to better show how each setting compares to Off.)

As you can see from the images and histograms above, enabling Auto Active D-Lighting resulted in a brighter, much more balanced image with boosted shadows and midtones, yet very few highlights were blown. Also notice how the manual strength settings tended boosted shadows and midtones less than Auto, but stronger settings reduced highlights further. Note that the effect of Active D-Lighting will vary quite a bit with the subject and lighting: The camera decides what needs adjusting, and by how much, so the effect can be quite a bit greater or lesser depending on what the camera "sees".

See below for how Active D-Lighting worked on our Far-field shot.

Far-field Active D-Lighting (0 EV)

Here are the results with our Far-field shot. As you can see, Active D-Lighting brought up shadow detail while holding on to more of the highlights, though the difference between different strengths can be subtle.

HDR Mode
The D7200 offers an in-camera high-dynamic-range imaging function, a feature that's becoming quite common these days. When enabled, the D7200 captures two images with one push of the shutter button -- one underexposed and one overexposed -- and combines them in-camera to produce a high-dynamic-range JPEG. (RAW format is not supported.) The Nikon D7200 seems to perform micro-alignment of the two images so the user manual warns of possible cropping but Nikon recommends the use of a tripod, so it can likely only correct for very small amounts of camera movement between shots. Obviously moving subjects should also be avoided.

"Sunlit" Portrait HDR (0 EV)
HDR Settings:





Extra High


Unlike some Nikons which allow you to set the exposure differential between the two images from 1, 2 or 3 EV, and also adjust the amount of "smoothing" that is applied to the boundaries between the two images with selections of Low, Medium and High, the D7200 takes a simpler approach offering just four strengths in addition to Auto. Mouse over the links above to see how various levels of HDR affects our "Sunlit" Portrait shot and click on a link to get to the full-res image.

Although portraits aren't good subjects for HDR images, you can still see higher levels make quite a difference to the overall exposure by opening up shadow detail but they can lead to artificial looking shadows around bright objects or halos and glowing around dark ones.

Far-field HDR (0 EV)

Here are the same HDR settings with our Far-field shot. Again, some settings do a good job of taming hot highlights while bringing up some of the shadows and deeper midtones, while stronger settings cause a lot of glowing and halos. You can also see ghosting in the flag and leaves from movement between the exposures caused by wind. While not perfect, it's still a useful feature for capturing static scenes with dynamic range that exceeds the capability of the sensor for those not willing to use manual HDR techniques (bracketing exposure and then combining images in post-processing).

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we compare the Nikon D7200's dynamic range to its predecessor, the D7100, and also to the 7D Mark II, Canon's flagship APS-C DSLR.

As you can see from the above graph (click for a larger image), the D7200's dynamic range is improved over the D7100 at low ISOs, with almost an entire stop advantage at base ISO (14.6 vs 13.7 EV). At other sensitivities the D7200 only has a slight advantage or performs on par, except at maximum ISO were dynamic range tested a tad lower (6.5 vs 6.8 EV) than its predecessor. Still, a worthwhile improvement in dynamic range at low ISO.

The D7200's dynamic range is however significantly higher than the 7D Mark II's at low to moderately high ISOs, with the Nikon producing more than a 2-3/4 EV advantage (14.6 vs 11.8 EV) at base ISO. Only at the Nikon's highest ISO of 25,600 does the Canon slightly best it at about 6.6 vs 6.5 EV.

Bottom line, outstanding dynamic range performance from the D7200, the best score yet from an APS-C camera and better than most full-frame models. Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Nikon D7200 for more of their test results and additional comparisons.

  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux

2s, f2.8

30s, f2.8

30s, f2.8

1/15s, f2.8

1s, f2.8

1s, f2.8

1/125s, f2.8

1/8s, f2.8

1/8s, f2.8

Low Light. The Nikon D7200 performed very well in our low-light tests, capturing usable images at the lowest light level we test (1/16 foot-candle) even with the lowest sensitivity setting (ISO 100). As you'd expect, noise is higher at ISO 3200 but remains well-controlled and very fine-grained. Unsurprisingly, the maximum full-color ISO of 25,600 is however quite noisy with noticeably less detail, and is best avoided except for small prints and in emergencies.

We didn't notice any significant issues with hot pixels or heat blooming, and unlike the D7100, pattern noise seen in deep shadows is very low.

Color balance was good with the Auto white balance setting at one foot-candle, just slightly cool, though there's the strong shift towards magenta at lower light levels we often see from Nikons.

The camera's phase-detection autofocus system was able to focus on our test subject down to below the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted with an f/2.8 lens, which is excellent. And the Nikon D7200 was able to autofocus in complete darkness with the AF assist enabled. In Live View mode, the camera's contrast-detect autofocus didn't do as well, only able to focus down to just below the 1/4 foot-candle, and AF assist is not supported in Live View mode.

Keep in mind that the longer shutter speeds here demand the use of a tripod to prevent any blurring from camera movement. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Digital SLRs like the Nikon D7200 do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects.

Output Quality

Print Quality

ISO 100/200 deliver excellent prints at 30 x 40 inches and higher, as large as you can go until pixelization begins to show up, with rich, vibrant colors and nice overall tonal depth.

ISO 400 prints are almost as good as at the first two ISOs, with only the faintest hint of noise in a few flatter areas of our target, and useful for all but the most critical of applications. For our official rating, we'll call 24 x 36 inch prints "good" here.

ISO 800 yields 20 x 30 inch prints that are quite good, with only subtle traces of noise in a few of the flatter areas of our target, and just a hint of softness in a few fine detail areas. It's also beginning to lose all evidence of fine detail on our tricky target red swatch, which is normal for most cameras except Nikons, which tended to do it better. Nikon EXPEED 4 models have implemented a revised noise reduction algorithm which tends to smooth the detail in our red-leaf swatch similar to how other cameras do, though it works quite well in all other areas.

ISO 1600 produces a nice 16 x 20 inch print, quite good for an APS-C camera body at this ISO and is also the first setting at which the D7200 outperforms its predecessor by a print size. Virtually all contrast detail is now lost in our target's red-leaf swatch, though, but that's the only issue as all other areas look very good for both accurate color and fine detail.

ISO 3200 delivers an 11 x 14 inch print that looks similar in quality to the 16 x 20 at ISO 1600, where only the red swatch detail is lost, and all other areas work well including great color reproduction.

ISO 6400 prints an 11 x 14 that shows a bit too much noise to warrant our "good" rating, but are more than adequate for less critical applications. We'll give the 8 x 10's our full seal of approval here.

ISO 12,800 yields a very good 5 x 7 inch print. Unless you super-scope the image with a loupe you'd never know you were looking at an ISO this high, except for the loss of all fine detail in the target red-leaf swatch.

ISO 25,600 shows the D7200 once again besting its predecessor, as it's able to deliver a good 4 x 6 inch print with minimal visible noise, where the D7100 was unable to do so at this ISO.

The Nikon D7200 is a clear step up compared to the already very good D7100, besting it at two ISO settings by a print size but appearing better in general at all ISOs. It shows less noise all around, but it loses most low contrast detail in our red-leaf swatch by about ISO 1600, which is unlike previous generation Nikon bodies. It appears Nikon has revised their noise reduction processing in order to further minimize noise in flatter areas, with the downside of losing fine detail in the red swatch. Still, this APS-C body delivers a super-solid 16 x 20 inch print at ISO 1600, and that's a worthwhile achievement. Well done on this one for image quality, Nikon.


The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon D7200 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Nikon D7200 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!

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