Features & Controls

The D5200 employs a 23.5 x 15.6 mm, APS-C sized CMOS sensor, which captures 24.71 million total pixels. The camera has a dust-reduction system and image sensor cleaning.

Image size:
  • 6000 x 4000 [L]
  • 4496 x 3000 [M]
  • 2992 x 2000 [S]
File format:
  • NEF (RAW): 14 bit, compressed
  • JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8) or basic (approx. 1:16) compression
  • NEF (RAW)+JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats

The range of the built-in flash is not particularly impressive - a dramatic drop-off happens at roughly 10 feet, which is likely to get you a lot of dark backgrounds though people or objects in the foreground are well illuminated. Nonetheless, if you're serious about photography, you're going to mount an external flash on the hot shoe.

You can't use the built-in flash in continuous shooting modes. But it does recharge fairly quickly, allowing you to take a flash shot every 1.6 seconds or so.

The manual (which offers a flash range table with aperture and ISO settings) says that at aperture f/4 and ISO 100, the flash range is approximately 2 feet to 9 feet, 10 inches. Using a lens with a wider maximum aperture than the f3.5 of the 18mm-55mm kit lens I tested with will increase this range.

Flash modes:
  • Auto
  • Auto with red-eye reduction
  • Auto slow sync
  • Auto slow sync with red-eye reduction
  • Fill-flash
  • Red-eye reduction
  • Slow sync
  • Slow sync with red-eye reduction
  • Rear-curtain with slow sync
  • Rear-curtain sync
Flash compensation:
-3 to +1 EV in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 EV

Nikon_D5200-hot shoe.jpg
The hot shoe for an external flash has sync and data contacts as well as a safety lock. Note that in front of the hot shoe is the built-in stereo microphone, though a port on the left side of the camera can be used for connecting an external stereo microphone.

Nikon_D5200-lens barrel.jpg
The best choice for the D5200 are AF-S and AF-I lenses, because they can perform auto focus with the camera. Other lens types do not, including lens types G, D, AI-P and AF (IX Nikkor and lenses for the F3AF are not supported). Non-CPU lenses can be used in Manual mode, but the camera's exposure meter will not function.

The electronic rangefinder - which provides a focus indicator in the viewfinder as long as you're not in Live View mode - can be used with lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster.

Auto focus uses TTL phase detection with 39 focus points (including 9 cross-type sensors), and an AF-assist illuminator with a range of roughly 1 ft. 8 in. to 9 ft 10 in. The focus point can be selected from 39 or 11 focus points.

Lens servo auto focus (AF):
  • Single-servo AF (AF-S)
  • Continuous-servo AF (AF-C)
  • Auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A), with predictive focus tracking activated automatically according to subject status
AF area modes:
  • Single-point AF
  • 9-point dynamic-area AF
  • 21-point dynamic-area AF
  • 39-point dynamic-area AF
  • 3D-tracking
  • Auto area AF
Focus can be locked by pressing shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing the AE-L/AF-L button. You also can assign exposure or focus lock to the Fn button.

Note the VR switch on the lens, providing a quick way to turn vibration reduction off if not needed. Next to the lens mount is the button for springing up the built-in flash, and below it the programmable Fn button.

The flash button serves multiple purposes, as indicated by the icon beside it. The button pops up the spring-loaded flash, and thereafter can be used to change flash mode and flash compensation. Holding the button down and turning the thumb dial changes the flash mode. Holding both the flash button and the exposure compensation button atop the camera while turning the thumb dial changes flash compensation.

The Fn button offers quick access to a user-selectable function.

Fn button menu:
  • Image quality/size
  • ISO sensitivity
  • White balance
  • HDR
  • NEF (RAW)
  • Auto bracketing
  • AF-area mode
  • Live view
  • AE/AF lock
  • AE lock only
  • AE lock (hold)
  • AF lock only
  • Auto focus (AF) on

The layout of the top panel packs a lot of functionality into a small area. The on/off switch surrounds the shutter-release button, so you're ready to shoot a split second after turning on the camera. The hand grip, in keeping with the small size of the lightweight body, is small but not so narrow that people with large hands will find it uncomfortable.

Nikon_D5200-mode dial shutter buttons.jpg
The dedicated movie record button sits right behind the shutter-release button. Next to it are the information and exposure compensation buttons. When using the viewfinder, the information button simply turns the LCD on and off. In Live View mode, you use this button to switch to alternate views, including a movie record view (with an audio meter), no photo settings icons, and with a framing grid.

While holding down the exposure compensation button, you turn the thumb dial to adjust this setting. The release mode button behind it launches a menu, which you have to navigate with the four-way control (you can't use the thumb dial).

Release mode menu:
  • Single frame
  • Continuous low
  • Continuous high
  • Self timer (10 seconds)
  • Delayed remote (2 seconds)
  • Quick-response remote
  • Quiet shutter release (mirror does not fold back down until you release the shutter button)
The mode dial, for the most part offers familiar manual positions (such as aperture- and shutter-priority modes) and popular scene modes, such as portrait, child and macro. In addition, next to full Auto mode it has an Auto (no flash) position, which allows you shoot in full Auto with the flash up, yet have it not fire.

Turning Live View mode on and off is done with the switch that surrounds the mode dial.

The viewfinder is a pentamirror, and it's slightly smaller than what you get from higher-end SLRs, which use the better regarded pentaprism viewfinder.

The menu button to the left of the viewfinder takes you to the master list of menus: playback, shooting, custom settings, setup, retouch, and recent settings.

To the right of the viewfinder, the information edit button (not to be confused with the information display button atop the camera) takes you to a menu of small icons corresponding to 14 shooting menus. These icons appear at the bottom of the LCD when using the viewfinder; in Live View mode, the icons are overlaid on the preview image.

Information edit button menus:
  • Image quality
  • Image size
  • Auto bracketing
  • HDR (high dynamic range)
  • Active D-Lighting
  • White balance
  • ISO sensitivity
  • Picture Control
  • Focus mode
  • AF-area mode
  • Metering
  • Flash mode
  • Flash compensation
  • Exposure compensation

To the right of the information edit button is the AE-L/AF-L button for locking the focus and/or exposure.

AE-L/AF-L button menu:
  • AE/AF lock: Focus and exposure lock while button is pressed
  • AE lock only: Exposure locks while button is pressed
  • AE lock (hold): Exposure locks and remains locked until button is pressed a second time
  • AF lock only: Focus locks while button is pressed
  • AF-On: Button initiates auto focus (overriding shutter release button)

To the right of the AE-L/AF-L button sits the thumb dial, which quickens navigation, but as noted earlier, does not work with every menu.

The back panel offers typical and familiar buttons, such as playback and delete (trash). In addition, the zoom buttons serve to magnify the image in Live View mode and playback mode, and in addition to launch index views of thumbnails, plus calendar view. The question mark indicates that the zoom out button doubles as the help system; depending on the shooting mode and menu displayed, this will bring up an explanation of the shooting mode or setting, or offer a photography tip such as to use the flash or a faster shutter speed.

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