Roughly two years have elapsed between the introduction of the Nikon D7100 and the arrival of its successor, and on the surface the new D7200 seems more like an incremental update than a major overhaul.
The D7200 is built around a sensor with a resolution of 24.2 million pixels, a tiny increase on the D7100’s 24.1 million pixels, while the body is pretty much identical, with the same weight and dimensions, and the same viewfinder.
[Update: The D7200 has since been replaced in the Nikon line-up by the D7500. The newer camera sports a slightly reduced pixel-count of 20.9MP, but offers an improved ISO performance, as well as a number of other tweaks and refinements. That’s not forgetting a tilt-angle touchscreen and 4K video recording. That does mean that the D7200 can be snapped up for a good price, while it’s still one of our favorite enthusiast DSLRs.]
- APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
- 3.2-inch screen, 1,229,000 dots
- 1080p video capture
In common with its predecessor, the D7200 has no anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor, an innovation designed to produce sharper images and better rendering of fine detail. Anti-aliasing filters are used to prevent moiré, or interference effects, when photographing fine textures or patterns, but at the time of the D7100’s launch Nikon claimed the high pixel density of its sensor would make it unlikely to suffer from any moire patterning, and we’ve not seen any reports from users suggesting it’s a problem.
There are some significant improvements over the D7100, however, the first of which is the upgrading of the camera’s internal processor from the Expeed 3 to the newer and more powerful Expeed 4. The frame rate remains the same as the D7100 – 6fps at full resolution, or 7fps when using the 1.3x crop mode – but the faster processor delivers improved buffering capacity, which was one of the biggest let-downs in the previous model.
Nikon claims the D7200 is capable of capturing 100 JPEGs in a burst or 27 raw files, although it should be noted that these figures relate to smaller 12-bit NEF files, and not the 14-bit files favoured by those looking for maximum image quality.
Aside from increasing the frame rate, the 1.3x crop mode has a couple of other useful applications. It extends the reach of your lenses if you need to get closer to a subject, such as when shooting sports or wildlife, and with 24 million pixels of resolution there’s plenty of scope for cropping in on subjects while still being able to produce large, high-quality prints. Secondly, it means that the 51 autofocus points cover the whole of the frame, rather than being grouped around the centre.
Another improvement is in the camera’s sensitivity range. The D7200 has a native range of ISO100-25,600, up from the D7100’s native top end of ISO6400. There are also Hi BW1 and Hi BW2 expansion settings, which take you up to a whopping ISO 102400 (equivalent); however, these two options are only available in JPEG mode, and produce monochrome images.
The D7200 comes with Picture Control 2.0, which we’ve already seen in other Nikon cameras such as the D750 and the D5500. That means there are seven different Picture Controls, including the new Flat mode, which produces images with reduced contrast and maximum dynamic range – videographers are more likely to use this than photographers, as it makes grading and enhancing footage easier.
Speaking of video, the D7200 shoots full HD 1080p footage at 30/25p, and you can also shoot at 60p/50p when using the 1.3x crop mode. The camera is also compatible with a new Nikon ME-W1 wireless mic, which it is claimed can capture sound up to 50 metres away. Video footage can be saved to one of the D7200’s dual SD card slots, or you can transfer it via HDMI to an external recorder.
The D7200 introduces both Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communication) connectivity within the body itself, both of which are becoming more prevalent on D-SLRs. While it’s not the first Nikon to feature Wi-Fi (the D5500 and D750 also have it), it is the first to include NFC, which should make connecting to an Android phone or device even quicker (though more on this later).
Another thing that stays the same is the 3.2-inch, 1229k-dot LCD screen, which is fixed and not touch-sensitive, and they eye-level pentaprism optical viewfinder, which offers 100% coverage.
Build and handling
- Magnesium alloy used for the majority of the construction
- Design virtually unchanged from the D7100
- Weighs 765g
Nikon has worked hard to make the D7200 look and feel like a high-quality piece of kit, and it shows – the camera feels and handles like a more expensive model, such as the D610 or the D750.
Both the front and rear grip have soft textured coatings to make the camera feel secure and comfortable in your hand. Your middle finger fits neatly underneath the protrusion for the shutter release button and your forefinger and thumb sit naturally on the shutter release and rear scrolling dial respectively – all in all it feels a good camera to hold.
Like the D7100, the D7200 is weatherproofed, enabling you to use it with confidence in a variety of less-than-ideal weather conditions. The weatherproofing adds to the camera’s air of high quality and ruggedness, even if it’s not quite up to the standard of pro camera like the Nikon D810.
The mode dial is on the top left of the camera and has just nine different options, including two useful slots for custom settings. Before you can move the dial you need to hold down a lock button in its centre, which is useful for avoiding accidental settings changes. Just underneath the mode dial is a second dial for selecting the drive mode. There’s a lock button for this to – it’s slightly fiddlier than the one on the mode dial, but it’s unlikely you’ll be needing to use it as often.
The D7200 is the type of camera that needs to be used with both hands, but all of the buttons are close to the edges and within easy reach of your thumbs. While the majority of the buttons are on the back of the camera, there are some useful ones elsewhere. As on the D7100 and D7000, the AF selection button and AF/M switch are just behind the lens mount, and easily reached with your thumb without you having to move your eye away from the viewfinder.
Below the lens mount is a customisable function button which can be assigned to one of 18 different functions. One which I found particularly useful is the Virtual Horizon Display in the viewfinder function – if you switch this on, bars will appear in the viewfinder to help you accurately level the camera.
If you’ve used a Nikon DSLR before you should be familiar with the rest of the controls, and also with the menu system, which is sensibly arranged on the whole.
In the bottom left-hand corner on the back of the camera is a button marked with an “i”, which acts as a quick menu button. Press this and you’ll be able to change settings such as Image Area (you can choose between DX and 1.3x crop mode), Picture Control and the ability to assign certain functions to certain buttons. I would normally expect to find more functions in this menu, but most of the settings you’re likely to want to change frequently (such as ISO, metering, or white balance) have their own separate buttons anyway.
The optical viewfinder is bright and clear and it’s excellent to see a camera at this level offering 100% coverage, so you can be confident that nothing will have crept into the edges of the frame when you check your images later. On the downside, using an optical finder means you can’t see the effect that changing a particular setting will have, but that’s a characteristic of DSLR cameras, and one advantage of the electronic viewfinders in compact system cameras.
Despite the clarity of the viewfinder, it’s still advisable to use Live View when shooting subjects that require precise focusing, such as a still life or macro. Live view focusing is slower because it relies on contrast AF, but because it uses the image formed on the sensor to check the sharpness, it’s always accurate. An articulating, or even just a tilting screen would have been nice to see, but Nikon has decided on a fixed monitor in keeping with the rest of the D7000-series cameras so far.
As with the D7100, the Live View button is found on the right hand side of the back of the camera, and around it there’s a switch for moving between stills and video shooting.
Connecting the camera to your smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi is easy once you know how. The control is hidden away a little inside the menu settings, though – I’d prefer to see a dedicated button, or at least to have the option included in the “i” menu. Instead, you need to scroll to the third page of the Setup Menu in the Main Menu, then choose Enable under the Wi-Fi option. There are disappointingly few controls available from within the remote app – you can only move the focus point and trip the shutter release – but it’s handy for group shots, tripod use (to avoid jogging the camera) and shooting hazardous or timid subjects remotely. Perhaps more useful is the facility to transfer images from the camera to your phone, enabling you to share them quickly via email and social media.
- 51-point AF, 15 cross-type AF points
- 51 or 11 focus points can be selected
- 9-, 21-, or 51-point Dynamic-area AF
In what was a first for a Nikon DX format (APS-C) camera a couple of years ago, the D7200 is capable of focusing at down to -3EV, which is thanks to the improved MultiCAM 3500 II 51-point autofocusing system – a proven AF system that’s be inherited from full-frame models higher up the Nikon range.
The autofocus module has 15 cross-type sensors, and one central sensor which is sensitive down to an f/8. This makes the autofocus system usable with telephoto lenses and teleconverter combinations where the maximum available aperture is f/8 – quite a reality when you consider some of the newer superzoom lenses.
The D7200 delivers quick and snappy focus when set in Single AF mode, while you won’t be disappointed by the D7200 performance when it comes to subject tracking.
The D7200 uses what is getting on to be a rather dated 2016-pixel metering sensor to analyse the scene and understand what part of the frame its supposed to be tracking, but it still does a very solid job.
- 6fps burst shooting (7fps with 1.3x crop-mode)
- Up to a 100 frame buffer (JPEG)
- 1100-shot battery life
The Matrix (all-purpose) metering system delivers well-exposed images in the majority of conditions, and it even copes well with some high contrast scenes.
The automatic white balance system also copes well with different lighting conditions too, and is pretty much faultless in daylight or cloudy conditions. Under artificial lighting, it delivers slightly warm results, so for maximum accuracy we’d recommend switching to a more appropriate WB setting (such as Tungsten), or taking a custom white balance setting.
As already mentioned, the camera’s burst depth is much improved over the D7100. Whereas its predecessor was only capable of capturing a couple of seconds’ worth of JPEGs before the buffer became full, the D7200’s EXPEED 4 processor facilitates much better performance. Shooting in Fine JPEG-only quality mode, you can capture around 50 shots before the buffer fills, which equals to around 9 seconds of shooting time, giving you plenty of opportunities to catch the action. If you need more flexible RAW images, shooting at 14-bit quality gives you roughly 2-3 seconds shooting time, or 4-5 seconds at the lower quality 12-bit setting.
Nikon has also managed to improve the already impressive battery life, which is increased from 950 shots (CIPA standard) to 1,100 shots – or 80 minutes of video recording.
- No low-pass filter
- Pleasing Picture Effects
We’ve seen the 24.2-million pixel sensor and Expeed 4 processor combination before in the D5500, and know it to be a great partnership. So I was expecting pretty good things from the D7200 – and I wasn’t disappointed.
Like the D7100 before it, this camera is aimed at enthusiast photographers who are likely to want to shoot all manner of different subjects, so it needs to be an all-rounder capable of dealing with different handling demands and shooting conditions.
Looking at JPEG images directly from the camera, colours have a nice level of vibrancy, with a bright but natural appearance. In good light the colours are vivid and bold, but even under less than optimal lighting conditions they still exhibit attractive warmth and saturation.
Detail is also very well resolved, with virtually no smoothing visible in images shot at lower sensitivities (such as ISO 100 or 200) when viewed at 100 per cent magnification
Detail continues to be resolved well throughout the sensitivity range, and even at ISO 12,800 or 25,600 you can still see a reasonable amount of detail (again, looking at JPEG images). Even the monochrome only, JPEG-only setting of Hi1 is usable, and the grain which is present arguably adds to the “feel” of a black-and-white shot.
To process the D7200’s RAW images you’ll need to use the software supplied with the camera or download Nikon’s free Capture NX-D software from its website – at the time of writing Adobe Camera Raw hasn’t been updated to be compatible with the camera. Looking at the RAW images it’s obvious a fair amount of noise reduction is being applied to JPEGs in-camera, and you have plenty of scope to apply tailored noise reduction to your RAWs, balancing out noise removal and detail retention.
The D7200 may not be a complete overhaul when compared to the D7100, but Nikon has tweaked an already great camera to produce something which is clearly better than its predecessor. The individual changes may seem fairly small, but taken together they have made a real difference.
As with the D7100, the D7200’s build quality is reassuringly solid, and the camera handles well – it’s got a high-quality feel that you would normally expect from a model near the top of Nikon’s range, rather than in the middle.
Packed with features, a decent performance and a excellent AF system, the D7200 is topped off with a cracking sensor to make it an ideal camera for enthusiasts – especially if you already own some Nikon lenses. It might be getting on a bit, but this makes it an ever better buy.
The next step up the Nikon DSLR range, the D500 actually doesn’t match the D7200 for resolution with a 20.2MP sensor, but there are a number of other benefits including a stunning AF system, 10fps burst shooting and a ultra-rugged build. One for those looking to shoot action and wildlife, but still a great all-round DSLR.
Read the full review: Nikon D500
Canon EOS 80D
The D7200’s nearest competitor, Canon’s EOS 80D also sports a 24MP sensor, but benefits from a vari-angle touchscreen. It’s a great enthusiast DSLR and if you’re a Canon shooter with some investment in some Canon glass, then this makes the most sense. You won’t be disappointed.
Read the full review: Canon EOS 80D
Fuji’s mirrorless masterpiece is a great alternative if you’re after an enthusiast-focused camera. Handling is lovely, while the AF performance is a huge improvement over previous models. Definitely worth a look.
Read the full review: Fuji X-T2
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