The mid-range Nikon D7000 DSLR series has become a cult classic among professionals and serious amateurs with its great build, intuitive handling, good image quality and affordable pricing.
The latest Nikon D7200 seeks to continue that tradition.
Compared with the D7100 released two years ago, the upgrades may not seem so significant, but these are nonetheless important improvements.
- larger buffer for RAW images - up to 18 frames (5 frames in D7100);
- faster Expeed 4 image processor;
- better autofocusing (AF) performance in low light;
- built-in Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication;
- ability to shoot 60p full high-definition videos; and
- better battery life (up to 15 per cent longer).
The D7200 has the same native ISO range as its predecessor, from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600. But the D7200's range can be extended to ISO 51,200 and ISO 102,400, though only in monochrome and JPEG format.
The restriction is probably due to the amount of chromatic noise present in the images at such high ISO settings.
In build and looks, the D7200 retains much of the series' flavour with its sturdy magnesium-alloy body, which resists moisture and dust. The contoured rubberised grip accommodates all my fingers and ensures a good grasp of the camera.
The button layout is so well laid out that it will be like second nature to a seasoned photographer. One rear dial and another in front facilitates quick changes of settings, while a dedicated video-recording button and exposure-compensation button are sited just behind the shutter release for easy access.
A Mode dial sits at the top left of the camera with a shooting-drive dial at its base. Each has its own lock, so it cannot be adjusted by accident.
Nikon has resisted turning the D7200's 3.2-inch LCD screen into a tiltable touchscreen, as it is probably not what its target audience wants.
The dual SD card slots of its predecessor are retained. The second one can be used for back-up or extra storage. Or you may opt to save JPEGs to one card and RAW images to another.
Operation-wise, this DSLR is really quick. Start-up and shutdown are almost instant, and shutter lag is negligible.
Using a Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, the AF is equally fast. It locks on to a focus almost instantaneously under bright sunlight.
Even in dim lighting, it takes only a second to secure a sharp focus with the aid of AF assist light. But in video recording, you still need to depress the shutter release halfway to get a sharp focus when you pan from one scene to another.
Using a speed rated at 45MB per second, the D7200 shot 12 RAW images in 2sec before it ran out of buffer.
The image quality is superb with sharp rendition of pixels - probably the sharpest I have seen by an APS-C DSLR. The details are smooth and excellent. Colour reproduction is vivid with nice warmth and saturation. Dynamic range is outstanding.
Image noise is absent until ISO 3,200. Still under control at ISO 6,400, it shows only slight loss of details. Images shot at ISO 12,800 are still good for Web usage.
Monochrome images shot at ISO 51,200 are still usable, as they exhibit that attractive old-school film grain.
Full high-definition videos are similarly sharp and vivid. There is a bit too much wind and ambient audio, such as the lens AF's sound.
Its predecessor manages an impressive 950 images on a full charge. The D7200 is even better - taking 1,110 images before the battery goes flat.
It would be hard to convince a Nikon D7100 user to upgrade. But if you are still using a D7000 or any entry-level DSLRs for that matter, it is time to get the D7200 - especially at the new affordable price.
Price: $1,469 (body only)
Image sensor: 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS
Screen: 3.2-inch LCD with 1,228,800 dots; optical viewfinder
Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 25,600
Shooting speed: Up to 6 frames per second
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication
Weight: 675g (body with battery and memory card)
Value for money 4/5
Battery life 5/5
This article was first published on April 22, 2015.
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