If market data is to be believed, fewer people are buying DSLRs these days. Some have migrated to mirrorless cameras. Others are likely holding onto older bodies, while still more are just as happy taking their snapshots with smartphones and even—so help us—tablets.
It’s the kind of market that should force camera makers to be judicious with updates, ensuring they’re delivering more than just incremental improvements. So when Nikon announced the D7200 roughly two years after the D7100, we were eager to see what new features the sequel would bring to the table.
Like its predecessor, the D7200 features a 24-megapixel sensor with no optical low pass filter. It uses a 3D Color Matrix Metering system similar to the one found in the D7100 and an Advanced Multi-CAM 3500 DX autofocus sensor with 51 focus points.
There are some significant improvements over the D7100, starting with the processor, which gets bumped from an EXPEED 3 to EXPEED 4. Native sensitivity has improved from ISO 100–6400 on the D7100 to ISO 100–25,600, and is expandable up to ISO 102,400, if you’re willing to shoot in monochrome. Low-light focusing has been improved from -2 EV on the D7100 to -3EV on the D7200.
The camera’s picture control settings are now fine-tunable in 0.25-step increments, a feature lacking in the D7100. The D7200 also gains the useful flat picture control setting to de-saturate videos and stills for postprocess color grading. There’s also a new clarity control picture setting to add sharpness to images in-camera. Auto-bracketing has been expanded from 1–5 frames on the D7100 to 1–9 frames.
Finally, the D7200 gains Wi-Fi for wireless remote control and image sharing, and NFC for quick pairing with mobile devices.
Nikon has made it easy for owners of its newer full-frame cameras to throw the D7200 into the camera bag. The D7200’s button and dial placement are essentially identical to models like the D610, D750 and D810, give or take a control or two. As you’d expect from a high-end Nikon, the D7200 is durable, well-built and comfortable to shoot with. It’s comparable in weight to Canon’s 70D. There are ample external controls on the camera with the ability to map custom functions to select buttons if you want to tailor the controls to your liking. We find this method a bit more convoluted than simply leaving dedicated custom buttons on the camera body, but it’s better than nothing.
The 3.2-inch display is fixed and not touch-based, which sets it apart from a growing number of higher-end cameras. But it does have a pair of SD card slots with the ability to save JPEGs to one card and RAW files to another, which is quite useful.
We asked our frequent co-tester, the New Jersey-based photographer and director David Patiño, to try out the D7200, and he used it on a headshot session. While he said that color reproduction was spot-on, he did find some of the images to be a bit soft when zoomed to 100 percent—though he attributed that in part to using the kit lens. The low-light performance on the D7200 was quite good with the camera delivering excellent JPEG results up to ISO 12,800.
The performance was equally impressive for video. The D7200 records beautiful HD video at 1920x1080p30. There’s also an option for 1920x1080p60 if you use a 1.3x crop—not ideal, but better than nothing if you need the higher frame rate. We liked that Nikon added zebra stripes to video mode in live view, but we didn’t like that you couldn’t adjust aperture during video while in live view. You can adjust it during video recording, but you have to jump out of live view mode first, which isn’t ideal.
Despite its faster processor, the D7200 has a similar burst mode to the D7100 at 6 fps, a fairly pedestrian pace. Fortunately, the buffer has been given a nice increase. You can now save up to 100 JPEGs, 18 14-bit RAW files or 27 12-bit RAW files during continuous shooting. You can eke out an additional frame per second if you switch to a 1.3x crop mode. We found the 51-point AF performance speedy and accurate, delivering far more in-focus shots than misses even in low light. Start-up time and shot-to-shot performance are also brisk.
The D7200’s battery life is an excellent 1,110 shots per charge based on CIPA standards.
Between the improved ISO, more generous buffer, better low-light focusing and better battery life, we think that with the D7200, Nikon gave D7100 owners enough reason to upgrade. For Nikon shooters, the D7200 is a compelling crop-sensor camera to use alongside one of the company’s FX series full-frame cameras.
Beyond the camp of Nikon loyalists, the D7200 faces extremely tough competition from both mirrorless models and DSLRs alike. Next to Canon’s comparably priced 70D, the D7200 boasts a higher-resolution sensor made sharper by the lack of a low-pass filter. Native ISO performance is also better on the Nikon, but it’s a frame per second slower, lacks the articulating LCD and can’t match the 70D’s video and live-view AF capabilities. Next to mirrorless rivals like Samsung’s NX1, Panasonic’s GH4 or Sony’s A7 II, the D7200 is considerably slower and lacks 4K video recording. With about $1,200 to spend on a camera body, the Nikon D7200 makes a compelling case for your cash, but it’s not the only one.
Pros: Wi-Fi and NFC; similar design to full-frame lineup; excellent battery life; expanded buffer; improved low-light focusing.
Cons: Fixed display; slow continuous shooting mode; no real-time exposure preview; no focus peaking.
Related: Camera Review: Nikon D4S