Nikon D5200 review - Quality

Quality

Nikon D5200 vs Canon EOS T4i / 650D

 

To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Nikon D5200 and the Canon EOS T4i / 650D, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The Nikon D5200 was fitted with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm kit lens and the Canon EOS T4i / 650D with the E-FS 18-135mm kit lens. Both lenses were set to their maximum 18mm wide angle setting to provide an approximately equal field of view

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Nikon D5200 results
1 Nikon D5200 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon D5200 Quality RAW
3 Nikon D5200 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon D5200 Noise RAW
5 Nikon D5200 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Nikon D5200. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f8 and the sensitivity to 100 ISO. The camera metered an exposure of 1/400. The EOS T4i / 650D metered an exposure of 1/500 at f8 at its base 100 ISO sensitivity. In the default setup for the D5200 Auto distortion control is off, Active D-lighting is set to Auto, Picture control is set to standard and White balance is set to Auto. On the EOS T4i / 650D Peripheral illumination correction is enabled, Chromatic aberration correction is disabled, Auto lighting optimizer is set to Standard, and Picture style is set to auto as is White balance.

Overall, the D5200 has produced a good result with accurate exposure, good white balance and natural looking colours. The low winter sunshine creates a scene with a wide range of tonal values and the histogram for this shot is clipped at both ends, indicating that the D5200 couldn’t record all of them. So the shadows will be filled a little and some highlight detail on the white walls of the buildings is blown, but the histogram is in the middle so a different exposure would only have made things worse for either the shadow or highlight clipping. Interestingly, the 650D managed to capture the full tonal range without clipping.

Turning to the crops, overall the level of detail is quite good, but in areas there’s a softness which obscures the finest details and blurs the edges. This is only a little evident in the first crop, the top edge of the wall surrounding the chapel is well defined and you can make out the door and window detail and some of the detail in the stonework.

In the lighthouse crop the softness is more apparent; you can make out the white cylinder of the lighthouse and the lamp room at the top, but it’s a little indistinct. The windows and roofs in the middle ground are also a little blurry. The same goes for the larger detail in the brickwork on the third crop from the edge of the frame, though there’s no evidence of colour fringing from chromatic aberration.

The fourth crop is the most interesting though, because it tells a different story from the other three. Here the edge detail is nice and crisp and the fine detail is well resolved; you can clearly make out the individual tile and brickwork in the foreground of this crop. I think what this set of crops shows is that the D5200’s new 24 Megapixel sensor is capable of resolving more detail than the 18-55mm kit lens is showing here.

The crops from the 18 Megapixel Canon EOS T4i / 650D sensor show a larger area with smaller detail. Generally the Canon crops look more contrasty with puchier detail and sharper edges than the D5200 crops. The third crop shows some pretty dreadful colour fringing but don’t forget that the EOS T4i / 650D turns chromatic aberration correction off by default and simply enabling it will take of problems like this. The fourth crop, like the others, is more contrasty with better edge detail, but the difference here is less pronounced. My Nikon D5200 RAW quality results on the next page will provide evidence of how much, if any, of the difference is due to processing. or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Nikon D5200 Noise results.

 
 
 

Nikon D5200
 
Canon EOS T4i / 650D
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO


Nikon D5200
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Nikon D5200 vs Canon EOS T4i / 650D Quality RAW

 

To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Nikon D5200 and the Canon EOS T4i / 650D, within a few moments of each other using their RAW settings.

The Nikon D5200 was fitted with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm kit lens and the Canon EOS T4i / 650D with the E-FS 18-135mm kit lens. Both lenses were set to their maximum 18mm wide angle setting to provide an approximately equal field of view

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Nikon D5200 results
1 Nikon D5200 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon D5200 Quality RAW
3 Nikon D5200 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon D5200 Noise RAW
5 Nikon D5200 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Nikon D5200. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f8 and the sensitivity to 100 ISO. The camera metered an exposure of 1/400. The EOS T4i / 650D metered an exposure of 1/500 at f8 at its base 100 ISO sensitivity. In the default setup for the D5200 Auto distortion control is off, Active D-lighting is set to Auto, Picture control is set to standard and White balance is set to Auto. On the EOS T4i / 650D Peripheral illumination correction is enabed, Chromatic aberration correction is disabled, Auto lighting optimizer is set to Standard, and Picture style is set to auto as is White balance.

I processed both files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes.

These RAW crops from the D5200 don’t hold any surprises but they do provide some confirmation of what we were able to tell from the in-camera JPEGs. Like the JPEGs. the RAW crops look a little soft, there are few clean edges visible in the lighthouse crop and though there’s a little more detail visible in the stonework of the first crop its not as clean and punchy as in the crops from the EOS T4i / 650D. The fact that the first three crops, all from relatively close to the frame all look similar in terms of detail, where the final crop from close to the centre looks much better points to lens deficiencies. Even stopped down to f8, the 18-55mm kit lens, or at least this one, isn’t a sparkling performer at the edges. Note also that the 18-55mm kit lens exhibits fringing to pretty much the same degree as the EOS T4i / 650D when it isn’t corrected in the camera.

The fourth crop still doesn’t look quite as crisp and punchy as its Canon equivalent, though, so, the EOS T4i / 650D lens and sensor combination is resolving more detail with sharper edges. Having said that, the Canon crops look more noisy than the Nikon ones. And with the right lens I think it should be possible to coax a little more detail from the D5200’s processor when shooting RAW.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Nikon D5200 Noise results.

 
 
 

Nikon D5200 (RAW)
 
Canon EOS T4i / 650D (RAW)
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 160 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO
f8, 100 ISO


Nikon D5200
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Nikon D5200 vs Canon EOS T4i / 650D Noise RAW

 
  Nikon D5200 results
1 Nikon D5200 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon D5200 Quality RAW
3 Nikon D5200 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon D5200 Noise RAW
5 Nikon D5200 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Nikon D5200 and the Canon EOS T4i / 650D, within a few moments of each other using their RAW settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The Nikon D5200 was fitted with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm kit lens and the Canon EOS T4i / 650D with the E-FS 18-135mm kit lens. Both lenses were set to their maximum 18mm wide angle setting to provide an approximately equal field of view

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the Nikon D5200 fitted with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm kit lens. The sensitivity was manually set to 100 ISO and the D5200 was set to Aperture priority exposure mode with the aperture set to f4. The metering selected an exposure of 1/2. Image stabilisation was disabled and the D3200 was otherwise left on its default settings – White balance and Active D-lighting on auto, Long exposure noise reduction off and High ISO NR set to Normal. The Canon EOS T4i / 650D meterd an exposure of 0.3s at f4 and 100 ISO.

I processed both sets of files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile.These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what’s really going on behind the scenes – as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you’re used to seeing in many of my comparisons, but again it’s an approach that’s designed to show the actual detail that’s being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

These RAW noise results from the Nikon D5200 are even more impressive than the JPEGs on the previous page. They confirm that the D5200’s 24 Megapixel sensor produces less noise at all ISO sensitivity settings than the Canon EOS T4i / 650D’s 18 Megapixel sensor. Despite the absence of any noise correction and a high degree of sharpening the 100 ISO crop looks very clean, whereas there’s a slight, but visible noise texture in the Canon 100 ISO crop.

There’s a small amount of noise visible in the 200 and 400 ISO crops from the D5200, but these low noise levels are really unprecedented in a 24 Megapixel sensor. Even at 1600 ISO there’s comparitively little noise and from here on up the D5200 is well ahead of the EOS T4i / 650D. This is great news for RAW shooters as it means you can squeeze more detail and punchier shots from the D5200 than the in-camera JPEGs provide without having to worry about the noise consequences too much.

Now head over to my Nikon D5200 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions, or head straight for my Verdict.

Nikon D5200 (RAW)
 
Canon EOS T4i / 650D (RAW)
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
     
25600 ISO
25600 ISO

Nikon D5200 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Nikon D5200 vs Canon EOS T4i / 650D Noise JPEG

 
  Nikon D5200 results
1 Nikon D5200 Quality JPEG
2 Nikon D5200 Quality RAW
3 Nikon D5200 Noise JPEG
4 Nikon D5200 Noise RAW
5 Nikon D5200 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Nikon D5200 and the Canon EOS T4i / 650D, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The Nikon D5200 was fitted with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm kit lens and the Canon EOS T4i / 650D with the E-FS 18-135mm kit lens. Both lenses were set to their maximum 18mm wide angle setting to provide an approximately equal field of view

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

The image above was taken with the Nikon D5200 fitted with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm kit lens. The sensitivity was manually set to 100 ISO and the D5200 was set to Aperture priority exposure mode with the aperture set to f4. The metering selected an exposure of 1/2. Image stabilisation was disabled and the D5200 was otherwise left on its default settings – White balance and Active D-lighting on auto, Long exposure noise reduction off and High ISO NR set to Normal. The Canon EOS T4i / 650D metered an exposure of 0.3s at f4 and 100 ISO.

The D5200 gets of to a great start with a 100 ISO crop that looks clean with plenty of detail. The 200 ISO crop is a tiny bit more textured but you have to be pixel peeping at 100 percent to notice it. Likewise there’s another slightly more noticeable increase in texture in the 400 ISO crop, but nothing to get too bothered about.

At 800 ISO the noise levels go up a notch and there’s also a little softness entering the picture as the D5200’s noise processing finds something to get to work on; so we’re in slightly different territory now, where the noise and its effects are visible even to a casual observer. There’s a similar rise in noise levels and still that slight softness at 1600 ISO and from there on up the noise increases in a more or less linear fashion right the way up to the 25600 maximum sensitivity.

Overall this is a great result for the new sensor in the D5200 with very low noise levels at the lower ISO settings and well managed levels of noise further up the range including a quite useable 3200 ISO setting. It’s certainly very impressive for a 24 Megapixel sensor.

Compared with the 18 Megapixel sensor in the Canon EOS T4i / 650D, the D5200’s noise performance is even more impressive. The Canon crops show a larger area with smaller detail due to the lower resolution sensor. At the base 100 ISO setting there’s not much in it but by 400 ISO I’d say the Canon crop is looking a tiny bit more textured than the Nikon one. At 800 ISO it’s looking like the D5200 crop is a little cleaner but at 1600 ISO there’s no question about it – the D5200 crop is significantly less noisy than the EOS T4i / 650D. From there on, right the way up to both cameras’ maximum 25600 ISO sensitivity the D5200 maintains its edge and possibly even widens the gap with crops that show fewer noisy pixels and more detail than those from the 18 Megapixel Canon EOS T4i / 650D. A truly impressive performance.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Nikon D5200 RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or head over to my Nikon D5200 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Nikon D5200
 
Canon EOS T4i / 650D
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
     
25600 ISO
25600 ISO

Nikon D5200 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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