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Raw and Raw conversion

Supplied software

The D5200 comes with a software CD which contains:

  • Nikon ViewNX2 (Windows / Mac OS X) - An image browser / file editor featuring Raw to JPEG conversion with adjustment of exposure compensation, white balance, Picture Control, sharpening and tonal adjustments and basic movie editing.
      
  • Nikon Transfer (Windows / Mac OS X) - Automated transfer of images from camera or card reader.

Nikon's ViewNX2, while not as sophisticated as the company's Capture NX 2 (available separately at a list price of £160/$180) offers basic editing functions including the ability to crop and straighten images, and change white balance, exposure and Picture Control options in NEF files. More advanced tools include D-Lighting and highlight/shadow recovery sliders, plus lateral and axial chromatic aberration correction. Basic video editing functionality is also available. In a nice touch, many of these parameters can be built into presets using the Picture Control Utility, meaning that presets you find yourself regularly applying can be uploaded to the camera. Absent, unfortunately are any noise reduction options.

ViewNX2 also allows you to geotag photographs using Google Maps (automatically if you use the optional GP-1 GPS unit), and to rate and label images with stars or colors for ease of organization. You can even modify the names of the color tags so that they show up as 'Work,' 'Holiday,' 'Portraits' or whatever best suits your needs.

Although it lacks much of the functionality offered by Nikon's Capture NX 2, the bundled ViewNX2 software makes it easy to make basic adjustments to both Raw and JPEG files from the D7100. The thumbnail view does exactly what it says on the tin - it arranges all of the images in a particular folder as thumbnails, for easy navigation.
When adjusting Raw files, you can either apply an existing Picture Control preset (Standard, Vivid, etc.) or create and modify your own, which can be uploaded to the camera and applied to JPEG captures. ViewNX2 allows you to geotag your images by using Google Maps to find and record where you took your your photos. If you use Nikon's GP-1 external GPS unit with the D7100, geotagging is automatic.
Creating video projects is a simple matter of opening the new video editor program, and importing clips into a playlist. From here you can add transitions between clips, and audio files. When you're ready to export your video project you can name it and specify your desired output settings.

Raw file conversion

In the sections below we'll compare the same Raw file as processed by Nikon's supplied ViewNX 2, DxO Optics Pro 8 and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) 7.4, alongside the associated in-camera JPEG file.

  • JPEG - Large/Fine, default settings
  • VNX - ViewNX 2.7.4, default settings
  • ACR - Adobe Camera Raw 7.4, at default settings using 'Adobe Standard' profile
  • DxO - DxO Optics Pro 8.1.5, default settings

Sharpness and Detail

As you'd expect, converting a Raw file offers the potential to bring out a more natural, pleasing rendition of ultra-fine detail in comparison to the sharpening applied by the camera's JPEG engine. Nikon View NX 2 output is only marginally more crisp than the in-camera JPEG whose color and contrast it very closely mimics.

Both ACR 7.4 and DxO Optics Pro 8.1.5 produce more natural, less processed-looking results. DxO Optics Pro renders fine details with more distinction than the other Raw converters in this example and offers a bit more contrast than ACR. Note that these differences could certainly be minimized with subtle adjustments to sharpening in ACR and ViewNX 2. And keep in mind that to actually see these 100% screen view differences would require viewing extremely large prints at very close distances.

Adobe Camera Raw 7.4 Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
DxO Optics Pro 8.1.5 Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
Nikon ViewNX 2.7.4 Raw -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera, High quality setting, manual WB (all other settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop

Resolution

In our resolution chart comparison, the in-camera JPEG yields the least detail yet produces the most pronounced edge halos. Color moiré is visible in the JPEG and each Raw conversion, with Nikon's ViewNX 2 giving the most effective suppression. DxO Optics Pro takes a very aggressive approach to sharpening at its default setting, to the point of producing a slightly mottled effect in the black lettering. It also struggles with moiré as washed out streaks are visible. ACR strikes a reasonable balance between sharpness, avoidance of edge halos and a more organic-looking yet still prominent display of color moiré.

Adobe Camera RAW 7.4 DxO Optics Pro 8.1.5
ViewNX 2.7.4 JPEG Large/Fine

Real-world advantages

The examples below illustrate the kind of real-world advantages you can get from shooting in Raw mode. At low ISO sensitivity settings in daylight the D5200 gives a neutral white balance and generally pleasing contrast in 'straight from camera' JPEGs. Viewed at 100%, however, files can appear a bit soft at the default sharpening settings. With just a few adjustments in ACR, you can enhance edge contrast and of course tweak color balance as desired.

Camera JPEG - ISO 100 RAW + ACR 7.4 with white balance, exposure, contrast and sharpness adjusted to taste with auto CA correction applied.
100% crops

In the scene above, the default JPEG rendering is certainly passable, with CA kept well under control, but a slightly warmer color rendering along with higher contrast and a moderate sharpening adjustment can yield a richer looking file.

Camera JPEG - ISO 3200 AW + ACR 7.4 with white balance, exposure, sharpness and noise reduction adjusted to taste.
100% crops

Shooting in Raw mode also allows you to take control over white balance and noise reduction when shooting in low light scenes like the one above, captured at ISO 3200. Mixed-temperature lighting situations like this will almost always require a manual tweak to arrive at a more accurate result.

Here I've boosted exposure by almost one full stop, neutralized the overly yellow color cast and applied enough noise reduction to eliminate chroma noise. One characteristic of ACR's noise reduction, however, is a distinct loss in saturation, as you can see in the crops above. This Raw conversion does give you crisper details, but at the cost of luminance noise. We don't find this overly objectionable though. For starters, you really have to look at a pixel-level view to see this onscreen, or examine a large print at a very close distance. An even in those instances, the noise is uniform, mimicking the effect of film grain.

Raw files for download

The examples above are meant to provide general guidance on the possibilities with Raw conversions. Below we provide Raw files from the sample shots we've taken, so you can apply your preferred software and techniques in order to judge the capabilities of the D5200 for yourself.

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Comments

Total comments: 17
gadgetcoder

The 3xxx series cameras have fixed displays, the 5xxx cameras have pivoting displays, and more toys, bells and whistles. 3/51xx are 16MP, while the 3/52xx are 24MP. I have a 5200, and I love it...

0 upvotes
Michael 59

I recently upgraded from a D5100 to the D5200. Even though I've only taken snapshots here and there, I think the cameras image quality is great. I also have a D3200 which I bought for the higher MP. The 3200 takes beautiful pictures in my opinion, but lacks the bells & whistles I've got used to with the 5100. Even though the image quality in the 5100 was great, I liked the higher MP's, better auto-focus system, faster processor, and misc. other tweaks in the 5200. I still have the 3200 as a backup. The way I see it, The D5200 is like having all the great features "plus some others" of the 3200 and 5100 rolled into one camera. If you can afford the D5200, I recommend you purchase one. Something worth checking into is refurbs. Nikon as well as others sell those at a nice discount and they are inspected and practically like a new one. That how I got the one I have.

0 upvotes
Smartmil8

This is one of the best cameras in the world!

1 upvote
mumbai architect

Hi I am an architect and need to shoot interiors and buildings. I have been seeing D800E as a choice for the camera on the net. I don't have the budget to buy D800...Will D5200 suffice if I go for additional wide angle.? Please advise.

0 upvotes
Rusdy

it will be suffice. just buy a wide-lens and there you go

0 upvotes
Christie123

Is this better than D5100? I have D3100 and am planning to upgrade... but I am confused between D5100, D3200 and D5200...

0 upvotes
sophi loren

I was confused in between nikon D5200 and Nikon D3200 and at last I go with Nikon D5200 for its ultimate power and obviously the ability of great videoing. DPreview really helps me a lot in this case. Recently I read a review aabout Nikon D5200 best buy and the writer really explain lots of intersting facts about D5200 ad alos offer a great price deal there. I think that will help you guys.

Review Link:

http://www.squidoo.com/nikon-d5200-best-buy-a-personal-review

Enjoy with your Nikon and I really proud for my D5200
Thanks

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
sophi loren

I hope you will get help from that review :)

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Zac boy

Sophi loren How are you....?? I wanna ask you something...?

0 upvotes
draleks

I don't get it, what is the actual dynamic range of this camera? Without the ADL it seems to be a pretty mediocre 10EV, with ADL extra high it's 13 EV. Is ADL actually extending the dynamic range of the captured information, or is it just some "clever" post-processing?

1 upvote
Swinterschorr

I have the same question!

0 upvotes
OceanFroggie

Was torn between the extra physical controls of the D7100 and the tilting screen of the D5200 along with its lighter more ergonomic feel in hand. Image quality between the two seems similar. I opted for the D5200 and so far happy I went for it rather than the slighlty larger D7100. Thought I'd spend the cost difference in better lens quality. The D7100 screw drive would have focused by old film Nikkor lenses, but I thought it better to move to newer DX lenses with the amazing VR which didn't exist when I used film.

Only grip is I would prefer a second dial, but the tilt screen was worth the compromise. I don't bother using the ridiculously high 24mp image size, instead opting for 'medium' which is about 16mp which is more than enough. A very happy camper so far. After defecting from Nikon film SLRs to Fuji compact bridges a decade ago, now very pleased with the compact feel of the D5200 and the images it produces with ergonomic ease.

0 upvotes
DidYouConsider

I am trying to decide between the Nikon D5200 and the Canon T5i (700D).
I am *totally* confused by the JPG/Noise/ISO data on this page.

DPReview gives higher ratings to the Nikon, both for image quality and for noise. But, when I see the data above, I see the exact opposite. I must be mis-reading the data. I am only interested in the JPEG data. I don't like to use RAW - just takes up way too much space on my harddisk....

From what I see above, the Canon image seems much crisper - much much less noise. Can someone explain why DPReview gives the nod to the Nikon??

When I downloaded the sample image for both cameras, I also think the Canon seems so much crisper and sharper. Why would someone think the Nikon picture is better? They must be seeing something I am missing.

Any insight would be appreciated....

1 upvote
Duncan Dimanche

big cloister of dead pixels visible in that last visible video sample…. in the center…argh

0 upvotes
PeterDost

"particularly if you're prepared to move beyond either of the kit lenses to higher quality optics"

Which lens would provide better image quality providing a similar range like the 18-105?

Recommendations are welcome.

0 upvotes
AdamLeszko

considering that You have plenty of pixels to crop from 24M, and pretty average performance of mentioned lenses on long end, I would rather use tamron's or sigma's 17-50s with 2.8 light. Both in proce range of about $300-$400. They will actually allow You to take benefit of such big number of pixels.

cheers

0 upvotes
moeskoetie

why is the D5200 better for sports than the D5300?

0 upvotes
Total comments: 17