After three weeks with the D7200... long, winded review

Started Jun 16, 2016 | User reviews thread
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Satyaa Veteran Member • Posts: 3,725
After three weeks with the D7200... long, winded review
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After moving from D7100 to D7200, I am still testing the camera and all my lenses. I don't have the D7100 to repeat any tests but my comparisons are based on what I remember.

One of the first things I did before I started using this camera was updating the firmware and lens correction data. I also saved the factory settings to SD card and saved that file on my computer. I know from my D7100 experience, that doing a two-button reset does not reset 'everything' on the camera. And the settings it left out were hard to track down.

I am using a 32GB SanDisk Extreme card and a 64 GB Lexar Pro card. I have set the second card usage to overflow for photos, and video to card 2.

As I did with my D7100 earlier, I saved my favorite 'S' mode settings for action to U2. It uses 12-bit RAW and has no in-camera corrections so that the camera can shoot as fast as possible. I use this with CH drive mode most of the time.

I saved my favorite 'A' mode settings to U1 for everything other than action. It uses 14-bit RAW with some in-camera corrections. I use this mostly in single-shot mode but may use CL ocassionally.

I do use the flash comp, exposure comp, and white balance tweaks when needed, for which I find the the 7x00 series buttons very convenient.

Why upgrade from D7100 to D7200?

My main reason was the lack of decent buffer for continuous shooting in the D7100. I thought hard about going for the D500 instead, but the advantages it offered were not something I needed. Instead, a D7200 in combination with a Hi-Res FF for other purposes would be more appropriate for me.

The D7100's buffer was not useful at my son's high school games or at my wife's elementary school events. The D7200 does what I need in that respect:

D7100

  • 6 shots in 14-bit RAW with in-camera corrections enabled
  • 10+ shots in 12-bit RAW with in-camera corrections disabled
  • 25+ shots in Large JPEG Fine with in-camera corrections disabled

D7200

  • 18 shots in 14-bit RAW with in-camera corrections enabled
  • 24 shots in 12-bit RAW with in-camera corrections disabled
  • 70+ shots in Large JPEG Fine with in-camera corrections disabled

While that was the primary need for my upgrade, there were other small benefits:

  • There is a 1/3 stop improvement in ISO performance. I was comfortable up to 1600 on D7100 but am getting similar results at 2000. I tried up to 6400 but did not like the results.
  • The D7200 can take up to 9 bracketed shots while the D7100 did 5. This is a feature that I use occasionally, as I experiment with HDR.
  • Wi-Fi is built-in. I want to use this more now, but am not sure what it does to battery life.
  • Video shooting menu is separate. I use video on rare occasions but it helps to have dedicated menus. Similarly, in 1.3x crop mode the Full HD goes up to 60p. This is another feature I started using and the video is little smoother if I look closely. The problem is that the camera records only 10 minute videos in 60p. Of course, I use a SONY camcorder if I am shooting Full HD videos.
  • Another feature that I like so far is that when I press a settings button (such as WB and ISO) there is an enlarged pop-up display with details. This could be easily done on the D7100 with a firmware update.
  • The i button now brings up a dedicated menu in traditional style (like all the other menus), which I am liking as well. The previous i menu was difficult to use and I had assigned a couple of settings to MyMenu via the Fn button. This could also be enhanced on the D7100 via a firmware update.

One thing I would like to improve is the high ISO performance if there is a way to tweak it. I am playing around with Capture NX-D's NR settings but no success so far. I was comfortable with DXO 8 Pro, which doesn't handle D7200 files. I need to buy DXO Pro 11 Elite or LR 6/7 when I find discounts.

Nikon, and many people on this forum, say that the D7200's AF is improved over the D7100. While that may be so in the specs, it hasn't been significant in my use, or for my style of shooting. I did notice a couple of times that it acquired focus faster than I expected it to. In the same way, I have seen the AF failing to lock on with the zoom lenses, when I expected it to.

Any problems? A couple of them.

There are some minor annoyances that Nikon could have easily addressed instead of going the cheap way. My D7100 had come with a hot-shoe cover. The D7200 did not. The 18-105 kit lens with D7100 came with a tulip-style hood. The 18-140 with the D7200 did not. These cost only a few dollars but ordering them later is additional shopping and involves shipping cost more than the item cost.

I still cannot figure out how (or if) the AF works in video. I use BBF (back button focus) for action photos but am starting to play with it for video, without much success so far. The Nikon kit lenses as well as the primes make noise when the AF motor is working (what happened to SWM?). The Sigma 18-35/1.8 and Tamron 70-200/2.8 are better in this respect.

After moving to the D7200, I did discover the AF-F mode for videos. Even though it's supposed to be a dedicated focus mode for movies, I don't see much improvement.

This video AF issue is not unique to the D7200. It also existed on the D7100. I mention it because I was hoping to see some improvement.

Any surprises? A couple.

The viewfinder is different though I can't explain how. On the D7100, I had adjusted the diopter three notches for my eye-sight so that I could use it without glasses. And the adjustment was significant because anyone else who saw through my viewfinder found it blurry. With the D7200, the viewfinder seems fine at the normal level without any diopter adjustment.

The D7100 battery was rated for 950 shots but I always got more than a 1,000. I never use built-in flash. The D7200 is rated for 1100 but I get just under 900. Not a significant difference for me but not up to the rated figure.

To test the battery life further, I turned off the NFC (was ON by default) and turned the custom "d10: LCD Illumination" to OFF (I turned it ON initially). Even then, there is no improvement in battery life. I use the original battery that came with the camera, an additional Nikon battery, and an additional Watson battery. I generally keep the original in the body, fully charged, and keep swapping additional batteries in the grip. This ensures that there is always a charged battery when I suddenly have to pick up the camera and shoot.

On to the lenses...

So far, I have used 18-140 VR, 18-55 VR2, 70-300 VR and Tamron 70-200/2.8. I am yet to test the Sigma 18-35/1.8 and the Nikon primes.

The 18-140 VR and 70-300 VR performed especially well with respect to focusing and image quality during the outdoor high school graduation event. I have also used them indoors in decent lighting and they do fine. While they work 'normally’, they do make a clunky noise when the AF+VR is activated. It seems normal with several Nikon lenses based on my experience, but it's not a feature that I like.

The 18-55 VR2 is probably the weakest lens I have and it performs as expected. Good in daylight as a light/carry-around lens.

I need to use the Tamron 70-200/2.8 only in low-light and at higher ISO. I noticed that the images are softer than what I got with the D7100 with the same lens. I tested at different apertures, ISO, and lighting conditions. It gets better in brighter light and at lower ISOs but definitely an issue for use in the auditorium with dimly lit stage.

When tested on objects in living room and compared to the 85/1.8 and 18-140 VR (at the same aperture of f/3.5) there was no visible front/back focus. Any suggestions to further test this or how to tweak this lens for better performance would be appreciated (because I know that this lens produced sharper images with my D7100).

The only quirk so far was with the 55-200 VR2. When I attached the lens for the first time, it didn't seem to connect well. In "AF-A + AUTO area mode", it did not auto-focus. It did AF when I switched to 51-point, 21-point, 9-point or single but stopped AF as soon as I went into AUTO area mode! It also did not AF in Full AUTO and AUTO No-Flash modes.

I turned the camera off, removed the lens, put it back on and tried again. Then it worked normally. This behavior was unique to this lens and happened only the first time.

Except for that one-time quirk, and the slow variable aperture, the 55-200 VR2 produces sharp images in good lighting. It does better than the 18-55 VR2 and is close to the 70-300 VR in IQ, except that the 70-300 focuses better/faster (and is heavier/expensive if you need that extra 100mm).

The 55-200 is a steal for $99 when bought bundled with a DX camera.

Unrelated...

I have been using a longer/softer strap from the Friendly Suede (bought on Amazon, comes in a pack of 2) for more than a year now.
I generally wear the strap over my shoulder and hold the camera firmly in my right hand. I slowly let the camera go from my hand and give a gentle tug to see where it stops, before I let it go. Once with my D7100, the strap came off one side of the camera when I did that gentle tug. It was good that the camera did not fall off but it scared me a lot.

Since then, I have been watching the strap every time I use the camera and had to tighten it once or twice. The same thing started to happen after I switched to this new camera. One side of the strap keeps slipping away. Now I pulled it up an extra inch on both ends and stapled it.

Suggestions?

For anyone on the fence between the D7100 and D7200, I would say go for the D7200 becuase of the newer processor and all the smaller improvements. In may case they make the camera more usable. Just remember to order a hot-shoe cover and 18-140 lens hood! And at least one extra battery.

I give an overall rating of 4.5 for this camera (would have given 4 for the D7100). The difference of that 0.5 is mostly for the new features that are useful to me but there is no big change in IQ.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions on the couple of issues that I pointed out.

Thanks!

 Satyaa's gear list:Satyaa's gear list
Panasonic FZ2500 Canon EOS 400D Nikon D810 Nikon D7200 Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D +10 more
Nikon D7200
24 megapixels • 3.2 screen • APS-C sensor
Announced: Mar 2, 2015
Satyaa's score
4.5
Average community score
4.5
bad for good for
Kids / pets
great
Action / sports
great
Landscapes / scenery
excellent
Portraits
excellent
Low light (without flash)
great
Flash photography (social)
excellent
Studio / still life
unrated
= community average
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