Studio Comparison

Our latest test scene is designed to simulate both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget allows you to switch between the two. The daylight scene is shot with manually set white balance aimed at achieving neutral grays, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests (except Raw, which is manually corrected during conversion). We also offer three different viewing sizes: 'Full', 'Print', and 'Web', with the latter two offering 'normalized' comparisons to more fairly compare cameras of differing resolutions by ensuring equivalent viewing sizes.

Like a lot of 24MP APS-C cameras, the D7200 has no anti-aliasing filter. This attempts to provide a little more detail from the sensor with the risk of aliasing patterns (stair-stepping and false color), while also eliminating a relatively expensive component. Our understanding is that 24MP on an APS-C sensor is challenging enough for lenses that most of the very high frequency patterns that might be incorrectly rendered (aliased) will be effectively filtered-out by most lenses.

With the sharp, prime lens we use for our studio testing, you can see aliasing in the D7200 and many of its AA filter-less rivals such as the Pentax K-3 (which offers a clever AA filter simulation mode if you do encounter aliasing). There's a very good level of detail capture at low ISO settings.

ISO performance

The D7200's performance is very impressive. At moderate settings, there aren't huge differences between the Nikon's APS-C peers. Compared at a common output size, the D7200 is perhaps a touch better than Canon EOS 70D and on about the same level as the Pentax K-3 and Samsung. This is basically because these images aren't made from the lower Raw values where the differences in electronic noise (rather than shot noise), make much difference.

Move to a higher ISO (and the more challenging low-light mode, both of which mean we're looking at data from deeper down the Raw files) and the D7200 continues to do very well. It appears to make progress over its predecessor, the Nikon D7100, and even performs well against the best of its peers, such as the Samsung NX1, and one-time high-ISO champion, the Pentax K-3. This leaves the D7200 as the best-performing APS-C camera we've seen in this regard.

JPEG processing

The D7200 features the latest generation of Nikon's JPEG engine, which includes a 'Clarity' setting. This appears to be emphasizing slightly more fine detail than the D7100's processing did, though this comes at the cost of some slightly crude haloing at high-contrast edges. The Samsung NX1's processing seems more naturalistic in this case. Meanwhile the Canon EOS 70D's output seems rather softer (moreso than if you compare the Raws), while the Nikon's output generally looks sharper and more detailed.

At higher ISOs its default noise reduction strikes a good balance between detail retention and noise suppression: not over-smoothing very fine detail. Some low-contrast texture is sacrificed to keep the noise levels down, but it's done in a way that doesn't looks too aggressive or unnatural. Chroma noise is essentially eliminated. Even in very challenging conditions, the output avoids looking too artificial, though the loss of detail, compared to low ISO settings is pronounced. This is inevitable, since the short exposure we've used means there's lots of shot noise that needs to be hidden to make the image useable.