Conclusion

Pros

  • Best-yet APS-C image quality: good JPEGs and extensive Raw dynamic range
  • Class-leading low-light performance
  • Impressive AF subject tracking performance through the viewfinder
  • All AF points continue to work down to -3EV
  • Wide AF area with dense 51-point coverage
  • Well-implemented Auto ISO feature also available in M mode
  • Spot-metering linked to AF point
  • Flat Picture Control for more gradable video footage
  • Interval shooting and time-lapse features, with exposure smoothing
  • Quick and fairly simple Wi-Fi implementation
  • Very good ergonomics and interface design
  • Excellent battery life
  • In-camera Raw processing
  • Reasonably small, light body for a DSLR at this level

Cons

  • No control of aperture in movie or live view modes
  • Lack of peripheral cross-type AF points
  • 6fps Raw only available in 12-bit, which sacrifices some dynamic range
  • No representation of exposure in live view
  • Movie autofocus is too fast and jumpy
  • Live view autofocus too awkward and slow to use in many applications
  • Wi-Fi app rather limited (and behavior inconsistent)
  • Secondary sensor AF less accurate than on-sensor focus systems
  • Camera is bulky when compared to mirrorless rivals

Overall conclusion

The D7200 is a somewhat minor upgrade to its predecessor. It offers slightly more flexible Raw files (due to lack of banding), a slightly better action shooter, slightly more friendly video camera and offers autofocus improvements in low light. This may add up to a relatively minor upgrade (and you'd have to really need one of those gains to consider upgrading), but they're still meaningful improvements made over a camera that easily won our Gold award and became one of our recommended cameras in its class.

However, as is often the case, the competition has grown more fierce in the meantime. While the D7200 is great as a traditional DSLR, its rivals have learned other tricks: Canon's EOS 70D offers better video AF, while the more expensive Samsung NX1 is a fraction better across many metrics (video spec, video AF, shooting rate and maybe even focus tracking). Meanwhile the Pentax K-3 II offers more substantial build and built-in stabilization, and Sony's a6000 does much of the above for a lot less money. In this company, it's hard to stand out.

DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8
ISO 100, 1/50th sec, F5.6
Processed using Adobe Camera Raw, white balance altered

Handling

The D7200 is a product of subtle evolution: its operations and control logic are a direct continuation of a system that's been refined over years if not decades. The result is a camera that's quick, easy and enjoyable to shoot with, almost regardless of how involved you want to get in the process. It also results in a camera that existing Nikon users of all levels will be able to just pick up and use.

The menu system, with its color-coded Custom Settings section dates back to 2003's D2H and is beginning to groan under the weight of the range of functions offered by the D7200. As always, there's a tension between offering an appropriate level of customization and adding too much complexity. For a mid-range camera, the D7200 might seem a little challenging at first but we didn't find it overwhelming - it's worth learning what options are available to you, though.

The good news is that, for most shooters, the D7200 doesn't really need much customization. Additionally, the Recent Settings tab lets you easily access the settings you change most often, which then makes it easy to build these into customizes 'My Menu' if you prefer.

Handling in video is less convenient. Nikon has started to add useful tools, such as 'zebra' highlight warnings but the D7200 still lacks focus peaking, which is beginning to look like a major omission, now that it's commonplace on so many of the camera's rivals. The thing that's most awkward, though, is the lack of powered aperture, which means you need to quit and re-enter movie/live view mode every time you want to change the camera's aperture. This makes the camera more awkward to use than it needs to be and makes it hard to recommend if you're planning to shoot video.

Image Quality

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art
ISO 100, 5 sec, F16
Processed using Adobe Camera Raw, some highlight and shadow adjustments

The D7200's image quality is excellent, both in JPEG and Raw. Even against the Samsung NX1's technologically more advanced BSI-CMOS design, the Nikon's Raw performance is extremely impressive, with the sensor contributing impressively little in terms of read noise. In fact it's pretty safe to say this is the best performance we've yet seen from an APS-C camera. If your primary interest is stills then this one of the first cameras you should be considering, in this class. Both high ISO noise, and low ISO dynamic range, performance are currently unmatched by any competitor.

Autofocus

Autofocus is very impressive in most of respects, with very reliable and easy-to-use subject tracking that, in its class, is only matched by mirrorless cameras that have the advantage of continuous scene data from the image sensor. Nikon achieves a similar access to scene data via a 2016-pixel RGB color metering sensor that continuously 'sees' the scene even in viewfinder shooting. Despite the relatively low resolution of this sensor in the D7200, it will still stick to your subject in a wide variety of scenarios better than any competitor's APS-C DSLR, and the dedicated phase-detect module means the camera is also good at actually focusing on that tracked subject, even in continuous shooting. The improved low-light performance (down to -3EV) means you can continue to focus, and track, subjects in very dim light.

However, the DSLR design with its separate AF module means it can't always match the levels of focus accuracy we've come to expect from mirrorless cameras, which focus directly off the sensor. You can work around this to a large degree using AF Fine Tune, but your results will vary lens-to-lens.

Nikkor 300mm F4 PF
ISO 100, 1/1250th sec, F4
Out-of-camera JPEG

Live view focus, by contrast, is highly accurate since it uses the image sensor, but is also significantly less convenient, both in terms of specifying where to focus and in terms of the speed with which it then achieves focus. Excellent by DSLR standards, then, but with all the caveats that this implies.

Video

Video quality is a little less impressive, with the D7200 unable to offer the levels of detail from the likes of Panasonic's GH4 or the NX1. The 60p mode is a bonus for anybody looking to include slow-motion segments to their projects but the 1.3x crop in which the mode is available seems to be capturing lower resolution than the full sensor modes, so the eagle-eyed viewer may spot the discrepancy between footage. These concerns would be minor if it weren't for the physical limitations the camera imposes on video shooting.

AF in video also lags behind what many competitors are offering today with on-sensor phase detection. Cameras like Sony's a5100/6000/77 II, Canon's 70D, and Samsung's NX1 all offer smooth and snappy AF in video, while Nikon's use of contrast-detect AF guarantees hunting.

One nice video-related inclusion of late on Nikon DSLRs is the timelapse feature which, with an exposure smoothing option, can create quite pleasing, straight-out-of-camera movie files. Sadly, there's no option to save individual stills along with the timelapse, so if you want to play it safe, you're still better off using the built-in intervalometer function (which also offers exposure smoothing).

The final word

The D7200 isn't the stand-out camera that its predecessor was: the market is arguably too competitive for any model to be. If you're specifically after a DSLR and you mainly want to shoot stills, then the D7200 is an obvious choice: its controls, class-leading image quality and excellent AF tracking make it quick and enjoyable to use, and stand-out features such as its low-light AF ability, Active D-Lighting, and Wi-Fi just go to seal the deal.

However, if you're interested in shooting video, or stills in live view, the D7200's feature set and usability let it down. Meanwhile, there are smaller, lighter and similarly capable mirrorless rivals that may be equally appealing to the photographers Nikon is aiming for. So, even though it manages to improve on a truly great camera, the Nikon D7200's appeal is not as universal as it would once have been. If the D7200's strengths overlap with your needs, though, it's formidable.

Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Nikon D7200
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The D7200 is a gentle refresh of an excellent camera. The sensor sees improvements in dynamic range, AF works in lower light and the continuous shooting buffer lets you make use of its class-leading subject tracking. The slow live view autofocus and awkward lack of aperture control during movie shooting means it's not as flexible as some of its rivals but it's a formidable DSLR for stills work.
Good for
Anyone looking for a traditional, well-featured DSLR for stills shooting.
Not so good for
Videographers and, perhaps, travel shooters might do better looking elsewhere.
84%
Overall score

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