Nikon D5200 review : sensor performance

NIkon D5200 AF
The Nikon D5200 offers a 39-point AF system with 3D subject tracking mode and EXPEED 3 processing power.

The Nikon D5200 is about to start its career. I am currently working on the Nikon D5200 review, a camera featuring an APS-C sensor of 24 megapixels. It refreshes the D5100. How does the new sensor behave ? Are the high dynamic range and high sensibility still the strengths of the new Nikon 24 megapixel DSLR ? DxOMark has put the sensor of the D5200 to the test. Here is the Nikon D5200 sensor review.

The Amateur Nikon digital SLR offer now features an APS-C sensor with a definition of 24 megapixel, just lie the D3200. But it seems that the sensor is different and comes from Toshiba now. It is what shows the disassembly conducted by Chipworks on the D5200. We know the qualities of the 24-megapixel sensor of the D3200 (which it shares with the Sony NEX-7 and SLT-A77). Toshiba is discreet on the camera market and little known to the general public. How did the D5200 sensor do on DxO’s benchmark ? Let’s find out.


Nikon D5200 in the DxOMark ranking: best APS-C sensor ever


The D5200 is positioned 9th in the standings total of all cameras tested and has the luxury of being ranked best APS-C sensor camera, a performance that set the tone for what we can expect from the Nikon D5200. It obtained an overall score of 84 points on the DxOMark Score. The sensor is measured at 24.2 bits in color depth, a criterion on which it ranks 14th, a result equivalent to the 24.1 bits of D3200. The dynamic range of the Nikon D5200 measured is very comfortable (13.9 EV), at the same level as the score of the Nikon D7000, a reference in the field. Low-light score, ISO 1284, sends the D5200 back to the 19th position in the ranking and if the D5200 is naturally behind most of the full frame cameras like the Nikon D800, D600, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, etc.. It is also as the most sensible (low light) of all APS-C DSLRs. The signal / noise ratio measured by DxOMark is reduced to A4 print. Therefore, the low light sensitivity score on the screen is less flattering than the score “printed” which allows sensors with high definitions to dillute the noise in the resolution which improves their score.


nikon D5200 review : sensor
The NIkon D5200 sensor review reveals a highly well design designed sensor, best of all tested camera sensor in DxOMark benchmark history as of January 2013.

(see all Nikon D5200 sensor review measurements on


Nikon D5200 vs D5100 : which progress have been made ?


The D5200 replaces the D5100 in Nikon DSLR range. It changes the definition of mid-range amateur DSLR from 16 to 24 megapixels. The concentration of pixels is therefore more demanding for lenses and to benefit from this increased definition photographers will have to give their camera more expensive glass than the basic kit lens. The dynamic range of the D5200 is pretty much equivalent to the one offered by its predecessor (in terms of the maximum dynamic at ISO 100). While there is a slight improvement (1/3EV), it is to the account of an actual sensitivity of ISO 69 on the D5200 when set to ISO 100. The D5200 sees its dynamic range decreasing less rapidly as get to higher sensibilities. For example, at ISO 25600, the D5200 provides 30% more exposure overhead room than the D5100. The signal / noise ratio of the two cameras is actually even. Both cameras images, printed in the same format, no one will  see any difference at all. But a D5200 photo, displayed on the screen with a high magnification like 1:1 will show a little more noise, but in a hardly perceptible way.


Nikon D5200 vs Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i

The Nikon D5200, with an APS-C sensor and swivel screen, is very similar to the Canon EOS 650D / Rebel T4i. Canon’s sensor design is a bit outdated. Canon pours the same imager CMOS APS-C 18-Megapixel sensor since the launch of the EOS 7D. You can not call it a bad sensor, it is quite satisfying for photographers who have adopted the Canon DSLR. In contrast, on the DxOMark test with an overall score of 62 points, it pales in comparison to the 84 points of the Nikon D5200. Its color depth is down 3.5 bit compared to the Nikon D5200 and its dynamic range is obviously less generous with 2.7 EV less theoretically catchable exposure room by the sensor Canon than with the Nikon D5200’s Toshiba sensor. Low light sensibility shows the Canon DSLR looses 1EV, as the Canon EOS 650D was measured at ISO 722 ISO vs ISO 1,284 for the Nikon D5200.

nikon d5200 vs Canon EOS 650D
Nikon D5200 dynamic range curve is pretty crual to the Canon Rebel T4i / EOS 650D…

I do expect some new stuff from Canon in terms of sensor technology in 2013. I can easily foresee the successor to the EOS 7D being th efirts camera to have a true next-generation sensor. Progress made by Canon APS-C sensor on the EOS 650D / Rebel T4i does not regard the sensitive part, but only the implantation on its surface of photodiode dedicated to the autofocus.

 Nikon D5200 sensor review : conclusion

I am currently working on the full Nikon D5200 review ( I received it the other day and took it to the WRC race in my area yesterday to test its autofocus) and in this sensor review, I am not dealing about the other qualities of that camera than the sensor performance. The APS-C sensor of the Nikon D5200 tests reveal an extremely well designed piece of sensor, which can be considered as the best APS-C sensor on the market at the moment. Its huge dynamic range will be very helpfull on location and offer a lot of freedom for postprocessing with the D5200 NEF files. Its high sensibility (signal / noise ratio) is a bit of a surprise considering the increase in the number of megapixels on the same surface sensitive.

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