As of publishing, the D7200 is Nikon’s top of the line APS-C camera. This follow-up to the popular D7100 is designed to compete with cameras like Canon’s 80D and 7D Mark II. The D7200 is an affordable, high-quality option for photographers who don’t want or need the weight and price of a full frame camera. With a 24.2 MP sensor, burst rates of up to 6 frames per second, a weather-sealed body, and the ability to record full resolution video it looks great on paper—but how does it perform in the real world? We took it for a test drive to find out.
This camera looks and feels like a high-end piece of equipment. It is bigger and heavier than Nikon’s entry-level APS-C models like the D5500. The sturdy, weather-sealed D7200 weighs in at just under 1.5 pounds making it heavier than the D5500 (which tips the scale at less than a pound) but over a half pound lighter than the Canon 7D Mark II. In other words, it feels solid but not overly heavy in your hands.
The grip on the D7200 is comfortable and secure. It has a larger, less narrow grip design than the D500, which may be a negative for someone with smaller hands. Buttons located to the left of the LCD allow for quick settings changes, which is very useful. These buttons are not included in cameras like the Nikon D5500 or the Canon 80D.
The buttons and dials on the D7200 are laid out in a way that lets users make adjustments easily. A row of buttons on the left allows for quick changes to things like white balance and ISO. These easy-to-reach controls are a feature that isn’t available on lower-end models like the D5500.
The D7200 allows you to customize your camera so that certain buttons control specific functions. These custom functions are very useful when switching between different types of photography. For example, if you shoot portraits, sports, and landscapes, you could have specific settings for each one that can be easily accessed from the camera body.
This feature can also be very useful when switching between taking photos and recording video. For example, you could set max ISO and a flatter color profile for video on one setting and with the flick of a switch be back in photography settings when you’re ready to shoot stills. It is this type of usability, customization, and attention to detail that makes the D7200 such a good camera for people who like to do it all.
The LCD on top of the body is useful for checking settings on the fly, especially when you are shooting in Live View mode. Without the top LCD you have to use the main LCD screen on the back of the camera to check settings, which can be less convenient depending on the situation you are shooting in. The top screen can be backlit, making it easy for checking at night.
Bracketing allows you to take multiple images at different exposures, which is useful in situations where you are unsure of proper exposure or want to use HDR techniques in post-processing. To set bracketing in entry-level cameras like the D5500 you have to go into the menu, which is far less convenient.
Autofocus and Speed
The D7200’s powerful autofocus system is one of its best features. It has 51 autofocus points, 15 of which are cross-type. These autofocus points are able to quickly find and lock focus, even on moving objects. Many cameras struggle with focusing in very dark situations but the D7200 performs admirably in this regard. It is able to lock in focus and track well, even in low light. If you find yourself regularly shooting in poorly lit scenes, you’ll be happy with the D7200’s autofocus performance.
A built-in focus motor means that the D7200’s autofocus system is capable of working with every autofocus lens that Nikon has made—going way back to 1986 when these lenses were first introduced. This is a huge plus if you have older Nikon lenses lying around and you’d like to use them on a newer body. When it comes to autofocus, the D7200 is a very capable machine.
But taking focus of quickly moving objects isn’t all about focus—it’s also about how quickly a camera can take pictures and write them to a card. The D7100, this camera’s predecessor, was a solid camera but its buffer speed left something to be desired. Nikon fixed this issue by outfitting the D7200 with an EXPEED 4 processor which has increased the buffer capacity to 18 RAW files. The buffer capacity of the D7100 was just 6 RAW files, so this is a big improvement. With a max burst rate of 6 FPS, the D7200 is fast enough to capture images of quickly moving objects.
The bottom line here is that the D7200 will allow you to quickly and easily focus and snap a ton of shots. You won’t miss many opportunities with this camera.
Menu and User Interface
The D7200 has the same menu system as other Nikon models, including the D5500. This system takes some getting used to but it works well once you’ve gotten the hang of it. If you’re used to Nikon cameras and their menu systems, you’ll be fine but for everyone else there is a bit of a learning curve to navigating the menus. This is understandable considering how complex and customizable this camera is.
One thing that makes the D7200’s menu system a bit easier to navigate is the “my menu” feature where you can store your most used menu items for easier access. You don’t have to search through the entire menu for items that may be buried and difficult to find when you use this feature. This type of customization allows for faster, easier navigation.
Battery and Memory Card Compartments
Dual card slots are often one of the hallmarks of high end cameras and the D7200 steps up to the plate in this regard. It has slots for two SD cards, giving you multiple options for how to shoot and store your images. While the default setting is to use the second slot as overflow storage (i.e. you fill your first card and the camera starts writing to the second card) you can also write to both cards simultaneously so that you have backup in case one card gets corrupted.
The D7200’s battery life is an improvement over the previous model. Rated for 1,110 shots per charge, this battery will go a long time without running out of juice. The D7200 uses the same spring lock mechanism to lock the battery in place as other cameras in Nikon’s lineup.
When it comes to video, this camera is a solid performer that is missing a key feature (the flip screen) that videographers love. The D7200 can record 1080p video at 30 FPS in regular mode or at 60 FPS in the cropped (1.3x) mode. When using the D7200 for video in crop mode you can pull 16:9 stills, which is a big asset for people who like to take both photos and video. Additional features such as flat picture control and zebra stripe monitoring allow the camera to produce excellent videos.
Good sound is crucial to making good movies and the D7200 has you covered. It has a range of audio modes to help you get your sound dialed in. This camera has the ability to record with both the built-in microphone or an external mic. An onscreen display of audio levels helps to ensure that your sound is in check.
If the D7200 has one major drawback when it comes to video it is the absence of a fully-articulating flip screen. Flip screens make it easier for videographers to frame their shots and see what they are recording.
The D7200 has stiff competition in the video world. Canon’s 80D is a very capable video camera and comes out on top for video due to its improved autofocus in Live View mode and fully articulating touchscreen. Canon’s higher-end 7D Mark II is an even better option for video with CF/SD dual card slots and 1080p video at 60 FPS (which the D7200 only offers in 1.3x crop mode). If you’re especially interested in shooting video, check out our article on the best cameras for videographers.
Live View allows you to look at your camera’s LCD screen to compose a shot or take video, saving you the hassle of having to constantly check your viewfinder. It’s also useful for taking photos or videos from awkward positions (although less so than other models since the LCD screen is fixed to the back of the D7200 rather than fully articulating or even tilting). For example, if you are laying on the ground trying to compose a shot, Live View lets you see what you’re doing without having to smash your face on the ground trying to see through the viewfinder. The Live View mode on the D7200 shows the exposure levels and light meter right on the screen. This is a feature upgrade from lower level models, which only show you when your exposure is bottoming out.
The D7200 has a number of ports that give you a lot of connectivity flexibility. It has both a microphone and headphone jack so that you can record audio and listen to what you are getting at the same time. It also has an HDMI port for connecting to a monitor. An external mic port allows for off-camera audio to be recorded. Separate tabs enable the use of some ports to be in use while keeping others protected.
The D7200 has a 3.2” 1.2M dot RGBW LCD screen, which is really nice. The screen is larger in size and has better quality than some of the lower level cameras. The only big downside of the LCD screen on the D7200 is that it is fixed to the back of the camera. While this isn’t a big deal for a lot of people, videographers and photographers who prefer a flip screen may find this to be a deal breaker.
The viewfinder on the D7200 leaves nothing to complain about. It covers 100% of the frame (an upgraded feature in cameras) allowing you to see exactly what you’ll be capturing when you frame a shot. Some viewfinders, like those on the Nikon D5500 or Canon 70D, only cover 95 or 97% of the frame, which can cause issues in composition and framing. In other words, what you see through the viewfinder of the D7200 is what you’re going to get when you look at your photos. In addition to the focus dots that you’re probably accustomed to in modern DSLRs, this camera has arrows to the left and right that tell you which way to turn the focus ring to hit proper focus.
For a crop sensor camera, performance at high ISOs is very good. ISO performance for the D7200 is good up to about ISO 1600 at which point it begins to get noisy. By the time you get to ISO 25,600, the photos are generally unusable. For most users and applications, the ISO performance on the D7200 will be very good!
The Nikon D7200 has several options for white balance settings. The auto white balance (AWB) on the D7200 works very well. The white balance fine tuning feature allows you to adjust the temperature of any of the preset white balance options. Keep in mind that if you are shooting in RAW, white balance can be adjusted in post-processing.
The D7200 is the first Nikon camera to have WiFi and NFC built in. Being able to control your camera with your smartphone or tablet allows you more options for remote shooting as well as the ability to transfer photos directly to your device. Remote control is useful in situations where you are trying to take photos that you are in. It can also help you frame a shot when the camera is at an odd angle since the D7200 doesn’t have an articulating screen. While connecting wirelessly to your phone will cause your battery to drain faster, it is still a useful feature for many people.
One fun feature of the D7200 is its ability to do time-lapse photos in-camera. The time-lapse feature has an exposure smoothing function to even out exposure when there are large transitions in lighting, as in when the scene goes from day to night. While it doesn’t perfectly resolve exposure issues, it is a big help.
Nikon’s D7200 is an excellent option for photographers who want an upgrade from an entry-level DSLR or who are new to photography and not afraid to spend a little money right at the start. It is a powerful camera that has many of the features of Nikon’s professional level full frame models but in a slightly smaller and far less expensive package. If you are looking for a camera specifically for video, the Canon 80D with its articulating touchscreen may be a better choice but for people who are primarily wanting to take stills, the D7200 is pretty much perfect.