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Gear & Apps

Nikon D7200 Teeters The Line of FX Sensor Performance

By Kishore Sawh on April 12th 2015

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Lineage is something we hold in rather high regard in the camera world. The precedent a certain model may set truly can bestow a lot of pressure on the models that follow. Much like the child of an Ivy League grad, the expectations of the son are equal or higher than that of the father. It can be argued that Nikon truly suffers from this ‘affliction,’ dating back to the F models, and then some of their digital models like the D700 fall into that legendary column as well – that’s why the pressure on the D750 was so high.

Similarly, the Nikon D90 became an industry benchmark when it arrived, and its follow-ons, the D7000 and D7100, were much praised. So naturally, the next in line had to be quite good, and according to DxO Mark, the D7200 is worthy of its forbearers. Ranking in 20th place in the list of all cameras they’ve ever tested with a sensor score of 87, the D7200 is at the top of the class and 1st among all crop sensor cameras.

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When we think of what makes Nikon cameras specifically brilliant, dynamic range comes to mind. This has always been key for many landscape photographers, and perhaps many other Nikon shooters. The D7200 doesn’t just place 1st among the APS-C sensors in this area, but 2nd of any camera they’ve tested. That’s quite astonishing. In my opinion, this is much more useful to have than really high ISO capability, and if I’m right, that’s the direction the camera world will be going soon – to highlight that fact.

Its ISO performance still can’t compete against the larger FX format, but its outstanding Dynamic Range at base ISO is on apar with the bigger sensors, and its color isn’t too far behind either.

[REWIND: Nikon D750 Review | It’s Achilles, Less His Heel]

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Now, looking at DxO Mark’s charts, Nikon’s placements in the APS-C rankings makes it look like Jamaica in an Olympic running event – utter domination of the top spots. The top 5, in fact. It’s pretty impressive considering how well other companies are doing, especially Fuji. Actually, it’s almost hard for me to grasp that Fuji APS-C sensors aren’t better given my experience with them, though it’s been argued by some that DxO is generally overly focused, and possibly even biased towards Canon and Nikon. But regardless of that, there’s no arguing with how outstanding the D7200 is performing. You can see the full test results here.

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tom Blair

    Just ordered a D7200 from b&h………………….wait to see

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    • Tom Blair

      GOT the D7200 very small.Might have to return it to B&H

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Tom, hi there. Please let me know what’s going on with the D7200 and why you would consider returning it. Is it really the size that’s so off-putting for you?

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    • Tom Blair

      Yes Kishore the size is bothering me,my D200 and D300 feel better in my hands

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    • Kishore Sawh

      That is interesting to hear you say that, as for a while now I’ve been one of not too many who feel camera size doesn’t always benefit from being smaller.

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  2. Jodie Smith

    Sounds like the d7200 will be my next camera. Going from a d5100.

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  3. Jake Stifler

    really clear my doubt which one to buy….

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  4. Ian Sanderson

    I’m taking delivery of one tomorrow. Big step up from D5100. I’m really looking forward to this camera!

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  5. Holger Foysi

    There are many sources measuring DR or S/N ratio. Bill Claff does it even longer than DXO and compares his results to DXO results, too (DR comparison for various cameras: http://home.comcast.net/~NikonD70/Charts/PDR.htm).
    He backs up most of the numbers, especially the low DR of Canon cameras at lower ISO values. This is even demonstrated in real life on various sites (DPreview’s newest tests show it, forum posts at Dpreview or Fred Miranda as well, for example). In this case, the D7200 is probably an outlier, as it doesn’t fit in the previous history of cameras and surpasses the DR of many, even the best FF cameras. Look at Bill Claffs measurements and you see it is slightly better than NX1 and D7100, but not dramatically so, which is in line with user comparisons.

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  6. Mac MacDonald

    Lot of Nikon haters up in here!

    Look, DXO is probably the best “test lab” we have. So, if you don’t like the results, don’t read them. If your camera takes “pretty pictures”, and your clients are pleased with the end results, then ignore the DXO tests and keep rocking your DXO 44 rated sensor. Lots of people don’t believe in Climate Change. They sound bat s**t crazy when they refute it , but it is their right to form their own conclusions, however they may be derived.

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    • robert garfinkle

      How bout we split the difference:

      I believe in DXO / Nikon, but don’t believe in climate change…. :)

      I’ll buy Nikon any day; but won’t buy into political forecast models

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  7. robert s

    im curious how much nikon pays dxomark? canons are constantly ranking crap and nikon always on top. hmmm

    btw, im a nikon shooter…

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    • robert garfinkle

      Do you think DXO is fed by Nikon?

      It has been brought up before.

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    • robert s

      I do have a suspicious feeling they are slipped an envelope under the table. its not reasonable the canon cameras get constantly ranked so much lower.

      sony sensors are good but by the numbers theirs their a huge difference with the overall score of the canon to nikon.

      again I dont know but I read this a while back. I like Thom. I know bythom.com since he started with it. hes logical and even if he sounds like a nikon hater, it isnt true. I respect the guy and believe what he says.

      “It’s interesting to note that DxO seems to be playing a lot of angles. First, they are presenting themselves as impartial, numeric oriented testers (e.g. the scores). Second, they are presenting themselves as reviewers (e.g. “If Canon could only address performance at base and low ISO, the EOS 7D Mk II would make a thoroughly convincing all-round choice, but in this category the Sony A77 II looks to be the more compelling option.”). Third, they sell their test equipment and software test suites to camera companies (Nikon, for instance, but I don’t believe Canon is one of their clients). Fourth, they present themselves as the best demosaic option, better than the camera makers’ options (e.g., DxO Optics Pro). They have some clear conflicts of interests that are not easily resolved. So be careful of just gobbling up their “results” as absolutes.”

      http://www.dslrbodies.com/newsviews/do-you-believe-in-dxomark.html

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    • robert garfinkle

      Well, I shot DXO mark a note. On one hand, why would they tell me the truth. I will post their response here, if they respond…

      I’m a Nikon owner too – very happy with the product. I have addressed QA issues before and my expectations for the price one pays, but still would not get anything else… maybe I’m closed minded…

      Interesting though – If you look at the overall score of the D810, which is top dog, but if you look at the individual categories, I think other cameras outrank it – in two out of the three categories. which puzzles me, that is unless the overall score is an average etc, dunno…

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    • robert s

      I know what you mean about QC issues. nikon has been neglecting that in a big way. their stock is the lowest in almost 4 years, every quarterly revenue is a fail.
      SB900 overheating, D800 left side AF sensors, 24-70 AFS zoom stiffness
      D600 wesson oil splatter and D750 with light leak. thats quite a CV. but hey! at least we have a nikon branded selfie stick and pay double the price for a black rapid strap with the nikon logo on it.

      curious about their reply but to me personally, numbers doesnt mean much to me. thats why when I look at reviews of products, I ONLY want to see the full untouched raw file. nothing else matters. not the persons creativity with angles, the lighting or anything else but the raw file.

      I dont believe DXOmark for a millisecond. its just a lot of fluff in my eyes.

      and nikon needs to also fix their rubber peeling/failing too early on. that has been going on for YEARS and no one says a word. canons fail but not even close to the amount nikons do. $2400 lenses after 7 months of use. and cameras. my first experience was with 3 of my Nikon F5’s

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    • Holger Foysi

      You are free to believe. Most people agree, that looking at individual scores makes more sense than using a weighted overall score. However, most of their measurements are backed up by other people and as long as they are not proven to be wrong, one should take them serious. This doesn’t mean not to double check or think about published results, however.

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    • Dave Lyons

      Thats absurd IMO… you don’t need to be a rocket scientist or DXO to open up a canon raw file and a nikon raw file and zoom in to look at details and move some sliders around to see to immense difference in image quality and edibility and how much more data you have to work with especially in shadow details.

      Don’t use data or numbers or someones opinion to form your judgement, use your own eyes and brain. I’m sure if you look you can find raw files to download from any camera.

      Personally I have owned Canon, Sony and Nikon and when I go back to try and edit a canon file after editing nikon files for so long it’s completely maddening, it’s like trying to edit a jpg like a raw, there’s just so little leeway.. the difference is real… get over it. Canons are great for a lot of things and there’s no denying that but “overall” their sensors aren’t even in the same game as everyone else’s. If you just shoot jpgs a canon is great but if you edit the raw files then you just get less to work with, if thats ok with you then great, go shoot and have fun.. thats what matters… partly

      Every logical person on earth agrees that right now Sony sensors are miles ahead but the sensor only does so much and after it hands the image data off the cameras processor tears it down and rebuilds it with their “special sauce” and Nikons long experience in the field lets them utilize the sensors data better which explains why they rank at the top above sony.

      The whole “nikon” pays off DXO is crap too… come on already that’s stupid! Now canon IS known to “bribe people” to use their gear (ex: kelby) and IF dxo were taking payments under the table then I’m 100% sure canon would be 1st in line with a blank check especially with how much damage they do to canon.. The other sensor testing sites all tend to agree so there’s no conspiracy theory here… geez

      How about you do a simple test… go rent a 7dm2 and a d7200 and go shoot a sunset, put the cameras in Aperture priority f8, iso 100, whatever lens.. it doesn’t matter, stick them on a tripod and take a few shots… go home load them into lightroom or whatever and see which ones you can edit 1 image to show foreground shadows to the skies highlights and you’ll have you answer within 2 seconds.

      Someone do it just to put this issue to bed already…

      Here try this too.. go to do and look at a cameras model progression over time and see how it’s change over time. Ex: if I look up my old canon 30D and compare it to todays 70D the megapixels have gone up but the IQ, DR, Color Depth are all basically the same as it was 8 years ago… then look at ANY other company and you’ll see at least theirs are progressing, the only ones that aren’t is canon.

      This below is how my friends that shoot canon are lol

      “Person: wow man that woulda been a great shot if you coulda seen the details in the shadows of those trees… wow all those elk walking thru the trees like that woulda been a KILLER once in a lifetime shot!

      Canon shooter: yeah well… I get better video and I like my grip better and thats what matters…”

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    • Mathieu F

      I have both Canon and Nikon and I have tested the Dynamic Range measure myself with a ColorCheckerPassport and a Sekonic light meter.
      My test corroborate what DXO reports.

      Now are certain metrics of DXO having too much weight in the final dxo mark for a sensor? The answer is yes.

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  8. Peter Nord

    I wasn’t going to replace the 7100, but a friend offered a fair price, and I sold some stuff that had been on a shelf for a long time. So I wasn’t out any cash. Now I’m glad I did. Great dynamic range. Got the cheap DX 35mm with it. Nice light weight thing to carry around.

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  9. John Cavan

    I think the line has been teetering for a while. The Pentax K-5 stormed onto the market a few years ago and dropped FF-like noise and dynamic range on an unsuspecting crowd and caused the gang at DxO to wax quite poetic about it. The bar has been going up ever since and mostly on the backs of very excellent sensors coming out of Sony. I think it’s awesome.

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  10. robert garfinkle

    At this point still stoked to get a lens before an additional camera.

    However, having a second camera around would be nice. if APS-C the only function it’d serve is for the 1.5x factoring it brings to FX lenses. But, main function that a 2nd camera would bring me, is readiness I suppose, where I take my 2nd favorite lens and have it on that cam… an additional benefit to that – just so I don’t keep re-exposing the lens / sensor so much to the elements by a change-out.

    My first store-bought camera was a D7000. Loved it, yet noticed a giant difference in image quality once I got the D800 – I suppose that was the main point of the upgrade (as well as I better have seen a difference).

    Having said that – I could go for a TC 1.4 (comes close), a bit less expensive, and although I take a hit on EV, right; at least the IQ really wont change, and if a second camera comes along, I just love the FX too much, I could go for as little as a D610 as DXO still tags that camera with a higher rank than the D750 (by a hair). the D610 is simple, FX, excellent IQ, and 800.00 less than the D750, or just 200.00 higher than the D7200 – 200.00 more for FX (I’ll take it, SOLD!!)

    But, still stoked to get newer glass…

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    • Brandon Dewey

      I have a 800 and a 7100 and love the combination of focal lengths I get from having a full framed and cropped body with just a few pieces of glass.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      I use the D610 most of the time because it’s small for FX, and I find it performs so well in almost any situation. Is a D750 better? Sure. Willow D610 satisfy most who know what they are doing? Sure.

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    • robert garfinkle

      At the moment, I am falling short on large mm glass. the largest I have is 105mm 2.8 and I would like to seat myself into a larger lens like a 300mm or greater.

      But, once I’ve satisfied that – it’s a toss up, do I get another FX, with TC 1.4, or do I go straight DX. On one hand, the DX, does not suffer light loss, yes? But, on the other hand, I don’t get the natural effect of 1.5x and I suffer light loss w / TC

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    • Rafael Steffen

      Great comment!

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    • Rafael Steffen

      I am really impressed and with this much quality I wonder if Nikon will ever replace the famous D300s. Probably not with this new camera there are really taking the DX line to a whole new level in terms of image quality.

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