Noise and JPEG processing

The D5200 has excellent JPEG processing and a solid noise profile for its price class. It does a slightly better job at resolving detail as ISO sensitivity rises than does the Canon EOS Rebel T4i, thanks to its higher resolution, which seems to give it about a stop more latitude.
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ISO 100 JPEG

Low ISO sensitivity shots have a nice, natural-looking sharpness and good tonality.

(1/100, f5, ISO 100, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 35mm)
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ISO 200 JPEG

Just an example of an ISO 200 shot (scaled down).

(1/50, f6.3, ISO 200, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 24mm)
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ISO 400 JPEG

ISO 400 shots still display good edges with no color noise.

(1/30, f5.6, ISO 400, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
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ISO 800 JPEG

I'm really impressed by the edge handling of the noise-reduction and JPEG algorithms, even as high as ISO 800.

(1/30, f3.5, ISO 800, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

ISO 1600, no noise reduction

The color noise remains quite fine-grained even as high as ISO 1600.

(1/60, f3.8, ISO 800, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 20mm)
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ISO 1600 raw vs. JPEG

Below ISO 1600, shooting raw gives you some exposure-adjustment latitude, but no clear advantages for noise-reduction or sharpness. ISO 1600 marked the first level at which I could gain a little sharpness by processing the raw, but not without some tradeoffs on grain.

(1/30, f5, ISO 1600, matrix metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 34mm)
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D5200 vs. D5100

Overall, despite a change of sensor and resolution, the image quality of the D5200 looks roughly the same as the D5100.

(1/30, f3.5, ISO 1600, matrix metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
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ISO 6400 raw vs. JPEG

This is about the biggest I'd go with ISO 6400, either raw or JPEG.

(1/60, f3.5, ISO 6400, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 18mm)
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Photo by: Lori Grunin/CNET / Caption by:

Color

The D5200 renders excellent color, even those hard-to-reproduce pears. The Standard (default) Picture Style colors don't push the contrast or saturation very hard; I could barely see a difference between it and the Neutral profile, with the exception of boosted sharpness.
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