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First Look: Nikon's most family-friendly dSLR
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First Look: Nikon's most family-friendly dSLR

2:07 /

With improvements to its autofocus system, the Nikon D5200 becomes an excellent choice for family and vacation photographers.

On paper, the Nikon D5200 doesn't really stand out from its specialized competition. The Canon T4i has a video optimized AF system, the Pentax K-30 has weather resistance, and Sony has its speedy models with built-in geotagging. But in practice, the D5200 more than succeeds as a general purpose model for family and vacation photography. Since it's based on essentially the same body as the D5100, the D5200 retains that model streamline shooting experience. It feels a little plasticky, but not flimsy, and it's lighter than most of the cameras in its class. The control layout, Mode dial, and interface are pretty standard. And there's programmable function button, and no ability to save custom settings, that's part for the course. Though I prefer the record button on the back instead of on the top, I like the camera's live view switch operation and placement more than most. The view finder, which Nikon updated over the D5100 stands out. Though there's the same size and magnification as before, the autofocus area displays are bigger and brighter, and it supports a grid overlay. I find that it makes a huge difference over the tiny AF points that most consumer DSLR supports. The features that hasn't changed from D5100, and retains its uncommon options, such as, the night vision scene mode, time lapse, and intervalometer. If you're looking for modern options, like Wi-Fi or GPS, go optional or go elsewhere. Photo and video quality, were great on the D5100, and they're just as good on the D5200. The big change is in performance. Nikon really improved the autofocus speed, and feels quite a bit zippier and much better for continuous shooting. If you don't mind the slower performance, the D5100 [unk] is fine option, especially with the street price of a couple hundred dollars less than the D5200. But the D5200 delivers a noticeably better shooting experience that makes it an excellent choice for a sub-1000 dollar DSLR. I'm Lori Grunin, and this is the Nikon D5200.

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