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Christmas Gift Guide

Noise and JPEG processing

ISO 100 JPEG

ISO 200 JPEG

ISO 400 JPEG

ISO 800 JPEG

ISO 1600, no noise reduction

ISO 1600 raw vs. JPEG

D5200 vs. D5100

ISO 6400 raw vs. JPEG

Color

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.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Just an example of an ISO 200 shot (scaled down).

(1/50, f6.3, ISO 200, spot metering, AWB, 18-55mm lens at 24mm)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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