The camera kept not only the basic form, but also a number of details from the previous model. Thus, it is no wonder that some additions (such as the vertical grip) have remained identical like in the case of the predecessor. That is why a look from all angles seems familiar:
The basic dimensions have literally remained identical to those of the D7100, and they are 135 x 106 x 76 mm. Even the weight is identical – 765 grams, including the battery. Unfortunately, for reasons best known to it, Nikon decided to leave the D7200 out of the list of cameras that boast a new design approach that has to do with the grip, so our positive impressions concerning that have fallen behind, too. That is a real pity since that ‘trifle’ was the result of the absolute delirium in the public when the D750 and D5500 were taken into account.
Let’s move on. Most of the body is clothed in a familiar rubber cover, which is comfortable to the touch and effectively prevents the camera from slipping, even after hours of holding in one’s hands. We are already familiar with the construction, and the Nikon D7200 shares it with a couple of other cameras, including the D7100, D610, and D750. This meant combining magnesium alloy with a certain form of plastic. Plastic has recently given way to carbon fiber, being a much firmer form of nonmetal structure, and the very fact that this is a composite material argues strongly in favor of the statement that this action sacrificed neither sealing, nor firmness of the entire case. Since we mentioned sealing, the D7200 in this aspect is probably similar to the predecessor, yet there are no specific details about that in the official documentation.
In the absence of an adequate illustration, we used a schematic diagram of the older model, whose sealing is allegedly equivalent to the new model:
Magnesium body of the Nikon D7100 with a schematic diagram of the sealed joints *
(D7200 allegedly shares the identical construction, while Nikon did not provide authentic images of the new body)
The curtain is estimated at acceptable 150,000 actuations, and even though the declaration does not mean guarantee, we have no doubt that a large portion of bodies will successfully reach, and even exceed this number.
The Nikon’s endurance concerning its compatibility with all F-mount lenses is what this company frequently prides itself on. However, sometimes such insistence leads to certain confusion about certain combinations, so for body-lens combinations it is necessary to consult the original manual (available on the final page of the review). A simple enumeration would not be purposeful here, whereas embarking on a more detailed discussion of this issue greatly exceeds the limits of this review. As well as all other Nikon DSLRs of the higher category, the D7200, too, features internal electromechanical support for autofocus on older lenses without their own motor in the form of a micro-motor and the so-called screwdriver, by means of which the focus mechanism is driven, which results in an ability to use very old autofocus lenses.
SENSOR, PROCESSOR, AND A FEW MORE THINGS
Nikon’s juggling with the manufacturing process, from cooperator to cooperator, may bring some specific benefits, but it often gives us a headache when it comes to the origin of the sensor. It often happens that we have not got official information on the origin of the sensor even a couple of months after the official sale started, and Nikon does nothing to change that state of affairs. Now we can state with a certain amount of certainty that the 24MP Toshiba sensor from the D7100 has given way to a Sony sensor with the same resolution, but slightly greater sensitivity.
It is a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor – more precisely 6016 x 4016 pixels. Its precise dimensions are 23.5 x 15.6 mm, and the FOV (Field-Of-View) is 1.5x factor, which means that lenses mounted on this camera have their focal length multiplied by the 1.5 crop factor, which means that the focal length of 100mm becomes equivalent to 150mm on the 35mm sensor, according to which the FOV is also expressed.
24MP Sony CMOS*
The native ISO range of the new camera ranges from ISO 100 to 25600, while there are also two higher values obtained through software, ISO 51200 and ISO 102400, but in a very limited form. For some strange reason, Nikon offered these two values obtained through software only in the JPEG format and (what is even stranger), only in the monochromatic color style! We assume that ISO performances, i.e. the presence of noise, are a reason for this exhibition, but we still do not understand why the company insisted on ISO 102400 when we know that even many 35mm sensors are no match for this challenge.
Nikon’s current processor, Expeed 4, took its place on the list of elements that comprise the D7200, as expected, and the reasons for this are not only the camera’s improved performances in relation to the D7100, but more sophisticated video recording, too. Of course, the job of the central processor does not boil down only to these two things by any means, so it is in charge of the overall functioning of the camera and coordination of its subsystems. As the new camera brought some innovations concerning the focus system, the support in the form of the new processor is more than welcome.
Brains behind the system - Nikon Expeed4*
A system of automatic dust cleaning from the sensor, which has been part of Nikon DSLRs for years, is also present on the D7200, and as always, it is labeled Integrated Dust Reduction System. This technology operates in a similar way as corresponding systems of other manufacturers, and it includes a combination of oppositely charged surfaces and a low-pass filter, from which dust is shaken off by means of piezoelectric vibrations. Nikon’s performance vibrates at four different frequencies, by which it effectively influences dust particles of different shapes and sizes. Unless set differently, cleaning is activated whenever the camera is turned on/off. Moreover, it can be activated additionally at will while the camera is being used. The long-time presence of the self-cleaning system, in more or less all contemporary DSLRs, indicates that this system helps in keeping the sensor clean, and not only the sensor, while it can also be combined with the option of removing dust by means of software, labeled Image Dust-off, which, with the help of the Nikon Capture NX2 application (available separately), maps the remaining dust particles and removes them from photographs.
Proven to be efficient – Nikon Integrated Dust Reduction System*
The light metering sensor has remained the same, which does not necessarily mean that this is something bad. It features 2016 pixels capable of interpreting information through all the three RGB color channels, thus metering, aside from the level of illumination, color balance and tonality. The mutual communication between the light metering system and autofocus system is key to the well-known capability of tracking a subject within the frame, by giving priority based on the color identification. The same sensor is also in charge of metering the required flash power in the i-TTL mode.
There are three metering modes, which means that the Nikon D7200 did not get the fourth one, labeled Highlight-weighted, which blew our mind away on some previous models of the higher class. The most used mode will (no doubt) still be 3D Color Matrix Metering II. This mode performs metering by means of all the three color channels, by sampling input light from the entire sensor, after which it works out the average, taking into account tonality and presence of colors, while in combination with D and G lenses, the distance at which the light is metered as well, by which the desired part of the frame is placed in charge of determining correct exposure. In combination with the so-called non-CPU lenses (lenses without supporting electronics), this type of metering can only be used in its basic form (without the prefix 3D), and provided that you input relevant information about the mounted lens.
The Center-weighted metering also meters the entire scene, but dedicates 75% of its attention to the central part of the frame, because of which it is favorite when it comes to capturing portraits. In order for its functionality to be complete, this mode requires using contemporary lenses, when the metering zone diameter can adjust to the needs (ø6, ø8, ø10, and ø13mm; or average value of the entire frame), whereas if old lenses without electronics are used, the default metering zone is 8mm in diameter.
The Spot metering lays stress on a very small circle, the diameter of which is only 3.5mm (2.5% of the frame surface), with the center in a currently selected focus point, which is why it is used in situations when it is necessary to determine a specific exposure length of the focused subject, regardless of the exposure of the rest of the frame. When it is used with non-CPU lenses, it functions only in the central point.
The Nikon D7200, like many other cameras of the middle and higher class of this manufacturer, offers the Fine Tune Optimal Exposure option in the Custom functions, by means of which one can perform additional ‘calibration’ of the light meter in accordance with one’s needs – separately for each metering mode, in 1/6 stop increments. After such a correction, by which the obtained metering is constantly adjusted for a certain value, and which should not be confused with regular exposure compensation, metering is permanently ‘moved’ for a desired value, so it is not noted in the EXIF structure, nor cancelled with the systemic reset. Of course, you can return to the default value at any moment, if there is need for that. A very handy feature, especially if Nikon’s form of correct metering does not suit you.
Already known – 2016-pixel TTL RGB light metering sensor *
The usual function of Nikon DSLR’s of the higher class, Virtual Horizon, is available on this model as well. This is a function intended to realign the camera more easily to the horizon, and thus avoid a centuries-old problem of a huge number of photographers – ‘photo leakage’. The advantage of this function in relation to ‘by-hook-or-by-crook’ methods, in the form of various levels and other systems of leveling, lies in permanent presence in front of a photographer’s eyes, both when watching through the viewfinder and through the main display. The function of the virtual horizon is implemented into both axes, yet in the viewfinder it is possible to view only the horizontal one, regardless of the fact whether the camera is in the classical or portrait position, while the view in the Live View mode (hereafter, LV) equally presents the leveling of the azimuth, which is an angle that the horizontal axis of the camera forms in relation to the horizon. Despite the fact that many will be bothered by this flaw, we believe that it affects the overall functionality very little, since the matter of leveling is critical only for the horizontal axis, as it is very rare that a situation will demand from the photographer to realign the camera vertically and thus ‘cut’ the frame ‘in two’, which is in most cases regarded unacceptable, except for some specific situations. Besides, the middle class had to be separated from the higher class in some way, so this was probably one of the methods, seen through the eyes of the manufacturer.
Virtual Horizon, a function of realigning the camera, in action - inside the viewfinder (left) and on the main screen (right)
Even though the old D7100 featured an AF system with the same number and arrangement of points, in the meantime it has evolved and brought us the arrangement that we have recently had a chance to see on the D750, but this time it is adjusted to the APS-C system. It is labeled Multi-CAM3500 II. It is still a phase TTL sensor, with 51 AF points in total, 15 of which are cross-type, and they are concentrated in the center of the focus area. The crucial difference in relation to the AF system that we saw on the D7100 has to do with its ability to operate in low-light conditions, so the new AF system can fulfill its function it the range from -3 to + 19 EV, with which Nikon managed to get among the most efficient autofocus systems in this class as well when it comes to dealing with light.
Multi-CAM3500 II TTL, a new AF module with 51 points, 15 of which are cross-type*
51 points cover a substantial part of the frame, while the focus area can be limited to only 11 points. The arrangement of the autofocus points, the arrangement of those among them that are cross-type, as well as their availability in relation to the maximum aperture, can be seen in the following illustration:
Arrangement of the AF points, as well as sensitivity in relation to the aperture
(red – cross-type points, black – regular points; white – inactive points)
There are three modes of focus and they are standard for Nikon cameras: the AF-S (Single-Servo AF) is the most used mode, by which focusing is conducted in a one-shot manner, with one point or a set of points assigned in advance, whereas the AF-C (Continuous-Servo AF) is used for tracking a moving subject, with continuous adjustments of the focal distance in relation to the chosen subject. The third mode, the AF-A, will first confirm the focus in the identical way as the AF-S, whereas in case of the distance change, it will react by automatically switching to the servo mode of tracking. The focus on the central 11 points is active at f/8 and higher stops, which is significant for all combinations with lenses with smaller apertures and teleconverters.
The choice of AF-point-selection methods has not changed for quite some time with Nikon cameras, so unfortunately, the D7200 is no exception as well. The Single-point AF is probably the most frequently used method, and it is characteristic because focus is limited to one point, selected in advance, but with the maximum accuracy control. On this account, this method is a good choice when we are not sure in what conditions the action will take place. It is suitable both for single-shot and continuous focusing:
Single-point AF, focusing with one selected point
The second method, Dynamic-area AF, is a form of focusing that is primarily aimed at tracking a moving subject, when the center of focus is maintained on the previously selected point, and the surrounding ones help in recognizing and maintaining the focus on the chosen subject. It should be used in the Continuous-Servo focus mode (AF-C), while in the Single-Servo mode (AF-S) it is not available. Depending on the conditions, that is to say on the complexity of the subject’s movement, three subvariants are at one’s disposal. They include the option of selecting automatic focus by using all the points (51), by reducing their number to 21 points, or to only 9, respectively. The group of 9 points should be used when it is harder to maintain one focus point (with the Single-point method) on, usually, a small subject, which moves relatively fast, yet whose movement can be predicted:
Dynamic-area AF, focus area with 9 AF points
The 21 points will be more convenient for tracking the movement of a subject that is less predictable, yet with poorer accuracy, since the AF system will not always be able to estimate accurately the needed distance:
Dynamic-area AF, focus area with 21 AF points
The 51-point variant is intended for situations in which it is necessary to track remarkably fast subjects, which are difficult to keep in the same part of the frame:
Dynamic-area AF, focus area with 51 AF points
The 3D-Tracking is systemically the most complex of all forms of autofocus since it includes the maximum ‘concentration’ of two key systems in the camera - the autofocus system and the metering system. This is a focus mode by which, after initially determining the subject, that subject is tracked dynamically (along all the three axes) within the frame, with an automatic change of the active AF point, as long as the subject is kept within the marked focus area. The coordination is permanently conducted between the AF sensor and the light metering sensor, which analyzes the tonality, color and illumination of the selected subject, so based on the obtained data, it informs the AF system about the subject position and predicts its movement. If the subject, owing to an untimely reaction on the photographer’s part, temporarily ‘leaves’ the focus area, all that needs to be done is to choose a subject once again. As expected, the 3D-Tracking is available only in the Continuous-Servo mode (AF-C):
3D-Tracking, automatic tracking of the subject in space by dynamically changing the points
As many times so far, it has turned out that the 3D-Tracking very often manages to maintain focus on the chosen subject, which in certain cases can mean significantly greater compositional freedom, which is usually rather limited when it comes to action photography. The main difference between this method and the one with a 51-point dynamic zone mentioned earlier is that the 3D-Tracking mode does not have the ‘primary’ point. The subject is chosen at the beginning, and after that, all the AF points are completely equal and they give priority to each other, in accordance with the movement of the subject inside the frame. In other words, classical point-selection methods mean that the selection of points is performed by the photographer, while the 3D-Tracking features automatic point selection in reference to the position of the chosen subject. That is why the 3D-Tracking enables tracking with tremendously less effort, since it is enough to maintain the subject inside the focus area. Anyway, the 3D-Tracking mode is not omnipotent and should be avoided in almost all situations where the subject does not clearly stand out from the background, i.e. when the background is either too close, or too confusing, so the light meter may have some problems recognizing the subject that is being tracked.
The Auto-area AF method gives primacy to beginners, and manufacturers emphasize it as the default one, without any apparent reason. It is true that it requires least experience, yet at the same time it provides very little control over the final result. Since this is a method that determines focus priority on its own, it is very probable that its choice will not match the photographer’s since it carries out an evaluation primarily in relation to the distance of the subject, whereby priority is given only to the subjects closest to the camera, providing that they are covered with the focus area. If the light meter registers the skin tone, it will give priority to it. It is available in all the focus modes. In the Auto-Servo mode, it firstly sets focus in relation to the subject selected on its own, and after a potential change of the distance, it transforms into a certain form of the 3D-Tracking; however, the tracked subject usually does not have anything to do with the photographer’s wishes:
Auto-area AF, completely automatic selection by using all the AF points
A group of options that have to do with the autofocus offers a set of regular options, among which is the AF Fine Tune, a function by which fine focus calibration is conducted. Calibration can now be conducted for 20 lenses in total, in ±20 steps, with each lens separately, or globally, at the level of the camera. It is a convenient possibility, which is relatively rarely used, but which can be worth its weight in gold in case there are some minor problems with the focus – if that happens, it will free the owner from visiting a service. The only condition is that the ‘misfiring’ of the focus is constant, regardless of the focal length, since there are no separate settings for different parts of the length.
Another option for additional adjusting of the AF to the needs of the photographer is the Focus Tracking with Lock-On. In five steps, it adjusts the AF system reaction speed to the distance changes of the chosen subject, when the AF-C focus mode has been selected. The highest level (5) makes the longest delay between two adjustments of the focus (e.g. in case you are tracking the subject in whose direction unwanted objects frequently appear, and which the AF should ignore), while the lowest (1) carries out very frequent distance adjustments. This option can be completely shut down, when adjustments are conducted instantaneously, without delay, which will be used most frequently while capturing very dynamic scenes, when updated adjustments are key to good results. This also brings with itself certain negative consequences, such as, for instance, an unwanted and exaggerated reaction of the AF system to obstructive elements within the frame, like, for example, lamp posts while capturing a car in motion. It is precisely for those situations that this option is the most useful, since sudden changes of the distance in front of the selected AF point will be simply ignored.
The usual companion of the AF system on Nikon cameras is a solid AF-Assist lamp, whose additional lighting improves sharpening in low-light conditions. Its intensity and output cannot be compared to the AF-Assist lamp of a flashgun, yet it will be enough for the majority of situations that the camera can cover without additional lighting – at least until you stick to the AF-S focus mode of the central AF point, since the AF-Assist lamp covers only the said point, owing to a very narrow beam of light that it sends.
As with all cameras with a more complex autofocus system, it is advisable to carefully study its way of work, in particular each mode separately, even if you do not need some of them. Such an approach does not guarantee complete success, but at least it frees you from aimlessly roaming through the menus while trying to find the cause of a poorly focused image, and it can drastically shorten the period of getting acquainted with the new body.
As in the case of most DSLRs, the viewfinder is optical, based on pentaprism, providing 100% frame coverage, which in turn results in accurate framing. The pentaprism also provides lighter projection, along with the 0.94x magnification rate, which makes this viewfinder handy. The greatest distance of the eye from the optical element from which it is possible to encompass the entire view (the so-called eyepoint) is 19.5mm, so using the viewfinder with one’s glasses on is relatively convenient as well. The diopter can be set in the range of -3 to +1, via a small control dial on the right side of the viewfinder.
The interior of the viewfinder is more or less standard for Nikon DSLRs. The focus glass is unchangeable, and it carries an archaic name – Type B BriteView Clear Matte Screen Mark II. It is combined with a special transparent LCD film, which is positioned between the focus glass and the pentamirror, and by means of which the most important parameters, AF points, the frame of the 1.3x crop mode, and the framing grid are dynamically emitted in front of the user’s eyes. The AF points are surrounded with visible borders, and they are presented at the same time only when selecting an AF mode. The framing grid, as Nikon labels the 4x4 grid, helps when composing the frame, and it can be toggled off if needed. How all this looks like in practice you can see in the following illustration:
Nikon D7200 viewfinder
From the informative point of view, the D7200 viewfinder offers a voluminous spectrum of information, which will even take turns in some cases, as it is not possible that all of them are presented at the same time. From left to right, there are: the focus and rangefinder confirmation indicator; the indicator of locked exposure (AE-Lock); the indicator of locked flash power (FV-Lock); the indicator of adjusting the shutter with the flash synchronization speed; the exposure time (i.e. AF mode); the indicator for lenses without electronics; the aperture; the light meter scale of the ±2EV range (with the option of changing the +/- values); HDR, Active D-Lighting, and Bracketing indicators; the empty battery indicator; the flash power compensation indicator; the exposure compensation indicator; the AutoISO option indicator; the number of remaining shots (or depending on the settings or the current mode – ISO value, the exposure compensation and flash power level); the flash ready indicator.
CONTROLS AND OTHER DETAILS
The Nikon D7200 differs very slightly from the predecessor. This statement encompasses both the dimensions (which are identical), shape, and even the control arrangement. Very little has been changed, which of course does not mean that the effect is negative. What we are not particularly happy with is the fact that improving the depth of the grip, which we had a chance to see on the D750 and D5500, has passed over the most prestigious APS-C camera in Nikon’s line-up. The reasons for this probably lie in the fact that this camera existed much longer as a project than it has actually been present on the market, so the improved design elements of the two said cameras in fact came into being after the D7200, even though the promotion took place in reverse order. Confusing? Of course it is, but that is an immediate consequence of the tempo that the market is exposed to, and it is starting to look more and more like the smartphone market.
The front look is standard for Nikon DSLRs. The central place is always reserved for the Nikon F-mount. To its left is a grip, which is not too deep and is relatively comfortable, and above its red ‘eyebrow’, at the top, is the front control dial. It is used to control primary parameters, such as the exposure duration, aperture, or ISO value, depending on the current mode. Between the grip and the mount, all the way up is an AF-Assist lamp, which helps with single-shot focusing in low light, but also for signaling postponed releasing. A little lower is the first of two programmable controls. The upper one (Pv; preview) is originally intended for the DOF-preview control, by which the aperture is temporarily locked at a selected value, so that the photographer could have an insight into how much the depth of field expands, while the lower one (Fn) is also programmable and it can be mapped in the same way in order to perform various functions from the list of predefined ones.
To the right from the mount we have got a set of several controls and elements that we are already familiar with as well. All the way up is a button for activating the built-in flash, which is also used for setting the flash compensation, if the flash is already active. Not far from it is a nicely camouflaged IR (infrared) sensor for remote shooting, a little below it is BKT, a control that, in combination with the two control dials, performs the setting of the bracketing function (releasing several continuous shots with different exposure duration). Next to the mount itself is a large button that is used for unlocking the mount in order for the lens to be unmounted, and all the way down is a lever by which the camera is switched from the autofocus to the manual focus mode. In its center is a button that, again by combining the two control dials, is used for selecting active focus points selection methods.
The look from above has not changed drastically, too. The central position, as always, is occupied by the pentaprism housing, integrated with the built-in flash, and above all that is an ISO-518 compatible i-TTL hot shoe, designed for flash and other external additions. A little in front of it we can see a built-in stereo microphone, aimed at recording audio components of videos. To the right from the pentaprism housing is the mode selector with an integrated lock mechanism, so that unintended changes would be prevented. The mode selector features 10 positions, four of which are famous creative modes (M, A, S, P), one is the Full Auto mode, and there is one more identical position, which does not use the flash, however. The rest is a little specific. The position labeled as Scene groups a sequence of modes aimed at laymen that make shooting easier in specific situations, while the Effects, as its name suggests, enables using special graphic effects in real time, whereby the final result can be seen even before shooting, if the LV mode is active.
The position to the right from the pentaprism is dominated by a status display, which, just as in the case of the D750, is reduced to a pretty short list of shown parameters. All primary parameters, such as the ISO values, exposure duration, and the aperture, are available, and there are also a number of indicators, such as the Wi-Fi indicator; flash synchronization indicator; bracketing indicator; multiple exposure indicator; battery life indicator; exposure compensation indicator; flash compensation indicator; memory slots indicator; light metering mode indicator, as well as the light meter scale, with the range of ±3 EV, which was not featured by the predecessor. Unfortunately, that is the only innovation, while the list of removed parameters (in comparison to what we had on the D7100) is much longer, so we no longer have a detailed insight into the flash mode, active resolution and quality of recording, AFmode and point-selection method, and perhaps most importantly – there is no white balance indicator! Economizing on the status display? Realistically, if that is an overture to another introduction of the highest class of the APS-C cameras, the successor of the D300S, then this step could have some sense. If not, sour taste becomes even stronger.
Status display of the D7200
In front of the status display are a couple of buttons. All the way to the front, protruding from the top of the grip, is a three-level rotary switch, which is used for switching the camera on/off and activating the background light of the status display, while in its center there is perhaps the crucial control of the camera – a two-level shutter button. Between it and the status display are three more controls. The conspicuously smallest button among them is marked with a red dot and guess what – it is used for starting and stopping video recording. Fortunately, this time Nikon was more considerate, so the D7200, too, received an option that this control can be undisturbedly mapped and assigned some other function, in case recording videos is not (too) important for you. It is highly convenient that, from the list of predefined functions, the ISO function can be selected, which is positioned pretty poorly on Nikon DSLRs, aside from (paradoxically) cameras of the lowest class. The top panel also features the controls for selecting the light metering mode, as well as exposure compensation.
The rear side is dominated by a screen, around which controls are arranged. Above it is an optical viewfinder and a dial used for setting the diopter. To the left of the viewfinder are controls for moving on to a next image in the preview mode and for deleting. The delete button can be used at the same time for formatting memory cards, by being pressed and held for 5 seconds simultaneously with the identically labeled button on the top panel of the camera. A little lower, to the left from the main screen, is a sequence of 5 controls. The top one is Menu, which is used to open the menu system, and below it are three multifunctional controls. The first is used to change white balance (White Balance; WB) while shooting, whereas in the preview mode, images can be locked and thus be protected from involuntary deletion. The same button is also used to activate the interactive help system, which informs the user in the form of text how the currently selected option from the menu is functioning. The next control (Qual) is used for setting the quality of an image or zooming in the view, depending on the current mode of work. Lower is the ISO control, whose unintuitive position we have always criticized, as it requires that you take the camera off your face and search the location of this control by using your fingers. Fortunately, as we have mentioned previously, the Nikon D7200 now offers a highly efficient solution to this problem. The same button is also used for minimizing the view, as well as for resetting the camera to its default settings, if it is pressed with the identically labeled button on the upper side of the camera. The last control is marked with the letter i, and it is used for activating additional options, such as the interactive change of parameters in the regular and the LV mode, but also for switching to the retouching mode, which is a mode of basic processing of the existing images.
What all the controls have in common is a fairly unfavorable organization because of which, when pressing any of them, the main display is activated and it offers an interactive system of change by means of the control dials. This system of work is not very problematic in the LV mode, yet it is extremely troublesome when one works with the optical viewfinder. If we remember the story about the status display, such an organization is actually quite expected, since the user has no other way to control the selected parameters. We believe that this flaw is not enough to spoil the pleasure of shooting, but one should be aware of that if they plan to make a purchase, and they are not ready to give up their old habits.
To the right from the viewfinder is the AE-Lock/AF-Lock, a control by which the previously metered exposure duration or flash power is locked, and this control, like many others, can be remapped, depending on one’s needs – to a limited extent, however. To the right from it is the rear control dial, whose function is the same as the one carried out by the front one; however, their functions can sometimes overlap, depending on the selected mode.
To the right from the display are a couple of more known controls. The most prominent is an eight-way ‘teeter-totter’ button, which conducts navigation on all levels – from controlling the parameters, to moving through the menu system. Apart from that, that is a direct access to the selection of the active AF point. In its center is an OK button, whose function is self-evident, while at the base of the ‘teeter-totter’ is a rotary switch, by which the currently selected AF point can be locked. Another similar switch, only a little smaller, is located a little lower, and it is used for switching from the shooting mode to the video mode, and vice versa. In its center is a control for activating the live-view mode. Between them is a green LE diode, which signals that the memory controller is busy due to work with the memory cards. All the way down is the Info control, by which the Information Display is activated; this is Nikon’s version of interactive control of basic parameters, which considerably facilitates work at the moments when there is no action and when you can take your time and adjust the camera to your needs. It is also used to toggle the main display off when there is no need for it. Close to the Info button is a miniature mono speaker, which emits signal sounds, as well as the audio recording from videos, and there is also the rear IR receiver, which receives the commands of a wireless shutter release. This is one of the items on Nikon’s cameras that we love to praise, without exception, even though not all models exhibit them. Namely, to have one IR receiver is great, but to have two – well, that is exceptional! This does not make the manufacturer poorer (bearing in mind the price of this element), and it can make the user very happy.
The memory slot on cameras is usually located on the right side of the camera, hidden behind a small door. The Nikon D7200, like its predecessor, features two memory slots. Both are compatible with the Secure Digital (SD) standard, and the D7200 accepts all SD variations – from the oldest SD cards, slightly newer SDHC and SDXC ones, All the way to the latest UHS-I cards, which provide maximum transfer speeds. Aside from them, support is also provided for the increasingly popular Eye-Fi cards, by means of which the written material can be wirelessly transferred to compatible Wi-Fi devices – of course, in case that makes sense on the camera featuring built-in Wi-Fi. The memory slots are identical and completely equal. They can be used sequentially (when the first card (the upper slot) is full, the process of writing automatically switches to the second one (the lower slot)), as back-up (in this situation the written material is automatically copied onto the other card as well, which leads to redundancy), or they can be separated according to the type of writing (for instance, the first one records only the RAW, while the second one only the JPEG format, or on the second card only videos are recorded). The possibilities are endless, while the modality of use is limited only to users’ needs.
SD memory slots
The memory requirements of the new Nikon D7200 are average, with slightly greater demands in comparison to the D7100. The card with the capacity of 8GB, depending on the selected compression, can store on average: 280 RAW, 550 JPEG or 200 RAW+JPEG images, in the maximum quality (14-bit lossless RAW + JPEG L/Fine). Of course, variations are possible depending on noise reduction (the less the noise, the smaller the files), on the amount of images at higher ISO values (they take up more space on average), as well as on the content (images with mostly uniform areas take up less space).
When we talk about the video segment, the Nikon D7200 can pack from 45 to 60 minutes of material in the maximum quality on an 8GB memory card, depending on the content and conditions in which the recording took place, whereby low-light condition demand more memory space because higher ISO values are used, which in turns brings noise.
We are already familiar with the battery not only from the previous model of the same class, but from many other Nikon cameras of the higher rank. It is labeled EN-EL15, its capacity is 1900 mAh, while the smart characteristics signify the presence of accompanying electronics by which the battery is identified inside the camera and its life is tracked. Tracking its state from one recharge to another encompasses the representation of its current level of charge expressed as a percentage, as well as the representation in six levels on the status display of the camera.
MH-25a charger with the EN-EL15 Li-Ion smart battery
The battery autonomy according to the CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) standards provides exceptional 1110 shots, with the usual use of the display and sporadic use of the pop-up flash. In real-life use, which includes using the camera in the most diverse temperatures and light conditions, a combined use of the LV and plenty of navigation through the menus, as well as attaching lenses with or without stabilization, with or without their own AF motor, the battery manages to provide that rated number of shots. In controlled conditions (moderate use of the display and the LV mode, as well as of the built-in flash), the battery autonomy can increase to more than 1300 shots! In the video mode, the situation is a little more complex, primarily owing to the intensive use of the main display, but the sensor as well, since it is permanently active. If optical stabilization of a lens is active, too, this cuts down on the autonomy. In practice, with intensive use, the battery will manage to pull off more than an hour of video recording, which is a positive result.
All the connectors are situated on the left side of the camera, under three separate rubber lids. In the first compartment (from the top) are a 3.5mm stereo microphone input, aimed at video recording, and next to it is a USB connector, used for connecting the camera to a computer. In the second compartment is only an HDMI output, used for connecting the camera to a TV or another compatible external screen; moreover, the HDMI output is HDMI-CEC compatible, which means that in the preview mode the camera can be controlled with a remote control of a TV. All the way down is the third rubber lid, under which are a 3.5mm stereo headphones jack and a dedicated connector for additions, for attaching remote shutters or GPS receivers.
Connectors: stereo microphone input, USB, HDMI,
stereo headphone jack, and combined GPS/remote connector
The display has undergone only minor, yet in the long run very important changes. Its diagonal is identical to the one on a couple of previous models (3.2”, i.e. 8cm), and the aspect ratio is still 4:3, so this time as well there is no 3:2 aspect ratio and the screen is not used as effectively as in the case of (for instance) the D5500. The overall resolution is 1,228,800 dots, which, translated into the understandable dimensions, is 640 x 480 pixels. The angle of view is 170̊, which is very good, while the option of setting the color balance has obviously become standard for Nikon DSLRs, as the D7200 features it, too. It is a fixed screen, so this time as well there is no option of rotating. Technically speaking, the TFT screen has undergone changes that do not make any striking difference concerning the quality of the view, and that is the case until we pay attention to one tiny detail – a new TFT screen uses the RGBW instead of the conventional RGB matrix, which results in significant energy saving, and, in turn, in greater autonomy of the battery! Namely, in contrast to the classic RGB matrix, which forms the view by using three basic color components (R-G-B; red, green, and blue), the RGBW introduces another component into the equation – white (W), which directly improves control of lighting, without the need for all the three channels to emit values at their maximum (intensity 255 on all the channels), which is a precondition for achieving white pixels on RGB matrices. This is where great energy saving comes from, which, as we have mentioned above, brings tangible savings in practice, too, just like in the case of several previous Nikon DSLRs!
The Information Display, being a larger surrogate for the status screen, plays a fundamental role on the D7200 as well. Just like in the case of the D750, which reduced the list of parameters on the status display to a minimum, so the D7200, too, offers less information in comparison to its predecessor. On this account, it is very convenient that the main display can be used in this way. All the exhibited options can be accessed interactively or by means of direct controls, and what it all looks like in practice, we can see in the following illustration:
View of the basic parameters on the Information Display, in day and night
The Live View mode (hereafter, LV) has long been a regular option on DSLRs, first as a semi-functional imitation of a similar mode on compact cameras, and then as an obligatory function that goes along with video recording. Technically speaking, the LV represents a direct projection of the view from the sensor to the main display, live. That is where the name comes from. Aside from the obvious ability to shoot without bringing the camera to one’s face (which is pretty troublesome with DSLRs because of their considerable weight), the LV makes working with a tripod much more convenient, as well as working in all situations where framing by looking through the viewfinder is physically not manageable. On the other hand, the LV represents a critical element in the increasingly important segment of today’s average DSLR – video recording.
Since there is a mirror on the path of the light from the lens to the sensor, the LV on DSLRs works in a slightly different manner in comparison to compact cameras. In order for the preview on the screen to be possible, the mirror mechanism needs to be raised from its usual position so that it would make room on the path to the sensor; as a result, framing through the viewfinder is out of the question, and more importantly, the phase AF sensor cannot be used any more since, in order for it to operate, the mirror has to be in its lower position. For these reasons, the LV mode employs an independent focusing system, known as the contrast autofocus, i.e. CDAF (Contrast Detection AutoFocus). Its way of work is technically different from the phase focus and it demonstrates some positive, but also some negative features. The positive is, without doubt, accuracy, while the negative one stems exactly from that accuracy, and that is slowness or, to be politically correct – low focusing speed. Focusing is conducted by means of a special algorithm that measures contrast between differently colored surfaces of the view from the main sensor, and that stops the focus area only when it finds the position that gives the highest micro-contrast between differently colored surfaces. Accuracy of the D7200 has not been questioned, yet the CDAF speed is still a weak point. Even though in theory the CDAF is limited when it comes to the focusing speed, some manufacturers, primarily Olympus, proved with their mirrorless cameras that the CDAF does not have to be slow (quite the contrary), so the only disadvantage remains focusing on moving subjects in the AF-C mode. Just like with phase focus, the more uniform the surface being focused on, the harder the focusing, whereas contrast focus has evidently far more problems in such critical situations.
There are two focus modes at one’s disposal: the Single-Servo AF (AF-S), for stationary subjects, when focusing takes place on a single basis, as with the phase focus, and the Full-time-Servo AF (AF-F), which makes focus corrections permanently, reacting to any change in the distance of the subject that is under the selected focus area. We learned from all the previous reviews of Nikon DSLRs that not much should be expected from this focus mode, and we have to state that the situation today is not better either. Archaic hopping of the focus area whenever it occurs to it that something has moved (although it often has not) is an utterly unacceptable way of work for anything but occasional fun. Nonetheless, in other cases, when continuous tracking of the subject is not a priority, users will be able to use some of the contrast focus modes that the D7200 offers: the Normal-Area AF is a classic CDAF mode, whose focus area has very narrow dimensions, and it can move along the frame by using the eight-way joystick (‘teeter-totter’); the Wide-Area AF is similar to the previous mode regarding its way of operating, yet the dimensions of its focus area are considerably wider, so, as such, it is suitable for the frames that do not abound in subjects at a short distance; the Face-Priority AF a fad, incorporated by many manufacturers a long time ago, and it is an imitation of the focus system with the same name, found on compact cameras, which, based on the form and color, ‘looks for’ faces within the frame and does its best to keep the focus on them; the last mode is the Subject-Tracking AF, which is an LV version of the continuous focus, and it operates in such a way that a subject that has once been initiated is tracked continuously along the frame, which thus makes it visually very similar to the 3D-Tracking focus in the phase system mode. ‘Constantly’ is a category that is much more descriptive than it really has to do with constancy. Moreover, you will often wonder “Where is the focus going?” even though there is absolutely no need for correction.
A special delicacy of the LV mode is exceptionally accurate manual focusing, when the view can be magnified by as much as 23 times:
Magnification in the LV mode
The LV mode is also equipped with the view of the standard parameters in the photo and video mode, which can be toggled off if needed:
View of the parameters in the LV mode
There is also a framing grid, as well as the Virtual Horizon, for accurate leveling of the camera in relation to the horizon:
Framing grid and view of the Virtual Horizon in the LV mode
The flaws of the LV of the D7200 are very similar to the ones that Nikon has been molesting us with for years, and which are found on the majority of other models from Nikon’s line-up – no option to control primary parameters in real time. A logical breather that the D750 exposed us to, where all the controls in the LV mode worked just as expected, was obviously short-lived. The D7200 stayed with the archaic organization that requires the user to deactivate and reactivate the LV mode in order for the previously selected parameter (e.g. the aperture) to become really active. If you find this illogicality simply too stupid – you are absolutely right. However, probably out of some sadistic urges, Nikon believes that this state of affairs is quite normal and acceptable. They ignore, we are in disbelief, and so on and so forth…
The video segment of the new camera has been only minimally changed in relation to the D7100. We say “changed” because there is not much real improvement there. The video recording is available in several resolutions. The highest is, of course, Full HD (1920 x 1080) with the 16:9 aspect ratio, in the progressive system (the so-called 1080p). The interlaced 1080i is not available any more. The 1080p is available with the frame rates of 24, 25, and 30 fps. The 1080p at 50/60 fps is also available (in contrast to the predecessor, which was limited to the 1080i), but with a new tactic that will spoil the fun of many (if not all) – namely, the Nikon D7200 with these frame rates and these resolutions provides only video recording in the 1.3x crop format! To put it another way, the equivalent focal length will not be the one that we are used to, but enlarged by the 1.3x factor. In this way, an 18mm kit lens, instead of equivalent 27mm, which are characteristic for the APS-C format, will be approximately 35mm, which greatly influences the final result. Why? We definitely do not know, and we highly doubt that even the Nikon management know why they have offered such a 1080p 50/60 fps format. If you want the full APS-C format, you are going to have to settle for 30 fps at the most.
As for the other resolutions, there is also HD 720p (1280 x 720) at 50/60 fps (PAL and NTSC standard, respectively) with full slow-motion capacity, while VGA is not available. Each resolution is encoded in two quality levels: high and normal.
The video encoding takes place in the MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) format and is placed in the MOV container, while the length of the recording is limited to 20 minutes per video, regardless of the selected resolution and frame rate. Credit for this goes to the low bit rate – only ~20 Mbps – which is achieved by using B-frames. In this way, a high level of quality is maintained, with much less space taken up, and more importantly – with less ‘gluttony’ concerning the flow in the memory controller. Of course, taking up space also depends on the conditions that the video is recorded in, so the poorer the light conditions are, the larger the files will be, since high ISO values lessen the option of strong compression.
The audio recording is 16-bit, at 44 KHz, and it is written uncompressed in the Linear PCM format. The audio recording can be switched off or entrusted to the built-in stereo microphone. The input signal (sensitivity) of the microphone can be continuously calibrated (depending on recording conditions) or set manually in three steps. Using the microphone situated in the camera housing, in which and around which a whole series of mechanical processes takes place, results in plenty ‘parasitic’ sounds, which are undesirable in the video recording, even though the mic has been upgraded. On this account, when there is a need for higher quality audio recording, the external microphone, with the aid of the connector that is located at the side of the camera, will provide much higher quality recording. To make things even better, Nikon has provided a connector for external sound monitoring, so with an appropriate pair of stereo headphones it is possible to control both the quality, as well as the level of the input signal during recording.
As we know, autofocus during video recording has been present on Nikon cameras for quite a while, but, unfortunately, it is still at the level of formally meeting demands of the market. Despite the fact that the D7200 is the umpteenth model in a row that features this option, its implementation is identical to the one from the previous generation, which is (in turn) identical to the one before it, etc. Let’s remind – the continuous focus mode is labeled Full-time-servo AF (AF-F), and it operates in the following way: after you have determined the initial subject, the camera will try to keep the focus area permanently on it. We say “try” because after the first couple of minutes, it will be clear to everybody that it is still not mature enough for such maneuvering. The focus area will be corrected ‘nervously’ every couple of seconds, and a deflection to the opposite side will sometimes be unacceptably great, thus resulting in an image that is highly unlikely to be usable. That is why we recommend that potential owners rely on their own senses and talent in the video mode, and make use of the regular manual focus. You will need some time to get used to it, but what you can achieve in that way is really priceless. Exceptionally, an alternative to this can be using automatic focus, but before you start recording. Or getting expensive additional equipment that will make mechanical maneuvering easier.
On the already captured video material it is possible to perform the most basic actions, such as trimming (cutting out parts of a video) or extracting certain frames, as a different form of photography. After editing, a new video can be stored separately onto the card.
It is already known that the greatest number of Nikon cameras feature built-in flash. The guide number (GN) of the D7200 is 12 at ISO 100, and the maximum synchronization speed is 1/250s. Exceptionally, with reduced power, the camera can carry out the synchronization with the exposure speed of 1/320s as well. For the moment of releasing the shutter, either the first or the second curtain can be selected (i.e. the flash at the beginning or at the end of the exposure, so that the exposure process would gather as much ambient light as possible). The reduction of red eyes is, of course, an inseparable part of this flash mode, as well as the so-called ‘slow-sync’, when the stress is laid on longer exposure so that more ambient light would be gathered.
Four operating modes of the built-in flash are offered. The primary is the i-TTL, which, with the help of the light meter, meters the light ‘through the lens’ and thus enables the most accurate metering of the flash power. The i-TTL is the most frequently used mode of flash control since it achieves excellent results with relatively little effort. Its power can be compensated from -3EV to +1EV, if there is need for that. The manual mode, as its name says, is entirely controlled by the user, and the flash power is adjusted from the maximum 1/1 to the minimum 1/128 of the entire power. Since the flash is triggered with predefined power, there is no metering, so there is no so-called pre-flash, by which the TTL algorithm measures the needed flash power; therefore, in this mode it is possible to trigger external lighting, which is activated by the photo-cell (Nikon flashguns with the SU-4 mode, older flashes with photo-cells or studio lighting). The Repeating flash is an option that can often be seen among the options for controlling flashes of today’s DSLRs, although it is rarely used. It enables shooting of the flash in accordance with the previously programmed scenario, in a series that can be adjusted with the power, number and frequency of flashes, and it can be used when, for instance, a trajectory of a subject needs to be marked. The final mode is what Nikon has been famous for for a long time, and that is the well-known Commander mode – a mode with which, by means of the built-in flash, single flashguns or groups of flashguns are controlled, in one of the three modes.
The Commander mode has been Nikon’s specialty for many years, and it can control up to two groups of flashes (A and B), along with the built-in flash, and each of them can be set to work in the TTL, Manual or Auto-aperture (AA) control mode, if there is support for it; in addition, it enables the flash to determine on its own the needed power, at the same time exchanging information with the camera concerning the aperture. Each of the groups, as well as the built-in flash, can be switched off, whereby the pop-up will send only the pre-flash, by which it activates wireless triggering, without any particular emission of light. Of course, the TTL and manual modes will be used mostly, as they are by far the most usable ones. On the other hand, except regarding the groups, Nikon does not state the limitations regarding the overall number of controlled flashes, except that the optimal number is three, without fear of any problems that may come up with mutual interference. The recognition of flashes is carried out with the identical setting of the Commander (built-in flash) and flashguns, with the channels from 1 to 4 (3 is default).
The support for flashguns is not limited to the i-TTL, but it is clear that, if one aims to achieve the maximum flexibility of use, without excessive effort, using Nikon’s modern or 3rd-party i-TTL compatible flashes is more than desirable. Furthermore, when shopping, one should also pay attention to support for wireless control by using the Commander mode, since it would be a pity not to use it. The attention with which Nikon designed the i-TTL algorithm perhaps can be best seen in the way flashguns behave when operating in the bounce position of the flash head (the position in which the head is turned towards a reflective surface, instead of the subjects within the frame), when it is capable of automatically determining the needed flash compensation, so that the exposure would be appropriate. What is more, in situations that usually confuse the majority of TTL algorithms, such as shooting when there are multitudinous reflective surfaces (e.g. mirrors or glass), Nikon’s algorithm will deal with it superbly and prevent underexposure quite efficiently.
Since the Nikon D7200 does not feature a PC-Sync connector for triggering the studio lighting via a synchronizing cable, it can be controlled by an optional AS-15 addition, or a wireless trigger for that purpose.
A new camera usually brings a new grip. However, since the D7200, with its shape, followed the design and dimensions of the predecessor, the MB-D15 is still current. We cannon call this vertical grip a standard battery grip since, like with other Nikon camera, it provides room for only one EN-EL15 Li-Ion battery, while the other is supposed to be located inside the body, which quite efficiently prevents quick and easy handling of the camera and forces the user to detach the grip completely any time the battery inside the camera needs to be recharged, in order to reach that battery. This archaic construction has been exploited by Nikon for years, and it seems that the company will never renounce it, even though the dimensions of the grip are so large that the grip can comfortably take two standard batteries inside it. Nonetheless, in addition to the enclosed MS-D15 battery holder, 6 AA batteries can be placed inside the MB-D15, which, in a critical moment, can help in overcoming the problem of low battery, where charging cannot be performed.
Nikon MB-D15 Multi-Power Battery Pack, vertical grip*
Just as in the case of the D7100, the grip and its design are adapted to the body of the new camera, and together they make a harmonious whole, not only concerning the shape and used materials, but also in terms of dimensions and the arrangement of the controls. The grip is mainly made of magnesium alloy, it is sealed at the same level as the body, and it features double controls that are necessary for complete vertical functionality. Aside from a switch by which the grip’s functions can be toggled off if needed, and in the center of which is a copy of the two-level shutter button, the MB-D15 also sports both dials, as well as the AE-L/AF-L control for locking exposure. In order for general usability in the vertical position to be equal, the grip also features an eight-way joystick as a substitute for an eight-way cursor control, which is used in the process of AF points selection, as well as navigating through the menu system.
The implementation of the Wi-Fi function is a new thing in this class of Nikon cameras, even though we are not surprised with this move on the manufacturer’s part. In this way, there is no more need for the WU-1a dedicated Wi-Fi adapter, although, officially, it can be still used.
Unfortunately, contrary to the chief rival Canon, which laid all their cards on the table with their implementation of Wi-Fi, Nikon in this case as well approached the issue ‘slightly’ more reservedly, so it still provides nothing more than what was at one’s disposal with the external Wi-Fi adapter. And that is, believe us, very little.
The main idea has to do with exchanging photographs with compatible devices and with remote control of the camera. After the Wi-Fi function has been activated, all additional settings are adjusted via an application on a smart device, which is a little unusual. First, one must install a free Wireless Mobile Utility application for Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nikon.wu.wmau&hl=en) or Apple iOS (https://itunes.apple.com/en/app/id554157010), and after connecting the device to a wireless network emitted by the camera with generic parameters, it is possible to change parameters of the safety network, encryption, etc. via a phone or tablet. Inside the camera it is not possible to change neither the SSID emitter within the camera, nor the accessing parameters, which we consider pretty odd.
The connection with smart phones is primarily used for exchanging photographs with connected smart devices or using those devices as remote controls. Unfortunately, that is where the whole story ends – at least when the original Nikon application comes into question. Images from the camera can be viewed on Android/iOS devices, transferred to a smart device, or sent to a web service. The primary functionality has to do with Nikon Image Space (http://nikonimagespace.com/). That is a web service that provides for every registered Nikon user 20GB of free space for storing images, organizing and cataloging them, sharing them with friends and acquaintances, etc. Since in order to use this web service one needs nothing more than a qualified Nikon product (and to be registered), we believe that many will find it useful as free space for storing the most precious images. As this option does not have to do solely with Nikon’s service, sending is provided for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram services.
One innovation has to do with the modality of communication, so the D7200 also provides support for the NFC standard (Near Field Communication), which makes it possible to network a smartphone and the camera with a simple touch of the phone and the right side of the camera, where the N-Mark logo has been imprinted (after the settings of both devices have been adjusted). When the devices are networked, the dedicated application on the phone will be automatically initiated.
When it comes to remote control of the camera, we must admit that we are still taken aback by its rudimentariness. In spite of the fact that Nikon had its first ‘journey’ in this direction with the D5300, and continued the series with a couple of more cameras, among which is also the D750, being a model of the higher class, until today literally no improvement has been achieved regarding this field. Not even the Wireless Mobile Utility application exudes stability, although there was plenty of time to boost it. The application provides LV on a screen of smart devices, but this is where everything virtually finishes, since managing it is reduced to placing the focus area in an arbitrary position, focusing and releasing. Even though the most basic parameters (aperture and exposure duration) can be seen on the screen, they cannot be changed, so wireless interaction will remain mostly unusable, and they need to be adjusted directly on the camera. Luckily, for mobile platforms, there are commercial applications that bring an almost perfect control system, and we hope that Nikon, too, will realize that it should provide its users with the use value of a subsystem that is frequent in marketing campaigns, but not in practice.
An ability of remote control from a computer has not been implemented either, although we impatiently waited for it and considered it practically definite. The commercial solution that Nikon has provided for a while is not offered in a simpler, free version, so for all more advanced forms of wireless control and managing images, users will have to refer to independent sources on their own. Since all the listed problems and limitations do not have to do with the hardware aspect of the camera, yet only with the software, we hope that Nikon will show more understanding, and that in the near future it will offer an integrated solution by which the full potential of this function will be at one’s disposal. And, yes, one more criticism (a minor one, taking everything into consideration) – Nikon’s interactive system of help and information will inform you in case a memory card is missing that “the camera cannot enable Wi-Fi in the current state”, but it will not tell you precisely why, so you will have to find it out by yourself. Although this limitation is mentioned in the official manual, we think that there simply had to be room for a couple of more words.