Nikon D5200 digital SLR camera (preview)

This consumer-level digital SLR combines tech from two other Nikon cameras

The Nikon D5200, at first glance, is the love-child of the entry-level D3200 and the semi-professional D7000. It shares its high-resolution 24.1-megapixel DX-format imaging sensor with the D3200, along with much of its body design. The D7000 contributes a versatile 39-point autofocus system and a 2016-pixel RGB metering sensor.

The rounded corners of the D5200's body, single rear control dial and top mode dial put it closer to the basic, entry-level D3200 in Nikon's DSLR line-up than the D7000 — which has two control dials and a dual-purpose mode dial.

What sets the D5200 apart from its less-expensive sibling is the 3-inch, 921k-pixel tilt-and-swivel-capable LCD screen. Articulating from the side of the camera, it looks like a versatile setup that should make the camera markedly easier to shoot in live-view mode.

The screen should also be beneficial to anyone intending to shoot movies on the D5200 — it's able to shoot at 1080p and 720p just like the D3200, but it has a high frame-rate 60i/50i mode that should offer smoother video under most circumstances.

The 24.1-megapixel sensor offers some excellent-quality photos in the D3200, and we're expecting the same from the D5200. It's actually a better sensor in our opinion than the one in the D7000, since it's newer and has better control of colour noise at high ISOs. The D7000 also has generally good autofocus, so it's reassuring to see the 39-point AF system used in that camera inherited by the D5200.

We found that the D7000 tended to over-expose images in bright lighting, as a function of its 2016-pixel RGB metering sensor, which is also used in the new D5200. We're hoping this has been tweaked to lessen this occurrence, because otherwise the metering sensor is great in low-light and complicated indoor lighting situations.

As it's one of Nikon's newest cameras, the D5200 has the same EXPEED 3 processor that can be found in the D600, D800 and professional D4 DSLRs. This should mean fast image processing, and no waiting for photos to save from the buffer if you're shooting continuously.

We'll get our hands on the Nikon D5200 as soon as possible for a full review.

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