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Upgrading to the D7200

edited November 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
I've got the D5100 with the two kit lenses, 18-55mm and 55-200mm. I'm thinking of upgrading to the D7200 for the improved image quality. Is it worth it?

Comments

  • edited November 2015
    That's an interesting question, and it depends a little on what you need and what you can afford. The D7200 has some distinct advantages over both the D5xxx and D3xxx family, but whether you need them or not is an open question.

    Of course you get the 24 megapixel density, with no anti-aliasing filter, same as the D7100, D3300, and the later D5xxx family, making for a sharp image with lots of cropping room. But if your images are sharp enough, it's not so necessary. Remember that the difference between 16.8 and 24 megapixels is actually not very large.

    You also get a better viewfinder, ability to meter with manual lenses, and an internal focus motor so you can AF with older lenses. All good things, but if you only use AFS lenses and always use AF, it's unnecessary.

    The D7200 (and D7100) has about the best AF system there is. If you shoot sports or wildlife, birds in flight and whatnot, it's more worthwhile.

    It also has higher ISO range, though not necessarily higher dynamic range at any given ISO. If you shoot in low light, or if you need to shoot action in low light, that's a great advantage. But the larger pixels of the older camera make a good picture within its ISO capabilities, and dynamic range is likely very good already.

    It also has a number of other features - top LCD display, tougher construction, better weather sealing, more custom settings, a better LCD screen (but not articulated), and if you buy it with its usual kit lens (the 18-140mm), you'll get a better kit lens as well. The 18-140mm has a nice range, is better made and better sealed than the 18-55mm, allows manual focus override, and has a non-rotating front element that makes polarizing filters practical.

    If the D5100 is beginning to limit what you do, a D7200 is grand if you can afford it, but you may not see much, if any, improvement in image quality unless you're cropping, or are troubled by high ISO noise now.

    The 18-140mm lens is not a great bargain bought separately, but when it's bundled with a camera, it's often a better deal. It's nice and sharp.

    My wife, by the way, who already had a small arsenal of older "screwdriver" AF lenses, has a D7100, and it certainly does do some things better than my D3200, but when the D3200 is within its comfort zone, using similar lenses, the difference is not significant.
  • edited November 2015
    Thanks for the info. I started out just wanting to get a lens that I could leave on the camera more, in other words, an all around, walk around lens. I was first thinking of the 16-85mm and thought that down the road I could pair that with a 70-300mm. Then I thought maybe the new 18-140mm would be better.

    Maybe instead of upgrading my camera I should just go back to my original idea and upgrade my lenses.

    I've seen the 18-140mm on ebay for about $240 new.

    Any suggestions on my lens thinking?
  • edited November 2015
    I've been having the same internal debate. Both the 18-140mm and the 16-85mm seem pretty comparable in quality, which is to say they're better made than the kit 18-55mm, and have similar advantages. The 18-140mm tends to be a little less expensive, at least used, and except for a tendency to distort, which can be corrected, it's probably a better deal by a little, unless you miss the extra width at the low end. It's a pretty nice all-around length. If you already have the 55-200mm, either one will work as a shorter lens, with some overlap.

    At the moment, I'm slightly leaning toward the 16-85mm, but I keep putting off a decision. Nowadays stitching works so well that the need for very wide angles has diminished some. From what I've seen so far, either one would be pretty nice.

    It may not make a difference, especially if the price is low enough, but do be aware that if the lens you're looking at on Ebay is that cheap, it's probably "gray market", and if it breaks or proves defective Nikon will not touch it, so you'll need a third party for repair.
  • edited November 2015
    I guess, thinking about it, it's not that my pictures aren't good but could they be very good or great. I guess I'm thinking about 2 separate things:

    1. Could I get a lens, either for my D5100 or for a new camera, that would cover a large percentage of my picture taking needs, 16-85mm, 18-140mm, etc.?
    Minimize lens swapping without sacrificing picture quality. I think this means that the Tamron 16-300mm is out, but maybe the other two are good options.

    2. Would my pictures really be that much better with the D7200?
  • edited November 2015
    It's a really hard choice, as there are differences in the cameras, but it depends on what is limiting you now. If you find you are often at the technical limits of your camera, say shooting in very low light, trying to catch moving wildlife and birds in flight, or trying sophisticated flash setups, then the more advanced camera may well be worthwhile. If you are doing a lot of manual focusing in macro, the better viewfinder will make a real difference. If what you're doing is within the camera's competence ( which is pretty large for a D5100), then a newer camera will not gain you much.

    I think either of the two lenses discussed will gain you some picture quality along with range and some overall build quality, over the kit 18-55mm, and the 18-140mm range is a nice one.

    The super zooms are a temptation, but I think when you get into the range of 16-300mm you're likely to have too many compromises or too much cost, or both.

    One thing you might consider would be to go in the opposite direction and look at a good fast prime lens. For quality, a good 35mm is hard to beat. In the "reviews" section here, you'll find one on the 35mm f/1.8. I don't think I've seen a negative review of this lens anywhere. It presents some new challenges in composition, since you cannot zoom, but it's habit forming.
  • edited November 2015
    Well, to be brutally honest, I don't think I'm a good enough photographer yet to be at the technical limits of my camera. Just wondering if the better sensor (24 mp) and latest processor (exspeed4) would make my pictures better in spite of me.
  • edited November 2015
    Tough call, but I'd suggest that the quality of the lens is more important than that of the camera. A good lens can migrate to your next camera, too.

    If you're not now limited in your cropping ability by the sensor density, then you'll get little benefit from going to 24 megapixels. The newer processor has more effect on ISO and movie performance than on image quality, I think.

    If you like the basic features of the D5100 and find it friendly to use, another alternative might be a D5300 or newer. That gives you the 24 mpx sensor without the anti-aliasing filter and Expeed 4, higher ISO, more autofocus points, and a slight viewfinder improvement. It's still short of the D7200 in some respects, but it's a pretty big step in some useful areas.

    B&H has that with the 18-140mm lens for a little under $900.
  • edited November 2015
    I just saw that 42nd Street Photo has the D5500 with the 18-140mm lens for $749.
  • edited November 2015
    That's a fine sounding price, but be aware that it's undoubtedly 'gray market', meaning that though legal, it will not have a USA warranty and Nikon USA will never service it even out of warranty. Also, though many retailers are honest, you must make sure that you're getting the correct merchandise and not a re-packaged kit with a third party battery, etc.

    If you're willing to take a little risk, it might well be worthwhile anyway, but you do need to know just what you're buying.

    There's a reason why some of the better retailers such as B&H,
    Adorama, Cameta, KEH and the like (and probably Amazon these days) stay in business despite somewhat higher prices. As a general rule, aside from the best prices on US imported equipment, their service is also good. If you get a defective product, they'll replace it without hassle. I've never needed Nikon warranty service anyway, and what that's worth is up to the individual, but I am likely to pay a few bucks more to be sure I get the US model with all the paperwork.
  • edited November 2015
    Found all this out from the local Dodd Camera shop after I posted it. It;s a little more, but I'll get great service after the sale.
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