Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200

Price: £508/US$647/Aus$492 body only

Key spec: 24.1Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 39 AF points (9 cross-type), max shooting rate 5fps, 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD

This mid-range camera, launched towards the end for 2012, boasts some clever technical wizardry packed into a body that's still fairly compact and lightweight. Ascending the price scale of the cameras we've come to so far, it's the first to include a relatively high-end 39-point autofocus system, complete with nine cross-type points that can resolve detail in both horizontal and vertical planes, for extra accuracy.

Similarly, the 3D Colour Matrix II metering system has a 2016-pixel sensor, instead of the 420-pixel module fitted to the D3100, D3200 and D90.

Around the back, there's a 3.0-inch, 921k resolution LCD screen with the added bonus of full articulation. In live view mode, It's great for shooting from very high or low angles, around corners, and even for taking self-portraits.

The image sensor has a high 24.1Mp resolution, and is combined with a recent-generation EXPEED 3 processor. The continuous drive rate is also a little faster than in any of the less expensive cameras already reviewed, at 5fps. However, unlike the D7100, there's no top-plate info LCD, nor an extended collection of direct access buttons for creative shooting adjustments.

The D5200's EN-EL 14 battery also has a relatively limited life of around 500 shots before needing to be recharged. The same battery is actually fitted to the D3200 and D3100 cameras, where it gives a longer life of about 540 and 550 shots respectively.

Performance is good overall but we've sometimes experienced the D5200 giving slightly cool colour rendition. It can also have a tendency to make green hues in landscapes look a little lurid, especially when using the vivid or landscape picture control settings. High sensitivity images can also suffer from banding in the shadows which limits the size at which images can be used.

Pros

Fully articulated screen, 14-bit raw colour depth, 39-point autofocus system and an enhanced metering module.

Cons

Colour accuracy can be questionable, especially in landscape and vivid modes. Fairly limited 8-shot buffer capacity in raw mode.

Read our full Nikon D5200 review

Nikon D5300

Nikon D5300

Price: £669/US$797/Aus$929 body only

Key spec: 24.2Mp APS-C (DX) format CMOS sensor, 1080 video, 39 AF points (9 cross-type), max shooting rate 5fps, 3-inch 1,037,000-dot LCD

Following in the footsteps of the D800E and D7100, the D5300's design sees the omission of an optical low-pass filter. This brings the potential for even greater levels of sharpness, along with only a minimal increased risk of moire patterning.

Moreover, the D5300 also boasts a brand new image sensor, complete with next-generation EXPEED 4 processor. The combination aims for improved image quality, especially towards the higher end of the sensitivity range. The standard sensitivity range itself stretches further than in any other Nikon DX camera, all the way up to ISO 12800, with ISO 25600 being available in expanded trim.

High-tech enhancements include built-in Wi-Fi and GPS technology, enabling easy remote triggering and sharing of images as well as geo-tagging, so you can keep track of your travels. There's naturally a hit on battery consumption but Nikon has also developed and fitted a new EN-EL14a battery. Compared with the D5200, the D5300 actually boosts life from 500 shots to 600 shots.

Adding further to the D5300's travel credentials, it's slightly smaller and lighter in weight than the D5200, thanks to a revolutionary one-piece chassis.

Live view shooting from tricky angles retains the D5200's bonus of a fully articulated LCD, and the screen itself has been upsized a little to 3.2 inches, with a greater 1037k resolution.

The biggest performance increases are that auto white balance tends to be more accurate and colour accuracy is better than in the D5200, along with excellent levels of sharpness.

However, in the pursuit to bring greater retention of fine detail to images, noise can be a little more noticeable, especially at high ISO settings. Thankfully, however, the banding seen in high ISO images from the D5200 are not an issue.

Pros

Excellent sharpness, good colour accuracy, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, fully articulated LCD screen.

Cons

Direct access controls are a little limited for enthusiast photographers, with heavy reliance on screen-based menus.

Read our full Nikon D5300 review