Nikon D5200 – Extended Review focused on Movie Mode

Nikon D5200, released a good deal of 2 months ago, hasn’t yet been reviewed properly in terms of Movie Mode features which set it apart from other new VDSLRs (like Canon 650D/700D), as well as make it look a lot more advanced compared to its predecessors.

What inspired me to write this review was my own brand-new D5200 and the lack of any details on its Movie Mode.

Firstly, I’d like to drop a few lines about my background so that to explain why I’m so anxious about this video-thing of D5200.

I consider myself an amateur videographer and so far I’ve been shooting on VDSLRs for about 2 years.

I have used Canon T2i/T3i, Canon 60D and Panasonic GH2. Before getting to shoot videos, I had Nikon D80, my first DSLR. The very latter made me consider checking out a new Nikon after all those panacanons.

Now let’s get down to business. There are quite a few new features on D5200 that I am so thrilled about.

First before most: Nikon D5200 has on-screen audio meters which come quite in handy when shooting with an external mic. The audio meters are located on the left side of the screen vertically and are quite responsive and accurate.

audio meters

Second thing: D5200 has a decent audio chip. It also boasts 20 audio levels which can be set via manual sensitivity menu:

audiosett

These two things considered, having set the audio levels to 10-11 you get almost hissless audiotrack right from your cheap Rode Video Mic (NOT even Pro version), connected to Nikon’s 3.5 mm mic input. You can also use field recorders like ZOOM H2n which will provide even better quality at zero sensitivity levels (the mentioned ZOOM has its own audio gain controls, so there’s no need to boost sensitivity on Nikon). The mentioned mics have been tested on this camera and do provide high sound quality.

Third thing: Nikon D5200 will outplay any of them Canons, maybe except for Mark III, in terms of detail, compression quality and lack of moire (click here to see original samples). The mentioned mix provides an ambitious videographer with the kind of decent video quality he expects to get from a $1K camera (18-105mm lens included).

Fourth thing: If you are using a vary-aperture lens (like the kit 18-105mm one), you will NOT get exposure blinking when zooming in and out (original samples) in manual Movie Mode, as opposed to Canon cameras.

Fifth thing: This little beast boasts a specacular low light performance (for a crop sensor, of course). Even if you set ISO to as high as 2500 an above, you will still get highly usable videos.

Now, for you to relax and stop sensing that Nikon-Fanboy-Feel, I shall proceed to the downsides. They’ve been mentioned many times before, but where would a good review be without some criticism?

Downside #1: You CAN’T change the aperture while in Live View mode.

Downside #2: Active D-Lightning (that enhances shadows and highlights rendering) is NOT supported in Movie Mode.

Downside #3: Rolling shutter is a problem. It’s not as bad as it was on Nikon D90, yet the ‘jelly effect’ starts to really kick in, once you go further than 24mm on your lens. And, by the way, don’t even try shooting in 25 or 24 fps movie modes. They are awful (and the mentioned rolling shutter makes it even worse).

Downside #4: If you have an external mic connected, you’ll have some problems swivelling the screen in low-angle position, since the mic wire really gets in the way.

Downside #5: Battery drains pretty fast (in Movie mode). Get some spare ones, preferably directly from Nikon (those third-party batteries failed too often for me).

And that’s about it for Nikon D5200’s Movie Mode.

Hope you enjoyed the review and thanks for checking it out!

This review was also posted at dpreview.

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