Camera manufacturers now put out more new versions and upgrades of camera bodies than ever before, so its easy to loose track of just what has been added and subtracted from each model. For many, this has been the case with the Nikon D5300 and the Nikon D5200, released in October of 2013 and 2012 respectively.
The first thing that you’ll need to know about the two cameras is that the Nikon D5300 was marketed as a replacement for the Nikon D5200. Both cameras sit in between Nikon’s entry-level Nikon D3000 range, and their more enthusiast or pro Nikon D7000 range. This makes them the perfect camera for a photographer looking for an upgrade on an entry-level model, or who wants something a little more technical but not quite ready for the pro price tag.
Let’s look at each model in detail, and then cover which of the two might be most suited to you.
When it was released in 2012, the Nikon D5200 was aimed to replace the Nikon D5100, although similarities in the two models made it relatively unlikely that D5100 owners would upgrade. However, despite their outside similarities, the Nikon D5200 shines internally.
Offering considerably speed over the Nikon D5100, thanks to an upgraded EXPEED 3 processor, the Nikon D5200 also boasts a full range of features including a 24-megapixel DX format sensor, an ISO range of 100-6400 standard and up to 25600 expanded, 39-point autofocus system with 9 sensors cross type, 1080p30 video recording with built-in mics, external mic ports, and a 921k-dot 3-inch articulated LCD screen with 170-degree viewing angle.
In terms of outside hardware, the Nikon D5200 also has support for Nikon’s external wi-fi unit, which plugs in directly to the body to allow for both wireless image transmission as well as camera remote control, with Live View included.
Replacing the Nikon D5200, as we mentioned before, the Nikon D5300 was released in October of 2013. On the outside, and in terms of handling, there isn’t much difference between the Nikon D5300 and its predecessor, beyond being slightly smaller and lighter. However, again on the inside it’s an entirely different story.
Features on the Nikon D5300 include a 24-megapixel DX format sensor with no OLPF, an ISO range of 100 – 12800 standard and up to 25600 expanded, an EXPEED 4 processor, 39-point autofocus system with 9 sensors cross-type, 1080p60 video with built-in stereo mic and external mic port, a 1.04m-dot 3.2-inch articulated LCD screen and built in GPS and wi-fi.
Nikon D5300 vs Nikon D5200 Comparison Table
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As you can see, quite a lot of the features of the Nikon D5200 and the Nikon D5300 look more or less the same. However, there are substantial differences in the details of the cameras, which may very well change the perspective of photographers on their potential in both an artistic and professional sense.
Both the Nikon D5200 and the Nikon D5300 shine when it comes to their respective screens. The share articulated screen technology, which allows the photographer to flip the screen out and use it to assist as they photograph. The articulated screen makes it much easier to capture scenes that are happening at much higher and lower angles to the photographer. They allow photographers to see clearly at different angles, and better compose their shot.
However, where the Nikon D5300 stands out over the Nikon D5200 is again in the details. Although the Nikon D5200 boasts an impressive 3-inch 921k-dot resolution LCD, the Nikon D5300 goes one better. It features a 1.04m-dot resolution on a 3.2-inch screen. This means that not only is the screen bigger, improving the photographers ease of use, it is also much higher quality, allowing easier perusal of one’s photographs in their true colors and form.
Although both the Nikon D5200 and the D5300 offer 24-megapixels, there is an often-overlooked detail that gives the Nikon D5300 a slight edge. While the Nikon D5200 uses an AA (anti-aliasing) filter, the Nikon D5300 does not. This makes it more similar to the higher-range Nikon D7000 range, and the lack of an AA filter is shown to improve image quality potential. This might not be noticeable to many, and is often not seen when using a kit lens, but for the perfectionists the improvements on resolutions are notable.
When it comes to the light sensitivity of each camera, we again see the sort of high-performance specs that would be expected at this level of camera body. The Nikon D5200 has a maximum standard ISO capability of 6,400 ISO with noise starting to show around the 1,200 ISO mark. This is an admirable performance, and many photographers, particularly daytime or outdoors photographers, will likely find this more than enough for their needs.
On the other hand, the Nikon D5300 has a standard ISO capability of 12,800, which is just 1 f-stop better than the Nikon D5200. However, to the individual photographer this might make all the difference, especially when considered alongside the slightly lower noise performance (1,300 ISO). This will allow greater flexibility in terms of image quality when taking photos indoors or in the evenings, a useful feature.
Both the Nikon D5200 and the D5300 are ideal cameras for budding videographers. The Nikon D5200 will likely suit those looking for an smaller, inexpensive camera to shoot video on, while the Nikon D5300 offers something a little more as unlike the Nikon D5200, the D5300 is capable of true 1080/60p video (the Nikon D5200 only managed 1080/60ip. This will prove very useful to some, but will likely serve no purpose to most beginners.
That being said, both cameras do well in terms of sound capture, thanks to built-in stereo mics, and also have the ability to record uncompressed over HDMI. This feature is not something that everyone will use, but if you’re looking at shooting and creating large, high-resolution videos it’s a feature that is sorely needed.
The Nikon D5200 has the older EXPEED 3 processor, while the Nikon D5300 is fitted with the newer EXPEED 4. For many users, there might not be a vastly noticeable difference between the two processors. However, if you’re paying attention you’ll likely note that the Nikon D5300 is much faster than its predecessor. In particular, this translates into a much lower shutter lag on the Nikon D5300 by comparison. The Nikon D5200 has shown a shutter delay of almost 302ms, while the Nikon D5300 has lags of more than 30% less, at just 200ms. For photographers wanting to capture the moments that occur at speed, this lag might make all the difference.
The Nikon D5200 has some capabilities for additional technology, such as a plug-in wi-fi tool. However, the Nikon D5300 far exceeds the potential of the Nikon D5200, in part thanks to its faster processer. This has allowed Nikon to build in not just wi-fi, which will make it a breeze to move images over a wireless network, but also GPS into the Nikon D5300.
For those who have been waiting for it, the GPS is a totally new addition to the Nikon line, and automatically geo-tags your photographs. This makes it ideal for travel and landscape photographers wanting to add an extra level of detail to their images, to contextualize them. The GPS is also perfect for those sharing their photographs on a variety of photo-based social networks, allowing them to build correct image maps of where they’ve been.
As with all cropped frame cameras, photographer should be aware that the lenses attached to the cameras will not be true to their lens measurement. However this in no way minimized their effectiveness of quality on the camera itself.
The kit lenses on the Nikon D5200 are the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR or the 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 VR. For everyone from beginners to those upgrading, the Nikon 18-55mm is the perfect lens. Although it has a plastic mount if produces very sharp images and with the vibration reduction (VR) it’s great value at just $100 in the kit. It’s so versatile and a great all in one, we’d even be tempted to say it’s one of Nikon’s best kit lenses.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 VR, which is pretty average with soft corners and not that much functionality for the focal length. Although it might serve its purpose just fine for a beginner, most users will quickly see the lenses failings. If you’re looking for a quality deal, the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR is the way to go.
The Nikon D5300 too was marketed with the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR, which was a common kit lens for most cameras in the Nikon series. However, it was also marketed with the upgraded Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II, which is the new standard lens. This updated lens is another solid kit lens example from Nikon, notable as being one of the first that we’ve seen to be retractable. This means that it functions a little like a zoom lens, in that it can be extended outwards, and then retracted back to a much smaller unit for ease of transport. These features, along with a number of other upgrades like the newer Vibration Reduction technology alongside a smooth Silent Wave Motor makes this an easy lens to love.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop photographers from stepping outside the kit lens options when purchasing either the Nikon D5200 or the Nikon D5300. Both cameras are compatible with over 200 of Nikon’s branded lenses, allowing a wide range of lens types available to suit the specific needs of the photographer. If you’re just getting into photography, and wanting to skip the more entry-level bodies by jumping straight to the D5000 series, you might find it in your best interest to invest in a broader all around lens, something like a 18-200mm or 18-300mm.
A Final Comparison of the Nikon D5300 and Nikon D5200
It should surprise nobody that, considering the Nikon D5300 is the Nikon D5200’s replacement in many ways, that it outpaces the competition. However, that says nothing about the quality of the Nikon D5200 both inside and out. It is a very effective and advanced camera, ideal for a range of photographers that also happens to be much cheaper than the newer Nikon D5300.
Now, in terms of rounding up what the Nikon D5300 has on the D5200 we can see that it offers a bigger LCD screen with a screen resolution of about 10% higher (1.04m compared to 921k) than the Nikon D5200. It also has a larger viewfinder, which many photographers will find highly useful. Inside the body, the Nikon D5300 has built in GPS, a better performance in terms of maximum ISO and lower noise readings, less shutter lag and better battery life, providing on average 20% more shots per charge. Interestingly, despite being the newer version of the Nikon D5200, and packed with more features, the Nikon D5300 is also slightly smaller, and more than 10% lighter.
Ultimately, the Nikon D5300 is a better camera, but that isn’t to say it’s the right camera for you. For example, if you happen to already have a Nikon D5200, it really isn’t worth the upgrade unless it’s imperative for you to have one of the few new features. If you have one of the earlier D5000 series, you’ll probably find that the Nikon D5300 is a notable upgrade, offering considerably more features in a body you’re already quite familiar with.
Likely one of the main things to remember when you’re looking at the two is that although the Nikon D5300 is newer, the Nikon D5200 is not being phased out by Nikon at the moment. In that way it’s much easier to view the D5300 as a slightly more upgraded D5200, with some extra features and higher price tag to match.