Nikon D7100 vs D5200 vs Canon Rebel T5i (EOS 700D)

June 8, 2013

Buffaloes and zebras wildlife photo with three cameras

In this article we’ll have a very interesting comparison between three very popular APS-C-based DSLR cameras, the Nikon D7100 vs D5200 vs Canon Rebel T5i (EOS 700D in Europe). If you are are an advanced photographer or is searching to upgrade from your entry-level DSLR, or even if this is your first DSLR, I’m pretty sure that your will be happy to have on of those cameras in your hand.

Overview

The Nikon D7100 is the most interesting camera in this group and it’s the most expensive one, costs around $1200 (body only).  The Canon Rebel T5i / 700D is the cheaper, costs around $750 and last but not least is the Nikon D5200, and entry-level DSLR that costs $700 for the body (prices from Amazon.com as for the time of writing: 6.7.2013, check Amazon.com for updated prices).

I know the feeling when you are buying a new DSLR. It’s easy to get carried away and purchase the more advanced camera, in this case, the D7000.  The difference between the D7100 and the other models is very significant, roughly $500. For this amount amount of money you get get a very good lens, one that can replace the Kit lens or a second lens that will help you be more creative.

Having said that, some of you might find out after reading this article, that the D7100 has exactly the features that you are looking for, and the body itself does worth this extra price. Others will find you that it would be better to invest in a cheaper body and go with either the T5i or the D5200, which are much cheaper.

If you already have either Canon or Nikon lenses, this is something to consider as well. If you have Nikon lenses, think twice before switching to a Canon because if you sell your lens you will definitely be losing money and it’s not always worth it. So if you do that, make sure that  the Canon T5i has the features that you are looking for, those that aren’t available on the D5200 or in the D7100 for that matter. Also if you already have lenses and you don’t intend to invest in better lenses and you have an entry-level model, I’m pretty sure that you will be tempted to get the D7100.

In this comparison I will do my best to give you an important information that will help you make that decision. There some features on the D7100 that will soon talk about that might cause you to stay away from it, and that’s true to all models.  So without further ado, let’s begin our comparison.

I will start without a short introduction to each camera, just to be sure that you get a good understanding of what type of cameras your are looking at, for those whom this is the first time they are reading about one of these cameras. Later on we’ll move to the side by side comparison itself, where you can clearly see and understand the differences between the D7100, D5200 and the T5i / 700D.

Nikon D7100

Nikon D7100 camera

Nikon D7100

Announced on February 21, 2013, built on top the success of the popular D7000 and already won dpreview Gold Award, this enthusiast DSLR offers easy operation and a wide arsenal of customization features that will allow photographers to maximize their potential and be more creative with their camera. The most unique feature of the D7100 that it lacks the optical low-pass filter. This result in an increase of image resolution at the expense of some degree of color moiré, depends on the scene. The good thing is that many photographers won’t be shooting scenes where moire can be seen, and when it is visible, it is far from being that distracting to the viewer. This camera might not be the best camera to shoot a bride wearing a vail, but for most situations this camera can do wonders.

The Nikon D7100 is weather-sealed with the same weather-sealing degree as the D800 full frame camera. The camera is built with magnesium alloy body and therefore is both very durable, relatively light in weight and offers high degree of protection against moisture and dust (unfortunately Nikon doesn’t state nor it probably have gotten an IP rating for dust and water ingress) . The camera inherits the high-performing 51-point AF system of the Nikon D300-series but also employs the algorithms developed for the D4, which makes the D7100 focus almost instantly and very accurately and will compliment high quality lenses for both image quality  (especially prime lenses) and AF performance.

Nikon D7100 is a DX-format HD-SLR camera that uses a 24.1-megapixel DX-format image sensor. This sensor was designed to give the highest resolution possible from an APS-C sensor and offer very high low-light performance. The D7100 offers a 1.3x crop mode that provides a larger autofocus point coverage of the frame and it is not recommended for video because it result in an upsampled video.

The camera can record Full HD videos at 60i, 30p or 24p although. The most noticeable feature for videographers is the ability to output an uncompressed video to an external recorder, helping video professional and enthusiast better control over the post processing workflow. Furthermore, you also get to enjoy a 3.5mm standard stereo mic jack, into which you can connect an external stereo microphone to improve the sound quality of the video, and also a headphone jack for attaching a headphone to monitor the video audio.

This is just a glimpse of what the D7100 is capable of and no doubt that Nikon aimed very high with this camera, wanting to create a masterpiece that will appeal to stills photographers and video enthusiasts  alike. This is also an excellent camera to serve as a backup camera for professional photographers and the ultimate camera for landscape and wildlife outdoor enthusiasts and also for the studio photographer as well.

Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200

Nikon D5200

Announced on November 6, 2013 – Nikon D5200 replaces the D5100 and it’s an advanced entry-level DSLR camera that was designed to appeal to beginners and advanced photographers on a tight budget. It was designed to propitiate consumers who care about the camera performance for stills and video, and offers some extra features over the D3200 and D3100, so it also serves as a valuable upgrade model for Nikon D3200/D3100 owners.

At the heart of the D5200 lies a newly developed 24.1-megapixels DX-format CMOS sensor, a very high resolution for APS-C in today’s standards. A resolution that is mostly found on full frame cameras. It is equipped with a high-density 39-point AF Multi-CAM 4800DX system in combination of an advanced 2016-pixel RGB light metering sensor. The combination of the two provides super accurate and fast subject tracking.

The D5200 can record Full HD videos with stereo sound and also enjoys a 921K-dot 170° wide viewing angle vari-angle LCD screen.

The camera is aimed for beginners and therefore employs many features that will appeal to that audience. This includes a newly design graphical user interface for both live view and in the optical viewfinder and easy to understand visual information that is displayed for each function when you press the ‘information edit’ button (positioned right to the viewfinder).

The D5200 is compatible with the Nikon WU-1a wireless mobile adapter (sold separately).  For approx. $60 you can get this device on B&H Photo Video store online. This device allows you to transfer images wirelessly to your computer, download photos to Android or iOS devices (via an app), remote trigger your camera from your smarphone or tablet device. This is the easiest way to share your high quality photos with friends on Facebook or upload those images to your blog from your mobile phone.  This wireless mobile adapter is compatible with both the D7100 and D3200 as well.

The camera have features that will be beneficial especially for beginners like special effects for stills and movies and a few image editing features that will help you get the most out of your image without using an image editing software. The Nikon D5200 has energy-saving design and can shoot up to 500 shots (CIPA) per single battery charge.

If you find that the D3200 / D3100 is not for you, you search for a more advanced camera and don’t cannot afford buying the D7100 or the D7000, the D5200 might be the best camera for you. Some call the D5200 the D7000′ little sister as it inherits the D7000 39-point AF and nine cross-type sensors and also its excellent 2016 pixel RGB light metering system as well.  Those two features are among the most important features that serious photographers are looking for in an advanced camera, fast AF performance and smart accurate light metering system.

Canon Rebel T5i / EOS 700D

Canon Rebel T5i DSLR camera

Canon Rebel T5i

Announced on March 21, 2013 – The Canon Rebel T5i is a very smart camera by design, packing a lot of features as its predecessor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer a big leap from its predecessor, the T4i. In fact, the T5i is almost completely identical to the T4i, but with a new Live View autofocus system, higher digital zoom factor (x10 instead of x3) top dial button rotates 360-degrees and have 8 icon instead of 10, and the fact that the T5i is bundled with the newer 18-55 mm STM lens, but that’s doesn’t make the camera different (you can check this discussion on reddit). So in conclusion, there is not point for T4i / 650D owners to even think about upgrading to the new model. This also means that you can look at the comparison as it refers to the T4i / 650D too, so I actually don’t need to write everything twice and I will just cover the 700D in this comparison.

I checked the latest prices for both models on B&H for the body only offering, as for the time of writing, the T4i / 650D costs $799.99 and the T5i / 700D costs $750. On Amazon the T4i costs $736, the T5i costs $749.  Whatever decision that you make, it won’t make a big difference – is there is something that I’m missing here?. You probably asking yourself what was Canon thinking? – I have to admit that I have no idea and I can only assume that Canon just couldn’t come up with an improved model in time or prefer to invest more efforts in its more expensive models – go figure.

With all that being said, that doesn’t make the Rebel T5i a bad camera, in fact the T5i is an excellent entry-level camera as you’ll soon see. This camera is aimed for the enthusiast market, those who can appreciate its feature over the Rebel SL1 and the Rebel T3.

The T5i/700D comes with a 18-megapixel APS-C CMOS Sensor and Canon’s latest DIGIC 5 image processor. The sensor host on-chip phase-detection sensors that gives the T5i its Hybrid AF system capabilities, so you can take advantage of both contrast-detect AF and phase-detect AF in Live View for stills and when recording videos. Phase-detection will improve the subject-tracking performance.

At the back of the camera you’ll find the 3-inch vari-angle Clear View LCD monitor II touch-sensitive display. With the combination of the Hybrid AF, articulating display and the availability of the movie optimized STM lenses, you can understand why the Rebel T5i / EOS 700D (also the T4i / 650D) is favorable among video shooters.

Furthermore, the Canon Rebel T5i utilizes a 9-point AF system (all cross-tyoe), 63 Dual-layer advanced metering system, aspect ratio function, 5 fps burst,  special scene mode, Basic+ function, Scene Intelligent Auto mode and 1080p Full HD video recoding. It has an integrated Speedlite transmitter so you can control external flashes from within your camera.

My brother bought the T5i and he is very happy with it. I had a chance to shoot with it quite a lot and I loved its image quality. With a good lens (I tested it with the 18-135 mm STM IS lens), this camera produces tack sharp images, with pleasant colors, full of details and depth. I had another friend who bought this camera and is very happy doing so. He is actually an image quality fanatic, always searching for the smallest flaws (I am actually against it), but he find the T5i to perform incredibly well compare to other cameras at that same price range.

I personally really liked the multi-shot noise reduction that helps me get great  low-noise images when shooting in high ISO speeds. What this function does is actually capturing four consecutive shots and efficiently and accurately combines them to a single outstanding  clean image.

So although the T5i was bashed by many users for not having brand new and useful features over the T4i, the T5i is still a great camera for both stills and videos, and one that is capable of delivering exceptional high quality images, even in at high ISO.

Rebel T5i (700D) vs Nikon D7100 vs D5200

That wasn’t an easy ride but if you read the entire article until this section you get a good understanding on what type of camera we are looking at and their key features. If I had to buy a DSLR right now, I would probably be looking at those three cameras.   In this section I will be comparing the T5i vs D7100 and D5200 side by side in order to give your a deeper understanding of the differences between those three DLSR cameras.  This will also give you a good idea whether or not its worth getting the D7100 instead of an entry-level model. Having said that. this decision is up to you and you will be the only one who can decide whether or not its worth it.  In general terms, the D7100 is the better camera of the three, but it doesn’t mean that it’s better FOR YOU. Making a smart buying decision can save you quite a lot of money, with that money you can purchase better lenses and accessories that will help get even better photos and better express your creativity as a photographers.

OK, enough of the intro, let’s dive right into the comparison and I’ll meet you afterwards for a closure.

Nikon D7100, D5200 and Canon Rebel T5i size comparison

Nikon D7100, D5200 and Canon Rebel T5i size comparison (via camreasize.com)

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You can now see how easy it is to fall in love with the Nikon D7100. It has a partial magnesium alloy body, weather-sealing, better ergonomics, 51-point AF with D4 AF algorithms with down to -2EV AF sensitivity!,  Nikon advanced exposure metering system, wide-viewing angle 1228K-dots LCD,  large pentaprism OVF, 1/8000 sec max. shutter speed, 6fps burst,  external mic jack plus headphone jack and excellent battery life. The D7100 is very impressive indeed and if that’s doesn’t worth the extra price I don’t know what is. Of course if you don’t see yourself taking advantage of some of those features,  you can save quite a lot of money and get either the 700D or the D5200.

The removal of the optical low-pass filter doesn’t really contribute that much to improving image quality. In fact, most of the comparison I’ve read said that the difference is barely visible, and after viewing some sample images myself I can say that they are 100% right. I did notice a sharper image when looking at 100% scale RAW images on dpreview, but the difference was very very small.

For me the larger pentaprism viewfinder, 6 fps burst, weather-sealing and durable construction, the advanced and super sensitive AF sensor, all worth the extra price. This is of course only my preference, you might decide that the D7100 doesn’t worth it at all and you fore the price difference margin, you can get a much better lens that will give you sharper images and better ways to come home with more creative snaps and videos.

The Canon Rebel T5i / EOS 700D has impressive video specs, having a hybrid AF, articulating touch-screen and mic jack, all can help you capture some very creative videos. The T4i/T5i and T3i, all are among the first picks by amateur videographers.

The differences between the T5i and D5200 are not big BUT, with the D5200 lacking a hybrid AF module, lacks a touch-sensitive screen, has a smaller viewfinder but has slightly higher AF working range and better AF module overall for stills, it has more advanced light metering sensor,  offering 60i video recording and uncompressed clean HDMI output to an external hard drive recorder or external screen, has better battery life and its smaller and lighter than the T5i / 700D.

High ISO Performance

Now that you know the differences between the three cameras, it’s time to analyze the sensor’s performance and see which of the three cameras perform better in high ISO. High ISO performance is very important for many photographers because it helps photographers shoot in slow shutter speeds, help capture images in available light that other wise it won’t be possible. Not everyone can afford buying a very fast lens, and if you have a slow lens, you can at least know that you have the option to bump up the ISO in order to capture a usable image under restricting lighting conditions.

I analyzed sample images using dpreview image quality comparing tool. As for the time of writing the T5i / 700D isn’t available in the list, so I’ve chosen the T4i. Both offer the same sensor and same image processor, so it is a viable analysis.

  • ISO 100 / 200 –  crisp and clean image. Exceptional high quality image with all cameras.  D7100 and D5200 have the resolution advantage and therefore resolving more information from the scene,  The D5200 and D7100 images look identical, nothing that will suggest that the D7100 is lacking the low-pass filter, nor a sharper image.
  • ISO 400 – Very slight degree of noise in shadows on the Nikon’s, T5i super clean, but this difference is only visible if you look at 100%  scale and in dark areas. The D7100 image looks identical to the D5200
  • ISO 800  – noise is certainly visible on the D7100 and D5200 in both dark and mid-tones. The noise looks more dotty on the D7100 probably due to the lacks of the AA filter. T5i in comparison have much less noise and not in the expense of fine details which is very good news. The higher resolution (smaller pixels) of the D7100 and D5200 start to show its weakness against the Canon.
  • ISO 1600 – noise go to a higher degree, not very visible in mid-tones and highlight areas as well. Start losing fine details quite noticeably, T5i cleaner and sharper image. The D7200 is sharper than the D5200. So it seems that the sharpness advantage actually becomes more evident as we go up the ISO speed scale. I can assume that the lack of AA filter can help NR algorithm do a better job, but that’s an assumption.
  • ISO 3200 / 6400 – very noisy image on all cameras, T5i applies much stronger NR, the Nikon D7100 and D5200 doing better job in keeping fine details in the middle of the frame
*analyzed JPEG images

For me it was hard to come to a clear conclusion who is the winner. I can say the both D7100 and D5200 have the same high ISO performance.  Uo to ISO 1600 (not including) I was more impressed with the T5i high ISO performance, sharper image with less noise overall. However, it seems that with ISO 1600 and above, the resolution advantage helped to maintain more of the fine details on the Nikon and both Nikons have less aggressive NR, which I personally prefer because it helps Noise Reduction software do a better job.

So the Canon has as slight advantage in terms of high ISO performance in general, but the difference is not big. I would probably won’t based my buying decision based on what I see here because all cameras perform really good and the difference is small. The thing is that at low ISO, I was more impressed with the T5i, seems like sharper and cleaner images out of the box, but again, the difference is minor. Some of you will appreciate the resolution advantage of the D7100/D5200, but the difference ins not big either.

Let’s take a look at some sample videos before we go to the conclusion section.

Nikon D7100 sample video using 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens by Paul Van Allen

Nikon D5200 sample video using Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR lens

Canon Rebel T5i / EOS 700D sample video using the STM 18-55 mm lens

 

Conclusion

So there we have it, three excellent DSLR cameras. The Nikon D7100 will certainly grab the attention of the enthusiast photographer who can take advantage of its advanced features, this includes a partial magnesium-alloy body, weather sealing, improved ergonomics (especially when using large and heavy lenses), 1/8000 sec shutter speed,  Best AF system isn the group (super sensitive and with mroe AF-points) and advanced light metering system, 6 fps burst, RGBW high-res wide-viewing angle display,  large and bright pentaprism viewfinder with 100% coverage,  wireless flash controller built-in, fastest X-sync in the group, 1080p video recording with built-in time-lapse timer, external mic and headphone jack and superior battery life.

So what more can you ask for? –  This is a pretty long list of great features and indeed the D7100 is the much better camera of the three for the enthusiast photographers and can serve as an excellent backup camera for the professional photographers as well. I was disappointed that the lack of AA filter didn’t really gave the camera an advantage over the D5200 in terms of sharpness/details, there was a difference, but it was very very small. The D7100 worth its high price tag only if you know that you will take advantage of its advanced features – if not, the D5200 or T5i are much cheaper alternatives and there are plenty of things that you can do with your money, like buying a better lens, an external flash, etc.

The T5i and D5200 are both excellent cameras. The T5i / 700D did perform better at high ISO overall from my observation, but some of you will appreciate the extra resolution advantage of the D5200. Both of those cameras will better appeal to beginners and advanced photographers on a tight budget. The T5i might appeal to those who want to have a touch-screen on their camera. What I love about the D5200 compare to the T5i is that it offers clean HDMI output and the fact that it has a 39-point AF system so it focuses super fast and very accurately.

If you cannot afford buying the D7100 and you are just doing your first steps into the DSLR world, you can’t go wrong choosing either.  It’s worth mentioning that the D5200 like all Nikon’s entry-level dSLR cameras doesn’t have a built-in AF motor. This means that older lenses won’t autofocus on it, but all modern lenses will. Just make sure that if you buy a lens, makes sure that it can autofocus on the D5200.

If you have any questions and still can’t make up your mind, don’t hesitate and post your questions in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share this comparison. See ya on the next comparison.

Check latest prices and buy from B&H Photo:

Buy Nikon D7100 via B&H Photo Video

Buy Nikon D5200 via B&H Photo Video

Buy Canon Rebel T5i / EOS 700D via B&H Photo Video



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