How do the Nikon D5200 and Canon Rebel T4i compare?

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How does the Nikon D5200 compare with the Canon T4i?

With Nikon and Canon both fighting for the entry-level market, they have both launched video friendly DSLRs to tempt enthusiast and professional photographers

Despite the two cameras coming from different manufacturers, they have a lot in common. They are both useful upgrades to current cameras, and are designed to consolidate their markets by extending into movie making, which both Nikon and Canon recognize as areas for potential growth.

The Nikon D5200 DSLR is priced at £650/$800 for the body and £720/$900 for the body and lens kit.

The Canon T4i (650D) DSLR is priced at £530/$800 for the body and £580/$850 for the body and lens kit

 It is clear that Nikon and Canon are treating the entry-level market as a major battleground, particularly in the USA.

Nikon D5200 DSLR digital camera cropCanon rebel T4i DSLR digital camera crop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The specs for the cameras are similar in many ways, but there are some subtle variations that are worth noting.

Nikon D5200 DSLR versus Canon Rebel T4i DSLR

Canon Rebel T4i

The build quality of the Canon Rebel T4i doesn’t feel as robust as its rival. The scroll-wheel is loud and can be stiff to turn and the rear buttons don’t feel as sturdy. It is a bit bigger than the d5200 though, and so a little easier to hold and the layout at the back is less intuitive. For example, the same button that starts recording video in movie mode also enables live view in a still shooting mode. Some of the buttons are just in the wrong place – the movie mode switch is easy to get to, but it does make it possible to turn off the camera by accident when using it. The buttons are also very close together, making those of us with fat fingers feel even more clumsy. However, it does have a dedicated ISO button, and quick access to white balance, drive mode, and AF settings (the D5200 doesn’t have any of these). There is an IR sensor on the front of the camera, but no Fn button.

Both cameras have an articulating LCD screen. The Canon T4i has a slightly higher resolution than that of the D5200, but there is little noticeable difference. The Canon’s LCD has 1040 thousand dots, while the other cameras have 921 thousand. One of the Canon’s selling points is that the LCD is a touchscreen. This does actually make it easier to configure settings and, much more importantly, it lets you select a focus point through live view. You can also take your picture by tapping on the location where you want the camera to focus. These are very innovative and useful features, taken from the Compact System Camera (CSC) ranges that are out now. However, these functions are really only designed for warm weather use – with gloves or numb hands, it is better to stick to the more conventional buttons.

The Canon’s phase detect AutoFocus system is extremely fast. Although its 9 AF points pale against the 39-points of the Nikon, it is both fast and accurate for general-purpose shooting. The Canon T4i doesn’t have a dedicated AF assist light, but it can use its built-in flash for this. The T4i supports full-time autofocus in video mode, which matches the D5200 but, unless you are using STM lenses, the focussing motor is too noisy for video, so you really need to use the external Mic. The Rebel T4i is an excellent camera of the three for shooting video. The articulated screen, full-time AutoFocus, and external Mic make it ideal for your everyday video needs.

The Nikon D5200

The Nikon D5200 is a very compact camera and smaller than it’s predecessor, the D5100. This could cause problems with those of us with big ( average!) hands. It doesn’t always feel like a proper DSLR, especially when carrying a larger lens. Although it doesn’t match the build quality of the magnesium alloy D700, the toughened plastic body feels solid and sturdy. The layout at the back is intuitive and easy to navigate with an extensive array of buttons to make access to the various functions pretty straightforward. Live view is easily accessible and video recording can be initiated with a press of a single button. It has just one control wheel which is snappy and responsive. There is an IR port on the front of the camera and also a dedicated AF assist light, which the Canon doesn’t have. On the right side there is a customizable Fn button which can be used to control image quality, ISO, active-D lighting, or white balance (there are no dedicated single buttons for these options). The pop-up flash automatic in green mode, meaning that the flash will pop up on its own if the camera thinks it is needed.

The LCD screen is inherited from the D5100, where it was hugely popular. It is very useful for shooting at different angles and is particularly useful when shooting video. The help menus are particularly good and make the Nikon D5200 particularly novice friendly. The display rotates with the camera, meaning that text on the status screen won’t appear sideways when you’re shooting portraits. The playback mode is quick and efficient you won’t need to wait for images to load. And there is a comprehensive info screen which lets you control just about every shooting parameter that the camera has to offer. However the four way selector is not as easy to use as the one on the Canon. The Nikon doesn’t have as many external buttons as the Canon T4i, giving it clean lines and making it less likely to change settings by mistake. However, the reverse is that on the Nikon D5200 some settings are harder to get to in the menu. The new(ish) Expeed 3 processor makes the Nikon fast and decisive in phase detect AutoFocus. And extremely fast in Live View. The D5200′s articulating screen comes in handy for shooting video, and nikon have increased the number of frame rate options, introducing 60i and 50i. Like the Canon, it will accept an external microphone and has full-time video AutoFocus.

At low very ISO, the Canon matches the Nikon, but at maximum (non-expanded) ISO, the Nikon is better. Overall, the Nikon delivers better images than the Canon. Remember, the Canon also has a physically smaller sensor than the D5200> It may not seem like much, but 1.6x rather than 1.5x combined with the increased resolution puts the D5200 clearly ahead. For more information on the sensors, take a look at the sensor scores published by DxO labs.

In short, the Canon Rebel T4i has great AutoFocus, a great articulated touchscreen and is a really superb video camera. The Nikon D5200 has excellent, fast AutoFocus, a good articulated screen, a great buffer/processor and very useful in-camera guides.

 

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