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The Nikon D5200 won’t be born into a vacuum. There is some serious competition out there….
When Nikon launch the D5200, they will be hoping that its stops the opposition in their tracks. But that is a very tall order these days. The speed of technological change means that today’s innovation is tomorrow’s ‘ so what?’. The Nikon D5200 can be expected to use the 24Mp sensor of its sibling the D3200, which will make it a class leader. The burst speed can also be expected to improve, perhaps to 8FPS, to give the action photographers something to smile about. And for those who want to push the boundaries in low light or still photography, A higher ISO setting and more focal points is a must. Video is a big selling point in this market and whilst the D5100 has an excellent Movie mode, the new Nikon would be expected to at least offer a greater range of frames per second and possibly an out channel for head phones to go with the the external mic socket. All these improvements might well put this digital SLR out ahead of it’s rivals, but there are still some superb cameras out there that need to be checked out before you decide to buy the D5200.
The Nikon D5100
When Nikon announced the D3200, they also confirmed that the D3100 would still be available and so it’s fair to assume that the D5100 will still be on offer for a while after the Nikon D5200 launch. It is also likely to be cheaper. The D5100 is a great camera, user friendly and with superb image quality, both stills and video. The articulated screen makes shooting at high or low angles so much easier and the external stereo Mic give good sound quality to add the HD video. The 16MP file, when combined with Nikon lenses, is really all most of us will need and the ISO span, which extends to 25,600 is splendid. It handles noise well and give tremendous image detail. 4FPS burst speed is a little slow, these days, but apart from that this camera is well worth the money. Price $520 / £420
The Nikon D3200
This camera, recently upgraded from the D3100, has made a huge impact, not least because of the 24 Megapixel sensor, which rivals cameras in more expensive classes. The image quality is excellent, as might be expected, and the external stereo Mic now allows the HD video Mode full rein. The decent ISO range (up to 6400) and versatile shutter speed makes this an impressive performer in low light. Only the burst speed seems a little slow at 4FPS. However, nobody can ignore this top quality camera that is currently leading the field. Price with lens $700 / £500
The Canon 650D/ Rebel T4i
Another recent launch, the 650D is a quality camera that shows that Canon take the entry-level market seriously. The 18MP sensor, which has also graced the more expensive EOS 7D, can produce immaculate imagery and with a 5FPS burst speed and ISO maximum of 25,600, the 650D/Rebel T4i makes a formidable adversary. Videographers will be enticed by the full Hd video options and stereo sound and the articulated touch screen takes it one step beyond the D5100. The contrast autofocus has been something of a success on the CSC cameras, and Canon take only a small risk in introducing here. It may look the same, but it is a big step up from the EOS 600D/ Rebel T3i. Price £700 / $850.
The Canon EOS 600D / Rebel T3i
Whilst the 650D is stealing all the glory at the moment, the 600D/rebel T3i is still an excellent camera. Remember, we are talking about the beginner-level market. The 600D has some great functionality and the same 18MP sensor as the 650D and is much more reasonably priced. Like the D5100, it has an articulated back screen and HD video modes with stereo sound. However the burst speed is on the slow side at 3.7 FPS and there are only 9 focus points. Despite now looking a little jaded, it is a great introduction to D-SLRs and the Canon brand. Price with lens $660 / £500
The Canon 1100/ Rebel T3
This is Canon’s offering for those who want to start right at the bottom of the D-SLR range. It is basic and beginner friendly, capable of taking good, if unexceptional, photos. Most decent compact cameras can equal the 12MP files that it can produce, though not necessarily to the same standard. The video option is only 720pp – which is still good enough for web use, but not HD. It offers an intuitive beginners on-screen guide and has a decent autofocus system. This probably wouldn’t tempt anyone away from the D5200, but it is a great price for someone who just wants to get started. Price £300 / $420
The Pentax K-30
Of course the big two dominate the D-SLR classes, but for those who aren’t tied to either Nikon or Canon, it’s worth while looking at other manufacturers. The Pentax K-30 is an excellent camera that sits at the upper end of this class, both in price and functionality. It offers a 16 MegaPixel file size and, unusually, has 100% view through the viewfinder, which makes cropping much easier. 6 Frames per Second burst speed is pretty good, and the buffer has good capacity (allowing 30 frames per burst). The HD video is impressive and offers 24,25 or 30 FPS. Pentax also offer the option to power the camera with normal AA batteries which can be very useful. Designed for the outdorrs, it is made of toughened plastic and is completely weather-sealed. Price $670 / £600
The Pentax K-r
This is a much smaller and lighter camera than it’s sibling the K-30, but offers some excellent functionality for an entry-level D-SLR. It’s a tough little camera which offers a class-leading shutter speed of 1/6000 and can push ISO up to 25,600. This makes it a good performer on low light conditions and at freezing the action. However, the video function, whilst HD, shoots at 16:9 ratio, which can restrict your options and there is not external mic function, recording in-camera and in mono. There are some good modes for the novice and they are easy to follow in the camera. It can run on AA batteries. Price with lens £400/ $760
The Sony Alpha 57
Whilst the D-SLR is a well established format, it isn’t the only one available. For those who want to take a walk on the wild-side there is the Sony range of SLTs. Instead of bouncing the light off a mirror, the SLT is semi-transparent and allows some of the light through. This effectively splits the light available between the sensor and the viewfinder/back screen. Although this sounds odd to the single reflex purists, the technology is well established in the Sony range and can produce pretty good image quality. The 16 Megapixel files in the Alpha 57 are fairly robust, though do seem to suffer slightly in low light and sometimes need some work. However, the A57 has a terrific burst speed of 10 frames per second – more with smaller files – and offers either 25 or 50 FPS when shooting Hd video. ISO of 16,00 and a very clever digital zoom function make A57 a very competent camera. Price £520 / $700
The Sony A37
This recent launch aims to put Sony back on the beginner level map again. It is fairly basic, but has some innovative functionality. It also is a SLT camera and has a maximum ISO of 16,000. Burst speed can get up to 7FPS, though for full size frames, is set to 5.5FPS. The in-camera zoom function can double your lens length with hardly any quality loss. It has a useful tiltable screen and HD video. Price with lens $550 / £400