Nikon Introduces D7200 DSLR

(news & commentary)

D7200 18 140 front34l.high

Are you happy or disappointed?

Nikon today announced the D7200, a minor update to the D7100 camera. The major changes are:

  • Use of the slightly tighter 51-point focus array first seen in the D750, which allows focus performance to extend in very low light situations. But…apparently no Group AF mode.
  • Video at 1080P/60 and 50 was added. But…this comes using a 1.3x crop of the sensor. 
  • Larger buffer size: 100 JPEG shots of any size/type, 18 frames 14-bit lossless compressed NEF. Nikon also lifted the 100-shot limit for continuous shooting. But…remember that a lot of things reduce raw buffer size, including shooting NEF+JPEG.
  • The new Picture Control system has been added, including the Flat Picture Control and the Clarity adjustment. But…this puts the D7200 into the category of cameras that you can’t easily finesse older versions of Capture NX2 for use.
  • WiFi with NFC is built into the camera. But…NFC currently only works with Android devices. 
  • ISO is now listed to 25,600. But…This is really just a renaming of HI1 and HI2.

Curiously, Nikon has rounded a lot of numbers differently in the English-oriented information. The camera is the same size, but the numbers stated in inches are slightly different. Sensor dimensions are also stated slightly differently, so either Nikon changed masking or is using a slightly different sensor. 

Overall, the changes are modest, though the price returns to the US$1199 point that the D7100 was introduced at. The camera should be ship March 19th. 

With the D7200 announcement, Nikon also announced a wireless microphone and View NX-i. The ME-W1 is a slightly awkward transmitter/receiver pair that communicates via Bluetooth. I say awkward, because you have to plug the receiver into the camera’s microphone slot and now have the usual dongle problem, much like Nikon’s previous WiFi and GPS accessories. A better solution, obviously, is to build Bluetooth into the cameras, but this adds cost to the products for people who might not actually use the facility. The way Nikon designed the ME-W1 also means that it can be used with previous Nikons that have a microphone jack. Still, this is design that still shows that Nikon doesn’t totally understand video needs. Videographers don’t really want lots of things hanging off the camera, they want the camera to support things like XLR or wireless directly. 

Meanwhile, ViewNX2 is now about to become View NX-i. You’d think that Nikon would get their naming consistent and this would be View NX-D, especially considering that Capture and View are getting tighter integration in this release. 

Most of the changes in View NX-i seem to be in trying to make it the “center” of any Nikon shooter’s world. You can pass raw images to be converted with Capture NX-D and back. View NX-i also connects to a number of Web services, including Facebook, YouTube, and Nikon Image Space. We also get a few improvements to the browser side of the product, including better side-by-side comparisons and the ability to put things in a temporary tray. Curiously, video now gets the sidecar file approach, as well, even though there’s really no standard for that. 

Coupled with the announcement of the superduperzoom Coolpix P900 (24-2000mm), basically Nikon’s announcements were “more of the same.” So far, it appears that Nikon is all in on their current approaches to everything. They aren’t making their DSLRs more video friendly, they’re just adding video features (those are not the same thing folks). They’ve just moved the old View/Capture products further down the same path, although pretty much each time they make major changes like this something breaks. Their accessory ideas are low-cost brute force kinds of approaches that show little thought to the overall system’s convenience. And, of course, the D7200 is really just a D7100 with a few minor tweaks that really wouldn’t have taken two years to develop. Indeed, it’s more like “parts re-use” than development. Nothing I see in the new camera was developed solely for the camera. 

So a number of Nikon fans will be disappointed. A few—particularly those who felt that the only real problem with the D7100 was its buffer limitations—will be happy. 

The risk for Nikon is that their user base won’t read the signals correctly. By making the D7200 a very modest update to the D7100, Nikon has left room for the inevitable Canon 7DII competitor. The D7200 isn’t that camera. But not having a serious competitor in the crop sensor pro DSLR arena makes Nikon vulnerable to switchers. That’s especially true given the fact that the D300s is now approaching six years old. DSLR years, like dog years, have a multiplication factor to them. The D300s is an old dog. The Canon 7DII is a puppy. Nikon has no puppy in sight. 

I’ve written it before and I still believe it: Nikon will eventually replace the D300s with an updated model. Let’s hope they do it soon. Because Nikon is proving to be a #2 that’s not trying harder. 

I’ll have much more to say about where we stand as Nikon users in a few weeks. As noted earlier, this site will be sporadically updated until later in March, when we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming… In the meantime, I’ve updated the data pages with full information for the Nikon D7200.

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