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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 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 D5200 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 the D5200 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 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.
THE NIKON D3200 – Nikon have really astonished the photographic community with this \’ entry-level\’ camera that seems to want to compete with pro-level bodies. The 24 MegaPixel sensor is remarkable in a camera of this price and had put every other beginner-level camera in the shade. The external Mic (for stereo recording) and HD video make this a great starter for photographer and videographer alike. The solid ISO rating – up to 6400 – and shutter speed range make this flexible and versatile camera the current leader of it\’s class.
THE CANON EOS 650D/Rebel T4i – Newly launched, this camera shows that Canon mean business. Offering an 18MP sensor, taken from the 7D, a top ISO of 25,600 and 5FPS the 650D wants to trample over the opposition. The full HD video function and stereo sound will appeal to photographers who want to mix disciplines. The articulated touch screen is new to this class and the contrast autofocus is something you are more likely to find in the Compact Systems Camera bracket. However, apart from these innovative additions, it has many of the characteristics of the 600D/Rebel T3i.
THE CANON EOS 600D/ Rebel T3i – Up until the arrival of the 650d/ Rebel T4i, this was canon\’s flagship model in this market. It does offer a good range of features at a fair price. The 18 Megapixel file size was the largest around until matched by the the 650D and beaten by the D3200, and it is quite big enough for almost any requirement. The Canon lenses ensure that the image quality is superb. Like the D5100, it too has an articulated viewing screen, which is handy for shooting the HD video. The 9-point autofocus lets the camera down slightly and the 3.7 Frame Per Second burst speed seem quite pedestrian these days. All together though, this is a very competent camera from an excellent brand.
THE CANON 1100D/ Rebel T3 – This is Canon\’s basic beginner-level D-SLR. As a step up camera, it offers an easy transition from a compact or bridge camera, but these days much more is expected even at this level. The 12MP files are pretty good, however and stand up to scrutiny. The video is not HD quality, though good enough for internet use and the 9-point autofocus is competent. The on-screen feature guide is really useful for beginners feeling their way around. This shouldn\’t pose much of a threat to the D5200, but might tempt someone moving up from, say, the Canon Powershot range.
THE PENTAX K-30 – This is a weather-proofed camera designed to survive tough handling. The image quality produced by the 16MP sensor is excellent and it has a number of autofocus options to track your subject. Viewfinder coverage is the full 100% and ISO can extend to 25,600. The impressive 6FPS can capture 30 images in one burst. An adapter will allow you to use AA batteries. It can shoot Hd video and has a choice of 24,25 or 34 Frames per second. Price with 18-55mm lens 650/$900
THE PENTAX K-r – This camera is small and light and has some great functions for its class. It is quite robustly built and offers a shutter speed up to a blistering 1/6000 and a wide ISO range, up to 25,600, which makes it very useful in low light. Whilst it can shoot HD video, it does so at 16:9 which is a little restrictive, and the internal Mic only records in Mono. There are various Modes to help the beginner, which are intuitive and accessible. It can operate on AA batteries. Price with lens 400 / $760
THE SONY ALPHA 57 – The SLR has been around for so long that it is easy to think there is no better system out there and whilst the main manufacturers are herding D-SLR users steadily towards CSC functionality in the hope of removing the viewfinder completely eventually, Sony have chosen a different path. The Alpha 57 is an SLT – single-lens translucent. Instead of having a moveable mirror that bounces the light to the viewfinder and then moves to allow the camera to take the shot, Sony have produced a fixed semi- translucent mirror that bounces some light to the viewfinder and lets the rest through to the sensor. Sony have used this for a while now and it can produce some pretty good results. The A57 has a 16MP sensor that are good quality, though they do need some work if shot in low light. However the advantage is that you can see the shot continuously, even when the camera is shooting at 10FPS. The HD video is competent and has a choice of 25FPS or 50FPS. It also has an innovative digital zoom and a maximum ISO of 16,000. Altogether, this is a pretty good camera for the price. Price $700/ 500
THE SONY A37 – The Alpha 37 has recently launched and puts Sony firmly back into this bracket after the very poor A390. It offers 16MP files and 5.5 FPS burst speed in most modes ( though it can get up to 7FPS) and a maximum ISO of 16,000. It is not a D-SLR, but operates a semi-transparent mirror system. It offers an in-camera zoom function, claiming to double the length of your lens with little loss of quality, and a tiltable back screen. It also offers HD video. Price 400/$550
Jeremy Bayston has worked in the Photo industry for over twenty years and has written about cameras and photography on various photographic websites. Check out his site devoted to the Nikon D5200 for the latest news about this new D-SLR. Sign up for his newsletter about the D5200 to be the first to know about the launch date.