The first thing you notice when unpacking the new Nikon D7200 DSLR camera ($1,699 with an 18 – 140 mm DX lens) is the size of the so-called user’s manual. This can be a bit intimidating to those of us that are moving up from an entry-level DSLR (such as the Nikon D3300), which comes with a manual that’s about a third as thick. But, once the initial fears have dissipated, using this new camera is fairly easy.

Thanks to the folks at Nikon. we’ve been using the D7200 for a few months and discovered that the process of “moving up” need not be stressful. In fact, it was fairly easy to become acquainted with many of its advanced features, securing our position in the “wannabe” pro ranks. We were able to start using the new camera right out of the box, although we felt the need to resort to an online tutorial when we wanted to progress beyond the “point and shoot” stage.

Everything you’d expect from a Nikon camera is still there: multi-point autofocus, image stabilization, a built-in flash, the ability to use an ever-expanding number of DX and manual lenses and built-in scene settings giving you a choice of some special effects.

The one thing that’s missing is the Guide Mode that was a cool feature on the D3300. This was a tutorial mode built into the camera that walks inexperienced photographers through the process of taking pictures and movies. Of course the more experienced photographers, which are the prime target for the D7200, don’t need this, correct?

The Mode Dial has been moved from the top right side of the camera to the top left and Nikon has added a second dial directly under it that controls the frame rate and other shooting modes including single shot and multi-shot modes (three frames per second and six frames per second), a mirror lock, self timer and quiet shutter release. This replaces several buttons and menu settings that were on the D3300.

The camera also feature 51-spot metering, which means it can read 51 focus points, average them and “select” the best setting for your shot. This is great for scenic or sports photography, but we discovered that it will often select objects in front of what you’re trying to shoot. Sometimes moving the camera solves the problem, but many times we ended up taking pictures of people’s heads instead of the objects in beyond them.

The folks at Nikon have solved this problem, by giving you the option of setting up the camera to use nine or 11 focus points. There is a way to set it up to use only one, but it requires a bit more knowledge of the inner workings of the D7200. This is one of the many areas where we recommend going through one of the many online tutorials available for the camera, which go deeper into its features.

Another great addition are two dials that allow you to change the ISO and other settings when you’re using a manual lens. With the D3300 we had to go into the camera’s menu to make these changes.

Other features of the camera include:

  • Built-in Wi-Fi® and Near Field Communication
  • A 24.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor with no optical low-pass filter
  • ISO settings up to 25,600
  • Two SD card slots
  • 24.3 million pixels (the same as the D3300)
  • The monitor shows 100 percent of the image you’re shooting (rather than about 90 percent in the D3300)
  • White balance bracketing
  • Twenty in-camera image editing tools ranging from color balance to red-eye reduction
  • Built-in GPS that records the location and date of every shot
  • Shutter speed up to 1/8000 of a second
  • Twelve flash sync modes
  • Seventeen built-in scene modes including a special effects mode
  • Full HD movies at up to 60 frames per second
  • Eight focus modes
  • A built-in microphone for video plus an input for an external microphone
  • Up to nine-shot exposure bracketing
  • Eight picture control setting ranging from vivid to custom
  • A built-in mini HDMI port and USB port

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