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Thursday, 24 January 2013

How Does the Canon Rebel T4i Compare With the Nikon D5200?


With Canon and Nikon both fighting for the entry-level market, they have both launched movie friendly DSLRs to tempt enthusiast and professional videographers. Despite the two cameras coming from different manufacturers, they have a lot in common. They are both useful upgrades to current cameras (the D5100 and the Canon T3i), and are designed to consolidate their markets by extending into movie making, which both Canon and Nikon recognize as potential areas for growth. It is clear that Nikon and Canon are treating the entry-level market as a major battleground, particularly in the USA.
The Canon T4i doesn't feel quite so robust as the D5200, but it is solid enough for day-to-day use. It is a bit bigger than the D5200 though, and so easier for anyone with average sized hands to hold. The scroll-wheel clicks reassuringly as it turns and the rear buttons are responsive. The layout at the back on the Canon T4i is well set out and has more buttons, making delving into the menu settings a lot quicker and easier. Some are multi-functional, which can take a little thought. For example, the same button that starts recording video in movie mode also enables live view in a still shooting mode. The slight downside of this is that some of the buttons are also very close together. However, the Canon T4i 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 as there isn't really a need for it.
Both cameras have an articulated LCD screen. The Canon T4i has a noticeably higher resolution than that of the D5200. The Canon's LCD has 1040 thousand dots, while the D5200 has 921 thousand. One of the Canon T4i's best-selling points is that the LCD is a touchscreen. This makes it much easier to configure settings and, 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. It is great to this technology being adopted by the Canon T4i as it makes it far more useable than any other camera in its bracket.
The Canon's phase detect AutoFocus system is extremely fast. Whilst it has only 9-point Auto Focus system, against the 39-points of the D5200, 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 in these circumstances. The T4i supports full-time autofocus in video mode, which matches the D5200 and, with Canon's STM lenses, the focussing is quiet enough for shooting video. It also has an external Mic socket. It is fair to say that the Canon Rebel T4i is probably the batter camera for shooting video. The articulated screen, full-time AutoFocus, and external Mic make it ideal for your everyday video needs.
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 reasonably solid and sturdy. The layout at the back is easy to navigate with an array of buttons to make access to the various functions 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 T4i 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. Like with the canon T4i, it is very useful for shooting at different angles and is particularly useful when shooting video. The help menus are good and make the Nikon D5200 quite 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 D5200 doesn't have as many external buttons as the Canon T4i, Making some of the menu choices hared to get to. 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 T4i, it will accept an external microphone and has full-time video AutoFocus.
At low very ISO, the Canon T4i matches the Nikon, though the D5200 is slightly better at maximum (non-expanded) ISO. Overall, the Nikon delivers slightly better image quality than the Canon. Remember, the Canon T4i 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 Nikon D5200 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.
I think if you had no lens loyalty either way, the Canon T4i would be the better camera to get. The difference in image quality is hardly noticeable under normal conditions and the canon certainly matches the D5200 on the video front. Whilst both cameras are excellent in their own ways, the Nikon D5200 costs more than the small improvements over the canon T4i would warrant.
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