Canon T5i vs Nikon D5200

This was an expensive post to write.  We purchased the Canon Rebel T5i as well as the Nikon D5200 so that we could use the camera for a few days and really become familiar with what it is like to shoot with it.  Then, we chose which camera we preferred, and destroyed the other one.  Here’s our review…

Jim’s Take: I shoot Nikon as my primary camera, but I also own several Canons as well, and Canon used to be my primary camera.  So, I think I’m pretty unbiased when it comes to the Canon and Nikon debate.

For me, there are two big reasons to choose the Nikon D5200 instead of the T5i.  First of all, the Nikon has 39 focus points compared to only 9 focus points on the Canon.  I have always found the focus to be fast and accurate on Canon cameras, but by not having enough focus points, I often want to focus on a place in the frame where there is no focus point.  So, you have to focus and recompose, which is an acceptable workaround, but can cause problems when using very shallow depth-of-field and it slows me down when shooting.  This is especially true when trying to follow the rule of thirds, because Canon’s focus points aren’t anywhere NEAR the intersection of the third lines.

One annoyance for me with the Canon is that it is using very outdated sensor technology.  Essentially, the T5i uses the same sensor technology as the Canon 7d (released in 2009), the 60d, the T2i, the T3i, and the T4i.  All of those cameras have the same megapixel count, frames per second, and ISO range.

Dustin’s Take: 

First of all, I really like that the D5200 is $100 cheaper than the Canon.  When you’re buying lenses, bags, memory cards, and all of the other new things you need when you buy a camera, it’s nice to have that extra $100.

However, I do like that the T5i has a touch screen.  While I generally prefer to use the hard buttons for changing camera settings, the touch screen will undoubtedly be easier for new photographers to operate until they learn the buttons.  Eventually, most photographers will probably want to switch to the hard buttons because you can’t see the screen very easily when you’re out shooting in the bright sunlight.

But for me, the biggest thing is low light performance.  In my night photo test at ISO 6400 with the T5i and D5200, the Nikon won handily.

t5i_bodyOnly D5200_bodyOnly

Canon T5i

Released: April 2013

Nikon D5200

Released: January 2013


$749

(Click to buy on Amazon)


$696

(Click to buy on Amazon)

17.9 MP

24 MP

Max ISO 12,800

At an ISO of 6,400, this camera performed horibbly and had a lot of noise with little signs of Noise Reduction!

Max ISO 6,400

Performed much better at high ISO in low light. Still has noise, but did a much better job with Noise Reduction.

Focus Motor

Unlike with Nikon, you do not have to worry about getting a lens with or without a focus motor in order for it to work on your Canon camera.

NO Focus Motor

Really, the only lens you want to pay attention to with this is the 50mm f/1.8 lens we all love. The 50mm is a very fast (great for low light and creamy backgrounds) and is quite sharp for only costing $200.  The D5200 does not come with a focus motor built-in, so you will have to buy the version of this lens that has the focus motor. You can buy that lens here.

Almost all modern Nikon lenses other than the original 50mm f/1.8 have focus motors, so it isn’t really much of a concern going forward.

550 Shots

The Canon has a slightly better battery life.

500 Shots

Still a good amount of battery life on the Nikon.

Sensor Cropping

Due to the slightly smaller sensor size in the Canon T5i, your images will be slightly more zoomed in at the same 18mm compared to the Nikon D5200. This is not a big difference, but Sports photographers won’t mind having the smaller sensor size.

Sensor Cropping

The slightly larger sensor size on this camera will give you a wider view on the image than the Canon T5i will. Landscape photographers might be interested in this because you will get just a little bit wider shot when zoomed all the way out.

Image Output

Canon cameras will process the images slightly for you in the camera. Most people tend to like the photos that came out of a Canon. If you are not into editing, or prefer getting a nice image straight out of the camera, you might really appreciate what Canon will do for you.

Image Output

Coming from Canon, it will take some time getting used to how the images look like on a Nikon. They simply are not as processed as much as you would expect to see on a Canon. For those looking for the unedited, unprocessed, looked of an image – then Nikon is probably calling your number.

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. Susan Watson Bahen says

    Don’t know if this had been mentioned in the comment, but although the D5200 doesn’t have a dedicated ISO button, you don’t have to go into the menu to change your ISO settings. You can assign the function (FN) button to change ISO. Just hold it and use the command dial to change ISO on-the-fly!

  2. Khairul A Zainal says

    ON the review, nice one guys. Really helped me understand more on the pros and cons of both camera though I’m still undecided on which ones I’m gonna get as my first DSLR.

  3. joanne says

    Literally, After Months Of Debating Between The Canon T5i And Nikon D5200 I EndeD Up Buying Th Nikon Since Costco Had AGreat Bundle DeaL. ItS My FirsT SLR Camera An I Love It! I Just TooK xmas PiCtures Of My Kids For Our Xmas Cards And I Gotta Tell Ya Nikon Did Not Dissapoint!. The QualitY And Detail Of ThePictures Are Amazing.

  4. Jamie says

    While the Nikon does not have a dedicated ISO button it can be quickly changed by pressing the Fn button near the lens and rotating the dial. It is extremely fast.

  5. L Schmied says

    Thank you, gentlemen for your review.
    I bought a Nikon D5200 from Costco today for 999.00 (300.00 off) came with standard 18-55 and 55-300 Nikon lense. opened the box, and it even had a 16GB card with it, and wifi adapter. Think its a sweet deal…Cant wait to open it up and start shooting pics. I was a previous Canon owner, but the Canon EOS Digital Rebel died completely. I think it was trying to tell me something!
    Anyway, just wanted to thank you for the thorough review.

  6. says

    Disappointed to see the Nikon for nearly the same price with similar lens had wifi, GPS and 1080P video, Too late to change now.
    This camera should have been cheaper given the Nikon features/pricing.

  7. Drew says

    Thanks for the review. I just totally waffled between these two cameras. I currently have an old Rebel XT, so I though for sure that I would just upgrade to a new Cannon. So I researched the t5i and decided that that would be the one. I also really wanted to add the 50mm 1.8 and thought that the 18-135 STM would be an excellent all-purp lens. I do currently have the 50mm Macro 2.5, which has been pretty nice. So when I really started reading about the d5200, I really started to believe it was a better camera – so I ordered the body only, from AoM (Abe’s of Maine) as well as the 18-105 and the 50mm 1.8g. But, then I had remorse and thought I’d really miss Canon, so I cancelled the order and ordered a t5i with a 13-135 STM and the 50mm 1.8 over at Fumfie which they also threw in a whole accessory package (which I didn’t really need), an extra battery and 2-day shipping. Weeelllllll, at the last moment, I changed that order back to the Nikon group because I really do think the Nikon takes the best pictures, which is really what it’s all about. So I may be a total dork for the indecisiveness, but I think I’m going to be pretty happy making the upgrade to Nikon. Total price was $1008.00 on 05/19/14 if that helps anyone. That included the d5200 body, 18-105mm, 50mm 1.8g, 5hr battery, 2-day shipping.

  8. Jason says

    One thing you guys didnt touch on is the Live View quality, especially when it comes to magnified manual focus. On the D5200, its literally HORRIBLE quality, pixelated and basically useless. If Live View is important, Canon has a far better live view system than Nikon cameras, and always have.

  9. Stephanie says

    Image Output: Is there a setting on the Nikon where you can process the image more like the Canon? Thanks!

  10. mark says

    i must have missed that nikon bundle deal. how much was it at costco. they have the t5i for 899.00 with the 250mm lens bundle. was the nikon5200 sold with the 300mm?

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