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One annoyance for me with the Canon is that it is using very outdated sensor technology.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.
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.
Released: April 2013
Released: January 2013
(Click to buy on Amazon)
(Click to buy on Amazon)
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.
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.
The Canon has a slightly better battery life.
Still a good amount of battery life on the Nikon.
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.
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.
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.
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.