Nikon D5200 with prime lens?
Iím looking for a reasonable quality DSLR which is not too heavy and Iím considering the Nikon D5200. As regards lenses, could I expect to get better image quality with a prime lens such as the Nikon 24mm f2.8 D AF or would I be better off with a short zoom lens? I gather that the 24mm D AF does not autofocus with the D5200 but I am wondering if it would function well enough in manual focus to produce good quality landscapes.
You would absolutely get better image quality with a 24mm prime lens than the kit zoom lens, though of course you'd only have the one focal length. Unlike new, but more expensive lenses, the older 24mm f/2.8 D lens doesn't, as you say, focus automatically on the modern DSLRs, but focusing manually is pretty easy. The main risk is that you'll miss spontaneous opportunities in the time taken to focus. You can of course use Hyperfocal Focusing (google it, there's loads of info about it online) which involves pre-setting an aperture and focus distance to ensure that pretty much everything in your scene from the near distance to infinity will be in focus anyway.
Many thanks for your advice, which is very useful. As regards the quality comparison, I was thinking of the difference between the prime lens and a slightly better quality zoom, such as the Nikon 16-85mm f3.5-5.6 G ED VR or Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 EX DC OS HSM. I'm guessing that might be a more difficult comparison to make though??
We haven't compared these directly but I'd imagine the 24mm prime would still win. Though having used the Sigma 17-50mm I can say it's pretty good, and you'd get a more wideangle as well as more telephoto option. It depends what's important I guess. If image quality is the absolute most important consideration the 24mm is probably worth the other sacrifices. At least landscape photography is a slower, more considered discipline, so features such as AF are less relevant.