NIKON D3200 SENSOR
APS-C sensor in Nikon D3200 has 24 megapixel. That equals to 6016 x 4000 images what’s huge. Not long ago, 24 MP was considered as high pixel count even for full frame cameras. Now, you can get it in low-end DSLR. Two lower resolutions are available, one at 6 megapixels (3008 x 2000) and another at 14MP (4512 x 3000), but only in JPEG format.
Sensor performance is excellent. Colors are realistic and dynamic range up to the task. At low ISO settings, images are completely noise free, what can’t be said for several competing models (some Sony and Olympus cameras have a very small amount of noise even at base ISO in some cases).
When the ISO goes up, noise remains under control. I used the camera regularly up to ISO 3200 without any problems, and when needed got perfectly usable results at ISO 6400, especially from RAW file. Highest available setting of ISO 12,800 (marked as “Hi” because it’s not in the native sensor range) is maybe a tad too high for critical quality applications, but will allow you to capture images that otherwise wouldn’t be possible, like family portraits under candle light. Excellent performance overall, even compared to some more expensive cameras.
Automatic ISO control is the same as in any other Nikon DSLR and in one word – perfect. You can set the maximum allowed ISO and shutter speed below which ISO will change. If you leave minimum shutter speed at AUTO, D3200 is smart enough to detect lens focal length used and will adjust itself accordingly.
NIKON D3200 LENSES
Although Nikon D3200 is available as body only, most users will probably buy a kit lens option. Nikon’s Nikkor AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR is a decent lens, optically good for the price and with an effective optical stabilization. But still, it’s just an affordable kit lens which becomes obvious on this camera. 24 megapixel sensor is very sharpness-hungry, and 18-55 slightly falls behind in this department. When viewed at pixel level images look slightly soft, even in RAW. It’s not a bad lens, but it will not allow this sensor to show its maximum performance.
If you are serious about your photography, my recommendation is to take a look at some nice and affordable primes like Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G for general shooting and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G for portraiture. Both are in the very affordable 200$ range and perform much better than the kit lens, not to mention f/1.8 aperture for shallow DOF and low-light shooting.
MEMORY AND BATTERY
Memory compartment accepts SDHC cards. Camera is very fast at writing data which came as a surprise. I expected it to be sluggish with huge 24 megapixel files, but it’s not the case. Just be sure to get a fast card, I used class 10 SDHC card.
Battery used is a usual Li-Ion unit with external charger supplied. It provides enough power for around 500 photos and takes around 2.5 h to recharge.
Nikon D3200 will work with both memory card and battery doors open (broken) which is important in my opinion. What if you’re clumsy and break the memory compartment door in the middle of the Yellowstone? Some cameras will refuse to work because of it, but D3200 will happily click on.
AUTOFOCUS, CONTINUOUS SHOOTING
Auto focus has 11 focus points which cover very wide area of the frame, what is excellent. It is pretty snappy and accurate. White AF assist lamp is also present. Contrast focusing in live view is slow(ish) but gets the job done.
Continuous shooting is available at 4 frames per second. Some competitors offer more but fill theirs buffer faster; D3200 maintained its speed up to around 20 shots in JPEG mode which is enough for 4-5 second of continuous shooting.
As may have notice from review, Nikon D3200 is a great camera. It is a typical DSLR in a way it handles and frames a shot, and anyone who likes to use optical viewfinder and doesn’t care about panorama, HDR or similar features will love it. Images are excellent with low noise, especially when shot in RAW and processed on PC (software is included). Advanced users might not like it because of small number of direct controls and lack of some specific features typical for higher-end cameras, but there is no doubt that D3200 can produce spectacular images when paired to good lenses. In that way, it may be a good choice even for professionals as a backup camera. As for everyone else, if you don’t have a lot of experience with interchangeable lens cameras, Nikon D3200 might be a very good place to start.
NIKON D3200 PRO
- Excellent image quality
- Fast and responsive operation
- Lovely design (red version especially)
- Fast auto focus with wide frame coverage
- Low high ISO noise
- Good auto-ISO option implementation
- Auto lens distortion correction
- Quiet shutter sound
- Large continuous shooting buffer
- ISO 100 as the lowest ISO setting
NIKON D3200 CONS
- LCD not as good as some competitors
- Occasional overexposure (just leave it at -0,3 or 0,7 EV in high contrast scenes an all will be fine)
- Requires higher quality lenses to make most out of the sensor
- No fancy modern features like panorama, HDR, electronic horizon level or built-in GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity
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