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Review Nikon D3200

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Is the Nikon D3200 the successor to the Nikon D3100? No, because the Nikon D3100 will still be available, but for a lower price. The target group of potential Nikon D3200 buyers consists of photographers looking for their first SLR camera. It is an accessible camera without too much fuss, but with all features and gadgets that you could wish for. Perhaps to their surprise, future Nikon D3200 owners will find out that the Nikon D3200 will fulfill their needs for a long time to come. The image quality of the Nikon D3200 is, whether it comes to resolution, white balance, color accuracy, signal / noise ratio or dynamic range, really good, as our Nikon D3200 review will show.

D3200CameraType

Appearance Nikon D3200

The Nikon D3200 is available in black and red, but in the Dutch stores you will find mostly the black variety. Are the Dutch so conservative when it comes to buying a camera?
The Nikon D3200 is a relatively small camera with a low weight. An important feature of the Nikon D3200 is the wide grip, which many small cameras lack. The grip is rubber coated, so the Nikon D3200 fits comfortably in your hand.

The sensor in the Nikon D3200 is probably produced by Sony. It offers the same amount of megapixels as the Sony A77 Sony NEX-7 or Sony A65: they all have a 24 megapixel sensor. The Nikon D3200 almost equals the number of megapixels of the Nikon D3X, but taht camera probably uses a very different sensor. The Nikon D800 and Nikon offer D800E, with 36 megapixels, are currently the only SLR camera offering more megapixels.

Nikon-D3200-sample-image
In terms of layout of buttons, the Nikon D3200 is aimed at photographers who buy their first SLR camera or those who appreciate a sober design. The Nikon D3200 offers a few buttons for direct selection of the most important issues like various programs. For changing the ISO speed, AF mode or metering you'll need 'to consult the menu or the shortcut menu.
The camera offers advanced features such as IR remote control. To operate the camera remotely using IR, the camera has both a front and a rear IR window. For those accustomed to a compact camera, the buttons on the Nikon D3200 are handy and clearly arranged. But when you're used to a larger camera body like the Canon 5D MK3 or Nikon D800, then you'll find the buttons perhaps too close together.

Nikon-D3200-review

Measurements for this test have been carried out with the aid of Imatest. The measurement results are shown in the Nikon D3200 test report. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ.

Nikon D3200 versus Nikon D3100 or Nikon V1 / Nikon J1

  • The Nikon D3200 delivers more megapixels (24 mp vs 14 mp) at a higher speed: 4 fps vs. 3 fps for the D3100
  • The Nikon D3200 has a 920kdots Nikon LCD screen with much higher resolution than the Nikon D3100 (320kdots)
  • Video: 1080p @ 30 fps (Nikon D3200) including "Full Time" autofocus vs. 1080p @ 24fps (Nikon D3100)
  • The Nikon D3200 has a connector for an external microphone and the record button is positioned in the Nikon D3200 at a convenient location (on top of the camera)
  • The Nikon D3200 is via a Wireless Mobile Adapter to use your Tablet or by phone
  • The Nikon Nikon V1 and J1 are smaller and lighter than the Nikon D3200, but for image quality and usability have less to offer. Both cameras are interesting alternatives to the Nikon D3200 or if you want interchangeable lenses, but are still not sure whether you want to upgrade to an SLR.

Nikon D3200 versus Canon 600D, Canon 650D, Sony A57, Sony A65

  • The Nikon D3200 has more megapixels than the Canon 600D, Canon 650D or the Sony A57
  • The Nikon D3200 has no built-in AF motor, allowing you to many lenses without built-in AF motor only manually focus
  • The Sony A57 through the half mirror has a maximum speed of 10 frames per second and is thus faster than the other cameras
  • The LCD screen of the Nikon D3200 is fixed, the LCD screen of the Sony A-57 is free to rotate

Viewfinder, LCD display and menu

The camera body is light and nicely finished. More expensive Nikon cameras have heavier, even more robust, camera bodies, which I find more comfortable to work with. The viewfinder is another part of the camera body part where you can recognize that the Nikon D3200 belongs to the entry level segment. The viewfinder has 95% accuracy, the magnification is 0.8, and because of the crop factor of 1.5, the total magnification is 0.5. The viewfinder image is clear, but small in compared to the more expensive SLR camera's. If you compare it to the viewfinder of a Canon 1100D or an Olympus OM-DE M5 it's size is similar. The larger the viewfinder, the easier it is to carefully compose an image. Advantage of the Nikon viewfinder is that data like shutter speed and aperture remain clearly visible, even in bright light.

The Nikon D3200 has 11 AF fields. The viewfinder lights the selected AF point in red, so you know which one is in focus.

Nikon-D3200-top
The default camera menu is composed of 5 vertical tabs, which contains sometimes many (sometimes just not 30) items. That means that sometimes you'll need some time fo find what you're looking for. Often, the lower tab with the last settings you used offers outcome, so you don't have to scroll too much. Handy!
The screen behind the camera can not rotate or tilt. What is very useful, is that the screen automatically adjusts to the horizontal / vertical orientation of the camera. It makes reading the screen when the camera is held vertically, much easier.

Nikon-D3200-Guide-Mode

The Guide Mode assists the novice in making choices, by providing clear instructions on concrete questions such as: How do I make a picture with a nice background blur? How do I create an action shot?
To minimize editing your images afterwards, the Nikon D3200 can automatically correct barrel or pincushion distortion of G and D lenses in jpg files.

Resolution Nikon D3200

We have measured the resolution of standard jpg files with Imatest and took a close look on the images we made with this camera. The Nikon D3200 delivers very sharp images. Nikon has not only increased the number of megapixels compared to previous models, but it seems that Nikon  also increased the in-camera sharpening of jpg files in comparison with, for example, a Nikon D5100 and Nikon D7000.
The Nikon D3200 delivers, combined with the Nikon 35 mm 1.8g lens, a jpg file with a resolution in the center (averaged over the ISO 100-6400 range) of 2650 LW/PH. In comparison, the Nikon D7000 delivers 1900 LW/PH. Using the same amount of in-camera sharpening, an increase of 18 to 24 megapixels we expected a resolution around 2200 LW/PH. For a further explanation of the Nikon D3200 test report.

This image is made without the use of a tripod, using the Nikon 40 mm macro lens. It illustrates the sharpness you can achieve with a Nikon D3200. This NEF file has been edited (dodge and burn) and cropped in Lightroom.
Click on the image for a larger version of the image area.

Nikon D3200 review, Nikon D3200 review

Dynamic range

The Nikon D3200, Sony A77 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 are reportedly all equipped with a sensor manufactured by Sony. That may well be. Our measurement results for the dynamic range of these 3 cameras are more or less the same.
The total dynamic range of the Nikon D3200 is (averaged over the ISO 100 to 6400 range) 10 stops for both RAW and jpg files. The maximum dynamic range is achieved at ISO 100 with 11.5 stops; half a stop less than the dynamic range of the Nikon D800E. The "score" for the dynamic range of the Nikon D3200 corresponds to the rating of the Canon 5D MK2. Remarkable that a camera with an APS-C sensor achieves comparable results with a full-frame camera of a few years ago. The test Imatest results are in the Nikon D3200 test report.

Nikon D3200 review, Nikon D3200 review

In the dark areas is the signal-to-noise ratio of each camera is worse than in the light areas. As a result, not the total dynamic range can be used for a print. For photographers the usable dynamic range is more important than the overall dynamic range. By noise in the shadows keeps you in a RAW file without noise of the Nikon D3200 a usable dynamic range of 7.5 stops on the ISO 100, decreasing to 0 stops at ISO 12,800. The highest ISO setting provides, as with many cameras, without heavy noise reduction therefore not very useful recordings. Averaged over the range of ISO 100 to ISO 6400 is usable dynamic range of jpg files, just like the Olympus OM-D E-M5, 4.5 stops.

Noise Nikon D3200

 
In terms of signal / noise ratio equals the Nikon D3200 also the Canon 5D MK2. The test results are in the Nikon D3200 test report. Comparison of the noise in jpg files with the measured noise in RAW files without noise reduction, shows that the jpg files NR / is not occurring at all ISO settings. Where possible, I use the Nikon D3200 with an ISO setting lower than ISO 1600 because from 1600 ISO the noise is clearly visible in the darker areas.
Right is a detail from a 1600 ISO shot jpg illustration.

Click on the image for a 100% view.

Nikon D3200 sample-image 1600ISO

Color accuracy

The color reproduction of today's cameras is now very close together. We obtained similar results for the color accuracy for the Nikon D3200 Nikon and the Nikon V1. And that's just fine. As for the white balance, the Nikon V1 did a little better than the Nikon D3200.
The Nikon D3200 delivers daylight RAW and JPG files with a natural color reproduction and accurate white balance in general. Some of the recordings made in daylight oogden too blue / too cool.

By artificial light applies to both jpg and RAW files they exhibit an orange tinge. Who can shoot in RAW white balance in artificial light significantly improved compared to the automatic white balance.
See the Nikon D3200 test report for the Imatest results for color and white balance.

Nikon D3200 Color

Built-in flash

The Nikon D3200 has a built-in flash, which raise fairly high above the lens when it pops up. This is good for using flash with long lenses or lenses with large diameter. We have not tested the performance of the Nikon D3200 flash.

Nikon-D3200-flash

Autofocus

 
We have the autofocus of the Nikon D3200 tests with various lenses. The autofocus of the Nikon D3200 is very accurate.
A series of photographs of a car approaching the camera with a speed of 50 km/h, only provides sharp images when the camera is set to continuous autofocus. The 3D AF options is not fast enough to keep the AF pointed at the car. The size of the 24 megapixel files makes that the buffer fills up quickly, if you are shooting in the highest quality jpg and / or in NEF. When the buffer is full, you will not be able to shoot images for a short while. Serious action photographers may be better of with one of the more expensive Nikon cameras.

Click on the image


 

NikonD3200 AFtracking

Conclusion Nikon D3200 review

D3200Type

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Starter
Year:2012
Overall score:7.8
Resolution:7.5
Dynamic Range:7.7
Noise:8.5
Color:7.8
Whitebalance:7.0
Megapixels:24
Sensor:APSC
Sensor magn.:0.53
fps:4
Weight (gram):505
MSRP NL (Euro):599

See our list of tested cameras to compare the performance of this camera with other cameras.

Pros

Cons

  • Low price and compact camera
  • Guide modus for SLR beginners
  • Image quality good enough for demanding photographers: not only high resolution but good color accuracy as well
  • Continuous AF and external mic option for video
  • Too small for large hands?
  • More expensive than older models with less megapixels
  • No built in AF motor; AF not compatible with every lens
  • No bracketing
  • Fixed LCD screen
  • Smaller viewfinder than the more expensive Nikon models

The Nikon D3200 could be seen as an entry level camera: the first reflex of a novice photographer. For those satisfied with having less megapixels, there are also older and cheaper SLR's for sale. But the performance of the Nikon D3200 is - not only sharpness but also the color rendition and the dynamic range - so good that I can recommend a Nikon D3200.

The Imatest results are in the Nikon D3200 test report.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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Comments (4)

  1. Paul

Thanks guys. You make a good point when you say that it's a good beginner's SLR. For a young lady with tiny hands, this is the perfect starter SLR. Your review convinced me that this is the perfect gift for that gifted child on your list. I've...

Thanks guys. You make a good point when you say that it's a good beginner's SLR. For a young lady with tiny hands, this is the perfect starter SLR. Your review convinced me that this is the perfect gift for that gifted child on your list. I've given one to a very intelligent, tiny young lady.

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  1. Ivo    Paul

Hi Paul,<br /><br />Any young lady who receives a Nikon D3200 as a starter SLR is a very lucky lady. <br />But given the optical qualities of the Nikon D3200 I believe many experienced ladies with tiny hands would also enjoy having one.<br /><br...

Hi Paul,<br /><br />Any young lady who receives a Nikon D3200 as a starter SLR is a very lucky lady. <br />But given the optical qualities of the Nikon D3200 I believe many experienced ladies with tiny hands would also enjoy having one.<br /><br />Regards,<br /><br />Ivo

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  1. Nikon D3200 Review

Nice review, i learn lot of valuable information, Nikon d3200 is the right and best DSLR camera for beginners Nikon D3200 Review

 
  1. Dan Bahrami

unfortunately until today I didnt know how good it is. I didn't use it also to much and since I've bought it lying in the cupboard. that is why I bought my second Camera Nikon D810. today I see how wonderful it is. specially when I saw the pest...

unfortunately until today I didnt know how good it is. I didn't use it also to much and since I've bought it lying in the cupboard. that is why I bought my second Camera Nikon D810. today I see how wonderful it is. specially when I saw the pest THE BEST LENS FOR NIKON D3300. thanks for usefull post.

Read More
  Comment was last edited about 1 year ago by Ivo Freriks Ivo Freriks

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