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Nikon D3200 DSLR Review

Nikon D3200 DSLR Review - Nikon have updated their entry-level DSLR with the launch of the D3200, going from a 14.2 megapixel sensor to 24.2, Daniel Bell gives us his opinion on the latest addition.

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Category : Digital SLRs
Product : Nikon D3200
Price : £270
Rating :
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Nikon D3200 Flash Up

The D3200 is Nikon's latest entry level DSLR, an upgrade on the D3100, going from 14.2 to 24.2 megapixels and is designed to be easy to use, with Guide Mode to help you along. The D3200 is also compatible with the new Wireless Mobile Adapter which shares images directly to a smartphone or tablet, or to control the camera remotely. The D3200 can be purchased in black or red for £559.00 (body only) or £649.00 with the 18-55mm VR lens.

Nikon D3200 Front 2

Nikon D3200 Features

If you are new to DSLR photography, the D3200 has Guide Mode which uses images and written instructions to help you choose the correct settings. It comes with a Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm VR lens (35mm equiv: 27-82.5mm) and features a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) that should help keep lens noise down in videos. As well as the traditional viewfinder, which has a diopter adjuster, you can use Live View which is activated by a button on the rear.

Images are captured by the 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, with ISO 100-6400, which is extendable up to ISO 12800. The camera has Nikon's EXPEED 3 image processing engine, designed for clear images with excellent colour reproduction and enhanced movie recording. The D3200 is compatible with SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards and comes with a 2 year warranty.

The D3200 has an 11-point autofocus system to focus on subjects which are off-center, moving fast or completely unpredictable. If you are shooting fast moving objects, you can switch to continuous shooting mode which records at up to 4fps. Nikon's Scene Recognition System analyses the scene and automatically adjusts the focus, exposure and white-balance for the best results. With Active D-Lighting more detail is captured in the dark and bright areas of high-contrast lighting conditions.

When you have finished taking pictures, you can edit them via the photo retouch menu, where you will find a range of tools and effects. Options include Resize, Quick Retouch and Straighten as well as effects including Selective Colour, Colour Sketch, and Miniature Effect.

Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD in 30p, 25p and 24p with smart autofocus including continuous autofocus (AF), full-time servo AF (AF-F), subject-tracking AF and Face-priority AF. The D3200 supports use of Nikon’s ME-1 stereo microphone (as well as other microphones) and videos can be played back on a HDTV via a HDMI cable.

Nikon D3200 Memory Card 1

Key Features

  • 24.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor
  • Nikon F mount (with AF contacts)
  • 3 inch 921k dot (VGA) TFT LCD screen
  • Full 1080p HD video recording in 30p, 25p and 24p with smart autofocus
  • ISO 100-6400 (extendable up to 12800)
  • 11-point autofocus system
  • Active D-Lighting
  • 4 fps continuous shooting
  • EXPEED 3 image processing engine
  • Scene Recognition System
  • Guide mode
  • Photo retouch menu
  • Optional Wireless Mobile Adapter
  • Available in red and black
Nikon D3200 Mode Dial

Nikon D3200 Handling

The 3 inch LCD screen has a much improved resolution of 921k dots, from 230k on the D3100, making the screen a pleasure to use when using live view or in image playback, giving an accurate representation of image quality and colour when compared to viewing photos on the computer. There is an orientation sensor, which means when you are shooting in portrait mode, the screen orientation automatically switches.

Other than the improved screen resolution, nothing else has physically changed on the camera body, except for the movie record button that has been moved to the top, the live view lever has been changed to a button and the release mode lever has been changed to a button also placed on the back.

A large hand grip and well positioned rubber thumb grip make it easy to hold on tight. A large rubber grip on the lens gives another good area to grip the camera to ensure it's held steadily at all times.

Despite the plastic body, the D3200 is well built with a solid construction and large rubber eye cover. It has high quality switches and controls and metal strap mounts. The memory card cover, however, doesn’t look like it would survive any mistreatment, or accidental damage while open. The buttons to the left of the main screen feel a little loose and wobbly although it’s unlikely this will actually cause any problems.

There is one function button, pressing this lets you quickly set the option using the command dial. There is also a dedicated exposure compensation button. For other settings that you want to change you will need to go into the options on the back screen, or go into the menu of the camera.

The camera is very easy to use, more advanced users may find it a little limiting, as a lot of options or settings require you to enter the menus to change or set them and some useful options seem to be missing (such as exposure bracketing). However, the lack of complicated buttons also makes it easy to use for those who simply want the higher image quality a DSLR offers over a compact camera.

The menu system on the camera is split into five sections: Playback, Shooting, Setup, Retouch and Recent Settings. Navigating the settings is fairly straightforward and you can press the “?” button to bring up help on any setting. Recent Settings brings up a history showing your most recently changed or accessed settings and the camera also remembers where you were the last time you accessed the menu to allow quicker changes to settings. Here is a video of the Guide Mode:



The Nikon D3200 battery life is rated at 500 shots according to CIPA standards. We took a lot of photos during testing, and were able to get a least 500 on every charge, if not a substantial amount more. The battery cover is solid and relatively easy to open, with an orange clip to keep the battery firmly in place.

Nikon D3200 Ports

We tested the cameras performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

Shutter Response   0.05 (0.55 in live view)
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.4 (1.1 in live view)
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.7 (1.75 in live view)
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   0.5
Shot to Shot (without flash)   0.6 secs (slows after 10 shots) (7.2 secs in live view)
Shot to Shot with Flash   1.7 secs
Continuous Shooting (JPEG)   3.8 fps
Continuous Shooting (RAW)   3.9 fps (slows after 10 shots)

When using live view, shutter response, focus speed and shot to shot times are slower. Continuous shooting mode records at full 24.2 megapixel resolution.

Nikon D3200 Battery

Nikon D3200 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings. As well as the standard Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens we have also used the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for some shots as well.

Nikon D3200 Sample Photos


Sample Photos - Colour reproduction is superb, as are skin tones when shooting portraits, which are free from red-eye. Landscapes have excellent blues and greens, particularly when using the Landscape Picture Control option (other options are standard, neutral, vivid, monochrome and portrait). The last three images above may not be easy with the standard kit lens, but show what is possible if you decide to invest in a more expensive lens. Focusing speed was generally quick enough to get some decent sporting shots.

Nikon D3200 Lens test images


Lens Performance - The kit lens does an excellent job, providing good levels of detail and quite sharp images. Images are sharp in the centre as well as at the edges and corners. There is some purple fringing in some areas of high contrast but there doesn't appear to be much noticeable aberration in general photographs. Minimum focusing distance is 28cm, this isn’t very close to the subject at wide-angle, but at full telephoto zoom it allows for some good macro shots.

There is built in Vibration Reduction to help get sharp photos in low light situations and at the telephoto end of the zoom. This can be easily switched on or off if you’re using a tripod and there is also a switch on the lens to switch between manual and automatic focus. The manual focus is adjusted by turning the front of the lens, is quite smooth and allows fairly precise control of the focus.

Nikon D3200 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - There is low noise at ISO100, with very smooth images and excellent detail with very little noise appearing at ISO 200 and ISO 400. At ISO 800 you start to see a very slight loss in detail, particularly noticeable when viewing images at 100% on screen, which again increases at ISO 1600, causing images to become a little soft. Images are softer still at ISO 3200, but are still usable, with good colour reproduction maintained. At ISO 6400 noise is significant, with black dots appearing in the lighter parts of the images. At the highest ISO setting, Hi1 (ISO 12800), there are both black and white dots causing very noisy images. The images produced at this level are fine for sharing on the web, but you wouldn't get a decent large print from them.

Nikon D3200 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Auto white-balance generally does a good job and particularly so under our studio lighting, with the AWB and incandescent presets doing a similar job under the incandescent lights. Under the fluorescent lights the preset gives a magenta cast in the image.

Portrait with flash | 1/60 sec | f/5.3 | 44.0 mm | ISO 100
Portrait with flash | 1/60 sec | f/5.3 | 44.0 mm | ISO 100
  Active D-lighting | 1/50 sec | f/14.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Active D-lighting | 1/50 sec | f/14.0 | 24.0 mm | ISO 100
Structure | 1/60 sec | f/16.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 100
Structure | 1/60 sec | f/16.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 100
  Lambs | 1/400 sec | f/5.6 | 82.0 mm | ISO 100
Lambs | 1/400 sec | f/5.6 | 82.0 mm | ISO 100

The above are a few more examples, the first three have been taken using the 18-55mm kit lens, with the last one taken using the Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

Nikon D3200 Digital filters


Digital Filters - When shooting, you can choose from a number of Picture Control modes. Via the Retouch Menu, there are a number of editing options, with a few sample images above.

Video - Movies can be recorded when using live view, with the maximum length of videos being 4Gb in size and 20 minutes long. You can shoot at 30, 25 and 24 fps when shooting full 1080p HD with 60 and 50 fps available when recording in 720p HD.

The kit lens has a SWM – which Nikon say provides super quiet operation, however, if you use the autofocus while recording videos the lens noise seems loud and is easily picked up by the built in microphone, but you can use Nikon’s ME-1 stereo microphone if this is going to cause you an issue, or you can refocus manually. With movement there is image roll / jelly effect.

Basic movie editing is built in – allowing you to cut movies, and also cut frames out of the video and use as a photo. Photo quality from the video is fairly good, even though the resolution of the photo is only 2.1mp (1920x1080).



Value For Money

The Nikon D3200 is available in red or black for £559.00 (body only) or £649.00 with the 18-55mm VR lens. The D3100 is still available at £359.00 (£395.00 with 18-55mm lens). Other entry level DSLRs include the Canon EOS 1100D from £304.00, Pentax K-r from £399.95 and Sony Alpha A35 from £417.46. The D3200 is therefore more expensive than other entry-level DSLRs available at the moment. You can also buy the Nikon D5100 for less than the D3200 at £498. The Sony Alpha A65 also has a 24 megapixel sensor and is available for £685.00.

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Nikon D3200 Verdict

An entry level DSLR with a 24 megapixel sensor is rare and with this added resolution, you are able to crop into your shots without sacrificing on your image quality, meaning it may even tempt more serious photographers as well. If you are unfamiliar with how manual, shutter and aperture modes work, the Guide Mode offered will really help you on your way.

If you're on a slim budget, then the Nikon D3100 is still available, with a much lower resolution sensor, or you can go in between these two models with the 16.2 megapixel Nikon D5100. At £559.00 the D3200 can be considered expensive for an entry-level DSLR, but if you're happy with the price, there are plenty of features that make it a fair investment, and there is of course a two year warranty which isn't typical of all manufacturers.

The D3200 has a solid build, even though it is made of plastic, and we really like the rubber grip, making the camera easy to hold, even in just one hand. If you're not a fan of the traditional black colour that most DSLR's come in, you can get the D3200 in red.

Most importantly, image quality doesn't disappoint, colour reproduction is good and you can use the camera at higher ISOs with confidence.

 
  The Nikon D3200 has enough features and image quality to set you on your way in DSLR photography.

Nikon D3200 Pros

24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor
Full 1080p HD video recording
Good image quality
Rubberised grip
Can use an external microphone for video recording
2 year warranty
Comes in red as well as the traditional black
Easy to use menus

Nikon D3200 Cons

Guide mode doesn't allow RAW shooting
Expensive for an entry-level DSLR
More advanced D5100 is cheaper
Picture taking is slow in live view

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Nikon D3200 Specifications

ManufacturerNikon
Lens
Effective Magnification1.5x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels24.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)No Data
Pixels (H)No Data
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921k dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest30sec
Shutter speeds longest1/4000sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • Centre-weighted - Average
ISO sensitivity100 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
Exposure Comp+/-5
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS30/25/24fps, 720p 60/50fps
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
  • RAW
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeEN-EL14
CIPA Rating500
Box Contents
Box ContentsEN-EL14 Battery, MH-24 Charger, UC-E17 USB Cable, EG-CP14 AV Cable, DK-20 eyecup, AN-DC3 strap, BF-1B body cap, DK-5 eyepiece, BS-1 shoe cover, ViewNX2 CD
Dimensions
Weight505g
Width125mm
Height96mm
Depth76.5mm

View Full Product Details

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D3200

Baby CrocodileFlower centreMonaPecket Well SunsetPrinceGloucester docksCape Shoveller duckPoppyGREEN AND PLEASANT LANDThe Duke of Westminsters Estate:)The BuzzardGloucester DocksFlowerDragana
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Comments


kodachrome 2 463
30 May 2012 4:31PM
Good review from Daniel. The 2 best shots were the studio shots of the young lady, other wise the out door shots were nothing special and the mansion house looked well over exposed with quite a bit of noise in the crops. It was quite evident that the brick work had lost some definition due to 'smearing'.
Being brutally honest my 12.3MP D5000 exhibits sharper and less noisy pics than this new D3200.

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nexus7 4 12 Australia
31 May 2012 5:35AM
Still no exposure bracketing - what a shame.
I'll stick with my trusty D60 for a while longer.
Niknut e2
4 542 60 United Kingdom
3 Jun 2012 3:29PM
Managed to take a few test shots a week or two back, & came away a little
disappointed.......
The exposures were spot-on, but at ISO 400 & upwards there's a fair amount
of Chroma Noise, & not just in the shadows.
The images weren't particularly sharp either, going really soft into the corners, with
bad colour fringing, getting worse toward the edges....but this could be the standard
18-55 zoom.....so it really needs top-class glass for best results !!!
The body & grip are rather too small for my large hands, it felt like a 'toy' ?
The menu on the rear screen was also dissappointing, though I suppose it's aimed
at the 'entry-level' user.......
No dedicated ISO or Bracketing buttons either.....

Perhaps I was expecting too much ??....but it's not for me !!.Sad
kodachrome 2 463
4 Jun 2012 9:11AM
If i'm right, it looks like there will be a 5200 [probably with the same 24mp sensor] some time soon to replace the 5100. The 5100 was renowned for high IQ, so I hope the 5200 does not show the same dissapointing noise levels. Mind you, I'm not that interested because the 3100 & 5100 bodies are too small for me. The Samsung NX11 is small but much nicer to hold than the 3200. Nikon seem to come out with small DSLR's but they feel too bulky at the same time.

Sony got the message when they replaced the ridiculously small SLT A55 with the better sized A 57 after poeople had complained. Check the reviews
Kodachrome
6 Jun 2012 12:54PM

Quote: If you're on a slim budget, then the Nikon D3100 is still available, with a much lower resolution sensor

To be fair, the 3100's sensor, has a little less resolution, not a lot less. To double the resolution of the 3100, the 3200 would need to have more than 56 MP. 14 MP is more then enough resolution to make finely detailed large prints.
6 Jun 2012 7:38PM
This Camera is clearly aimed at fooling the first time DSLR buyer. Megapixels are the only thing most of them understand and are surely going to fall for this 24Mp Marketing. I can understand on a full frame, but on an APS-C Sensor, 24Mp is surely going to have its downside visibly the noise that you are all talking about.

In fact one among the first sample picture from this Camera of a Landscape (8 or 12MB file, I don't remember exactly) that Nikon posted on their Website was taken at a very low ISO and was so terribly grainy with lack of details when exploded to 100%, it left me wondering about the quality of this equipment. Nikon have cleverly replaced them with newer ones!

It is a known fact that higher Megapixels on a small sensor has a lot of problems, pro level cameras like the 7D have some technology to cope with it, I am sure its not a secret to Nikon, but I doubt whether that Technology has gone into this Camera.

Besides who asked for this anyway? By incorporating an unwanted Technology into this Camera, they have not only reduced the shooting speed, but have lost the reputation that Nikon have always been known, the "Quality of the Image".


Blue
kodachrome 2 463
7 Jun 2012 7:29AM
If you speak to Nikon 'off camera' they will tell you that 12mp is where every thing comes together. Its the best combination, for low noise, high definition, high dynamic range.
Their 16mp cameras also perform brilliantly, but according to some reviewers, things start to go down hill above that.

Blue, your dead right. I witnessed a sale in my local Jessops and the customer could not decide between a Canon 600D [18mp] or a Nikon D5100 [16mp], the shop keeper clinched the deal by saying the Canon had 2mp more than the Nikon and the guy walked out with Canon. Hmmm
15 Jun 2012 3:11PM
Great review Daniel, very detailed.

Have you guys tried comparing the D3200 with other cameras? I'm having a hard time deciding, based on what I read at nikon d3200 vs d5100
btobey Junior Member 2
15 Jul 2012 12:55PM

Quote: This Camera is clearly aimed at fooling the first time DSLR buyer. Megapixels are the only thing most of them understand and are surely going to fall for this 24Mp Marketing. I can understand on a full frame, but on an APS-C Sensor, 24Mp is surely going to have its downside visibly the noise that you are all talking about.

In fact one among the first sample picture from this Camera of a Landscape (8 or 12MB file, I don't remember exactly) that Nikon posted on their Website was taken at a very low ISO and was so terribly grainy with lack of details when exploded to 100%, it left me wondering about the quality of this equipment. Nikon have cleverly replaced them with newer ones!

It is a known fact that higher Megapixels on a small sensor has a lot of problems, pro level cameras like the 7D have some technology to cope with it, I am sure its not a secret to Nikon, but I doubt whether that Technology has gone into this Camera.

Besides who asked for this anyway? By incorporating an unwanted Technology into this Camera, they have not only reduced the shooting speed, but have lost the reputation that Nikon have always been known, the "Quality of the Image".


Blue

I use the 7D and the D800E and I can say that the Nikon D3200 is the best APS-C sized sensor I have used. I think it is funny how you are bashing mega pixels. The reality is that mega pixels are still useful, especially when considering higher ISOs where noise is generated at higher frequencies with more MP. Then you can resize/resample the image and produces a cleaner image.

Of course at higher ISOs noise is not the only concern, dynamic range suffers, but the D3200 does well.

Overall, the D3200 is an impressive camera, and I find it odd how you dislike it based on some samples you found on Nikon's website. I have shot with it and find its image quality top notch.

Brian

Quote: This Camera is clearly aimed at fooling the first time DSLR buyer. Megapixels are the only thing most of them understand and are surely going to fall for this 24Mp Marketing. I can understand on a full frame, but on an APS-C Sensor, 24Mp is surely going to have its downside visibly the noise that you are all talking about.

In fact one among the first sample picture from this Camera of a Landscape (8 or 12MB file, I don't remember exactly) that Nikon posted on their Website was taken at a very low ISO and was so terribly grainy with lack of details when exploded to 100%, it left me wondering about the quality of this equipment. Nikon have cleverly replaced them with newer ones!

It is a known fact that higher Megapixels on a small sensor has a lot of problems, pro level cameras like the 7D have some technology to cope with it, I am sure its not a secret to Nikon, but I doubt whether that Technology has gone into this Camera.

Besides who asked for this anyway? By incorporating an unwanted Technology into this Camera, they have not only reduced the shooting speed, but have lost the reputation that Nikon have always been known, the "Quality of the Image".


Blue

I myself am currently looking for my first DSLR and have read so many reviews and having read your comment on this review I'm interested to find out your opinion for a first timer. What Nikon should I be currently looking at buying?? I was looking at the D5100 but I read a review saying to go for newest technology, the noise issues with the D3200 are my only doubt.

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