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Nikon D3200 Review

July 2012 | By Lars Rehm, Richard Butler
Buy on GearShopFrom $476.95


Preview based on a production Nikon D3200

The D3200 represents the latest generation of Nikon's entry-level DSLR offering. The camera's headline feature is inevitably the new 24MP CMOS sensor which makes it equal to Sony's Alpha SLT-A65, A77 and NEX-7 in offering the highest pixel count we've yet seen at the APS-C sensor size, and in terms of output resolution, second only to the full-frame professional-grade D800 in Nikon's entire range. More significant than the bare fact of the D3200's pixel count though is that it is available in camera with a starting price of $699 (the same launch price as the D3100 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-C G3, for comparison). The D3200 may not exactly be revolutionary, but it doesn't have to be. It just has to be competitive.

Pixel-count aside, the changes from the predecessor D3100 are subtle but, with 1080p30 video, a 920k dot LCD and the option to add an affordable Wi-Fi transmitter, there are clear benefits over the D3100's specification. As usual for Nikons at this level, the D3200 doesn't feature a built-in focus motor, and nor does it offer auto exposure bracketing. It also features a simplified version of the Active D-Lighting function that is now common across Nikon's DSLR range.

Also missing, oddly, are live view in-camera filter effects. Since Olympus introduced its Art Filters to the E-30 back in 2008, processing filters have become increasingly common on most cameras. And, while they're not an essential feature by any means, they're nice to have, especially in a camera at this level. Given that such effects are available in both the higher-level Nikon D5100 and the Coolpix P7100, their absence in the D3200 is unexpected. There is an option to re-process JPEGs, though, and apply several effects including simulated 'miniature' (tilt/shift) and 'selective color'.

Despite these omissions, the D3200 offers a compelling feature set for a camera in this class. We're especially pleased to see that you even have the option to trigger the shutter with an infrared remote - with the inclusion of sensors on the front and rear of the camera.

The inexorable rise of the mirrorless camera has undoubtedly put particular pressure on the entry-level end of the large sensor market. The smaller body sizes of mirrorless cameras, combined with their more compact-camera-like operation has helped win over some people who would otherwise have bought a DSLR, as well as drawing people away from high-end compacts. However, entry-level DSLRs still have a lot to offer - not least 'true' continuous autofocus that no mirrorless camera has come close to matching (aside from Nikon's own 1 V1 and 1 J1, which feature smaller 'CX' sensors).

Although its upgrades aren't necessarily the product of great leaps of ingenuity, the D3200 is a continuation of a carefully evolved - and tailored to suit its market - line of cameras, that has always offered good image quality and performance combined with well thought-out ease-of-use.

Nikon D3200 specification highlights

  • 24MP CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-6400 (plus ISO 12,800-equivalent Hi1 setting)
  • Expeed 3 processing
  • 3.0", 920k dot screen
  • Full HD 1080p30 video (with 25p and 24p options)
  • Microphone socket
  • Twin IR remote receivers
  • 4 frame-per-second continuous shooting
  • Guide mode

Compared to its peers:

Side-by-side against the Panasonic G3, it's immediately apparent the size trade-off you make to retain an optical viewfinder. In this comparison the mirrorless Panasonic has a slightly smaller sensor, but Sony's NEX and Samsung's NX models aren't much larger than the G3 while boasting APS-C sensors.
The D3200 is very similar in size to Canon's Rebel T3/EOS 1100D, with which it nominally competes. The T3, while a very likeable camera, looks very off-the-pace with its 12MP sensor, 720P movies and 230k dot screen.

Wi-Fi option (WU-1a)

Alongside the D3200, Nikon announced an optional Wi-Fi transmitter for the camera. The WU-1a clips into the USB socket of the D3200 and allows you to broadcast its images to smartphones and tablets running a Nikon app. The unit allows the camera's live view output to be streamed to the smart device and allows images to be shot remotely (at a distance of up to 49ft, but with no control over the camera's settings).

Initially an app will be available for Android phones and tablets, with an iOS version expected in fall/autumn 2012. We're told the app will allow either full-size or VGA-resolution images to be transferred from the camera, but we have yet to see how long it would take to grab a 24MP image. We would also like to see how securely the unit attaches to the camera, given that it sticks out of the side, and looks like it might be a little easy to dislodge. It also requires the port cover that reaches all the way up the camera's flank to be left hanging open all of the time that it's in use.

At the time of writing, we have not had a chance yet to use the WU-1a WiFi-adapter with the D3200. As soon as we can get hold of one we'll test it and update this review.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 9
ibrahimbeno
By ibrahimbeno (4 weeks ago)

thank you for this useful information, i really like the Nikon D3200, it's be the door of much people to photography world and i can said that it's the best for beginners, because it's simple - low price - 24.2 MP ...i creat a post about features of Nikon D3200 and why it's the best for beginners (see my profile)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
SUNNY PARAMUNDA
By SUNNY PARAMUNDA (1 month ago)

Its horrible to hear some bad news related with d3200 as i purchased it last week.I am a new one in SLR,and have less experience with SLR camera.Today i downloaded the update of firmware and finally decided to give up the attempt after reading the reviews related with the new update.Now i ordered for a 35 mm F1.8 prime lens.Now i think the move was totally foolish one

0 upvotes
dvalente
By dvalente (1 month ago)

Sunny,
I am a novice DSLR user as I have only used point and shoot cameras up until last year. Two days ago, I took my camera into Kenmore camera (our local store) as they asked to look this issue. I may have had a setting incorrect after the camera came back from Nikon Service. It appears to be working acceptably now with the 35mm, F1.8 lens. I will see if I can delete my earlier post. Keep in mind, you may need to send your camera to Nikon to get the autofocus adjusted (this is free during the warranty period)to work acceptably with F1.8. The other thing I realized is the focus system can have a hard time determining what to focus on in different lighting and in low contrast conditions (this may have contributed to my problem after the camera returned from service). I am still learning the camera and each new item I get (F1.8 lens in this case) is a new learning curve.

Dean

0 upvotes
ibrahimbeno
By ibrahimbeno (4 weeks ago)

Don't be sad, i always suggest Nikon D3200 for beginners, because it's teaches and encourages those who are new to DSLR technology.
i've created a comparison chart at http://nikond3200news.blogspot.com/2014/06/nikon-d3200-is-it-best-dslr-camera-for-beginner.html that compares the D3200 to the D7XXX serie,D5XXX and Canon cameras under 700$. don't make any buying decision till read it.

0 upvotes
dvalente
By dvalente (1 month ago)

I've had my D3200 for almost a year. I was happy with it until purchasing a 35mm F1.8 prime lens. I found at F1.8 the actual focus was behind the subject by about 4". I sent the camera back to the factory (warranty service) and had the autofocus adjusted. The focus is only slightly better than before. If you stick with the kit lenses, you won't notice this as you have a larger depth of field. It's possible not all D3200 cameras behave this way; mine does. If I use the prime lens, I start around F4 and don't go lower.

Comment edited 59 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
dvalente
By dvalente (1 month ago)

I would like to modify or delete this post but apparently, I can't do that. The post is correct except for after the camera came back from service. By the way, Nikon service did verify my focus issue was valid. The camera focuses properly at F1.8 now. I found the camera can struggle to determine what to focus on depending on lighting and sometimes the subject itself. It's possible this is normal. I am a novice photograhper and am learning my gear and it's limitations.

0 upvotes
gloomvision
By gloomvision (2 months ago)

i love it. im using the camera for filming.
im gonna let the camera speek for it self.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gnkwdy4xhS8?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

0 upvotes
FuduNYC
By FuduNYC (3 months ago)

I have been using this camera for 6 months now. Prior to this I had a D90 and I miss the LCD display and the extra control. It just takes a bit of getting used to.
The 24mp CMOS is very useful for crop-zooming. Got a good price on it in Dubai Duty Free.

0 upvotes
omarasl
By omarasl (9 months ago)

thanks a lot for this huge amount of useful information
actually in digital cameras world Nikon is my only choice

1 upvote
Total comments: 9