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Performance

Overall Performance

The Nikon D3200 has an updated processor compared to its predecessor, but the only area of operation where this update becomes noticeable is the continuous shooting mode. The new model is one frame per second faster than the D3100 (4 fps vs 3 fps) and while at a first glance this doesn't look like too much of an improvement it becomes more impressive if you consider the D3200's considerably larger file sizes. Despite combined JPEG and Raw file sizes of over 35MB, with a fast SD card the camera can sustain 4 frames per second continuous shooting speed for approximately 9 frames.

The D3200's AF system is the same as in previous generations. It's not the state of the art (and is considerably hobbled by the slow-focussing 18-55mm kit zoom) but very capable, and able to lock focus reliably, even in very low light. There are very few customization options but you can choose between four AF-area modes, including 3D-tracking. The latter doesn't offer the same kind of rock-solid reliability as the D800 or D4, but does a very job at tracking moving subjects, assuming the subject has some contrast. Overall the Nikon D3200 is a snappy and responsive camera that is fun to operate, and a standout performer in its class.

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

The Nikon D3200 is an entry-level DSLR, and as such, can't approach the same maximum framerates that make its higher-end stablemates so flexible but the camera's 4 frames per second is pretty much in line with what you would expect in this class of camera. It's worth noting that Nikon's semi-professional 36MP D800 also offers a maximum framerate of 'only' 4fps.

When shooting JPEGs only you can shoot at 4 fps up to 100 frames at which point you can start shooting again right away by releasing and re-pressing the shutter button. In raw mode you can shoot approximately 16 frames in one burst (9 when shooting raw+JPEG) which should be more than enough for most shooting situations. The D3200 is not meant to be a sports or action camera but it offers decent buffer size and speeds for its class.

Continuous mode

Timing
JPEG Large/Fine
RAW
RAW+JPEG Fine
Frame rate 4.0 fps 4.0 fps 4.0 fps
Number of frames 100 16 9
Buffer full rate n/a 2.0 0.9
Write complete n/a 2 sec 11 sec

All timings performed using a 64GB SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-I SDHC card (90MB/s).

With the D3200's large images files it is advisable to use a fast SD memory card, especially if you are planning to shoot bursts in Raw+JPEG mode. The SD cards slot makes use of the fastest cards that are currently available but the number of images in a burst decreases with longer write complete times if you use slower cards.

Autofocus speed / accuracy

Like all of Nikon's other entry-level models, the D3200 lacks an in-body autofocus motor. This means the camera won't focus with older non-AF-S Nikkor lenses, or third party designs which lack an built-in motor; something you need to bear in mind if you choose to expand your lens collection (and which limits your options on the second-hand market). Non-AF-S autofocus lenses will fit perfectly well, and be entirely functional with the exception of focus, which will be manual.

The Nikon D3200 offers 4 different AF-area modes for focusing in both modes viewfinder shooting and live view. However, when framing your image through the viewfinder you are limited to the AF-system's 11-AF-points. Focusing in live view is slower but the contrast detect AF system allows you to move your AF point anywhere in the frame.

Other than that the camera's 11-point AF-system is the same that we have seen on the predecessor D3100 (and indeed the D3000). Despite not offering the same number of AF-points or speed than mid-level or professional cameras it locks focus very reliably, even in very dark conditions. We couldn't find any 'false positives' amongst our several hundred sample we shot while working on this review.

The Nikon D3200's 11-point AF system locks the focus reliably, even in very low light shooting situations such as in this underground dungeon.

The 3D-tracking mode is also pretty effective at tracking moving subjects which is unusual in the entry-level class. This works best in combination with one of Nikon's better AF-S lenses as the with the standard AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 VR kit zoom, the focus speed is too slow to be really useful for shooting action.

In live view focusing is of course a totally different affair. Despite some increase in speed over earlier implementations the contrast detect system in live view is still significantly slower than the standard phase detection system. Often you'll also encounter some focus hunting, especially in low light. That said, while in early live view days the AF used to be almost prohibitively slow it is now perfectly usable and makes live view a much better shooting option.

Battery life

The Nikon D3200 comes with the same EN-EL14 lithium-ion battery pack that was used in the predecessor D3100. It's got a capacity of 1030 mAh which, according to Nikon, is good for 540 shots (CIPA standard) when shooting in single-frame drive mode. If you switch to continuous shooting mode you can even get 1800 shots out of it, measured using Nikon's own standard procedures.

In real life we found the battery life to be good enough for a typical day of stills shooting with some video capture and image review in between but you'd want to charge the battery overnight if you are planning to do the same thing again the next day. As there is no optional battery grip available from Nikon for the D3200 a spare battery might be a good alternative who shoot a lot without overnight recharging opportunities.

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Comments

Total comments: 11
BobFoster

It may be a new model with a few new bells and whistles but I see that the IQ is still rated at 4.5. To me that means that adding 10 megapixels is just a sales gimmick. The extra megapixels seems to be the Nikon choice of improvements to induce hobbyists to upgrade. Do they think we are such fools?

1 upvote
reanim888

Great power comes with great responsibility. High quality sensor is a bonus but at this resolution, you need better lenses to make the most of it. Entry level people may not even want to spend that much for any lenses… by the time they are happy with their skill and ready for investment in better lenses… they may also want a better body… so, yes, again for those who can afford it rather than really drawing people in to their DSLR range. For many beginner, I think price is one of the main issues.

1 upvote
ibrahimbeno

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 upvotes
Total comments: 11