Body & Design continued

Viewfinder size and crop

One figure hidden away in every SLR's spec is the size of the viewfinder (often in a format that makes comparison between competing models impossible). The size of the viewfinder is a key factor in usability - the bigger it is, the easier it is to frame and focus your shots, and the more enjoyable and involving process it is.

Because of the way viewfinders are measured (using a fixed lens, rather than a lens of equivalent magnification), you also need to take the sensor size into account, so the numbers in the diagram below are the manufacturer's specified magnifications divided by the respective 'crop factors'.

The viewfinder of the D3200 is basically the same as its predecessor, and offers coverage of 95% and a magnification of 0.8X. These numbers might not mean much, but in normal shooting, the D3200 offers a reasonably large, bright finder which compares well to its entry-level APS-C format peers. It's very marginally larger than the Canon EOS 1100D's (0.48x) and marginally smaller than the Pentax K-r's (0.54x), but it's not a patch on the finders in Nikon's D7000 and FX-format D800, partly because the D3200 uses a pentamirror, rather than the brighter but more expensive pentaprism found in the higher-end models.

This is what 95% coverage looks like - as you can see, a portion of the image area is not shown in the viewfinder, but for normal day-to-day use, it doesn't matter much. What it might mean, however, is that every now and then, a scene element might just creep into one of the corners of your shot that you didn't see when you were taking the picture.

Body elements

The D3200's ports are ranged down its left flank. From the top, these start with a microphone input (still relatively rare in a product at this level), followed by the USB/AV port, an HDMI connector and a GPS/wired remote socket.

The optional WU-1a Wi-Fi adapter pushes into the USB/AV port, requiring the large rubber door to remain wedged open while it's in use.
On the rear of the D3200 is the second of two IR receivers on the camera - a welcome return, following the omission of wireless triggering from the D3100.
Unlike some entry level models, the Nikon retains a separate door for its memory card, so there's no need to fiddle around in the battery compartment every time you want to grab some pictures off the card.
The D3200's hotshoe is compatible with all of the flashes in Nikon's current Speedlight range. Not only does this allow you to get more power than the built-in flash but it also opens up the opportunity to create and control a group of flashes wirelessly (something that the D3200 cannot do on its own).
The D3200's battery compartment is neatly slotted inside its handgrip, and is accessible via a hinged door on the base of the camera.
A tripod socket sits in line with the lens axis, and far enough away from the battery compartment door that changing the battery when the camera is mounted on a tripod shouldn't be a problem.
The D3200 uses an EN-EL14 battery, offering 7.7Wh. This is rated at 540 shots per charge, according to standard CIPA testing methodology

(CIPA figures may not reflect how many shots you get but are useful for comparing one camera to another)