on December 9, 2015
This day-and-age there are literally hundreds of cameras to choose from. The easy choice is to go out and buy what your professor or your friends have, or just get what's advertised the best or what looks cool. Honestly, if you are an amateur photog then you're going to take perfectly fine pictures with any DSLR in the mid-range level. My question is, do you need to spend 200, or 300 more on a camera that you can get exactly the same specs or perhaps better quality out of a DSLR that is cheaper?
I found this site justafax.com/dslr and what's great about it is that it literally does a side-by-side comparison of the top 12 cameras in this category, based on all of the factors that should affect your purchasing decision.
I found the information on justafax.com/dslr extremely helpful, especially in comparing the types of desires and features I was getting for my $. I think you owe it to yourself to check it out, the info is very concise and easy to read and should help inform your purchase. It's not a cheap purchase, so do your homework!
Good luck guys, I hope you find the camera of your dreams.
on May 8, 2012
Like many folks, I pre-ordered the D800 the same day it was available. Alas, Nikon totally blew the market analysis vs production vs. supply chain formula. After waiting 2 months, I had to leave the country before Nikon got it's D800 act together. I needed a beat-up D90 replacement camera, and the D3200 seemed like a decent place-holder. I quickly ordered one before they were back-ordered too! Sure, the D3200 is DX, not FX. Sure, it is not nearly as flexible. Sure, it can only AF with newer lenses. BUT, you can buy about 4-D3200's for the price of a D800, AND it comes with a decent kit lens for $699!
The tutoring graphical-based menu system is geared more to beginners, which I am not, so I find it maddening. Most will love it, since it is somewhat educational, and offers a great variety of pre-sets to take creative shots easily.
It is amazingly light weight - lighter than most lenses! It is very quiet. The AF could be faster, but it's plenty fast enough. When you dig deeper, you shockingly find that the D3200 has many advanced internal features from the highest-end cameras (D800 & F4). The high-res LCD rear screen, the EXPEED 3 image processing engine, and a new 24MP sensor. The EXPEED 3 image processing engine allows the D3200 to perform at an altitude unheard of for a so-called entry level camera. Nikon's Active-D dynamic range enhancement at 24MP at 4 frames per second requires substantial in-camera processing power.
I bought this camera primarily for still photography. With the proper lenses & technique, the results are stunning. Low-light/high ISO performance is far beyond what you should expect at this level camera. Candle-lit face images are noise-free, and look great. Still life's on a tripod at ISO 100, have more resolution that ANY DSLR I have ever used, with very little shadow noise. In short, I might not accept my D800 when it becomes available. I might use the D3200 longer than I thought, (waiting for the 24MP FX D600 for $1999 later this year -- my guesses on price & stats & date)...or, just keep using the D3200. If it breaks (I'm hard on cameras), I'll just buy a new one.
Bottom line -- the D3200: super light-weight, very quiet, super high resolution (& low noise, high dynamic range, superb colors), incredible HD video with slow motion. It is no doubt THE most amazing DSLR value on the planet!
5/14/12 UPDATE: I've now shot 100s of images, using lenses from 11 mm to 600 mm. I've learned a lot. Super-high resolution cameras are a new arena for most of us. On the surface, one automatically thinks you will get images with twice the resolution (12MP vs 24MP). Not so. MP resolution is measured linearly, so the increase while significant, is less than doubled. More importantly, when you enter the hi-res camera stratosphere, photographic technique & lens choice are critical. While these high MP cameras are capable of amazing results, you have to work to get absolutely ALL the MP's this camera has to offer. Do not blame the camera if your initial results are less dramatically sharper than your old 6-8-12MP Nikon. It's probably you...
BTW, the Nikon 18-55mm is a decent lens, but it doesn't do this imager justice. You can get better results, with better glass. The excellent f1.8 35mm DX Nikon on this camera makes a super-light weight compact package you can carry all day long, producing super images. A 60 year-old Nikkor Q 200mm f4, $70 or so on eBay, produces stunning results if carefully used on Manual, on a tripod.
Set-up a table with clean background and a few artifacts on it. Use the sharpest lens you have, at f 8, on a sturdy tripod, perpendicular to the table, Shoot the scene with the in-camera flash on both old & new camera bodies. You will see the difference easily when images from both cameras are compared side by side, enlarged to 100%.
How does this translate to everyday casual shooting? Not easily. Sub-par technique still results in sub-par images no matter what camera is used. If you are a beginner looking for the best entry-level DSLR ever made, all of this won't matter -- grab a D3200 and shoot away! Just note that the D3200 is capable of world-class imagery. If it takes more effort to take photographs of this caliber, it's a good thing -- the D3200 forces you to up your game to get there!
5/5/13 UPDATE. It's been a year. I have a D800 and a D3200. Yes, there are many differences between the two. One is at the high end of the spectrum, the other, entry level. When I'm shooting commercially, or seriously in any way, it's the D800. It is a superb camera, if you own glass that can fully exploit the 36MP sensor, and your technique is solid. For everything else, I use the D3200. Why? It's light and compact. You can easily carry it around all day, with the f1.8 35mm, and hardly know it's there. If that lens isn't wide enough, shoot a 3-frame series and stitch them together in Photoshop. Again, with good glass and technique, the results are very, very good. D800 territory? No, but few would notice. The D3200 is a pleasure to use, and handles fast enough for most kinds of photography. You can use old manual Nikkor lenses easily, albeit with a bit more effort. With the focus confirmation dot in the viewfinder, manual focusing is easy. Exposure can be guessed and adjusted using the great hi-res LCD. I recently had to shoot an emergency-rush job covering a politician's speech. All I had in the car was the D3200, the 35mm f1.8, and an old, sharp 100mm f2.8 E Nikkor -- my normal in-car-at all-times stash. The setting was indoors, in a bright garden area -- no flash allowed. I was surrounded by folks with Nikon D4's and $1500 lenses. I got a few looks....LOL. I boosted the ISO to 1600, used the $50 100mm @ f4 @1/125th, and the results were great, published in several places. The D3200 is a great camera for the money, I like it more now than when I first bought it!
on May 12, 2012
I had no plans to buy this camera, but eventually had to find a solution while waiting for my D800 to be delivered. I kind of felt, I could get some training by shooting high megapixel images on this entry level camera.
My first outing after the camera arrived was to some birdpark with absolutely no prior preparation. The manual is still in the box, only charged the battery overnight and brought a selection of lenses in addition to the kit lens.
First surprise, even the kit "plastic" lens performs really nicely on this camera. Due to the nature of the objects of interest, the remaining shoots were done on a 28-300mm.
I was accompanied by an experienced bird photographer and we took turns with the camera. Both made the following observations: From the angle of experienced Nikon users, this camera offers everything in terms of menus and dials to set the camera up the way one is used to from D90, D7000, D300s level cameras. This came as a surprise, as the D3200 does not have the front dial that we both were used to and familiar with. Nikon has done an surprisingly good job in making the menus very easy to access and after a short while, we where entirely concentrated on the shoot and only occasionally reminding ourself that this was "only" an entry-level DSLR.
At the same time, we were impressed how nice the software is tailored to the needs of a potential beginner, gently guiding him towards to goal of making better photos along the way.
The LCD screen on the back is a huge step forward from previous models, as it allowed to effortless pre-screen the shots taken. I was even carrying a laptop computer to better inspect the initial images, but after a short while we only resorted the the built-in screen.
The biggest surprise was however the image quality after we analyzed our initial >350 photos on a large monitor. The yield of usable photos was right out of the box very high, which reiterates the ease of use of this camera and the great auto-focus system (despite only 11 sensors). Also the smallish size of the body turned out to be less problematic, even with a bigger lens attached to it.
We found the image quality obtained to be absolutely stunning, the sharpness of the images was "picture perfect". Colors just the way one would expect them, as is the hall mark of any Nikon camera. Even small birds could be cropped from the 24 MP resulting in usable 7 MP images. Post-processing was a thrill and resulted in a substantial number of images clearly qualifying as publication quality.
Having seen both, the best and the worst in Nikon cameras, I can verify that this entry level DSLR is a keeper. Even though never planned, it will stay in the collection as a second body and now serves as the main camera until the D800 arrives.
If an entry level camera already is this good, what may be expected of the upcoming updates of the other DX models, the likes of D5100, D7000 and the D300s?
on May 10, 2012
I only really purchased this as a studio cam. Don't need AF performance for that, nor high ISO's, but do need great resolution. So, with trepidation and reserve, I decided to try this one. I am coming from D700's, D3's, D7k's and other as my point of reference. I shoot for a living.
Resolution is excellent, especially when coupled with the 40mm macro from Nikon. I have shot a few hundred shots now and am very happy in that regard. The menus are simple enough that you can work them out if you already know Nikon's systems for menus. AF performance is great for this kind of body. Using my 17-55 with it, I could acquire focus only slightly slower that with the D7000. I tried in lower light to see how that worked, and while you could tell it was slower, it was not too bad. Every shot I have taken bar one (black dog in a dark room), was in focus as intended. So, AF is good for this kind of body. I like the layout of the controls too, everything was where it was expected to be.
Small body means uncomfortable grip. However, that is what was expected, so I don't really think this is a "bad" for this camera. I expect a person with smaller hands will thoroughly enjoy that aspect. Lenses (all but smaller ones) are front heavy and fell off balance. Pop a 70-200 VR on this and it is silly unless you carry/hold it by the lens primarily. Lastly, there is no AF fine tune, but.... I have not found the need on even one of the lenses I will use it with to make any adjustments, so not too bad a thing.
Get one if you want it for landscape, low speed portraits (esp families) or for product/architecture. I highly recommend it.
on September 26, 2013
I am a professional photographer, trained by the military to shoot under the worst conditions and get a usable image.
Comfort, lightweight and reliability are the top requirement meant for me in a camera. Image quality is of course the top priority.
The D3200 has each of these and then some.
My equipment that I own range from 35mm Pentax K1000 to the Nikon F1.
I shoot anything that moves and everything that doesn't, with abundant light or none at all.
I usually carry around $4000 in equipment wherever I go.
I saw the D3200 and it's features and took a chance buying it, not knowing the quality I would get but if worse came to worse, one of my daughters would get it if it failed to meet my standards.
I still have it.
As a matter of fact, I gave my D7000 to my daughter and kept the D3200.
I recently started shooting the high school football games for the newspaper as I always do in the fall and brought the D3200 with me for a test run on a scrimmage game.
The stadium lights were a joke and I eventually moved my ISO up to 3200 with a 2.8 70-200mm.
I uploaded the images later and I just could not believe my eyes.
Every shot was razor sharp
, color corrected perfectly and noise free.
I continued shooting football with the 3200 and when homecoming came around I was able to capture beautiful shots of both the game and court.
While I am not willing the relinquish the rest of my collection, I can say that I haven't picked up anything else since purchasing the D3200.
I can't believe this is considered an entry level camera.
If I have to put a complaint in my review, it would be the fact that the LCD screen is stationary. I never use the swivel screens on my other models but it would be nice knowing that I could if I had to.
Do yourself a favor. Take my word as a pro since 1980 and get the less expensive D3200 and spend the savings on a faster tele-lens.
This is a no-brainer.
on March 13, 2014
This is my first DSLR camera, I'm amazed by its quality. 10/10 with Roberts LP and AMAZON! I did a LOT of research (about 3 months of it) since I wanted to make sure that I will be buying the best out of the best according to my money range, and I'm pleased to say that I made the BEST decision. The User Manual is great, tells you everything that you need to know, it's like your wingman for the camera. You gotta love what Nikon did with this product, it has an amazing resolution (I'm talking about the 18-55 lens) and for a beginner like me, it's perfect. I will buy better lenses in the future. Oh by the way, YOU NEED TO TRY THE VIDEO OPTION, the recordings are incredible, If you have an independent band, know how to work with Adobe programs, know a little about lighting and setting a good background, this is the camera for your first professional video. Cheers!
on November 24, 2014
I gave this camera to my girlfriend as an anniversary gift. I've never owned a DSLR camera before - heck, my only camera for the past decade has been a cell phone. She had dabbled in SLR film photography prior to this, though, and had a much better idea of what she was doing.
My first impression of this camera was more or less "wow... I can actually take pictures in low light without a flash." The ability to actually capture what one sees naturally is a pretty huge deal. This may seem pretty stupid to more experienced photographers, but it was a brave new world to me.
The instructions which come with the camera are very clear, and seem definitely written for someone who has never played with a "real" camera before. There is not only a good explanation of the mechanical features of the camera (ie, which buttons do what) but also contain a decent crash course on manual photography. They explain the basics - aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and how each of the different settings configure these settings to produce a different quality of image. Starting with zero background information, I was able to develop a decent intuition based on these descriptions and some trial and error (ie - just taking a lot of pictures). Coming from a film background, my girlfriend had the same reaction - "It's nice to just be able to practice with the camera, get instant feedback, and not have to worry about film."
One of the complaints I've seen about this camera compared to the slightly more expensive models, is that the single thumb wheel is limiting, and slows down the photography workflow. I sort of disagree - at least for a beginner. First of all, the camera has a number of well placed modifier buttons - so if you set the camera to "manual aperture" mode, the thumb wheel will control the aperture by default and use the magic of DSP to set the shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO. However, if you need to override one of those settings, all you need to do is press the correct modifier button, and the thumb wheel will then control the corresponding setting until the modifier button is released. It works the same way in full manual mode, except then it then turns off all the automatic compensation features as well. I sort of like this mechanic, as each partial-manual mode provides a single dimension of control (for simplicity), but still allows the user to easily and quickly override the other settings if necessary, without turning the mode dial to a different position. I think it is a great mechanic for beginners since it provides a clear and easy to understand distinction between the various shooting modes, while still providing quick access to the rest of the settings. In that sense, I don't see it as a limitation, as much as I see it as a somewhat simpler way to learn the camera while also learning the finer points of photography. However, if you are already an expert, and understand the ins and outs of the Nikon hardware and software, then I could see it being a bit frustrating. I haven't had to play around inside the menus to control basic settings at all though, as some have suggested in other reviews.
In terms of build quality, what more can I say which has not already been covered? You definitely are not sacrificing mechanical or ergonomic quality when buying this camera over some of the more expensive ones. It feels solid, but light in the hand. All the buttons have a nice, firm, satisfying snappiness to them with no softness or ambiguity, and they are all placed in a way which makes sense. The action on the lenses feels like butter, and even though they are plastic - they feel sturdy and high quality. From what I understand, one's ability to shoot at low shutter speeds and small aperture is directly related to one's ability to balance and control the weight of the entire kit, so the attention to weight reduction which Nikon has put into this body and the lenses should directly translate to better pictures. Even the Nikon branded bag which comes with the bundle demonstrates an incredible attention to detail, as the interior is completely modular through clever use of velcro dividers, which allows the user to easily move and re-size the various compartments.
The photographs themselves are stunning. It's really difficult to put the experience into words. Just the ability to reliably capture and record what one sees opens a whole world of possibilities in terms of shooting. It is liberating in a way. Even if your goal is not to have your photographs published in National Geographic, and you just want to document your vacation for posterity, being able to do so simply and reliably makes casual photography much more enjoyable.
In conclusion - this is a great camera for a beginner, and has a ton of room to grow with the user. Sure, there are better sensors out there, and more feature-rich cameras, but for someone who's primary interest is to learn the basics, take fantastic pictures, and develop the hobby beyond what is possible with a point-and-shoot camera, it really seems like this would be difficult to beat in terms of price, quality and performance.
on September 24, 2015
There's not much that I can say that already hasn't been written, but this is an AMAZING camera for the price if you take the time to learn it and general DSLR concepts. This is my first SLR camera in 13 years (my last one was a film camera). I have been using point and shoots since then but I needed a DSLR camera for my work, and one that I wouldn't be afraid to abuse and use every day. Like most of you reading this review, I did tons and tons and hours and hours of research. Stop researching and just buy it.
After I received it, I walked around and starting taking pictures and quite frankly, most of them weren't any good. I was using the AUTO mode. Do yourself a favor. Don't ever turn that dial to AUTO. I started doing some research into DSLR concepts (I can't over stress enough understanding light and exposure...do your homework...read books, watch some YouTube videos, just learn the concepts!!!) and I quickly moved to aperture priority mode. My pics instantly became great and with time and depending on the situation, I use the full manual mode.
Another bit of advice: the 2 lens that come with D3200 are just fine. You will not quickly outgrow them if you use the camera's settings (and I have non-VR lens...trust me, they work GREAT!). But if you can spring another $200, do yourself a favor and get Nikon's fixed 35mm 1.8f lens. The results with that lens and this entry-level DSLR are amazing. It's become my primary walking around lens and stays on my camera more than 75% of the time.
I've attached a few photos that I took within less than a month of owning this camera. I highly recommend this great DSLR. Don't hesitate to buy!!
on July 14, 2012
This camera produces images on a par with the very best professional cameras that cost 6-10 times as much. However it does have some disadvantages. I'm going to list these first:
1) Lenses, the big one
It is crippled with older Nikon lenses. With most manual focus lenses, the meter won't function at all, not even as stop-down manual. You will get more function by mounting these lenses on a Canon using an adapter. Why Nikon cripple their cheaper cameras in this way is a mystery to me, but this is not for you if you own cherished Nikon lenses from the 35mm days.
It is not capable of autofocusing with older Nikon autofocus lenses (AF lenses). Only the newest "AF-S" lenses will autofocus.
The above are worse than they sound because even if you don't own Nikon lenses already, they still sell a lot of AF lenses and even a couple of manual focus lenses brand new, and don't have an AF-S equivalent. So you are restricting yourself to a smaller part of the Nikon lens range. However if you want manual focus, you can buy new manual focus lenses from suppliers like Zeiss or Rokinon that have the 'chip' which will allow the meter to work.
I am switching from a Canon system so the above aren't a big issue for me, but it surprised me - although old Canon FD lenses don't even fit on any new Canon, any Canon lens you can buy now will work on any Canon digital SLR.
[edited later - I am talking about full frame lenses - the EF-S lenses won't fit on a full frame camera]
2) Build quality
The camera is very small and light for a dSLR and built from plastic. I actually like this as I often carry the camera in a backpack, but if you want a camera you can throw around in the press pack, use in the rain or drop on the floor a lot, this isn't for you.
The viewfinder is less good than more expensive Nikons, it uses mirrors rather than a prism and lacks depth of field preview. This helps keep the weight down but means the image is less crisp and bright, and does not cover the whole frame.
The above three are true of any of Nikon's cheaper, sub-thousand-dollar cameras.
OK, now the good:
1) Image quality
...is superb. At ISO 100, it is better than almost anything from Canon, including some of their professional cameras, at low ISO, and only really beaten by the Nikon D800. Colors are rich and dynamic range is huge. Check out DXOmark and others if you don't believe me, but this is also my practical experience. If you crank up the ISO the more expensive cameras start to outperform it, but it is still perfectly usable.
2) Very small and light
Great if you carry it with you a lot while doing other things.
3) Surprisingly fast
AF is quick with the right lens, and will take 4 shots a second easily even with the huge megapixel files.
4) Good ergonomics
For a small camera, all the important controls are easy to find and use while the camera is at your eye.
5) Good quality included lens
This is important because a lot of cameras are sold with a sub-standard lens but this is a good one. The sensor is so powerful, though, that it does reveal limitations of this lens and you will get better results from professional grade lenses- however these start at about twice what this camera costs together with the 18-55mm zoom.
Altogether, it takes incredible pictures, so unless you have lens issues as noted above, highly recommended.
on May 30, 2012
I was planning on purchasing a Nikon D7000, but then found out about this camera. Reading on the Nikon Rumors site, it appears that the D7000 may be replaced with a higher MP sensor (24.2 - same as the D3200) sometime this fall.
Not wanting to wait, I thought I'd give the D3200 a try. I still had to wait a bit, but finally got one from Amazon for $699 with Prime.
This thing is NOT a toy!! It is a serious piece of camera gear, and if you spend time getting to understand all it can do, it will pay off handsomely with incredible pictures. I would also recommend getting a good Digital Image Management program to get the most out of your pictures (I'm using Adobe LightRoom 3).
Doing some test shots with the D3200, those extra MegaPixels DO count, if you know what you are doing. My brother-in-law (who just bought a Nikon D800 for $3,000 with no lens) was surprised at a shot I took at 6000x4000 JPG resolution, hand-held with available light at 1/20th of a second with the "stock" lens that comes with the camera. You can blow the picture up to 36" and still not see any blur! You can get even HIGHER quality pictures by shooting in RAW format....
Exposure bracketing is the only thing missing, IMO, but if they threw that in NOBODY would buy the D5100 or D7000 - it's that good.
P.S. Make sure you get a HIGH Quality memory card to go with this camera. I got the SanDisk Extreme 32GB 45MB/s SDHC Flash Memory Card (from Amazon, of course) and it's a great combo for burst shooting or HD Video use.