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Customer Discussions > Photography forum

Nikon D3200 good enough?

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 26, 2013 8:04:47 AM PST
Elle says:
I am looking for my first DSLR. While I would like the D7000, I'm thinking of starting with a D3200 bundle that will include two lenses, the 18-55 and the 55-200, For about $800. What I need is a camera that will take good shots in medium to low light indoor situations and that has a fast shutter speed for outdoor pictures of close-ups that are often taken in high wind situations. There seems to be about $400 between steps up to the D5200, then on to the D7000. Am I right in thinking it's best to buy the lower-cost camera body in order to get more $$ for other lenses and accessories? Is the D3200 "good enough" for the person wanting to take good, even great, pictures but not wanting to overbuy?

Posted on Feb 26, 2013 9:55:04 AM PST
the d3200 is the most entry level nikon dslr, so it's features list is limited. it's a good starter camera, but may limit you in the long run. i started photography with the nikon d3100 and quickly outgrew it, and upgraded to the d7000. when you factor in upgrade costs, would have been cheaper to just start with the more expensive camera. but that's my experience, just sharing. the big question is how far will you take your photography skills/techniques? if you're going to get advanced, just get the d7000, you wont outgrow it easily. if you're more of a casual shooter, read my thoughts below to see if the d3200 is worthwhile to you.

what is most concerning to me on the d3200 is the 11pt auto focus system. it's a carry over from the d3100 and as a d3100 and d7000 owner, i can honestly say it's not that great. it's much better than a point and shoot for sure, but compared to the d7000's 39pt AF system, it's slow, especially in low light conditions. keep that in mind if you're going to be shooting sports/action shots as well. you'll get more keepers with the d7000's AF system for sure.

i've not seen many high iso d3200 images, so i can't comment on it's high iso performance. the d7000 is a very good low light camera, i speak from personal experience. i shoot high iso alot when flash is not allowed and i'm very happy with the results. there will be noise for sure, but i find the noise levels very acceptable for a DX camera. and with a bit of noise reduction in post production the images are very good. would i blow them up and print 20x30 prints with them? nope, probably not, unless it was for my own personal use. but do they still look great at 8x10 size? yes, very good. i have not processed any d3200 photos myself so i cannot say how it compares to the d7000 at high iso, just sharing my experiences with the d7000 at high iso. iso performance is key for low light shooting. so if you shoot alot of low light either get a camera with the best high iso performance you can afford, OR get a speedlight (flash).

a good speedlight can solve alot of your low light and AF problems. first, a speedlight gives you ample light on the go, so exposure levels are always good. second, the good speedlights have a built in AF assist lamp, which aids the camera's AF system achieve focus. this only works when the speedlight is mounted on the camera, but it's very very helpful to have. i'd suggest the nikon sb700. it's a very capable speedlight that's worth every penny. it's got a rotatable flash head so you can bounce light off of ceilings and/or walls, and you can get diffuser products that mount right on the flash head for when bouncing the flash isnt possible. my favorites are the rouge flashbenders, i always have them with me. now one really big benefit you get if you get the d7000 is the built in commander mode in the camera. what this allows is you to control your flash unit OFF CAMERA in full iTTL (auto mode for flash). off camera light is far superior to on camera, and the d7000 paired with a sb700 or sb900/910 make going off camera so easy. i have alot of friends that initally didnt want to have anything to do with speedlights when they were starting out, they thought it was too complicated. now they rarely shoot without them. so definitely think about a good speedlight.

lenses! ok my suggestion....dont do the lens bundle. you get a useful set of lenses for general photography, but you can get so much more out of your images with better lenses. i would suggest buying the body only for whatever camera you get, and get a good prime or two. if you have a chance, run over to a local store that has nikon dslrs and look for one with the 18-55mm kit lens attached. set the lens to 35mm, and look around with it, see how you like the frame. is it too wide? too tight? get a feel for it as if you could not zoom, you're stuck at 35mm. next repeat the process at 50mm. that's what having a prime lens is like. there is no zoom, they're set at a specific focal length, so you move your feet to zoom. i'd suggest looking at the nikon 35mm 1.8g and 50mm 1.8g. do the kit lens test and see which focal length works best for you. remember you're stuck with that focal length, no zooming, so make sure it's going to work for the bulk of your shooting. why get a prime instead of the 18-55mm kit lens? performance! the primes are both 1.8 aperture lenses, which means they have apertures that are significantly bigger than what the kit lens has. the aperture is an iris like thing in the lens that opens/closes to allow more or less light into the camera. the lower the #, the larger the aperture. anything at at 2.8 or lower is considered large aperture. the primes i suggest are 1.8 and will let in alot more light than the kit lens. AND! they're superior for depth of field control. google image search "bokeh". see the blurring of the foreground/background? that's a shallow depth of field, and it's due mainly to the use of large aperture lenses. the kit lens will not give you much in the way of background blurring, but the 35mm and especially the 50mm will give you wonderful blurring. it's a very useful way to seperate the subject from the background. so the 35 or 50mm lens would be your general purpose lens, and what you use for more close up subjects. if you also need alot of reach for far off shots, i'd suggest either the nikon 55-300mm vr or 70-300mm vr lenses. they're superior to the 55-200mm lens in the bundle. the 70-300 lens is the best consumer grade telephoto nikon makes, but it will cost you. the primes are relatively cheap. no matter which camera body you buy, make sure you invest in good lenses, they'll have the biggest impact on your image quality for sure.

another perk of the d7000 is it has a built in focus motor for the lenses, which allows you to buy and have autofocus with the older D series lenses. the D series lenses offer great performance at a discount as they have no internal focus motor. they rely on the camera body motor for autofocus. if you buy a d3XXX or 5XXX series camera, you must buy the G series lenses, as the camera bodies themselves have no autofocus motor. the G series lenses have those built into the lens itself. the price differences between D and G lenses isnt huge, but every bit helps. and there are some really cool D lenses that have not been updated to G series. this point isnt very important, but still worth noting. i'd give this the least amount of weight in your decision, in my opinion.

i know i sound like i'm bashing the d3200, but i do think it's a fine camera, but only for very basic users. i think it's best served for those who will keep it in auto, and wont try to push thier shooting techniques/methods. in the hands of a more advanced shooter it may feel very limiting. i know i felt that way with the d3100. the more advanced cameras like the d7000 are so feature rich you'd be hard pressed to really outgrow it's abilities. i'm very demanding on my photo equipment from a performance standpoint. i'll pixel peep and stare at images in post production for hours trying to get the best possible image. so take that into account when you consider my points. will you be so demanding? let us know what you get and how you like it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2013 11:07:42 AM PST
You need to decide what you will be photographing and then choose a camera that fits your budget and can do what you want to do. Easier said than done. The D3200 is a very capable camera for a first DSLR. If you do a lot of photography, yes, you will outgrow it. On the other hand, an experienced professional photographer could use it to make very good images, even with its limitations. Consider a reconditioned Nikon D5100 at about $420. Great deal now that the D5200 is announced. The D5100 has the same sensor as the D7000 and is good at higher ISO for low light shooting. It has fast shutter speeds too. I would start with a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 prime lens for under $200 (instead of the two lens zooms which are very slow at f/5.6) and use that until I got comfortable and good with it. Add lenses when you want to do something that your 35mm lens will not allow you to do. For example, some folks get a tele lens when they are able to walk closer to the subject. You only need a tele lens when you are shooting something at the edge of a river or cliff where you cannot walk closer to the subject. Walking is much cheaper and good for your overall health. When you feel you have outgrown the camera, keep it as a back up or give it as a gift to a younger family member or relative and get an upgraded model. You may want/need faster frame rate, better auto focus, more on body buttons that allow setting changes without diving into menus, better weather sealing or any number of things. I would suggest you put the camera in manual exposure mode and focus manually too. This way you will be more mindful of what you are doing and later switch to using aperture priority to control depth of field or shutter priority to have control of moving subjects as needed. All the Nikon DSLR cameras function very well in the hands of an experienced person. Whatever you decide, enjoy your photography.

Posted on Feb 28, 2013 8:58:19 AM PST
louly73 says:
Very helpful as this is also my question. I keep reading that you can't go wrong with the d7000 but I keep questioning if I NEED it. I think I'll just suck it up and get the body as I already have a good 50mm 1:1.8 lens from a film slr. Thanks for the helpful info.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2013 10:28:53 AM PST
EdM says:
If you have a 50mm f1.8 from a film SLR, then you NEED the D7000 over the D3200. The D7000 has a body lens motor, able to drive your older 50mm lens, which the D3200 lacks. With a D3200, you'd need to get a new AF-S 50mm lens to have autofocus, or you'd always have to do manual focus.

Posted on Feb 28, 2013 11:40:05 AM PST
S. Owens says:
I don't seem to remember Elle ever saying anything about having an old 50mm sitting around. Now louly73 may have the old film lens but I strongly suspect a new 50mm could easily be paid for with the cost difference between a d3200 and a d7000.

I don't know what you economic situation is but you should be able to take plenty of great pictures using a d3200 or Canon's equivalent if you were to go that way. You can definitely spend more on your camera body and get more features but the improvement in image quality often isn't worth the added cost (spending twice as much on a body will almost NEVER yield pictures that are twice as good) especially when you could use those saving to get things that will probably do more to improve your pictures.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2013 10:28:23 PM PST
EdM says:
I was replying to luoly73, as indicated by the "an earlier post" link in my post.

As to one being better, that relates to many factors. Generally, if someone has one old film lens, then they may have other old film lenses also. However, although I generally don't like to rely on "stats" comparisons, check this out and note some of the superior abilities of the D7000, as I see it.

"14 Reasons for the Nikon D7000"

"Appreciably faster shooting at highest resolution with AF ... 6 vs. 4 Frames per sec." This can be important for a lot of shooting, although not so much for landscape or studio portraits, e.g.

"Notably more cross-type focus points 9 vs 1" and
"... more focus points 39 vs 11"
These are both [but especially the cross points] quite important for accurate autofocus, generally, but especially in low light and for sports/action type shooting, e.g., or photojournalism [sometimes travel shots on the run...].

"Heaps wider dynamic range 13.9 EV vs 13.2 EV"
This is notable that the older sensor still has excellent quality, which will show to a minor degree in PQ. The noise figure is also slightly to the D7000's favor, but pretty negligible overall. Unless you do a lot of cropping of your images, the extra pixels of the D3200 really don't matter much, either.

"Definitely more battery power"
"Weather sealed"

To which I add that the D7000 has a metal subframe, so the camera body is more sturdy to go with some weather sealing [you can't dunk either in the water], more solid in your hands, but a bit heavier also. So ideally, try to hold each, to see which you prefer for both size and "feel".

OTOH, for plain old snapshots and without any older film era lenses, the D3200 has a lot for the money, and the kit is a pretty good deal. It is not that one is a bad choice; it's which will be better for a given person and how they shoot. BTW - that battery lifetime aspect is something that all digital camera shooters live with, and more power is better. With a D7000, I'd have a backup battery anyhow, but two backup batteries for the D3200, with the kind and amounts of shots I shoot.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2013 10:48:50 PM PST
In *very* general terms, a higher end body may give you a small bump in image quality (particularly in darker scenes) - though I certainly find it extremely difficult to guess what body was used to take a particular photo - but the bigger difference will be in features and overall performance which MAY give you a better chance of getting the shot you want. This may not be worth the extra money for casual photographers who are more than happy with the standard auto modes but enthusiasts who obsessively use the camera to its fullest may find themselves wanting to upgrade sooner rather than later with the lowest end model.

Posted on Mar 14, 2013 10:52:34 AM PDT
Matthew F. says:
Cheap camera and good glass will always give you better results than good camera and kit lenses. I have a couple kit lenses that I've tried to sell and can't but they're ok for backups. One day down the road when you decide to upgrade you will already have great lenses. Always buy lenses that are DX and FX compatible so if you do uprade to full frame you won't have to buy new lenses. If you want to save $$ check out the Tamron line.
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  8
Total posts:  9
Initial post:  Feb 26, 2013
Latest post:  Mar 14, 2013

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