Customer Review

1,888 of 1,955 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing camera - D800 replacement?, May 8, 2012
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This review is from: Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Black) (Electronics)
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!
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Comments

Tracked by 32 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 191 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 17, 2012 7:03:40 AM PDT
Billy says:
Hi,

As for your update review on May 14, I'm not sure what you are saying. I'm trying to read between the lines. Are you saying "BUY a better lense" than what is offered with the package?

In other reviews of other cameras, I've seen the more professional reviewers say that one should buy the best glass possible. Do you think that with this camera?

Thanks,
Bill

In reply to an earlier post on May 17, 2012 8:08:16 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 17, 2012 8:28:39 AM PDT
Waikiki says:
Hi Billy - Well, I was trying to avoid a technical discussion of high MP imagers and lens diffraction. I am a professional, and have been for 30 yrs. The kit lens is actually one of the best kits lenses ever made. It is sharp. BUT, when you get into the 24-36MP arena, things change. Few lenses can truly reproduce everything the imager has to offer unless you are very methodical in your approach (and this is where lens diffraction vs high MP small imagers comes into play -- anything shot below f6.3 on a D3200, or f8 on a D800, the lens itself will begin to degrade the image slightly, with f22 at the bottom end). If you are methodical, the results are incredible. If you aren't, they aren't. If you can afford a few good prime (non-zoom) lenses, buy them used. It's a GREAT camera. So great, I am pondering what to do. I just got an email from Amazon saying my D800 is coming in a day (out of nowhere). So, what to do? I love how light and easy to use the D3200 is.....but I am hard on cameras and wonder about durability for somebody like me. I might just keep it, sell the D90, and use it as a back-up... Get one, you will not regret it...

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012 7:05:24 AM PDT
Billy says:
Hi Waikiki,

Thanks for the great info. I just got the okay from the boss this morning to buy the camera. I work for an engineering/architectural firm and need a good wide angle lense. I have Nikon D80 with the 18-55 kit lense, and have found it inadequate for most of my shots where I need wide. So before I buy the camera, I need to find a lense and price it, so I can give the boss one purchase request with one price. Can you recommend a particular lense (and possibly a reputable dealer of used lenses, since I only buy one camera every 5-7 years)? I am shooting things like 100,000 sq ft parking decks; 25,000 sq ft building exteriors; occasionally an interior or a architectural design element.

Thanks again for any help you can offer!

Billy

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012 5:18:16 PM PDT
Waikiki says:
Yes I can, because I own one. The Tokina 11-16mm is the one to get.
Make sure you get the 2nd version which has the AF motor for $599 on Amazon. Reviews everywhere are superb. Rugged, sharp, as good as any Nikon lens!
BTW, my D800 just showed up out of nowhere! Ahhhhhhhhh. I have a 2 week old D3200 and the above Tokina that I now don't need. I wish I could keep both, but I can't afford it. Thank god for Craigslist!

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012 7:32:57 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 23, 2012 10:22:30 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012 9:08:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 7, 2012 2:21:40 PM PDT
Waikiki says:
Sorry, I misspoke -- it's the Tokina 12-24mm F4 II. Make sure to get version II with the AF motor & better multi-coating (less lens flare).
It works with ALL Nikon's, including the D3200, D5100, D3100, D5000, D80, D70, etc. I get those 2 mixed up all the time since I have the 11-16mm f2.8 at work (which is bigger and heavier, but still a great lens). The 12-24mm is a more useful range, and the loss of 1 stop doesn't matter that much since the new cameras can go to very high ISO's so well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 1:48:21 PM PDT
R. Ting says:
Hi Waikiki,

I am an amateur photographer with a D300s and I am looking at the D800. I shoot anything and everything (studio portraits, products, landscape, occasional wedding, events, cars, my own travels, street, etc.)

I saw your post+comments and did you mean that when we get into the 24-36MP ... or higher arena, we need to watch out for which aperture (and at which zoom level for zoom lens) to use in a shoot? Which could translate for this D3200 that if we have a good lens but picked the worst performing aperture - e.g. largest - which can make the picture look less good?

I noticed from my photos that the best possible images do not necessary comes from the smallest nor the largest apertures.

Given your comments, I may in fact first review the capabilities of my own lens first ... and then decide if it is worth the leap to D800/D600 or just keep shooting with my D300s - which I enjoy a lot.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 7:43:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 5, 2012 7:44:08 PM PDT
SeeYouToo says:
I've heard the same thing and with this thing coming out its more confusing. I just upgraded to the 5100 and don't see where I truly need all those pixels. With the D-40 I was taking excellent shots and only reason I upgraded is to get more focal points and maintain quality after cropping. Guess it matters how technical you need to be and what you are planning to do with the photos. My D-40 still takes excellent sharp and nice color balanced photos. And let's not throw in Photoshop and those others in the mix. This thing will slow those programs down tremendously as experienced with photo downloads with the 5100. Comes down to money I guess. Do love the red though but that alone is not reason enough to upgrade. lol

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012 1:35:28 PM PDT
Waikiki says:
The D5100 is an excellent camera! If you like it, keep it, and ignore the MP race. 16.2MP is more than enough for anything smaller than a billboard, and, with the right software, maybe even that!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012 1:53:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 7, 2012 2:40:01 PM PDT
Waikiki says:
Aloha, Yes, the aperture is now a real factor to consider, especially above 12MP. It's hard to explain this because I'm not physicist! Diffraction is an optical effect which limits the resolution of your photography - no matter how many megapixels your camera has..... Unless you absolutely need depth of field, avoid apertures smaller than f8 on newer DSLRs -- you will soften your images by stopping down, especially f16-22-32. This is why many point-and-shoot cameras don't go past f8 (which I could never figure-out, until I finally understood there is a relationship between the size of the imager, it's pixel density, and the lens).
I have proved it to myself, now that I have a D800. With a 50 yr. old super-sharp Nikkor f4 200mm Q, I can count the hairs on my sleeping cat's nose at 100% view, hand-held f5.6--1/650. The same shot at f32 on a tripod & remote trigger was dramatically less sharp, f22 sharper, but nowhere near f5.6 -- test after test. On my new D800 & D3200, f8 or wider will be my new norm, unless I have no choice. This isn't a bad thing, because I now must jack-up my shutter speeds, which is another way to maximize sharpness!
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Waikiki
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