2,014 of 2,087 people found the following review helpful
Amazing camera - D800 replacement?
, May 8, 2012
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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