By all accounts, Nikon had a great year in 2011, topping both the DSLR and compact camera charts. The former came via the Nikon D3100, the company’s entry-level offering with a 14.2 million pixel sensor, which is a great way in for those looking to get serious about their photography.
- APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
- 3.0-inch screen, 921,000 dots
- 1080p video capture
There’s lots of interesting technology crammed into the relatively small body of the Nikon D3200, including things that have trickled down from its more expensive bodies.
These include features such as the Expeed 3 processing engine, which promises to deliver quicker processing, low noise and a range of frame rates for Full HD video recording. But it is of course that 24.2 million pixel sensor that is likely to be the most headline-grabbing feature, coming just weeks after the unveiling of Nikon’s other high-resolution camera, the Nikon D800 (with 36 million pixels).
Coming from a company that used to profess that 12 million pixels were “enough”, it’s likely that some will scoff at the hike in pixel count, but Nikon is keen to point out the cropping potential that such a high resolution offers. This means that users who are unlikely to invest in a second, longer focal length range can crop into images post-capture and still retain a large enough pixel count for high-quality images.
Aiming itself so squarely in the entry-level user, improvements made to the Guide Mode are something Nikon will be understandably keen in order to shout about. On the Nikon D3200, new guides including Reds in Sunsets have been added, which – along with the original guides – is designed to help customers to achieve the best possible image quality without necessarily having to have a huge amount of photographic knowledge. Helpfully, the updated guide now has more reference pictures. These change as the settings are adjusted to show the typical impact. Another feature that’s likely to appeal to the intended target audience is the option to purchase an additional Wi-Fi adaptor, the WU-1A, which connects the camera to smartphones and tablets for remote shooting and uploading images to social networking sites.
A number of retouch options have already been included in the camera, including the capability to straighten and crop images and add digital art filters following the shot has been taken.
- 4fps burst shooting
- Built-in flash
- 95% viewfinder coverage
First impressions of the Nikon D3200’s performance are good, and we think this camera is likely to appeal greatly to novice shooters. And because it has a few features that enthusiasts will also appreciate, they won’t need to upgrade too quickly as they gain experience.
On the whole, the camera’s automatic white balance system seemed to do a good job of measuring the scene and produces mostly accurate results.
In some daylight situations the camera produces slightly cooler images than is preferable, but, as usual, you have the opportunity to choose the white balance in-camera if you think that’s going to be a problem.
One niggle, however, is the screen output. It seems to favour cooler, greenish tones – giving the impression that an image is a lot cooler than it is in reality.
Matrix metering does a good job in the majority of occasions, struggling a little in high contrast or mixed lighting conditions. The option to change metering modes is, as you might expect, just a little hidden away in the menu system.
One of the benefits of having a 24 million pixel sensor may be the ability to crop into an image and still retain a high-resolution output. This is useful when shooting something further away than the reach of your lens.
Cropping is available in-camera, and it’s relatively easy to apply, negating the need to do much on a computer once the image is downloaded.
We can see the option to straighten horizons being particularly appealing to users. We would have liked to have seen the ability to add ratings from within the camera, making it easier to see which images to ditch and which to keep, but perhaps this is something Nikon could consider for future models.
Check Out: Best Nikon D3200 Lenses
For beginners looking to get a bit more creative with their photography, Nikon’s innovative Guide Mode, brought over from the D3100, is a real boon, while of course, the Nikon D3200 includes options for those wanting to explore manual and semi-manual exposure modes further down the line. It’s now been overtaken by both the D3300 and D3400, so unless you can find the D3200 at a real bargain price, your best bet is to go with either of these. Or if you can stretch your budget a little further, take a look at either the D5300 or D5500, with both offering vari-angle screens.