Nikon D3200 Review

Introduction

The Nikon D3200 is an entry-level APS-C digital SLR, initially released spring 2012, boasts a 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor that provides double the resolution of its predecessor. At first glance, the D3200 looks identical to the D3100, similar size, shape, and layout. But, upon further examination, the improvements supplied make the D3200 a far superior camera and a solid successor. Nikon aimed the D3200 at the beginning photographer looking to purchase their first Digital SLR. People have continued to raise the question, should the beginning photographer go with the Nikon D3000 series or D5000 series? Well, today, we find out. 

Nikon-D3200-camera-body-specs

 

What are some of the goods, bads, and the uglies of the Nikon D3200?

Pros:

Image Quality

It still provides a reliable image quality. Both the detail and color accuracy of the images produced are acceptable considering the age of the camera. And pictures are regularly found to have ample detail even when magnified at a 1:1 or 4:1 ratio, which gives users the freedom to crop during post-production while still preserving details. 

Video Quality

Is found to be sufficient for casual needs with ample sharpness and accurate color reproduction. The camera offers 1080p video at 30 FPS and 720p at 60 FPS. Users also can manually adjust exposure, though limited, and the camera supports 20 minutes of continuous video recording. 

ISO Performance

Is acceptable, and the camera can shoot at ISO 3,200 with only moderate amounts of noise. Images up to ISO 1,600 images are found to be relatively noise-free and entirely acceptable for today’s standards. 

LCD Viewing

Has a 3 inch LCD that inherits the same resolution from Nikon’s high-end D4 and D800, making both manual focusing easier and reviewing critical details during playback a breeze. 

Ergonomics

The D3200 has excellent ergonomics and a button layout that is comparable to the Nikon D4 and D800. It also offers a dedicated Live View button, providing immediate access to Live View when needed. As well as a Function button that, when pressed, changes the default behavior of the adjustment wheel from Shutter Speed or Aperture to ISO. A necessity considering the camera only provides one adjust wheel. 

User Menu

It has a simple yet intuitive menu system. If you’ve used Nikon cameras previously, its menu and user interface will be familiar, even considering its age. Important note: the D3200 has a dedicated submenu for recent setting changes, and because of this, we can avoid the painstaking effort of crawling back through the menus to find the setting again. Thank god. Overall the camera offers great flexibility for adjusting both photo and video settings and how the camera operates.

Feature Set

Has a microphone input, providing the ability for users to attach external microphones for better audio capture if desired. Thankfully,  Nikon has included the ability to adjust and display audio levels during filming as well.

Nikon has created an optional accessory dongle, the W-1A, that gives the D3200 Wi-Fi ability. When installed, the W-1A allows users to transfer pictures, and videos wirelessly, and remotely control the camera from a paired device. This feature only works for android phones, however.

The D3200 has an improved burst rate over the predecessor, now offering 4 FPS as opposed to 3 FPS.

Includes a mode that is specifically designed to assist beginning photographers on best practices and settings when shooting in the field called GUIDE. Once in this mode, the D3200 walks you through all of the necessary settings and changes needed to capture a particular image.

Has the ability to shoot in a quiet shutter mode, reducing the amount of noise the shutter makes when closing. 

Cons:

Focusing

On this camera, while acceptable accurate inadequate light, is sluggish in comparison to other digital SLRs and even current Point & Shoot cameras. The D3200 only has 11 autofocusing points, which is relatively low in today’s standards, given how much improvement in AF performance has occurred since its original release. Focusing mainly during low light is also found to be weak and inadequate. Not only is AF performance slow, the focusing motor very loud as well. In all, we encourage using manual focusing whenever possible to avoid unnecessary focus hunting as the lenses struggle to lock onto the desired point. Which uses Nikon’s older generation EXPEED 3 processor.  

Dynamic Range

Has a relatively small dynamic range and ISO performance is okay, namely the result of the camera only having a native ISO range of ISO 100 to 6,400. Images are usable up until ISO 1,600, however, and even ISO 3,200, with the addition of minor post-processing. When compared to the dynamic range and performance available in entry-level cameras today, these figures are quite weak. 

Video Performance

During filming, the D3200 provides no continuous focusing option, which means you either have to utterly manual focus or half depress the shutter to change the focus point around the frame. Doesn’t offer continuous focus when shooting video. Changing focus is entirely manual by half-pressing the shutter.  Not to mention, the focusing motor is rather loud, creating unnecessary additional noise when filming. There’s no ability to adjust ISO either while shooting. You have to stop recording, then make that change and re-start. Overall, these facts make the D3200 a secondary camera in regards to video capabilities. 

Battery Performance

Is also weak. Nikon has opted for a smaller battery that remains only rated at 540 shots per single charge, low in comparison to today’s expectations.

Environment Sealed

It’s not weather sealed. If it’s raining, run. 

Nikon hasn’t included a rear proximity sensor that switches from the LCD to viewfinder automatically. Therefore, the camera has no way of knowing when the user is viewing the optical viewfinder.  As a result of this, you will find yourself struggling with glare from the LCD while viewing, especially when outdoors. 

Main LCD

The main LCD doesn’t rotate or articulate whatsoever, making composing video, self-portraits or shooting extreme angles all problematic. One way to get around this is by using the cameras included Mini HDMI port and connecting it to an external monitor and using that. A tedious solution to say the least but a working one. 

Feature Set

Nikon hasn’t included a rear proximity sensor that switches from the LCD to viewfinder automatically. Therefore, the camera has no way of knowing when the user is viewing the optical viewfinder.  As a result of this, you will find yourself struggling with glare from the LCD while viewing, especially when outdoors.

The D3200 lack bracketing altogether and therefore, sadly, no HDR with this camera.

Has no headphone input port. Thankfully, it can monitor captured audio with built-in level meters, so this isn’t a total loss. 

Lastly, more of a note than a con, the files produced by the D3200 are massive and average at 30 MBs per file. Larger files are the caveat with larger megapixel sensors. The storage demand is much higher. Keep this in mind so you can purchase SD cards accordingly to your specific needs if you decide to pick up the D3200. 

Is the Nikon D3200 a good starting camera?

Well, in 2019, it’s okay. We don’t believe this camera makes the cut as top ten best starting cameras in today’s lineup. However, all things considered though, is the D3200 an okay camera for beginning photographers? Yes, it can be. While it suffers predominantly in focusing and video performance, this camera is incredibly cheap on the used market now. And for the attainable performance, this camera can still reasonably meet the needs of beginning photographers. Since Nikon has explicitly aimed the D3200 at beginners,   those of you more serious about your development, you will quickly outgrow this camera.

What are the best lenses for the Nikon D3200? 

General Photography: 

NIKKOR-55-200mm
Nikon-18-55mm
Nikon-18-105mm

Specifically for Macro Photography:

NIKKOR-40mm

Specifically for Landscape Photography:

NIKKOR-10-20mm

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

Nikon 85mm

Best bundles for the Nikon D3200

Camera and lenses bundle

Is the Nikon D3200 a good camera for you?

Possibly. We would say the most significant driving factor on whether this is the camera for you would be primarily budget. If you’re a beginning photographer with Digital SLR not desiring to spend upwards of $500, well, consider the D3200 on the list of cameras to further research. The D3200 is old, and now in 2019, is only found on the used market as Nikon officially discounted it. As mentioned previously as well, the D3200 is a camera aimed at the beginning photographer with no prior experience with Digital SLRs desiring to learn the foundations of digital photography. While the D3200 is reasonably outdated now in 2019, it was an excellent improvement over the already adequate D3100, offering a resolution that was only secondary to the D800 which at that time was four times the cost of the camera. The D3200 is a photography centric camera, placing little emphasis on its video capabilities and, in fact, quite comparable Canon’s T3i. In all, If you’re an aspiring photographer looking to turn pro, it’s best to look at more capable cameras in the Nikon ecosystem. Either consider a newer generation D3000 series camera or upgrade to a lower-end D5000 series camera. The choice is yours.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • ISO Performance
  • LCD Viewing
  • Ergonomics
  • User Menu
  • Feature Set
  • Focusing
  • Dynamic Range
  • Video Performance
  • Battery Performance
  • Environment Sealed
  • Main LCD
  • Feature Set
2.6

Summary

If you’re a beginning photographer with Digital SLR not desiring to spend upwards of $500, the D3200 can be one to consider. While the D3200 is reasonably outdated now in 2019, it is an excellent improvement over the predecessor and remains a photography centric camera that can meet the needs of the beginner. However, if you’re an aspiring professional, it’s best to look elsewhere at more capable cameras as the D3200 is not be suited for you. In all, we don’t believe this camera makes the cut as top ten best starting cameras in today’s lineup. Though it is incredibly cheap on the used market and the attainable performance can meet the needs of some.