Nikon D3200 Review
Originally Posted: May 30, 2012
Last Updated: November 13, 2012
The D3200 ($699) is the entry-level camera in Nikon's digital SLR line-up. It's designed to be consumer friendly (in terms of both price and features), but Nikon didn't skimp on features here. The D3200 features a whopping 24.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 4 frame/sec continuous shooting, 1080p HD video, a good set of manual controls, and optional Wi-Fi support. It's also very easy-to-use, with a Guide Mode that helps beginners take better photos.
The D3200 is the replacement to the D3100. I put together this chart which compares the two models:
As you can see, the D3200 is better than its predecessor in almost all respects, with the exception of battery life and viewfinder size, both of which have dropped slightly.
Is the Nikon D3200 the entry-level D-SLR to beat? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The D3200 is officially available in one kit, and it includes the standard Nikon F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm VR kit lens ($699). I wouldn't be surprised if warehouse stores like Costco end up carrying two lens kits at some point in the future, as they did for the D3100. Here's what you'll find in the box:
- The 24.2 effective Megapixel Nikon D3200 camera body
- F3.5-5.6, 18 - 55 mm AF-S DX Nikkor VR lens
- EN-EL14 lithium-ion battery
- Battery charger
- Body cap
- Eyepiece cap
- Shoulder strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring Nikon ViewNX 2
- 77 page User's Manual (printed) + Reference Manual (on CD-ROM)
The D3200 comes with the same F3.5-5.6, 18-55 VR lens that's been bundled for Nikon cameras for several years. It's a decent kit lens, though a little on the soft side. If you want to use another F-mount lens, there are plenty to choose from, though autofocus is only available on AF-S and AF-I lenses. As with all of Nikon's DX-format cameras, there's also a 1.5X crop factor to keep in mind. Thus, the 18 - 55 mm kit lens has a field-of-view equivalent to 27 - 82.5 mm.
As with all D-SLRs and mirrorless cameras, the D3200 does not come with a memory card. So, unless you've got an SD, SDHC, or SDXC card sitting around, you'll need to pick one up. I'd recommend a 4GB card for most folks, and larger (8/16GB) for movie mavens. A high speed card (Class 6 or higher) is recommended for best performance.
The D3200 uses the same EN-EL14 7.6 Wh lithium-ion battery as the D3100 that came before it. Despite that, the D3200's battery life is a tiny bit below its predecessor. Here's how the the D3200 compares to other interchangeable lens cameras in its price range when it comes to battery life:
The first thing to note is just how few "true" digital SLRs are left in the entry-level category! Only three of the seven cameras on my list are D-SLRs, with the rest being mirrorless (or, in the case of the Sony A57, translucent mirror) interchangeable lens cameras. The D3200 posts very good battery life numbers, coming in second place behind the Sony model. Do note that the battery life for D-SLRs is when shooting with the viewfinder, and not live view. If you're using live view, the D3200's numbers will be considerably lower.
Unlike more expensive Nikon D-SLRs, the D3200 does not support a battery grip.
When it's charging time, just pop the EN-EL14 into the included charger. This charger, which plugs right into the wall, takes just 90 minutes to "fill up" the battery.
As with all D-SLRs, the sky's the limit when it comes it comes to accessories on the D3200. Here are some of the most important ones:
There are other accessories available, including viewfinder accessories and even more external flashes.
The red D3200 with optional Wi-Fi adapter installed
I want to tell you a bit more about the D3200's optional wireless adapter. This device is smaller than your thumb and plugs into the camera's USB port. The wireless transmitter isn't designed for sending photos to your PC (at least not yet) -- rather, it's made to work with smartphones. There's only an Android app available at the moment, with an iOS version coming this Fall.
|Main menu of the Android app||You can use your smartphone to take photos remotely, with live view support|
The Android app can be used to download photos from the camera, and then send them on to further destinations using your phone's built-in sharing functions. It can also be used to take pictures, with the phone serving as a remote shutter release. You can even have the live view displayed on your smartphone, if you'd like. I didn't actually get to try it, since the wireless adapter isn't shipping yet, but it seems simple enough.
Bundled software includes Nikon Transfer, VIewNX 2, and Short Movie Creator (all three are for both Mac and Windows). Nikon Transfer does just as it sounds -- it moves your photos and movies from the camera to your PC. ViewNX 2 is a pretty standard image organizer, with a good set of editing tools for both JPEG and RAW images. You can adjust things like sharpness/contrast/brightness/and color, brighten shadows, straighten a crooked photo, remove redeye, or reduce chromatic aberrations. If it's a RAW file you're working with, you can also adjust the exposure and white balance. Unfortunately, RAW editing is very slow, even on the fancy Mac Pro that I have in my office.
While the RAW images produced by the D3200 are not officially supported by Adobe yet, I found that I was able to open them up using the Camera Raw 7.1 RC plug-in.
The ViewNX software can also be used to edit videos produced by the D3200. Also included is something called Short Movie Creator, and I think Nikon can explain what it does better than me, so here goes. "Short Movie Creator analyzes the registered source files and automatically edits the movie based on the settings that you apply." I didn't get around to trying it.