My D3200 "impressions"

Joined
Feb 2, 2005
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Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
Real Name
Andreas Berglund
I was going to write this "review" a long time ago, but something got in the way: Nikon Service Canada. My first D3200 just would not focus properly, back focused with all my lenses, every time. I didn't get a single sharp shot with it. So in it went to Nikon Canada. Came back 3 weeks later, same issue. Problem not fixed. So I called and in it went again, told them to call me for clarification if needed, send in a CD with NEF's clearly showing the issue, including same shots with a my D800e, D3100 and D2X, where they all nailed the shot.. It came back 2 weeks or so later, no problem found. I blew some steam here and called my dealer (Patrick Merkle Camera Toronto), who quickly arranged for a return and exchange. So I sent the old one in, and got a new one back, took two weeks to send mine in from one end of Canada to the other and another week back with the new one. So all an all I have lost 2 months on this madness. Summary: Patrick at Merkle is great, Nikon Service in Canada is a liability for Nikon. The new D3200 focuses spot on. So now I could finally try it out.

Handling and features:
I knew it was a very basic camera, expected it and still found a few real annoyances, some of them one can workaround. But all in all you get used to it, and it is a small and light camera, great for travel. It does not have bracketing, I dont care and no mirror up, but that is not to be expected in this class, The lack of AF Finetune is greatly missed by me.

Annoyances:
  • There is no way to lock the multiselector so when you touch it you easily move the focus point to the right, just by holding the camera, unless of course you a have it in automatic focusing mode, I can see a lot of people missing that and wondering why their images are OOF. Nikon should at least have allowed for a menu item to disable the multi selector. Now I look for the red dot in the viewfinder every time, before I focus to make sure it still in the center.
  • If you have the AF-On button set to focus and if you have image review on or the settings on the back display to come on after each shot, next time you press AF-On the D3200 does not focus! You have to half press the shutter button first then press AF-On again to get going with AF again. This is idiotic, the D800 does not do that. Workaround is to turn of Image review and turn off the back settings display after each shot. However if you use liveview you still have to half press the shutter button between every shot in this scenario. Sigh! Next firmware update please fix Nikon!
  • For some odd reason Nikon decided to change the direction for the exposure compensation dial, not only for the D3200 but also for the D800. Now minus compensation is towards the camera. It might be more logical for Canon users and newbies, but for all old Nikon users that have this in their backbone it is at least to me very annoying. ON the D800 I have reversed it, on the D3200 I cant do that, so I have decided to relearn to the new way, it is hard to get used to it.
  • If you are on tripod and want to shoot with delay you have to redo that setting between each shot. Workaround is to get a little IR remote for $20 and set the time in the setup to 5 minutes or so for how long the IR remote is on.....
  • Battery life using liveview is not good, I have a grip for mine with two batteries and it is still not good (the D3100 grip works but the interface plug for the cable between the grip and Body are not the same as the D3100, so now I need to find a new cable)
  • No AF Fine tune. This is a big ding, the cost for adding this is 0 to Nikon, it is just software and in my case I would not have had to return the first camera. I realize the target group for the camera would not know how to use it, but that wouldn't matter. I will never buy another body without AF Finetune.

Autofocus Is pretty good, even single point with my macro lenses is most of the time right on. It even tracks birds in flight decently (with my 600mm VR and a TC14 on!) Af is pretty snappy actually even with the 300, 400 and 600mm, maybe has something to do with two batteries in the grip? BTW I have on order two DSTE batteries on Ebay with 1350 MAH, so 30% more the original batteries.

ISO Surprisingly good, very similar to the D300s, means for me up to 400 is good, at 800 it needs a decent dose of Noise Reduction, at 1600 well a lot of NR IMHO. But then I back out of 100% pixel peeping, and the benefit of the 24 MP kicks in . If I reduce to say 12 MP and what do you know: ISO 1600-3200 looks quite good!

IQ At low ISO's VERY good. If one compares the D3X and the D3200 at 100% the D3200 images are just a tiny bit softer, less contrasty. Add a little contrast and color in PP and you can fix most of the difference but not all. Back off to 50% magnification and I cant see any difference. Of note is that the images do not have as good as a dynamic range and (noise of course)as the D800 images, this is obvious when you start dragging the sliders in ACR with images that have alot of shadows. The images "fall apart" much quicker then the D800 images. But then again it is a DX camera and the pixel density is equivalent of a 58MP Full frame camera (!)

With lenses: Works fine with most the lenses I have tried it with: 14-24, 16-35, 24-120, 70-200 VRII, 50mm F1.8 G AF-S, 60mm AF-S G, 85mm F1.8 G AF-S, 105mm F2.8 G AF-S VR, 300mm F2.8 AF-S G VRII, 400mm F2.8 AF-S II, 600mm F4 AF-S G VR II, TC14EII and TC17EII. The body is a bit light for the long tele lenses, not surprising...

Video? Sorry haven't tried it - I assume it is fine :)

My summary: It is a small camera for a very low price with some obvious drawbacks in regards to features and handling, but it makes up to it with really good image quality at lower ISO and a surprisingly good AF. It even tracks birds in flight pretty well.

Images (all reduced to 1920X1080, click on the images for bigger size)
Nikon NIKON D3200 1/1250s f/8.0 at 85.0mm iso200
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NIKON D3200 1/800s f/8.0 at 105.0mm iso200
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NIKON D3200 1/3200s f/11.0 at 105.0mm iso1600
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NIKON D3200 1/4000s f/11.0 at 105.0mm iso1600
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A few higher ISO for comparison, all have noise reduction applied to my taste in ACR 7.1
NIKON D3200 1/320s f/8.0 at 300.0mm iso1600
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NIKON D3200
1/640s f/8.0 at 300.0mm iso3200
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NIKON D3200 1/1250s f/8.0 at 300.0mm iso6400
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NIKON D32001/2500s f/8.0 at 300.0mm iso12800
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Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
8,439
Location
Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
Real Name
Andreas Berglund
the grip fits both the D3100 and the D3200 physically, however there is a cable going from the grip to the camera to be able to use the shutter release. The connector for that cable is different going into the D3200 compared to the D3200

How did you adapt the D3100 grip to your D3200? I did not understand. Thanks.
 
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Messages
6,687
Location
Riverside, CA
the grip fits both the D3100 and the D3200 physically, however there is a cable going from the grip to the camera to be able to use the shutter release. The connector for that cable is different going into the D3200 compared to the D3200
So in other words, the batteries communicate, but you cannot use the vertical shutter button. If I read that right.
 
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Messages
6,687
Location
Riverside, CA
I'm looking for a higher MP body to go with my D300 for landscapes, but I am limited on budget. Would you recommend this body to someone like me who will nearly always use it on a tripod at low iso?

And can you explain what you mean that if you reduce it to 12mp the high iso performance is pretty good? I am not sure how cropping an image improves noise quality.

Thanks for a great report!
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Messages
8,439
Location
Maple Bay, Duncan, BC, Canada
Real Name
Andreas Berglund
Low ISO landscapes on a tripod? It would be excellent for that I think. Thats one thing I intend to use it for...

I dont mean croppping to 12 MP, I mean taking a 24 MP image and reducing it to 12 MP using Bicubic sharpening reduction in Photoshop. That has the effect of reducing noise inthe 12 MP image as well....

I'm looking for a higher MP body to go with my D300 for landscapes, but I am limited on budget. Would you recommend this body to someone like me who will nearly always use it on a tripod at low iso?

And can you explain what you mean that if you reduce it to 12mp the high iso performance is pretty good? I am not sure how cropping an image improves noise quality.

Thanks for a great report!
 

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