Tech Talk: Nikon D3200 – a lot of camera for the price

Posted on October 12, 2012

Murray Hill Tech TalkIt seems when you look around you at an event or while on vacation, more and more people are taking their precious photos with camera phones. I use my iPhone to take quite a number of different types of shots, but I still like to have a real camera that has a lot more features than a phone camera has – especially for pictures or movies I want to save or print.

I recently tested out a little point and shoot from Nikon, which is a good camera to put in your pocket or purse in order to take those quick shots. But what about the people who want to have a good quality camera, one that’s a definite step up from a point and shoot, but a definite step below the thousand dollar plus pro level camera?

Nikon D3200 Digital SLR with NIKKOR 18-55mm lens - in black

Photo: Nikon – Nikon D3200 Digital SLR with NIKKOR 18-55mm lens – in black

The $620 CAD Nikon D3200 fits this niche very well. It’s a SLR (single lens reflex) camera, which allows the user access to all the NIKKOR autofocus lenses. Its 23.2mm x 15.4mm CMOS image sensor has a resolution of 24.2 megapixels, and it shoots full 1080p video. It can take still photos as jpegs that are suitable for your web page, all the way up to RAW images. RAW images. Basically, a RAW image will contain as much data as the sensor will permit – it needs to be processed and changed into another format in order to print, but it’s the way to take a picture that lets you get the most out of that picture. Because the file size of a RAW image is so large, you can’t store as many on a SD card as jpegs, for instance.

The D3200 is a nice-sized camera at 125mm W x 96mm H x 76.5mm D and it weighs 455g – without a lens. A Lithium-ion battery that charges in a couple of hours and delivers about 540 shots per charge powers it. The lens on my tester was the NIKKOR AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm /3.5-5.6G VR. It has a vibration reduction setting and adds about 79mm to the length and 265g to the weight of the D3200. It retails for about $180 on its own, but you should be able to find a deal on the camera and lens combination. For instance, London Drugs is currently listing the camera and lens for $669.99 CAD.

Nikon D3200 Guide Mode

Photo: Nikon – Nikon D3200 Guide Mode

A great feature of the D3200 is called Guide Mode. Easy to access simply by selecting “guide” on the wheel on the top of the camera, guide mode shows you the key features and controls of the camera while you’re actually shooting. It also offers advice and even samples to help you become a great photographer.

The D3200 offers six shooting modes such as Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait and Close-up, and, when you’re using Live View, the Auto Scene Selector will automatically set your camera to the most suitable mode for the shot. Live View is another great feature of the D3200 that’s mostly been available in the higher end models. When you press the LV button, instead of looking through the viewfinder for your shot, it turns the camera into a point and shoot in that you look on the 3” LCD on the back of the camera. When you see something you want to take a picture of, Live View will select the appropriate mode for the photo. Pretty cool.

There are so many features to the Nikon D3200, that the best way to find out all about it is to check the Features page on Nikon’s website.

Similarly, there are a mind-boggling number of specs with regard to the D3200, a check of the Specifications page will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the D3200. You can also easily check out what options you have in terms of add-ons to the D3200 by checking out the System page.

A couple of worthwhile additions to the D3200 would be the ability to wirelessly transfer pictures directly from the camera to your notebook or iPad. The $70 CAD optional Wi-Fi adapter fits that bill. It connects on the side of the camera, and although my test version didn’t come with one, it looks like it might be something to look at as an accessory to your camera. Ditto with the GPS module, although it’s not cheap at about $270, if you’re like me and want to have a GPS co-ordinate for every picture you take so you can print a map of your travels out, it might be worth looking at as well.

Nikon D3200 Digital SLR with NIKKOR 18-55mm lens - in red

Photo: Nikon – Nikon D3200 Digital SLR with NIKKOR 18-55mm lens – in red

The Nikon D3200 comes in basic black, or a flashy red colour, so you can have a flashy camera to go with your flashy personality if you like at no extra cost.

PROS:  24 megapixels, 1080p video, nice size, easy to learn controls and Guide Mode offers a myriad of special effects at your fingertips; decent pricing, access to NIKKOR autofocus lenses.

CONS: If you want to geotag your pictures to keep a record of a trip you need to buy a separate $280 GPS adapter, the Wi-Fi adapter is only $80, but it’s extra too.

TO SUM IT UP: I had fun testing the Nikon D3200. It’s a very nice entry-level prosumer camera. It’s loaded with features, has a 24 megapixel CMOS, shoots high def video and is just the right size and weight. NIKKOR lenses can add a great deal to both the cost and abilities of the D3200, and optional Wi-Fi and GPS add great functionality. If you’re looking to move up from a point and shoot camera but don’t want to spend thousands on professional quality cameras, then you owe it to yourself to have a look at the Nikon D3200.

Murray Hill is lead tech writer at communicatto.com. You can reach Murray by email at murray@communicatto.com or on Twitter at @MurrayDHill

About Murray Hill

Murray Hill has been a freelance columnist appearing regularly in some of the most prominent Canadian newspapers since 1974. He began writing about technology over twenty-four years ago and he still maintains the belief that there's a gadget or gizmo for every situation and application. His fascination with technology and gadgets has endured for over fifty years, and has led to many familial discussions about the the difference between the words "need" and "want" when referring to tech. Based in Saskatoon, connect with Murray at: murray@communicatto.com

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