The Nikon D3200 is a high-performance Digital SLR camera that really shines in the most critical areas that matter most for the discriminating users speed, responsiveness, and outstanding image quality. The AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm VR lens delivers excellent contrast and sharpness across the image field even in the near macro range, and effective image stabilization throughout our test.
In all but the dimmest light, the camera’s phase-detection AF system focuses very quickly and decisively. Its shutter release lag time is very short on the order of 0.6 sec from pressing the release to capture. In very low light during an outdoor event at night, this process took about 1.5 sec still a very good performance equal to many middle-tier DSLRs. We were also impressed by the camera’s ability to focus on a wide range of subjects, even those with relatively low contrast. The D3200 controls are very well laid out and logical.Weighing in at exactly one pound (body only) and 9.5 ounces more with the standard AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR test lens (27mm wide angle to 83mm medium telephoto 35mm equivalent), the Nikon D3200 is a compact, handy, well-balanced machine that feels great to hold in your hands. Its built-in right-hand grip is ergonomically contoured, placing your index finger perfectly over the angled shutter release, which has a commendably light, smooth, predictable action.
The signature feature of the new Nikon D3200 entry-level DSLR, available at Adorama and the one that has created the most buzz among enthusiasts, is its 24.2 MP, DX-format, APS-C size CMOS sensor, making it the highest resolution image capture device to be found in any entry-level DSLR and a whopping 10.1 MP higher than the sensor in its pleasantly competent, well-esteemed predecessor, the Nikon D3100. The D3200 (available from Adorama in Black or Red) looks quite similar to the D3100,its spec sheet proves that it’s a lot more than just a warmed over hi-res version.
For starters, the Nikon D3200 incorporates Nikon’s state-of-the-art EXPEED III image processor, the same one used in the pro Nikon D4, that delivers, among other things, quicker AF, shorter shutter lag times, an expanded dynamic range, and a claimed maximum burst rate of 4 fps (up from 3 fps on the D3100). The LCD is still a fixed (non-articulated) 3-inch unit with Live View and 4 AF area modes (Face-Priority, wide-area, normal area, subject-tracking and full-time servo AF (AF-F) that locks onto moving subjects), but its resolution has been substantially increased to a pro-class 921k dots (up from 320k) for enhanced sharpness and easier assessment of fine details for precise focus confirmation.
The 11-point AF system (with single-point, Dynamic-area, 3D-tracking (11 points), and Auto-area options) and ISO settings (from ISO 100-6400 plus 12800 in Hi and Auto ISO) are essentially unchanged. HD video and remote control operation, however, have been notably upgraded with an external stereo microphone jack (for the optional ME-1 Stereo Microphone) and a jack for the optional WU-1a, a wireless mobile adapter that lets you send images automatically to your smart phone or even use your phone as a remote control to take pictures or record video!
The Nikon D3200 also provides continuous AF when shooting 1080p HD video at 30 or 24fps, or still images in Live View. This uses the contrast AF system, which is quite accurate but noticeably slower, and at times you can see (and hear) the camera focusing in your videos. Using the optional external stereo mike will eliminate the focusing noise, but the only real solution to the occasional visible focus delay when shooting movies is to switch to manual focus for certain subjects.
DxoMark lab test results show the Nikon D3200 delivers the best overall image quality of any APS-format sensor Nikon camera and is in a statistical dead heat with the Pentax K5 for best APS-sensor camera overall. Although ISO was consistently ½ stop less than the indicated speed, overall the Nikon D3200’s overall image quality scores were best in class.Our tests resulted in excellent overall image quality and superb color even at a relatively high IS0. Note the excellent skin tones in mixed light, a sign of above average AWB performance.