It’s hard to name a good reason to buy a budget DSLR now. You can get virtually all of the same features — lenses, image quality, manual controls — from a smaller, more portable mirrorless camera. So how does the Nikon D3200 fit into today’s camera market?
What Is It?
At $US700, the Nikon D3200 is one of the most affordable DSLRs you can buy. Its 24-megapixel, APS-C sensor is much higher in resolution than the D3100′s 14.2-megapixel guts. The D3200 also shoots full HD 1920 x 1080 video, compared to the D3100′s 1080×720 maximum.
Who’s It For?
Budget-minded aspiring photographers or filmmakers. (Maybe.)
The D3200 is very compact and lightweight for a DSLR. It looks like the cameras that came before it in the Nikon line: a stripped-down body with basic buttons and dials, a pop-up flash and a 3-inch LCD that takes up most of the camera’s back panel.
If you want more than just a Facebook-worthy snapshot, get ready for a world of pain. Fully manual controls are available and easy to access. It’s a good thing too, because the D3200′s automatic light metering and white balance systems aren’t dead accurate. You’ve got to fuss a bit to get your shots just right. The camera is capable of shooting a quick 5fps, but you’ll be bogged down by the camera’s slow autofocus. On the plus side, video recording quality and options have been significantly improved.
The Best Part
If you’re willing to work for it, the camera is capable of beautiful photos and video.
Nikon hasn’t updated the repulsive blue and yellow dashboard screen. Yes, it’s that ugly.
This Is Weird…
The inexplicably high-resolution, 24-megapixel sensor harkens back to the megapixel wars.
• We used the Nikon D3200 regularly for about a month.
• Compared to the D3100, the D3200 shoots sharper, distortion-free video that’s actually usable and not just a gimmick. Yup, Nikon finally caught up with the two-year-old Canon EOS 550D.
Should You Buy It?
No. The cheapest, mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras — including Sony’s SLT-series cameras and the Sony NEX-F3 — have gotten so good it just doesn’t make sense to spend extra on Nikon’s name and lens system unless you’re going to go for a higher-end model. It makes sense, to a certain extent, if you want to learn on this and keep moving up.
If this had come out two years ago, it would have probably cost a couple of hundred dollars more. Now, at $US700, it’s the first budget-friendly Nikon to shoot good HD video. But for the same price or a few bucks less, you can get the time-tested Canon EOS 550D to do the same thing.
• Price: $799 RRP in Australia (body only)
• Sensor: 24.2MP, APS-C (23.4mm x 15.4mm)
• Max ISO: 6400
• Image: Up to 4912×2760 pixels
• Video: 1920×1080 30/25/24 and 1280×720 60/50
• Screen: 921,000 dot, 3-inch LCD
• Weight: 454g
Video: Michael Hession