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Nikon D3200 Review

The D3100 is the most recent model in Nikon’s entry-level DSLR camera range, which dates back four years to the D40. In what is likely the most significant improvement to date, the D3100 adds two important features: movie recording and live view.

Both of these were beginning to seem like weird absences, and the D3100’s new 14-megapixel sensor is what makes both of them feasible. In spite of this, it manages to maintain its focus on providing an approachable level of simplicity of use, with the controls for the additional functions being exceptionally well incorporated into the overall design of the body.

However, despite the fact that the D3100 is a specification boost over a series of cameras that we have usually appreciated, it has found itself to be fairly behind the times in certain ways due to the competition in the market.

When we completed our study of the Nikon D3000, we found that it was one of the only big sensor cameras that actively pushed inexperienced users to make the most of the camera’s capabilities, and it did so in a way that did not interfere with the user’s ability to operate the camera more directly.

On the other hand, this is becoming an increasingly typical occurrence, particularly with mirrorless cameras that more readily imitate the user experience of small cameras while still giving image quality that is on par with that of DSLRs.

Nikon D3200 Controlls

It should not come as a surprise that the D3100 and its predecessor have extremely comparable ergonomics because the body of the D3100 has changed very little compared to its predecessor. The inclusion of live view and the ability to record movies not only marks the most important change to the specs but also brings about the most significant change to the way the camera is handled.

A conspicuous spring thumb lever located on the rear of the camera, just to the right of the LCD, may be used to activate Live View. The red button located in the middle of this lever can be used to start recording video. When you pick up the camera and take a shooting grip, the lever is positioned just next to your thumb, which makes the design of this feature completely comprehensible.

Because of this, the D3100 is able to record movies in any exposure mode, in contrast to some of its competitors who require you to set the top dial to a specific movie position before you can record movies. The feature is user-friendly and easy to operate, and it eliminates the possibility of accidental operation.

Nikon D3200 Image Quality

When it comes to image quality, the D3100 leaves very little to be desired, and the results that its brand-new 14-megapixel sensor produces are excellent. Images captured at sensitivities as high as 3200 are eminently usable; however, as is typically the case with APS-C cameras, the extended ‘Hi’ settings equivalent to 6400 and 12800 are quite ambitious. High ISO performance has been significantly improved in comparison to the D3000, and as a result, images captured at sensitivities as high as 3200 are eminently useable.

It provides a decent amount of highlight dynamic range to prevent brilliant information from being lost (for instance, avoiding washed-out sky), although this is sometimes wasted by its default,’matrix’ metering mode, which can overexpose in high-contrast settings.

Unfortunately, the outstanding low-shadow noise characteristics of the D7000 (and the other cameras using comparable sensors) have not yet been passed down to cameras in the D3100’s class, thus the image quality is quite consistent with that of its contemporaries at this point.

Nikon D3200 Handling

The entry-level Nikons have always been among our favorites in this class to actually go out and shoot with, and similarly, the D3100 is, on the whole, a really nice camera to use. The D3100 features a 30.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and a 5-axis image stabilization system. The incorporation of the drive mode lever is a pleasant improvement to the fundamental design of the D40, and the additional controls for the live view and movie modes are conveniently located and simple to use.

The D3100 is undoubtedly the greatest camera in its class for manual selection of off-center focusing points because of Nikon’s traditional devotion to the four-way joystick to AF point selection. This makes the D3100 one of Nikon’s most popular cameras. This, in turn, makes it simple to get the most out of what is among the most advanced AF systems now on the market for this type of vehicle.

However, if there is one aspect of typical shooting operation that we feel needs improvement, it is Nikon’s ISO setting (which, in general, is not one of Nikon’s strong points). This is a parameter that we believe should be easily adjusted with the camera to your eye, which is something that is becoming ever more relevant now that high ISOs are far more usable than they were just a few years ago.

On the D3100, the only method to achieve this is by using the configurable ‘Fn’ button, which is located on the left side of the camera in a position that is a little inconvenient and is often confused with the button that activates the flash that is adjacent to it.
Also, the currently-set ISO is only displayed in the viewfinder when you are adjusting it (and never at all when you are using Auto ISO), but many other cameras now display it all the time, which is a far more helpful feature.

When you switch the D3100 to Live View, it quickly becomes apparent that while it is extremely good at certain things, its behavior in other areas is decidedly less than ideal. While it is very good at some things, it is particularly less than perfect in other ways.

It features an SLR’s live view autofocus that is remarkably quick for how fast it normally is, which goes a long way toward making the mode more generally used for photography in daily situations. It is still not as quick and smooth as the mirrorless cameras that are intended expressly for using live view in a manner similar to that of tiny cameras.

Nikon D3200 Specs

Body typeCompact SLR
Sensor
Max resolution6016 x 4000
Other resolutions4512 x 3000, 3008 x 2000
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels24 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors25 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-C (23.2 x 15.4 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorExpeed 3
Color spacesRGB, Adobe RGB
Image
ISOAuto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 (12800 with boost)
Boosted ISO (maximum)12800
White balance presets12
Custom white balanceYes (1)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal, Basic
File formatNEF (RAW): 12 bitJPEG
Optics & Focus
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points11
Lens mountNikon F
Focal length multiplier1.5×
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots921,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT LCD with 160° viewing angle
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentamirror)
Viewfinder coverage95%
Viewfinder magnification0.8× (0.53× 35mm equiv.)
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Exposure modesProgrammed auto with flexible program (P)Shutter-priority (S)Aperture priority (A)Manual (M)
Scene modesPortraitLandscapeChildSportsClose-UpNight portrait
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash range12.00 m (at ISO 100)
External flashYes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Flash modesAuto, Red-Eye, Slow, Red-Eye Slow, Rear curtain
Flash X sync speed1/200 sec
Drive modesSingle frameContinuousSelf-timer2s Delayed remoteQuick-response remoteQuiet shutter release
Continuous drive4.0 fps
Self-timerYes
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot AF-area
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (30,25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps), 640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Videography notesFrame rates of 30p (actual frame rate 29.97 fps) and 60p (actual frame rate 59.94 fps) are available when NTSC is selected for video mode; 25p and 50p are available when PAL is selected for video mode; Actual frame rate when 24p is selected is 23.976 fps
MicrophoneMono
SpeakerMono
Storage
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I compliant
Storage includedNone
Connectivity
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (Mini Type C)
WirelessOptional
Wireless notesWU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter
Remote controlYes (Optional)
Physical
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion EN-EL14 rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)540
Weight (inc. batteries)505 g (1.11 lb / 17.81 oz)
Dimensions125 x 96 x 77 mm (4.92 x 3.78 x 3.03″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
GPSOptional
GPS notesGP-1

Nikon D3200 Final Verdict

The Nikon D3100 is undeniably one of the most impressive single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs) on the market today. It combines a high degree of image quality with the brisk operation and user-friendly controls, at least when used in the traditional eye-level shooting position.

The implementation of the additional features that have been introduced since the D3000, such as live view and movie mode, is an area in which it is less powerful than in other areas. Even though neither is particularly poorly done and even though the increase in CDAF speed is rather remarkable, they both have room for development.

Because the D3100’s guide mode is obviously designed to appeal to customers who are only familiar with small cameras, one of the most important factors to take into account is the camera’s capacity to provide a live view experience that is just as quick to focus and shoot.

And even though Nikon has done well to produce one of the better DSLRs in this regard (even though the full-time AF mode falls a little short of making live view use really immediate and fluid), both live view and video are quite simply done better by other cameras, particularly the D3100’s mirrorless competitors. Nikon has done well to produce one of the better DSLRs in this respect.

Nikon D3200 Pros & Cons

Good For
  • Good quality video output
  • Good detail at low ISOs (with good lenses)
  • Relatively low raw noise levels allow for custom processing in raw conversion
  • Well-balanced noise reduction at higher sensitivities, decent noise levels
Need Improvements
  • Slightly soft output at a pixel-level
  • The unintuitive setting of the aperture in movie mode
  • Tendency to slightly overexpose in bright contrasty conditions
  • No ‘live-preview’ of aperture changes in live-view

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