Digital SLR Photography

Nikon D3200 Review

We review the Nikon D3200, an entry model DSLR with a staggering 24.2-megapixel resolution

At first, we thought it was a misprint when we received information from Nikon about its latest entry-level DSLR, the D3200. Bearing in mind the D3100 (which remains in the Nikon range) offers a resolution of 14.2-million pixels, reading that the latest model had been upped to 24.2-megapixels was hard to believe. It's certainly a game-changer as far as entry-level models are concerned, with its nearest rivals offering between 16- and 18-million pixels. 

Of course, pixel count isn't everything and  the overall success of the D3200 will be determined by many other factors, but from a shopfloor sales-pitch point of view, its resolution makes it easy to sell. In this month's test we'll discover not only how well the sensor performs, but also whether Nikon has cut corners to deliver a camera at this price, or simply provided beginners with the ultimate entry-level DSLR.  

Handling & ease of use  

The size, styling and control layout of the D3200 shares far more similarities with the D3100 than differences. It sports a compact and contoured body that, along with the pronounced rubberised handgrip, is very easy and comfortable to hold. Nikon DSLRs have always felt well made, even at the budget end of the market, and the D3200 is no exception, giving a sense of solidity that's reassuring to the user. Despite this, it's very lightweight at a shade over 500 grams with card and battery, so remains a camera that is small and light enough for everyday use. 

If you've used entry-level Nikon DSLRs in the past, you'll feel right at home with this model as its control set-up sees only a couple of changes. If you haven't, then you've nothing to be concerned about, as you'll find your way around the neat arrangement of controls in no time at all. Novices also have the option of using the GUIDE screens, which provide help on setting up the camera and taking pictures.

The exposure mode dial is the only control you'll find on the top plate, although there are a small number of function buttons close to the shutter release. Here you'll find the main on/off switch, along with the movie record, exposure compensation and LCD display buttons. On the camera's front, close to the lens release button, are the flash and Function buttons. Press the flash button and the integral unit pops up; hold it down and you're able to cycle through all the modes. Press the Function button and you can use the input dial to offer fast access to one of four key functions: image quality, ISO rating, White Balance or Active D-lighting. The rest of the main controls are found on the rear of the camera. To the  right of the LCD monitor are  the customisable AE-L/AF-L button, LiveView button, main input dial, frame advance and delete buttons, and the four-way control function. To the LCD's left is the playback and magnification buttons, the MENU button and the information button, which allows fast access to key functions via the LCD monitor. 

The viewfinder is on a par with other entry-level models, providing a reasonable display in terms of clarity and brightness (see panel for further details) and a dioptric correction facility for spectacle wearers. 

Of course, you have the option of switching to LiveView and using the 3in monitor. It boasts an impressive 920,000-dot screen so you've plenty of detail on show, with icons along the top displaying all the main settings, while exposure settings are shown along the bottom. 

Overall, it's a fast and easy camera to use so beginners have little to worry about. More experienced users may point to the lack of WB and ISO buttons on the exterior, but most beginners will be content with being able to set the Fn button to offer access to these facilities. 

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