For a beginner, or someone who may be looking for a smaller, lighter body to use as a backup to their main camera, this could be the perfect choice. It’s small and light yet it’s 24mp images are, to my eyes, indistinguishable from my D7100 images, certainly at normal ISOs and printed at normal sizes. Being menu driven, it takes longer to find and set options, but if you don’t tend to mess around with settings too much, then this won’t matter to you.
This is a ‘real world’ review, I focus (pun intended) on how the camera works for me. I don’t shoot walls, I don’t shoot test charts, and I won’t be filling the page with 100% crops from the very edge of the frame. This is my camera, I bought it full price, and I still own it.
If you are looking for a review that covers the minutiae of every single feature and menu item, then I am afraid you are in the wrong place. If you want to see some images shot by an ordinary person with this camera, in ordinary use, then read on.
There will naturally be some comparison to my D7100, as I mostly use this camera as a backup, however there have still been a few thousand frames shot on this tiny little powerhouse.
I got mine from Amazon here.
For an SLR, this is a very compact and light camera body. When I take it out of my camera bag it amazes me that something so small and light is capable of shots 95% as good as those from the D7100, which is 2-3 times the price. It literally feels like half the weight of my D7100, especially as I usually have the grip and an L-bracket on the D7100.
In a word, superb. Under normal conditions and at reasonable sizes, most people are hard pressed to pick up any difference between the images from this little camera, and my all singing and all dancing D7100. Images are sharp, colours right out of the camera when shooting JPEG are great, and the raw (NEF) files can be manipulated heavily if you need to.
The high ISO performance is also very respectable, although I have not yet had need to use this much above ISO 1000.
The shutter seems much quieter than that on the bigger camera, although it is quite different sounding, with a softer feel, rather than the very positive open and close of the D7100. This low noise, coupled with its small size, make for a very unobtrusive camera (for an SLR), although how unobtrusive it is will really depend on the lens you have fitted.
With only a single command dial, and the top mounted option selector, pretty much every setting must be done within the menus. I much prefer having direct access to lots of my settings, but for someone who tends to ‘set and forget’, or doesn’t really change setting too often, this isn’t much of a hardship. The actual layout of the menus is pretty good, and easy to follow.
I just prefer the ability to be able to adjust aperture and shutter speed immediately, and not have to hold a button then turn a dial.
No, I’m not repeating myself – one of the D3200’s strengths is also a weakness in a way. It’s a bit too small for my hands, and coupled with the light weight it feels quite ‘toy-like’. This is not a negative about the build quality – it has been thrown into bags, bumped around in the footwell of a dusty 4×4 and generally languishes in the camera bag until needed to take a second body, or used in a place where I want a smaller setup, yet it turns on perfectly, is showing no signs of wear, and generally takes what I throw at it.
This is not really a weakness, more an annoyance for me. By using a different battery to the D7100, it means I cannot pool batteries, and on longer trips means I need to bring 2 different chargers for 2 different batteries. It’s not a deal breaker though, and the smaller and lighter D3200 battery (when compared to that in the D7100) certainly helps keep the size and weight of the body down.
If you are stepping up from a compact camera, or are looking for a spare/backup body for something a bit bigger, then this camera deserves a good hard look. It is small, very light, yet is capable of producing images that are almost indistinguishable from the D7100.
It’s not pocket sized, but you can have it slung over a shoulder all day and barely notice it is there (assuming you have a small and light lens fitted).
This camera really punches above its tiny weight, and amazes me that Nikon have crammed so much into such a small body.
The D3200 was replaced by the D3300 in January 2014, although I have not yet had a chance to use the new version. The release of the D3300 has however caused the price of the remaining D3200’s to drop, and at the time of writing this review the D3200 was available brand new from Amazon for under £240, which I think is very, very good value for a camera that really does pack a lot of image quality into such a compact package.
You can check the current price on Amazon here – Nikon D3200 on Amazon.
If you would prefer a look at the newer D3300, then that may also be found on Amazon here – Nikon D3300 on Amazon.