Nikon D3200 : a D3100 under steroids


No, the D3200 is not the D3100 successor, it is a new camera in Nikon’s DSLR range. It gets a lot of the D3100 DNA but gets a brand new sensor with an impressive 24-megapixel count and the luxury of the EXPEED 3 processor to deal with that definition. Let’s meet the Nikon D3200.


Nikon D3200 : 24-megapixel CMOS sensor, thank you Sony

The main change photographers will appreciate on the D3200 is undoubtedly the new 24-megapixel CMOS sensor, APS-C of course. Nikon has implemented in the D3200 the same sensor that we discovered in Sony’s high-end cameras : the NEX-7 and the SLT-A77 (and SLT-A65). Nikon claims this sensor has been remodeled for them. It has been produced according to Nikon’s technical requirements. We know that Nikon is better at processing the Sony sensor signal than Sony itself although they are designing it. See the image quality (noise reduction mainly, dynamic range as well) difference between the Nikon D7000 and the Sony Alpha 580 DSLRs… So, expect outstanding image from the Nikon D3200. Their product manager told me yesterday that he made huge prints with the D3200 from images that have been taken by the D3200 with the regular AF-S 18-55mm VR kit lens. Because that is my main worry about the D3200 which is going to be sold with this lens… will cheap glass get the full potential out of the D3200 24-MP sensor ? They are very confident about that and told me that the definition and small details rendition of the D3200 are much higher than on the 12-MP D3100. I can’t wait to compare the D3200 with my 16-MP D7000/D5100.
ISO 100-6,400 is the usable sensibility range. It can be extended to ISO 12,800.

Expeed 3 : power boost

How can a consumer camera swallow the 24 megapixels of such a sensor ? By boosting its engine. Nikon has gifted the D3200 with the D800’s processor : the EXPEED 3. They even told me there was a baby-D800 inside the D3200… The DSP is paramount in the case of a high-definition DSLR : it will process the huge information flow of the 24MP sensor, will apply filters, Picture Control, D-lighting, lens vignetting and distortion correction, noise reduction…. but the processor is also important for writing the files fast on the memory card, for boosting the autofocus reactivity and the 3D Color Matrix exposure metering. The autofocus remains the same 11-points of the D3100, a very sufficient AF with a pretty wide coverage of the field. I hope that the Expeed 3 will improve the video Full Time Autofocus.
Thanks to the new DSP, the D3200’s burst rate reaches 4 fps (3 fps for the D3100)

The Nikon D3200 has a lot of the D3100 but with dramatic changes : 24-MP sensor and loaded processor


Video mode : more powerful on the D3200

The video mode of the D3200 has been dramatically improved :

  • You may now kiss the full auto exposure good bye and use the D3200 in full automatic, aperture priority, change all settings also in video mode.
  • When the D3100 is limited to 1080/24p, you have access to 1080/30p, 25p and 24p on the D3200.
  • The D3200 gets a micro line in slot.

These 3 new features turn the Nikon D3200 in a real HDSLR.


Nikon D3200 body and UI changes

The body of the Nikon D3200, we already know it very well : it is based on the D3100, Nikon’s entry level DSLR launched in August 2010. It is a very lightweight and compact DSLR, a simple and fun camera to work with. The D3200 will weight only D45 grams. On the D3200, the axis of the lens has been shifted in order to improve the global camera balance. The LiveView/video switch that I loved on the d3100 and on my D5100 extra body has disappeared. The D3200 will feature a video recording direct button. An other switch has disappeared : the drive mode (single, burst, timer, remote control). You now access these settings with a single button. It gets a secondary infrared port on the rear for IR remote controls.


The Nikon D3200 is a DSLR inspired by an entry level camera, gifted with prosumer features. It will compete with the D5100 which is loosing some interest. Yet, its sensor is the best of all APS-C on the market.


Screen and viewfinder

The D3200’s spec that has been inherited by the D3100 that you are most unlikely to enjoy is the entry-level optical viewfinder… with a 95% coverage and a modest magnification, lack of brightness, you will bare it provided you have never put your eye in a D7000 or D700/D800 viewfinder. Anyway, a better viewfinder is expensive to build and takes a lot of space. To remain cheap and compact, the D3200 had to deal with these limitations.
But Nikon balanced that with the screen of the D3200 which is the same as on 2012’s pro DSLR : the 3″ / 921,000 dots with a resin layer inside that will fill the space and avoid the presence of air to improve contrast and avoid reflections.


Graphical Guide mode

The D3200 will be much more versatile than its little brother with whom it is going to share the photographers purchases for a while in Nikon DSLR range. With its new sensor, processor, screen and improved video functions, the D3200 can be used by both first-time SLR amateur photographers and advanced photographers. Yet, the amateurs are the main target of this camera and for them, Nikon has redesigned the guide mode replacing text by images to give better illustrations of the kind of pictures you want to take. Smart.


Nikon Wi-Fi : Nikon WU-1a

The Nikon D3200 has a microphone line in, a new USB / Audio-video port, an HDMI-CEC that allows you to control the camera with your television’s RC and a GPS accessory slot to connect a Nikon GP-1 module (I hoped all 2012 DSLR would come with a built-in GPS sensor… but obviously no). Launched in the same time as the D3200, the Nikon WU-1a is a Wi-Fi module. The size of a sugar cube, the WU-1a connects to the D3200’s USB port and enables the camera to be part of a Wi-Fi Network. But is can also work differently with an Android smartphone or tablet : it will send the images at the definition you have previously set to the Android terminal. Finally, with a dedicated smartphone app, you will be able to remotely control your camera, set all parameters and shoot images. The iOS (iphone, ipad and ipod Touch) compatibility should follow shortly.


The Nikon D3200 comes with more powerful video functions and settings with the ability to use an external mic.


Price and availability of the Nikon D3200

The Nikon D3200 will be available at the end of May, early June, right before the summer shopping season, an important camera sales peak. USA price of the D3200 with the kit lens is $699.95. In Europe, the D3200 will be sold with the AF-S 18-55mm VR DX lens for €699. (the exact same price as the AF-S Nikkor 28mm F/1.8G lens announced also today)  That is €200 more than the D3100 which price has been cut down to €499. The D3200 does NOT REPLACE the D3100 that will still be on sale and will remain THE entry level Nikon DSLR range. The D3200 will surely hurt the D5100 sales figures. The Nikon D5100 is sold 649. Nikon told me they expect its price to go down in the coming weeks.

Today, along with the D3200, Nikon has unveiled a new pretty fast prime lens : the AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G.

Nikon D3200 main technical specs

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2 megapixels (effective)
  • ISO 100 – 6,400 ISO (ISO 12,800 in H mode)
  • 11-points autofocus
  • Color matrix II exposure metering with 420 pixels RVB sensor
  • DIGIC 3 processor
  • 12-bit sampling RAW
  •  shutter speed : 30 to 1/4000s
  •  Burst rate : 4 fps (if shutter speed is above 1/250s)
  •  Video mode : 1080/30p, 25p, 24p with Ful time AF, micro line in and manual exposure
  •  Built-in pop-up lash (Guide number of 12, i-TTL)
  • Viewfinder : pentamirror, 95% coverage, 0.8x magnification
  •  Glare free 3″ / 921,000 LCD screen


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