Nikon’s New 24-Megapixel D3200 Digital SLR

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Nikon’s New 24-Megapixel D3200 Digital SLRA few days ago, Nikon announced the D3200, a new entry-level digital SLR with a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. Yup, you read that right – a 24.2-megapixel entry level DSLR. That’s 10 megapixels more than the 14-megapixel D3100. Besides the 24.2-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) sensor, the Nikon D3200 also has a faster 4 frames per second burst rate, increased ISO 6400 sensitivity, full HD video with manual exposure control and continuous auto focus, a 3-inch 921k-dot LCD display, and a Guide Mode to help less experienced photographers get pro quality photos with all kinds of subjects.

Nikon D3200 HD DSLR - Front & Back

Nikon D3200 Key Features & Specs:

  • 24.2-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) CMOS sensor
  • EXPEED 3 image processing
  • Sensitivity from ISO 100-6400, expandable to ISO 12,800
  • 4 frames per second burst mode
  • 3-inch 921k-dot LCD display
  • 1080p full HD video
  • Full manual exposure control in video mode
  • Stereo sound with external microphone
  • Full time auto focus in video mode
  • 11-point auto focus system
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • Price: $699.95

There seems to be a theme with Nikon’s most recent DSLR announcements. In the past, Nikon was more conservative with their digital SLR resolution. But with the recently announced 36-megapixel D800 full frame digital SLR and the 24.2-megapixel D3200, they are clearly emphasizing megapixels. The 24.2-megapixel sensor in the D3200 isn’t brand new – it made an appearance last year in the Sony Alpha SLT-A65 and SLT-A77 digital SLRs and the image quality reports on those cameras are generally pretty good – especially considering the dramatic increase in resolution over previous APS-C crop sensor DSLRs. Nikon says, “The new 24.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor allows for incredibly sharp images with stunning detail and less noise, while Nikon’s EXPEED 3™ image processing engine helps to create clear, lifelike images and video with vivid colors, smooth tonal gradations and low noise.” The mention of Nikon’s own EXPEED 3 processing implies that they’re doing something different than Sony with the sensor and the image quality may be different. Without actually testing the camera I can’t say. But when I compared the Nikon D7000 and the Sony Alpha SLT-A55, which both used the same sensor, the image quality was almost exactly the same. So I’ll be very curious to see if Nikon has done anything to make the image quality of the D3200 noticeably different from the Sony A65 and A77 – both of which are more expensive cameras, by the way. The downside to the higher resolution will be the larger file size – especially for RAW shooters. Most photographers will need to buy higher capacity SD cards to accommodate the larger image files. Plus, transferring images will take longer and hard drives will fill up faster. So, even though the 24.2-megapixel sensor may look impressive on paper, it may not be worth the added time and memory expense.

On a more positive note, the Guide Mode and increased burst rate are both excellent improvements. The D3100’s 3 FPS burst was very slow and the D3200’s 4 FPS burst will make a real difference for photographers taking pictures of their kids, pets and friends in action. It’s especially impressive considering the big increase in resolution. The Guide Mode will also make a real difference. It gives photographers the tools to get more creative and understand photography better – and it’s located right on the mode dial. The D3200 press release says the Guide Mode provides, “step-by-step photo instructions to capture amazing images.” And it does so for movies as well as still photos.

The D3200 has full 1920×1080 HD video with full manual or automatic exposure controls and it can capture stereo sound with an external stereo microphone. Like other Nikon DSLRs it also has continuous auto focus in movie mode so you can track subjects in action. That’s a very useful feature that most other HD DSLRs don’t have.

Along with the D3200, Nikon is introducing a new accessory called the WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter. It’s an Android-compatible device that allows wireless transfer to mobile devices like smart phones and tablets. It can also be used to control the camera remotely. It will be Android-only to start but the press release says they’re planning to have an iPhone and iPad version available in the fall.

Obviously, I have mixed feelings about the increased resolution of the D3200. However, the faster burst rate and the Guide Mode both look great to me. And I do have an open mind. If the image quality is improved by the increased resolution, then it’s justified. Nikon surprised a lot of people with the 36-megapixel D800’s excellent image quality. But I think we’ve all learned by now, that just increasing the number of pixels doesn’t automatically equal a real improvement. I’m going to reserve judgment on this one until I get to test it myself or see some real world sample photos.

The Nikon D3200 is scheduled for delivery in late April – that’s right now. So it should be showing up in stores any day now. The list price in the US is $699.95 with the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR zoom lens. The WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter is supposed to be available in May for $59.95 with an iOS (iPhone) version to follow in the fall of 2012.

Nikon D3200 Press Release >>

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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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