With mirrorless system cameras slowly eating into the entry-level DSLR camera segment, it seems that entry-level DSLR cameras are dying a slow death. If you noticed, the number one claim of all mirrorless camera makers is that you can get DSLR quality in a mirrorless camera, sans the bulkiness and complicated controls. If so, why would anyone need a DSLR camera?
Still, there are many who prefer a DSLR over a mirrorless camera. Common reasons cited are the former's use of a larger sensor (more applicable to those looking for a full-frame camera, since many mirrorless cameras use APS-C sensors too), the availability of an optical viewfinder, better controls, and the satisfaction of holding a 'real' camera. And let's not forget that the entry DSLR segment is still the most important segment (unit share and profit share wise) for DSLR makers, so we might even see some innovations in the near future that are geared toward countering the mirrorless camera onslaught. (By the way, Nikon has just announced the new Nikon 1 J2 mirrorless camera.)
Enter the Nikon D3200. A successor to last year’s D3100, the D3200 sports some impressive specifications for an entry-level DSLR, some of which are commonly found on mid-range or top-tier models. While it's perfectly normal to expect average specs for an entry-level DSLR, the Nikon D3200 bucks this trend, sporting Nikon’s latest image-processing engine, the Expeed 3, which promises high-speed processing and updated phase detection autofocus (AF) for faster AF capabilities. Light sensitivity has also been improved from the previous model, with the D3200 now capable of shooting up to ISO 6,400 (12,800 with boost).
But what truly sets it apart from its peers is its 24.2-megapixel (effective) CMOS sensor, the highest megapixel count in an APS-C sensor to date. Sure, there are other cameras with a 24MP APS-C sensor, such as the Sony Alpha SLT-A65 and SLT-A77 SLT cameras, as well as the quite superb NEX-7 mirrorless camera - but at S$1,099 (18-55mm lens kit), the D3200 is the most affordable of the lot. Not to mention, it's a 'real' DSLR, with a mirror box and an optical viewfinder.
Of course, megapixel count matters little if the other aspects of the camera aren't up to standard. So, has Nikon delivered an impressive DSLR for beginners in the D3200, or is it just smoke and mirrors? Read on to find out.