Conclusion: A 'High-end' Camera for Beginners
There are some cameras that aren’t game-changers, but still manage to excel at what they’re supposed to do. The D3200 is one such camera, and in our opinion, it provides a truly enjoyable shooting experience for the novice shutterbug.
For those who don’t possess much knowledge about photography, the D3200 includes a very helpful Guide mode. And even if you do not utilize the Guide mode, the D3200 is a competent camera if you’ve just upgraded from a digital compact camera and are looking to improve on your photographic skills. The handling is great, and while it's not as small as a mirrorless camera, we feel that it's compact enough to attract even female users. Not to mention, there's a red color version.
The 24MP sensor is the D3200’s main selling point, and it's definitely capable of producing super high-resolution images. But an equally high quality lens is needed to realize its full potential, and the kit lens isn't that lens. That being said, with its good noise control, decent 4fps burst shooting speed, and good movie quality, there's not much to fault the D3200, especially when you consider its fairly wallet-friendly price tag.
The D3200 isn’t perfect though. For one, we would have preferred a less plastic-feeling body. And AF can be quite slow during live view shooting. While the Retouch menu presents a good amount of in-camera image editing functions, we feel more can be done, especially in the filter effects department. This is an area that compact cameras and mirrorless cameras are very strong in.
The D3200 is priced at S$1,099 for the 18-55mm lens kit, or S$1,349 for the 18-105mm lens kit. While we would like to recommend the D3200 wholeheartedly, we have to also consider the offerings that are available within this price bracket.
Is it an Ideal Choice for Me?
In terms of entry level models, the Sony Alpha SLT-A35 (or A37) comes with an 18-55mm kit lens and costs S$999. Sony's translucent mirror technology allows for a faster burst mode (useful for sports and action photographers), as well as faster autofocus during video recording. The Canon 650D is also a viable alternative. While it isn't an affordable entry-level model, and costs S$1,299 for the 18-55mm lens kit, the 650D offers nine AF points that are all cross-type (instead of a single one on the D3200). This makes for faster and more accurate autofocusing. The swiveling LCD display on the Canon 650D is also touch-sensitive, which is further icing on the cake.
How about those who own an older entry-level Nikon DSLR (for example, a D40X)? While the D3200 offers the useful Guide mode, it however, does not bring anything new to the table except more modern hardware. So if you have outgrown the entry-level models and would like to improve on your photographic skills, perhaps it would serve you better to take a look beyond the entry-level segment. It really boils down to what your needs are and how much you're willing to fork out for them. But for those who prefer a traditional DSLR shooting experience, prefer the Nikon user interface and consider the 24-megapixel sensor a compelling draw, then the D3200 will not disappoint. This is more so, if you've already got other lenses from Nikon to capitalize upon and the D3200 is acting as a secondary camera for more 'casual' usage.