Nikon D3200 Digital SLR: The Beginner’s D-SLR Camera Review

  • Design
  • Performance
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Features
3.7 Star Rating
Reviewed By Nathan Watson Video & Media

I recently purchased the Nikon D3200 d-SLR and it made me realize that it is a great entry level d-SLR camera for taking high quality pictures and videos with stunning details. It has many features to help myself and beginners to capture pictures and videos similar to the professionals.

This d-SLR has impressive machinery that is responsible for creating a very powerful and compact entry level camera. It has 24.2 megapixels, DX format, CMOS sensor and an EXPEED 3 processor all for taking pictures and recording videos at high resolutions. The D3200 also has useful features such as a 3inch LCD display monitor, a wide ISO range, 11 autofocus points, fast continuous shooting and a friendly Guide Mode. There are also a lot of other interesting and useful features available for this D3200.

Moreover when purchasing the basic Nikon D3200 package, I was given an 18-55mm NIKKOR zoom lens, D3200 camera body, rechargeable li-ion battery, battery charger, A/V cable, USB cable, camera strap and NikonViewNX 2 software. For the price that I paid for it, I obtained quite a lot of useful tools.

Easy Setup and Use

The setup for the Nikon D3200 is a relatively simple and quick setup. The first thing you must do is connect the standard 18-55mm VR zoom lens to the D3200 body. Then insert the li-ion battery and SD card to their proper slot. After that, install the NikonViewNX 2 software that came with the camera. Now, you are ready to turn the camera on and test out all the different modes to takes pictures and record videos.

For new users, I recommend first using the Guide mode. The Guide mode is created to teach beginners how to shoot picture, record videos, review photos and configure the d-SLR camera. The Guide mode also displays multiple settings for different photo shooting situations with sample pictures each specific example. This mode is perfect for teaching all beginners the basic functions on the D3200.

Once you are more accustomed to D3200’s functions, try out other shooting modes for situations such as landscapes, close ups, low light settings, movement, and other advance modes. There are plenty of options to get the best photographic images of certain scenic settings. The more you are familiarized with the D3200, the better the pictures and videos will turn out.

From becoming more accustom to the Nikon D3200, I have acquired some personalized settings that will make using the D3200 more enjoyable. All of the following settings can be found in the Menu section. I highly recommend changing the settings below versus staying with the default.

  • Image review [OFF]
  • Image quality [JPEG Fine]
  • AF-area mode [Single-point AF]
  • Manual move settings [ON]
  • Auto info Display [OFF]

Nikon D3200 Design

The Nikon D3200 is a small and compact d-SLR camera that is most appropriate for handheld usage. The camera comes in black or red and is made mostly of plastic. As well, the right side grip is covered with a high quality rubber coating to help maintain grip. This small and compact D3200 is also extremely lightweight. The main camera body weighs in at approximately 16 ounces. There are also other unique design features such as the fixed LCD display screen, scene mode dial and camera connectivity.

The fixed LCD display screen fits in nicely with the rest of the camera. It sits at 3 inches diagonally. The display screen is used for taking high angled, low angled or other unique angle shots that is otherwise impossible for the viewfinder. The LCD display screen also illuminates properly during daytime or nighttime. Basically, the 3 inch LCD display screen provides difficult angles with easy views.

The scene mode dial is located at the top right side of the D3200. To use the dial, all you have to do is rotate it to the preferred scene mode. The scene mode consists of portrait, landscape, child, sports, close up and low light setting.

There are several connectivity ports that come with this camera. They are located on the left side of the camera covered by a protective flap. There is a HDMI port, USB port, GPS/remote socket and an audio jack for an external microphone.

Camera Performance

The Nikon D3200 performs quite highly with the EXPEED 3 processor. This camera can autofocus in and take a quick picture in the ranges of 0.4 – 1.2 seconds depending on a couple of conditions. Conditions such as amount of light, distance of object, picture quality, flash or view mode can modify the amount of time it takes to shoot one picture. This camera can also take continuous shots at a rate of 4fps. That calculates into about roughly 0.6 – 0.7 seconds for two consecutive shots. The autofocus of the viewfinder and Live View mode also plays a row in the performance of the D3200.

The autofocus is a great feature of this d-SLR camera. The autofocus will focus on whatever object it is pointed at by holding down the shoot button halfway. This camera is also intelligent enough to not re-focus a shot when using continuous shots. The only problem I have with the autofocus is that it can be a bit sluggish. And depending on certain view modes such as viewfinder or live view, it can take a bit longer.

The autofocus through the viewfinder is the faster of the two. Through the small viewfinder, pressing the shoot button halfway will momentarily flash a red light at the focal point.  The red flash can sometimes be difficult to spot in bright lighting. Using the viewfinder is my preferred method of shooting as it is the quickest.

The autofocus through the Live View mode is excruciatingly slower. However, the benefits of using the Live View mode are plenty. When encountering difficult high or low angles, the live view can easily display the shot on the LCD screen, whereas the viewfinder cannot. I would only use this method of viewing for only special circumstances.

When comparing the performances of this camera with a high end d-SLR camera, the D3200 isn’t even in the same class. However for the price, it is good enough and powerful enough for most enthusiast photographers.

Image Quality

The Nikon D3200 produces exceptional pictures at an effective 24.2 megapixels and when taking in the account of image noises and ISO, the D3200 does great at low ISO But below average at high ISO. Grainy pictures or noise doesn’t begin to become noticeable until around ISO 800. This d-SLR camera is capable of reaching ISO 12800 with boost but I would not recommend that.

Remember, the D3200 is just an entry level camera and isn’t made to create quality images at such a high ISO. So, I personally wouldn’t go over ISO 400. Although, detailed images at higher ISO is possible depending on whether shooting in RAW or JPEG.

The Nikon D3200 is capable of shooting images at four different formats and they are RAW, JPEG Fine, JPEG Normal or JPEG Basic. When shooting in RAW, most of the megapixel sensor is being used and ISO can be operated at a higher level. I find that shooting at JPEG Fine is a good balance and is my preferred setting.

When using the Nikon D3200 at low ISO, the image quality is comparable to almost any d-SLR camera. My only issue with this camera is that the white balancing can be off at dim lights.

Video Quality

The Nikon D3200 can record full videos up to 1080p while have continuous autofocus, manual exposure control and audio control. This camera can also record videos in slow motion up to 60fps with a tradeoff of a lower resolution. Simultaneously, all videos are recorded in H.264/MPEG-4 format at quality of 1080p or 720p. Below are the various recording options available for the D3200.

  • HD 1,920×1,080 @ 30 fps
  • HD 1,920×1,080 @ 25 fps
  • HD 1,920×1,080 @ 24 fps
  • HD 1,280×720 @ 60 fps
  • HD 1,280×720 @ 50 fps

As for sound, this d-SLR has built-in microphones. Although, I prefer to use the audio jack and plug in an external microphone to avoid gathering sounds from the lens focusing. The sensitivity of the microphone can also be adjusted.

As you have been informed, this camera is capable of continuous autofocus while recording videos. The one problem I have is with the autofocus for videos are that it is slow and loses some functionality in dim lights. Otherwise, videos created from the D3200 looks wonderful.

Wi-Fi Adapter Option (WU-1a)

As an option, Nikon offers a Wi-Fi adapter called WU-1a for the D3200 camera. The WU-1a is a small device and is barely noticeable. Although, the only downside to the adapter is that it uses the USB port and the flap will remain open and unsightly when in use.

Other than that, the WU-1a benefits users by allowing smartphones and tablets with the Nikon app to transfer images and videos remotely. Also, the Live View can be streamed to the smartphone or tablet as well. Having the WU-1a can be useful and convenient but it is not necessary.

The Pros of Nikon D3200

  • Compact
  • Good quality at high ISOs
  • Guide Mode for beginners
  • Continuing autofocus in video mode
  • Good quality video output

The Cons of Nikon D3200

  • Small viewfinder
  • Fixed LCD screen
  • No dedicated ISO button


The Nikon D3200 digital SLR is a very capable and compact camera. With the Guide mode and other features, this camera is perfect as an entry level device for beginners curious in advance photography. As for the price, I believe it to be reasonable enough to upgrade from point and shoot cameras.

Overall, I am very happy with the Nikon D3200. I can create quality images and videos from this camera with all the options and modes available. If you are interested in photography, I highly recommend you getting the entry level d-SLR camera that is the Nikon D3200.

Get The Nikon D3200

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