Nikon D3200 review

Image Quality

Nikon D3200 review - Image Quality

Tone and Exposure

The D3200 offers the choice of three metering modes - 3D color matrix metering II, Centre-weighted or spot. In use, and the multi-zone matrix metering does a good job of exposing scenes nice and evenly. There will be times though that a little bit of exposure compensation is required to correct for slightly bleached out skies, or to lighten portraits. If you're going to be shooting JPEGs, then the D3200 features Active D-Lighting, bringing up shadow detail, at the same time retaining highlight detail.


White Balance and Colour

The Auto White Balance of the D3200 does a solid job, and while results are ever so slightly on the warm side of neutral, the D3200 delivered pleasing results. There's also a host of presets to choose from if you want to be more precise with your white balance control, though there's no manual Kelvin temperature scale available for really precise adjustment should you want it - not necessarily essential on a camera for this market.

If you're shooting JPEG, then there's a choice of Picture Controls as well: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape, while each preset can be adjusted to personal taste. Sharpening, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation and Hue can all be altered.

Sharpness and Detail

With a resolution of 24.2MP, there's plenty of scope here for large prints and the flexibility to crop images pretty tightly should you need to. The level of detail is very good and will be more than enough for most peoples shooting requirements. The 18-55mm lens is one of the better performing lenses in this class, but to make the most out of the sensor, then higher performing optics will increase the sharpness achievable. This doesn't even have to break the bank either - a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens is a great starting point at only £160.


Raw/JPEG

The D3200 is bundled with Nikon's View NX2 software for Raw file conversion and adjustment that provides a pretty good level of control, though expect support from Photoshop CS6 and Elements 10 in the near future.

Straight out of the camera and Raw files are a touch flatter than the JPEG files, which have a slight boost in saturation. Image noise at higher ISOs is subdued in JPEG files, though this is at the expense of sharpness, where the Raw file retains more detail.

ISO Quality

The D3200 has a native ISO range from 100-6400, expandable to an ISO equivalent of ISO 12,800 at its Hi1 setting.

While the sensor is much more densely populated with pixels over the D3100, ISO image noise performance is very good. Even up to ISO 800, image noise is kept well in check. Above that, and colour noise becomes more noticeable, and though the in-camera processing does a good job at controlling this, sharpness does suffer a small amount. Moving on up to the higher sensitivities, and while image noise is more prominent, it's still more than useable to a point.

Movie Mode

Full HD 1080p capture is possible at 24, 25, 30fps - improving on the D3100 that would record at only 24fps. There's a built-in mono microphone, but if you want to capture footage with stereo sound, there's a 3.5in microphone socket on the side of the camera that'll connect to an external microphone, such as Nikon's ME-1 stereo mic.


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Price as reviewed

with 18-55mm lens
£649.00

Scores

WDC-goldaward
Scores
Design 18/20
Image Quality 19/20
Performance 18/20
Value 17/20
Features 18/20
Overall Score 90%

User Score