Nikon D3200: Megapixel mania

Posted on by Mike Evans

Only a year or so ago the pundits were saying 12 Megapixels is all the sane photographer needs for perfect pictures. That’s all forgotten as the big players have upped the ante four-fold. First we get the professional Nikon D800 with its 36 Mp full-frame sensor, now comes the announcement of the entry level D3200 DSLR [1] with no fewer than 24 million pixels on its smaller, DX sensor.

This newcomer puts the more expensive Nikon half-frame DSLRs, the D5100 and D7000, in the shade. At least on paper. Handling and features are another matter.

Pixel bloat

Pixel bloat is fine for the professional photographer who works for glossy magazines and advertising agencies. Here, pixels do matter. But for the newcomer to DSLRs, perhaps 23 Mp is a bit over the top. My new Fuji X-Pro 1 which I reviewed this week has only 16 Mp yet turns out superb results that produce high-resolution cropped images.

More pixels mean bigger files [2] and amateurs could start to wonder why their SD cards and computers are filling up so quickly.

The D3200, which will be slightly more expensive than the existing D3100 and, apparently, will not supplant Nikon’s starter DSLR, is an attractive little beast and will fall off the shelves. I particularly like the alternative red body.

Travel companion for Nikon fans

I can see it being popular with experienced Nikon owners who would like a lighter, smaller body to complement a D7000 or, even, D800 full-frame pro. They will be happy shooting with a good prime lens such as the 35mm f/1.8 DX. This is equivalent to ~50mm on a full-frame DSLR and offers a “normal” all-round focal length for 90 percent of your needs. With the benefit of the high pixel count, cropping will become more popular as an alternative to mounting heavier and less wieldy zoom lenses. As you know, I’m not a fan of zooms.

The new D3200 with the Nikkor 35mm DX lens weighs in at a nifty 700g [3]. The Fuji X-Pro with its 35mm f/1.4 metal lens is slightly lighter at 637g, but much less bulky to carry around. It’s also three times as expensive as the D3200 and, of course, cannot be compared directly with the Nikon. It is aimed at a completely different audience and is built of metal to exacting standards that even Leica owners would appreciate.

Now we wait for the new D7100 which surely cannot be far away.

  1. Digital Single Lens Reflex  ↩
  2. You can choose to shoot smaller images and, I suspect, this is what most newcomers will do to cut down file size.  ↩
  3. For the sake of comparison, the new D800 professional camera with 50mm prime lens such as the superb f/1.4 AFS G, weighs in at 1.29 kg. You can see why the D3200 makes an attractive travelling companion.  ↩
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