Nikon D3200 - Review and user experience - Part 3


There is one area where even the cheapest Nikons score very well, and that is handling and speed of use. Having bought my first Nikon in 1991 (F4) picking this one up feels like meeting an old friend. I rearely need to use the manual on a new Nikon since I'm so familiar with the layouts and the way they work. Its exactly the same with the D3200. 

Its somewhat difficult for me objectively to say how it compares with other cameras and any comments I do make have to be considered in the light that I'm used to Nikons, I like using Nikons and the way they lay things out is almost second nature to me. 

However, using that as the basis for these comments, I find it quick and easy to use. For a cheap(er) camera its very responsive. AF and shutter release is quick and positive, metering is excellent, and when I need to change settings pressing one button brings up a menu I can use to change all the basic important important settings. Unlike some other cameras I'm not hunting through a menu layout that makes no sense and I can find what I need pretty much when I need it.

Because the camera has no built in AF motor, and because many of the lenses I have are motor free also, I have to use lenses such as the 35mm f/2D and obviously my Voigtlander 20mm and 90mm in manual focus only. Fortunately the D3200 has the Nikon MF confirmation system which brings up a white dot in the bottom of the viewfinder when focus is achieved. In addition to this dot there is an indication of which direction you need to rotate the barrel to achieve focus which looks like an over or under exposure indicator and another confirmation when two small lines highlight a centre point. It sounds complicated but its not. Unlike some previous Nikon MF indicators I've used in the past, this one is 100% accurate and also very fast to use. 

Its so good that I find this to be the fastest and most accurate MF system I've used. Somewhat odd that this should be in a Nikon DSLR. Previous to this I liked the NEX-7 focus peaking very much but this is actually very good indeed and makes using MF lenses a pleasure and not a chore.

Other nice features include a very nippy burst rate and a nice comfortable grip. One thing I don't like is that I keep changing the focus point for the AF because I keep pressing the 4-way selecter switch by accident, something that used to irritate me with the Olympus OM-D.

There is not much else to say other than its a Nikon. If you have used one before you will know how it goes, if not then you will find it somewhat different to most CSC / Mirrorless / E.V.I.L cameras. All the controls are somewhat less fiddly than they can be on those cameras and while the D3200 is not over endowed with knobs etc. its still much more "old school" than many modern cameras.

One place where it doesn't score well is the usual Nikon DSLR live view implementation, which is as slow and clunky as in previous cameras, including the D800E. I do realise that the mirror has to be moved out of the way to do this, but there must be a better way to get the camera(s) into live view quicker and easier than this. It would of course also have been nice if the camera had a moveable screen like the D5100.

However overall its a pleasure to use and as I said at the top of this piece, it does indeed feel like an old friend.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
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