I know the D3200 isn’t a particularly recent camera – indeed if it was, I wouldn’t have bought it because it would be too expensive. And as a professional photographer, you might ask, why would I buy one at all? Well, there are a few reasons:
Firstly, I’m not the sort of photographer that says one must have top notch kit for all occasions. Even thought the D3200 is very cheap and has plenty of limitations, it has its niche and I intend to add it to the D4 and D800E as a third and very useful camera to the stable. Typically this would be for when I don’t need either the speed or the ISO performance of the other two.
Secondly, a lot of people turn up on my workshops with lower end SLRs and bridge cameras and it’s always useful to know my way around these first hand and not just from the manuals I download to my iPhone when teaching.
Thirdly, this is a tiny camera and quite literally fits in my coat pocket. I’m not used to such practicality! The small form factor and lightness make this an ideal camera to have on you at all times, whereas packing the big guns is a hassle.
Fourthly, I bought it to use in camera traps and for adding an additional view where two cameras aren’t enough. This might mean in a multi-trap setup, or as more recently, when I filmed the Elf Run, adding a high up static camera angle.
We had a family day out at Seahouses in Northumberland today, so I thought I’d try the camera out with a 50mm f/1.4 prime lens. I have to say, I’m impressed! The only major thing I seem to need to add in post production is some extra sharpening. The dynamic range appears good and the camera handles pretty well in the hand. It took me a while to get used to the small format and the shared controls – remember, I’m used to dedicated controls on the D4 and D800E – but I got to grips with it pretty quickly. Even when I accidentally underexposed a few shots by three full stops, the noise was acceptable for some purposes at ISO3200. This is really expecting a lot of a camera: 3 stops down at ISO3200. Camera technology has come on in leaps and bounds since the early days of digital and I think it’s a lesson we pros can learn: just how good some of these so called bottom of the range cameras actually are.
I often like to use flash in portrait photography so that I can lift shadows and shoot against the sun for example. This compensates for the lack of dynamic range on most DSLRs by allowing the camera to expose for the bright parts (e.g. the sky) while the flash lights up the foreground (e.g. a face). The flash was more than powerful enough to cope with this, even at moderate distances, and a little post-processing in Lightroom sorted out a tiny amount of red-eye.
All in all, I’m very impressed with this little camera and it’ll be a very useful addition to the armoury. Here are the rest of the photos from today with comments: