Monday, April 23, 2012

Thought Of The Day: Nikon D3200, etc.

I hate writing about equipment. What camera you do or don't own makes very little difference to the outcome of your images. People spend way too much time and money on equipment and not nearly enough time and money learning how to create great photographs. Your equipment is simply a means (and one of many "means") to an end and is in no way an end unto itself.

But since about 95% of the traffic that comes to this Blog is looking for information on equipment (compared to about 1% that come here looking for ways to improve their photography), I continue to discuss equipment. I guess everyone knows how to take great photographs, if only they had this camera or that camera....

One camera that I'm excited about is the Nikon D3200 DSLR. It has 24 megapixels on an APS-C sized sensor. This sensor is actually the same sensor found in the Sony NEX-7.

The NEX-7, in case you live under a rock, is one of the most in-demand cameras on the market. Because of the high demand and a lack of supply, you'll have to pay well above the $1,350 MSRP to secure one. Last I checked, you'll have to hand over around $1,800 to get one with a kit lens. Once supply catches up to demand, the price will come down.

The D3200 with a kit lens has an MSRP of $700, about half of the NEX-7's suggested retail price. Yes, the NEX-7 has some features the D3200 doesn't, but not enough to justify the significant cost difference.

Two quick points about Nikon vs. Sony: Nikon has better built-in software and Nikon has better lenses.

Nikon's Expeed 3 software is one of the best (if not the best) in-camera software out there. The differences between it and Sony's software are not significant at low ISO, but there is a large difference at high ISO. Nikon will get the absolute most out of the camera's sensor, even more than Sony can.

Nikon has a large selection of high quality lenses, while Sony has a small selection of ho-hum lenses. With the same sensor, you can get sharper images with Nikon. Don't overlook this point.

At low ISO, the D3200's image quality will match up very closely to Canon's $3,500 5D Mark III. It wouldn't surprise me if the D3200 actually exceeds it slightly. The 5D Mark III will outperform the D3200 at high ISO. If you don't do a lot of low-light photography (and most photographers don't do a lot of low-light photography... at least not without a tripod or lighting equipment), you'll be able to get the same image quality but for 1/5th the cost.

If I'm in the market for a new digital camera and I don't want to spend $3,000 for the Nikon D800 (which might be the best digital camera ever made), I'd seriously consider the D3200.

Heck, my Samsung NX200, a great camera that I purchased not very long ago, might soon be a "back-up" camera. And perhaps it's time to retire my two-year-old Pentax K-x....


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