Monday, May 7, 2012

Thought Of The Day: Nikon D800 or Nikon D3200?

Someone asked this question and I thought it was interesting: which is better to buy, the Nikon D800 or the Nikon D3200? The question was asked by someone with a six-year-old Nikon D80 DSLR that wishes to upgrade.

And here we have one problem with digital technology: it becomes obsolete really, really quick.

Anyway, what the person wants to know is if the D3200 could be used for professional work and if the D800 is worth the $2,400 more that it costs.

As you may know, the D800 is a DSLR with a 36 megapixel full-frame sensor and the D3200 is a DSLR with a 24 megapixel APS-C sized sensor. 

To answer one question, the D3200 can absolutely be used for professional work. I have done professional work with cameras that are much less capable (and so have many others).

There are a number of photographers who are using the Sony NEX-7 for professional travel and street photography. The D3200 uses the same sensor as the NEX-7, but with better software and lenses. So if the NEX-7 can be used "professionally", why can't the D3200?

For budget-minded people in the market for a good DSLR, the D3200 is the first camera that should be considered.

Now, if you have the money, is it worth it to spend the $2,400 extra to get a D800?

The D800 might be the best digital camera ever made. According to DxOMark, it is better than every digital medium format camera out there! If you simply want the best, the extra money is worth it.

But, for practical purposes, there is not a huge difference in image quality between these two cameras. The D3200 has more resolution than what most photographers need. There are very, very few who need the resolution of the D800! For most people, both of these cameras are overkill.

What that $2,400 will get you (besides the extra resolution you likely don't need) is a slightly expanded dynamic range and less noise at high ISO. You will have to decide for yourself if those benefits are worth the cost. It may be worth it, depending on exactly what you are photographing, how you will use those images, and how you want your images to look. I think for most photographers and most photographs, the differences in image quality between these two cameras are not noticeable, and the D800 is not worth the higher cost. However, only you can know what you need for yourself.

The bottom line is if you have the money, the D800 may be the best digital camera that you can buy. If you are budget-minded (and who isn't these days?), the D3200 is a good alternative that can deliver the goods for a reasonable price.

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