Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Camera Labs Posts D3200 Review

Cameras Labs, one of the very few camera websites that I read and take completely seriously, has posted its review of the Nikon D3200. If you don't already know, the D3200 is Nikon's new entry-level SLR camera that's rocking the same 24MP sensor as the Sony NEX-7 and A77/65.

The D3200 is a great camera, and further evidence as to why Canon should be very worried. The Nikon has 24MP... 24MP, and it outperforms the similarly-priced Canon 550D/600D even though that only needs to handle 18MP.

Noise performance in the tests is similar to other tests, placing the D3200 ahead of the NEX-7 at some ISO's and behind it in others. How odd. Something that is very noticeable, at least to me, is better sensitivity to blue compared to Sony's implementations of the sensor. In general, though, I would describe the image quality as nearly identical to the NEX-7.

The D3200 is about as small as you're going to get with a full mirror-&-prism set-up, and with the excellent workflow of Nikon, and access to Nikon's FF lenses if desired, the D3200 is really shaping up to be an excellent entry-level camera. The only issue that I see is that cameras from Sony, and even Panasonic and Olympus, offer greater speed and better per-pixel ISO performance, which isn't surprising with 24-freakin-megapixels wedged onto an APS-C sensor.

If you are considering this in comparison to a Canon, the choice is a no-brainer: the Nikon. Even with 24MP, the Nikon outperforms all of Canon's APS-C cameras as regards noise levels. But if you are looking into Sony, Panasonic, or Olympus, your choices are more difficult. The new Olympus E-M5 offers better noise performance and exceptional speed. Doubly to their advantage is the speed of Micro 4/3 lenses, with many cheap lenses having two, or even three, stops performance better than anything that Nikon makes for its smaller-sensored cameras. The 20mm f/1.7 lens is small, optically excellent, and less than $400 (when it's not sold out and being used to gouge customers by shit-head camera shops).

And while Sony's APS-C lenses are either ultra-expensive or just as slow as Nikon's (with a pretty standard max-aperture of f/3.5), their translucent mirror technology slaps a turbocharger into their cameras. Sony's SLT cameras offer so much speed that you would never miss a shot. Just point and press. That speed advantage is the reason why I would still opt for the Sony A57, especially if the primary mission is just that of a family camera. But if you are an aspiring landscape photographer on a budget, I can't think of a cheaper and more appropriate entrance into the 20MP club.

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