Nikon D3200 Review

 
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Nikon D3200 Performance


Timing and Performance

Good to slightly slower than average speed for an entry-level digital SLR.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~0.4 second

Time it takes for camera to turn on and take a shot.

Shutdown

~0.1 second

How long it takes to turn off.

Buffer clearing time

4 seconds *
after 20 L/F JPEGs

Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't shut down until the buffer is cleared.

7 seconds *
after 12 RAW frames
13 seconds *
after 8 RAW + JPEG frames

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/s UHS-I SDHC memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times.

The Nikon D3200's startup time was about average for an SLR, but shutdown was quite fast and difficult to measure. Buffer clearing times were good with a fast card, considering the 24-megapixel files and entry-level class.

 

Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.3 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~0.9 second

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~0.2 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching was pretty fast for a consumer SLR: Play to Record and displaying a captured large/fine JPEG image were so fast they were difficult to measure, though switching from Record to Play immediately after capturing an image was about average.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF (Center AF point)

0.276 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. (All AF timing measured with Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8G Macro lens).

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF, Flash enabled

0.289 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, Auto Flash enabled.

Full Autofocus
Auto Area AF

0.392 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Continuous AF
0.163 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual focus
0.141 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "pre-focused."

Pre-focused

0.114 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Full Autofocus
Live View
Single-servo AF

1.36 seconds

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture.

Pre-focused
Live View

0.513 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Nikon D3200's full autofocus shutter lag when shooting the same target multiple times was on the slower side of average for a consumer SLR. The D3200 required about 0.28 second for full AF using the center focus point. Enabling the flash raised shutter lag to 0.29 second, which is actually pretty good, as very little delay was added for the metering preflash. Shutter lag increased to 0.39 second in Auto-area AF mode. Continuous autofocus shutter lag was 0.163 second and Manual focus shutter lag was 0.141 second. When prefocused, shutter lag dropped to 0.114 second, which is also a little slower than average these days, but still pretty fast.

Full autofocus was much slower in Live View mode, as expected. The Nikon D3200 only offers contrast-detect AF in Live View, which took about 1.4 seconds to focus in our tests. (How fast the lens can adjust focus makes a big difference here.) Prefocused shutter lag was also slower in Live View mode, at about 0.51 second.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with most interchangeable lens cameras (on all platforms except NX, Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds and Nikon models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.

 

Cycle Time (shot-to-shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.47 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.50 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG

0.49 second

Time per shot, averaged over 10 shots.

Early shutter
penalty?

No
(Yes with Flash)

Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.25 second (3.99 frames per second);
20+ frames total;
4 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots with no signs of slowing down.

Continuous mode
RAW

0.25 second (3.99 frames per second);
12 frames total;
7 seconds to clear

0.25 seconds for the first 12 frames, then slows to an average of 0.69 seconds (1.45 fps) when buffer is full.

Continuous mode
RAW + L/F
JPEG

0.25 second (3.98 frames per second);
8 frames total;
13 seconds to clear

0.25 seconds for the first 8 frames, then slows to an average of 1.34 seconds (0.74 fps) when buffer is full.

Flash recycling

4.0 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/s UHS-I SDHC memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and other settings such as Advanced D-Lighting or NR can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle times were about average, at 0.47 second for large/fine JPEGs, 0.50 second for RAW files, and 0.49 second for RAW + Large/Fine JPEG frames. Continuous mode speeds were pretty good for an entry-level SLR, especially one capturing 24-megapixel images, at about 4 frames per second for any quality. Buffer depths were also pretty good for a budget model, at over 20 large/fine JPEG frames, 12 RAW frames and 8 RAW + Large/Fine JPEG frames. (We use a difficult to compress target for this test, so bursts containing JPEGs of typical scenes should be longer.) The flash took 4 seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, which is a touch slow for an SLR.

 

Download speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

10,769 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds were quite fast.

Bottom line, the Nikon D3200 is a little slower than average when it comes to autofocus and shutter lag these days. Single shot cycle-time and continuous mode performance are pretty good for an entry-level model, though, especially considering the resolution.

Battery

Battery Life
About average battery life for a lithium-ion powered consumer SLR.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Optical Viewfinder,
(CIPA standard)
540

The Nikon D3200 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Battery life when using the optical viewfinder is about average for a compact consumer SLR. Nikon does not specify battery life for Live View mode, but it will certainly be a lot lower. We recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings, or when using Live View a lot.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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