FEATURES AND MODES
VR stands for ‘Vibration Reduction’ which works marvellously for reducing camera shake. Turning the VR mode off will let the D3200 take ‘Long-Shutter’ photos up to 30 seconds, but a tripod or flat sturdy surface is recommended to minimize blur.
The Automatic/Manual is simple and works very well. The automatic the focus ring is locked and a quick change to manual gives full control of the lens. The focus ring feels very fluid but it can still be hard to get a smooth pan while in video mode. The feel of the of the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens compared to the Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens Kit is much better.
Along the front left sits the dedicated flash button, and next to that is the programmable ‘Function’ button. You can set the FN button to change the ISO white balance then simply scroll with the ‘Command dial’ to change settings easily. Next above the D3200 logo rests the built in microphone. The quality of the microphone is adequate, if you are going to be taking a lot of video with this camera, but we recommend an external microphone. The result will register a much richer and warmer sound. When recording video and just holding the body of the camera, make sure you don’t cover the microphone with your fingers like this reviewer did.
The Hot shoe on the top will accept a beast of a flash like the SB-910 AF or SB-900 Speedlight, SB-700 or the smaller SB-400. If off, camera flash is something you want to try out you can purchase the SC-28 TTL Coiled Remote Cord. If you’re looking for wireless options check out the Nikon SU-800 Remote Commander. PocketWizard has also released Beta firmware for their line of MiniTT1/FlexTT5 remotes.
Under the Hot shoe sits the built-in flash. A button on the left can popup the flash or it can automatically popup in certain modes (you can set flash modes in the ‘Information Display’ menu, or you can quickly set the mode by holding down the flash button and scrolling through settings with the Command dial). There are a lot of different flash modes – i.e. fill-flash, auto with red-eye reduction, slow sync, rear-curtain sync – but overall the flash works and recycles pretty quickly, especially if just used for fill-flash on bright but shadow casting days.
The mode dial features several preprogrammed settings for novice users, or photographers who need to take a snapshot under certain circumstances quickly. ‘Guide mode’ is a great for users wanting to learn how to do a specific shot. It will not teach you everything related to setting-up the shot, but Guide mode is still a fantastic tool to practice certain shots – for example ‘Long-Shutter’ with minimal trial and error.
Shooting in ‘Manual’ and ‘Program’ can be a little daunting; the menu system has not been optimized for user friendliness. Lack of buttons is one thing you will notice about the D3200. There are a few shortcuts, but this will be the largest factor for someone upgrading from a point-and-shoot. It might seem confusing at first, even frustrating.
Next to the Mode dial sits the dedicated movie button. The D3200 can record full 1080p video at 30fps for up to 20 minutes per file. The D3200 encodes video in the H.264 codec and is also capable of recording at 25p/24p. If recording at 720p 60p/50p respectively, video mode is very simple to use. Still it’s governed by a few presets you can’t change. We will come back to the menu later, but if you read your instructions and watch a couple of tutorial videos online, the mastery will not take long. As it stands the menus system is this Nikon D3200’s largest flaw.