A couple of years ago, camera experts confidently predicted the megapixel race had come to an end and that no one needed more than 16 megapixels in a DSLR. Well, 2012 is proving that Nikon didn't get that memo, because after launching the 36.3-megapixel D800, it's now announced a 24.2-megapixel entry-level DSLR. The Nikon D3200 HD-SLR has a DX-format CMOS sensor, shoots Full HD (1080p) and is being released with an optional WiFi unit supporting image upload and remote viewing/shutter release.
The launch of the D3200 leaves us in a bizarre position where the entry-level Nikon DSLR has a higher megapixel count than any Canon offering, including their pro models. Obviously that doesn't mean much in terms of image quality, but it does show the two camera giants have differing opinions on the megapixel debate, and it will be interesting to see which path leads to the better cameras.
Nikon's argument for the 24.2-megapixel 6,016 x 4,000 pixel sensor (up from 14.2 megapixels in the D3100) is that it allows for incredibly sharp and detailed images, meaning users can get high quality shots even when having to crop heavily into an image. All of that detail will come at a price, however – file size. When shooting RAW and JPEG Fine each image could take up 31.9 MB. Many people will also be concerned that such densely-packed pixels will result in noisy images, but as was the case with the surprisingly well-performing D800, we'll have to wait and see.
In addition to the jump in megapixels, the D3200 boasts a native ISO range from ISO 100 to 6400 and is a touch faster than the D3100 – having being bumped to 4 fps. It also features an 11-point AF system and the same EXPEED 3 image processing engine as the Nikon D4, which promises to produce life-like images with vivid colors and smooth tonal gradations while also cutting image noise.
Video recording modes include Full HD at 1,920 x 1,080/30p/25p/24p as well as 720p at 60 frames per second. In addition to the built-in mono microphone, Nikon has also added a 3.5mm mic input with adjustable sensitivity to vastly improve the audio quality of your recordings.
The 5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1-inch (125 x 96 x 76.5 mm) camera has an improved 3-inch 921k-dot screen with a 160-degree viewing angle and brightness adjustment. The shutter unit is tested for 100,000 cycles and the D3200 HD-SLR has a Nikon F mount with AF contacts, meaning it is compatible with NIKKOR lenses – though because it lacks a built-in autofocus motor, you'll be limited to AF-S lenses if you want autofocus.
A new easier-to-use guide mode is there to teach DSLR newbies how to achieve different styles of image – like how to freeze motion, soften backgrounds or reduce blur – and talks them through the process of what to change before giving them the choice to take the photo in the viewfinder or with Live View. A retouch menu also allows for in-camera editing and adding functions like selective color, miniature effect or color sketch.
Released alongside the Nikon D3200 is the new WU-1a wireless adapter. It's a clever little device which can be used for image upload and remote viewing/shutter release via a free Android app – with an iOS version due to follow later this year.
Wi-Fi shooting means images can be taken remotely using a compatible smart device within a distance of up to 49 feet (15 meters), and using the camera's Live View preview on the smart device to frame and compose the subject. It's basically a consumer version of the D4's WT-5A, but with a much smaller range and an equally diminutive price tag.
The Nikon D3200 is due to be available by the end of the month for US$699 with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR. The WU-1a should be out by May at US$59 … oh yeah, the D3200 also comes in red, but let's not even discuss that.