Decisions…and Making One…Nikon D3200

OK – over the last few months, I’ve been thinking more and more towards actually getting a DSLR.  In the last week, I started to rationalize out and yesterday, I got a Nikon D3200 Smile

The Reasoning

I had some choices – everything was on sale!!  The biggest decision – do I buy next model up, but last years model (D3100 or D5100) or get an entry level “latest and greatest”.  The D3100 was a little less and the D5100 was the same price.  The research showed that obviously, the D5100 had more functionality.  This was one decision to make.  The D3200, in my thinking, would give me an entry point and at the same time but reasonably current.  The only big difference that would impact me, would be the flip out screen on the 5100, which was minor compared to extra processing speed that the D3200 would have.  All reviews showed that the D3200 was faster.

I had other reasons Smile  A DSLR, would be default, give more more shots per battery charge.  Not having to swap out in other words.  Not a big thing, but one that was important to me with what I do.  Just enough to be a consideration, but a minor point.  I was also hitting a point where I kinda sorta wanted extra control over and above what my other cameras were doing.  The big FINAL reason – or reasons, I guess.  I wasn’t commuting and I sorta have the time to explore a bit.  In comparing sizes and weight to my Panasonic GX1 and Nikon 1 J1, the initial feeling was that the D3200 weighed about the same as my others with 2 lenses, so the weight difference was significant.  I should be seeing better quality with a larger sensor and 24 Megapixels to boot.  The kit lens that came with it, 18-55 mm zoom didn’t get the greatest ratings, but for me, it should be more than adequate.  So far, my test shots are proving this out.  For me, this is going to be a fun adventure.

An entry level model?  Well, yes.  With the equipment I already have, I’m initially anticipating this to be a very low use unit.  The other side of this, was I was going to be shooting a LOT in either AUTO mode or Programmed Auto move.

Initial Reactions After Day 1

Well closer to 2/3 day Smile   Once I unpacked it and stuffed in an SD card, the very first thing I noticed was the sheer weight of it!!  Holy Smokes!!  Heavier than anything I’ve got from a base camera standpoint.  It had a bit of charge in it, so I took a couple of test shots.  It was like discovering a long lost friend Smile  Was I excited about getting this?  Well, YES Smile

For the most part, it didn’t take long to figure out some basics.  OK – this puppy starts up fast!!!  Anyway…. I took out the battery and while it was charging, I read the manual.  YES – I read the manual!!!  I found out some stuff that really helped for setting stuff up when I’m shooting.  The big thing – getting used to a viewfinder compared to looking at an LCD panel for composing.  Bright sunny days – this is going to be nice.  IF I have the camera with me.  More later….  The LiveView mode is pretty neat but being able to see all your settings is pretty awesome.  I could get at it easier with the little control button on the bottom left.  Time will tell how much I like the unit in general.  So far, it’s pretty impressive.

D3200D3200_LCD

Taking Photos

For sure – it was very different shooting thru a viewfinder.  Not unfamiliar, mind you but still different.  I only took a few shots in my light box and a couple of outdoor ones but so far, it’s a pretty nice handling unit.  My biggest complaint here, is, as I’ve mentioned before, will be it’s size and weight.  BUT, in saying that, I didn’t buy this for commuting either.  I wanted to see if there really is an advantage over my Compact System cameras.  On the first pass, getting at controls – the D3200 is much faster – period.   Composition and color – too early to tell, but it seems to be better even though it’s only an 11 point system.  Outdoors will be the true test here.  Inside is pretty good so far. 

From a picture quality standpoint – the colors look ever so slightly richer than my other cameras – very subtle, but it’s definitely there and for me, it popped out right away.  It’s not going to impact me so much on most of my photos, but it’s a nice thing to know up front.  One of the reasons I got this, was exactly for that.  I wanted to have that capability.  The larger sensor paves the way for different “types” of things I may want to do later.  We’ll see where the path goes.

So far, I’ve been using the D3200 at both the fine mode  and the Normal mode.  The Fine mode creates a 14 MB file and Normal runs around 7.5 MB at 24 MP.  So far, I’ve been staying in this mode but later today, if I get out and about, I may try other settings.  I’m in a bit of a time crunch, so I’ve got to use my time wisely today.  As much as I want to “play”… things have to get done Smile  I do, however, want to try some landscapes and see how it works.

The Kit Lens – this one is the AFS NIkkor 18-55mm/f3.5-5.6.  I really would like something a little wider but you know, it’s not that big of an issue Smile  I’ll just use one of my travel cams.   I’ve toyed with the idea of primes even for my Compact System Cameras, but so far, I haven’t really needed them.  This may change if I get more serious, but for now, it’s not that big of a deal. I’ll see what I can get out of this guy.  It focuses pretty quick and seems to focus a little better than my other cams in lower light, but not noticeably so.  It’s also quite big –  a consideration when I’m hunting a bag for it. IF I track a bag.  I’m still thinking on this one.

Some sample shots so far:

buffaloD3200 Lens CapholsterhorsessMintsSnowSolar lamp

With the exception of the outdoor ones, I used Paintshop Pro X6’s One Stop Adjustment setting and there was virtually no change, which was nice to see.  That tells me the metering compared to Paintshop’s algorithm is close.  I used FastStone Resizer to “webify” them.  A little cropping on the light box ones. 

I have a lot more experimenting to do, but so far, it’s been a lot of fun.

Learning Curve – For me, it didn’t take long to figure out basic operational stuff.  Reading the manual didn’t hurt as it showed me a couple of things that would make adjustments faster.  I think the biggest part here, is that if you know the “what”, it’s mostly a matter of achieving the settings to get the shot.  When I looked at DSLR’s, my fundamental thinking around this, was, quite simply, to get a feel for what this area had to offer to give me a “better” picture over and above what I was doing now.  For all intents and purposes – could I stay in Auto or Programmed Auto and still get a better photo than what I currently have to start with, and then, IF I needed something more controlled, to have that too without going too overboard.  This is not going to be a high use camera at this time so I wasn’t going to drop tons of money on this.  In the event I did get more serious, whatever I got needed to be expandable.

I was really torn between getting the Nikon against one of the Canon’s and in the end, I went for the Nikon.  In my 35mm days, I was all Canon – this time around, I decided to go Nikon.  In reality, for me, it broke down to these two, mostly for the extra lenses.  In the BIG picture, to me, it was simply easier to get extra stuff for these units compared to the rest.  Heck for the D3200, I could literally go anywhere to get it, which I did – I got mine at Future Shop.  It happened to be close when I pulled the trigger.  It was also a relatively inexpensive entry point at $500’ish.  Sure, I could have gotten one a long time ago, but you know, for me, the time wasn’t right, if you know what I mean.  I simply wasn’t ready to do this.  This time around, it felt right to do this, so I did.  I’m actually glad that I did do this, as it opened up some new possibilities too as I played with this more and more.

Compared to Compact System Cameras – OK – this, to me, was an interesting area as I already own a Panasonic GX1 and Nikon 1 J1 and I have two zooms for each.  I’ve owned both for a while now, and you know what?  I hardly use the big zooms!!  This is an important thing for me – especially for what I may ultimately want to do.  I’m also trying to rationalize out the “WHERE I’m going to use” this part of the puzzle.  You see, I now have the full range of equipment from the camera side – I have pointy shooties, I have travel cams, I have the advanced units in the Fuji X10 & Panasonic LX7, Compact System Cameras and now the D3200.  The D3200, for me, simply completes the “end to end”.  It’s not like I had only one camera and decided to jump in. 

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About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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