A Few Days In With My Nikon D3200

I’ve been finding that using my new Nikon D3200 has been a nice break from job hunting.  Actually, when it comes down to it, I’ve been using a few of my cameras.  My job search nowadays is running in the order of 6 to 8 hours with breaks in between, so doing something that is a total diversion has been a welcome break.  When you toss in phone interviews, etc., the days run longer.  My last post, took a few days to get done, which is unusual for me – I usually like to create a post in one sitting.

So… what have I been doing with the D3200?  Well, so far, I’m at about 500 or so shots in a few days and trying to determine the how’s and where’s.  I’ve been taking it with me when I leave the house to go “out and about”.  Using my light box, of course, and also using it to try some interior/architecture type shots.  We had a bit of an overcast day with scattered sunshine and I stopped on the way back from grocery shopping at a little park near me to grab a few shots to see how well it works.  The other day, it was colder but sunny so I grabbed a couple of shots at Nose Hill (a natural environment park just up the street from me). 

Bushfrozen berriesNose Sign_BeddingtonthistleTrail Marker

Initial Thoughts

For starters, this does feel heavy compared to my other cameras Smile  Even though it’s smaller than the other Nikon models, it still feels heavy.  Going back to the viewfinder is very different.  BUT – the camera kinda feels like an old friend.  By that, I mean it’s a “comfortable” feeling.  It is very different having an LCD panel on the back where you can make adjustments on the fly.  This part is something that I’m really enjoying.  It’s bringing me back to my 35mm days in a hurry Smile  I’ve tried both Auto, Programmed Auto and some of the scene modes across several resolution modes.  There’s this Guide Mode that’s also pretty neat for some preset stuff. Am I seeing differences from my other cameras?  Well, yes and no Smile  The 24 MP resolution – I’m using both normal and fine – I’m noticing that depending on the type of shot, there’s a noticeable “richness” in the shots, and no question on resolution – actually, ever so slightly sharper but only if you know where to look.  For the most part though, I’m so far loving using it.  Because I’m not working, I’m able to spend a bit of time with the camera to learn it.  Not a common thing for me.  If I were working, I may not have bought it when I did.  In fact, I may not have even bought a DSLR.

The big things for me are how fast it starts up and battery power.  Some of my still shooting sessions would have had me swapping batteries.  Because I’m not in commute mode, the extra weight is not an issue at this time.  The viewfinder was a little smaller than I was expecting but not annoyingly so.  It’s going to be a time thing.  Definitely easier to use in bright sunlight.  AND, it’s fast between shots.  There’s really not a lot amateur about this one even though it’s classified as an entry level DSLR.  For me, it’s got plenty of controls for what I want to do.  

The flash unit works quite well and this one allows for control of the power, which makes this a big plus for this unit.  If anything, the next accessory I get will probably be a flash unit.  Not a powerful one, but adequate for simple stuff.

The Kit Zoom

The zoom on the unit I got was the AF-S Nikkor 18-55 f3.5 – 5.6.  The reviews are saying that this isn’t the sharpest zoom to match what the sensor is capable of, but from what I’m seeing so far, it’s more than adequate for what I’m doing.  The more serious amateur may want something better, but you know, I’m basically taking what I would call pretty “average” type pics for a fairly serious amateur.  The 35mm equivalent from what I can figure out, is about 28mm to about 90mm.  So – for me, medium wide angle to portrait.  In reality, I would consider this a pretty nice all round zoom.  It’ll cover most of the things that I do.  I would have liked wider angle and a bit more telephoto, but that may come with time.  We’ll see as time goes on.  A little faster would have been nice, but it hasn’t been annoyingly so.  Slightly longer would also been nice, but again, so far, it hasn’t been an issue for what I’m doing.  

The “Fit”

So what do I mean by that????  Well, the D3200 is considered an entry level DSLR.  When I looked at these, I had a few options. 

1. I could have gotten an earlier model, the D3100 for less money – $100 or so, which would have made it a pretty inexpensive unit and probably more than adequate for anything I would be doing Smile

2. I could have gotten a D5100 for about $50 more than the current D3200.  A more advanced unit but lower resolution, less processing power, plus some other “nigglies”.

3.  I could have also gone whole hog and jumped to the D7000 series which would put the unit just under the full frame sensor units.

4.  I could have got the D5200 – slightly more advanced but also a couple of hundred more than I wanted to spend at the time.

I really looked hard at what I was doing with my photography.  You see, I already have a lot of units to begin with. If anything, the LAST thing I needed was a DSLR.  If it wasn’t for a sale on the D3200, I probably wouldn’t have bought it.  The more serious stuff could easily be handled with my Compact System cameras and everything else could easily be handled with my other units.  I think I’m sitting on about 10 cameras at this stage and all of them get do get used. What I was after was battery power, for starters and faster access to controls for certain conditions.  PLUS – I simply wanted to get into that technology Smile  The D3200 gave me very current technology and was advanced enough to manage the more serious events like I’ve already done.  The one shortcoming of the Compact System Cameras I’ve found, is battery power.  It’s not something that a spare wouldn’t handle, but for the ones I’ve been shooting, it would have been easier to simply not swap out batteries. 

One BIG advantage now, for me, is that with the D3200 AND say, my Panasonic GX1, I can cover virtually anything with some thing like the Fuji X10 or Panasonic LX7 as additional backup and for low light stuff.  Neat!  Rather than lenses, I can use cameras and in one sense, faster too.

Where – Now this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot Smile  For social events involving family – not likely.  I have my other smaller units.  What I’m thinking here is when there is basically a need where it would be to my advantage to take the D3200.  Sounds a little funny, but I have all these other cameras.  It’s not like the D3200 is my only unit.  For moment, I’m taking it everywhere to just get familiar with it.  I don’t anticipate doing this in the near future – especially if I start working.  This last little while, I’ve been taking it with me along with a couple of travel cams.  I also did this with Compact System Cameras.  Yes, I have dedicated bags with enough space free to drop in an extra camera or two.  I was swapping around between my Compact System Cameras and the D3200 for light box work.  Zooms are about equivalent, though the Nikon 1 J1 was slightly wider.  For the type of stuff I was doing, having the rear LCD panel was definitely easier to use than the viewfinder.  Holidays – not likely.  I got my travel cams for that.  My travel cams get me out to 20x zoom and wider than my Compact System and DLSR zooms in a package about a 1/5 the size.  AND good quality.  Sooo…. it breaks down to this combination of absolute higher quality vs the “situation” where having a unit like this would be an advantage over the others.  Weddings would be one.  Public social events where I’m going to be either the main photographer or the back up and I need the battery power.

Or maybe some of my real estate stuff or stuff where extensive cropping might be involved.  Real Estate is an interesting area in it’s own right.  I’m tending toward residential stuff as I am directly involved there with my properties.  Most of my stuff is from the investment and rental side, so in one sense, it’s pretty straightforward stuff.  You need “selling shots” – or shots that show off what the rental has to offer.  Also, though, there are shots for reference as well.  Over the years I’ve been doing this type of shots, it’s been one of those “learn as you go” type things.  I don’t just take those room shots – I’m doing everything from holes in the wall, edges, furnaces, water heaters, etc.  When I was doing this with my travel cams, one of the things that I found was very handy was to be able to take a photo of say a utility room and be able to enlarge the photo to look at various things within a room.  I’m hoping the larger sensor in the D3200 will allow this better.  18mm isn’t wide enough for me for real estate type shots – that’s way the travel zoom cameras are so nice.  What I’m usually after when I shoot rooms, is to be able to take a complete wall as a minimum.  OR on the flipside, if you need to capture a kitchen or living room you don’t have to be far away or even worse, to have to take a couple of shots to manage this. 

Onward…..

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About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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