Nikon Coolpix 3200 Review

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  • Image Quality

  • Battery Life

  • Features

  • Ease of Use

  • Value For Money

rbj1962's review of Nikon Coolpix 3200

★★★★★

“I was looking for a digital camera to replace my old...”

Written on: 12/10/2004 by rbj1962 (4 reviews written)

Good Points
Good quality, performance and features for an "everyday" camera.

Bad Points
Minor - Position of flash & lack of a dedicated button to turn the monitor off.

General Comments
I was looking for a digital camera to replace my old Olympus C2 which had been showing signs of its age and heavy use before it was stolen a few weeks ago (farewell my good and faithful servant).



For the replacement camera, I wanted something that was pocketable, had at least a three times zoom, some scene modes and at least a 3 mega-pixel sensor. My preference was for it to run on AA batteries, have a "Sport/Moving objects" scene mode and a panorama feature.



After shopping around I plumped for a Nikon 3200 and am quite pleased about my choice.



Although it is not the thinnest camera around (not even the thinnest that takes AA batteries) It is very compact and slips easily into a pocket. It is also nice and easy to hold. Build quality is high, albeit in plastic.



The 3200 runs on two AA batteries, which keep it powered for a fair amount of time. My family uses a lot of hand-held devices (walkmans, gameboys, radios etc) which use AA batteries so we have a healthy stock of NiMH rechargeables. I also like the ability to use normal alkaline batteries in extremis. The camera has a small amount of internal memory but is sold without an SD card; I managed to get a 256 MB card for under £20 which will hold over 300 pictures at the default quality settings (3.2 M, normal compression).



Direct control over image attributes for the 3200 is limited to size of image in pixels, amount of JPG compression used, white balance, colour and exposure compensation. The exposure compensation stays at whatever you last set it to, even following power-off, but this only gets indicated if you have the monitor set to "show information".



In addition to these direct settings the 3200 has a shed-load of scene modes. The 6 main scene modes are selectable from the little dial on the back of the camera, others are just one menu down when set to "Scene". 'Scene' defaults to the last item you selected in its sub-menu, so if there is just one item under here that you use a lot, it almost becomes the 7th mode on the dial.


I was quite impressed that the camera switches on and off features such as "Best Shot" as you change mode. Although there are not a lot of settings you can specify while in these scene modes, the 3200 does remember them from the last time you used that mode (whether or not you use continuous focus in movies, for instance). The following scene modes have proved particularly useful already:



Moving objects: chooses a high shutter speed switches off the flash and switches into continuous shooting mode.



Museum: Turns off the flash and turns on the "Best Shot" feature which saves the least blurred from a serried of pictures.



Panorama: The 3200 does this quite nicely, showing a faint overlay of the edge of the last photo for you to line up on. Panoramas can go left to right, right to left, down to up or up to down - very versatile.



In addition to the above there are also portrait and flash portrait modes, landscape, movie with sound (don't forget to turn off continuous focus or you will wonder what all the clicking is about), party, beach/snow, sunset/sunrise, dusk, night landscape, close macro, fireworks, document copy (in monochrome) and back-lit subject. Some of these may turn out to be more useful than others.



The software also seems good, Viewing, rotating and stitching images is quite straightforward. I didn't install the image editing software as I already have a favourite suite that I got with my scanner. The camera can be attached to a PC as "Mass Storage" or as a "PTP" device. PTP seems to have the advantage that you don't need to stop the USB device on the PC before you unplug the camera.



What I'm not so keen on:



I would have preferred if the flash had been located on the other side of the lens, allowing a 'portrait' flash photograph to be taken with the flash above the lens while positioned with the shutter release at the bottom of the camera (this is personal preference, as I find it easier to hold a camera steady in this position).



The only way to change the monitor display (which can be set to show information, no information, have a framing grid superimposed or set to "off") is to put the camera into setup mode and pick the monitor settings in the menu. This is not as easy as having a button which cycles through monitor settings; with a cycling button, a maximum of three stabs of the display button would be required to turn off the monitor while using the viewfinder, while the 3200 requires the turn of a dial, six presses of three different buttons and then the twist of a dial again to get back to shooting mode. In practice I think I'll put up with the annoyance of having the monitor on while I look through the viewfinder.

  • Features

  • Ease of Use

  • Value For Money

  • Battery Life

  • 1 - 4 Weeks

    Time Digital Camera Owned

  • Image Quality

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Bertie's Response to rbj1962's Review

Written on: 12/10/2004

A sparkling review there rbj1962 totally justifying the EXPERT rating.
<br>
<br>Prospective buyers: you won't need the instruction book!

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Rohitmathew's Response to rbj1962's Review

Written on: 14/11/2005

Fabulous review. I happen to be an amateur and use the Nikon 3200. I just wanted to know how many shots on an average do you get on a single charge. I use NI-MH batteries 2500 mah. I use the display all the time too. The flash is utilized around 75% of the time.

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