Paradigm-shift: Bought a Nikon D3200 and love it! (smaller is better). I may never buy another [mirror-box] FX body again!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by studio460, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. As most of you know, I just bought two Nikon APS-C sensored cameras (plus, a Sony NEX-3N):
    • Nikon D3200
    • Nikon Coolpix 'A'
    I used to take my full-frame Nikon D800E and a bevy of heavy FX primes and zooms on vacation (I also own two Nikon D3s bodies for event work). But, now, I think I'm switching to all APS-C bodies for vacation. Remember that mantra of taking your best gear on vacation? Well, the heck with that--I think I'm going to travel light from now on. Lightweight, "plastic-ey" 'G' lenses are now my friends! Plus, my old, pre-AI, and AI-s Nikkors can mount on both my Nikon D3200 and Sony NEX (with a Fotodiox F-mount adapter) without a hitch. I don't think my D3200 images are technically any better than those from my old D7000, but I just love shooting with this smaller, lighter body. The images really pop, and I don't see very much noise at all.
    As for my "pro" Nikon FX gear, the two D3s bodies I own may be the last mirror-box FX bodies I'll ever buy. The new Nikon D4s, as nice as it is, it far too expensive (recall that I bought both D3s bodies at a discount: one refurbed, one used), and still too heavy. Without a doubt, for pro assignments, a full-featured FX body can't be beat, but with the advent of recent innovations such as Sony's new full-frame mirrorless line-up, I think I may be moving in that direction someday.
  2. I grabbed a D3200 some time ago, mostly because I had an immediate need to do some video stuff and wanted to use lenses I already had. Have to admit, it's a surprisingly pleasant little DSLR. It's now mostly there for backup duties when I'm doing my smattering of commercial work, but when you take control and shoot RAW, it of course can produce some very good images. Greatest weak spot is AF, so it's just a matter of having a strategy there.
  3. The thing that's really put me off the lowest-end DSLRs is the lack of ability to store 14-bit raw files. I have a feeling that the dynamic range on the 3200 was a bit iffy (and the 3300 was better), but I may have imagined that. The lack of uncompressed 14-bit raw is also what worries me most about Sony's full-frame mirrorless cameras. The one-dial Nikons' problem with exposure compensation in manual mode puts me off them a bit, but honestly I'd be a bit tempted as a back-up, or camera for my wife to use when I'm carrying all the lenses. The size and weight reduction of the D3300 is even more appealing, but they're still a little pricey for what they are, at least in the UK. As prices drop, I may take the plunge.

    However, since most of my lenses are pretty bulky, I'm not sure how much a small DSLR would help me beyond its merits as a back-up. IIf I want a small camera, I currently use a GF2.
  4. For personal use, DX is probably the most practical option now. But if you are shooting weddings and events, FX may be an unavoidable requirement.
  5. pge


    I have used this camera and I think Matt nails it when he says that it is a "pleasant little DSLR" and when he says that its "greatest weak spot is AF".
  6. I went on the same path. After I purchased my D800 I didn't used for long my D7000 and then I sold it, purchasing as a second body D600. Last summer I've purchased a used D5200 and I went on a two weeks trip with three lenses and D5200 + D600. I was stunned by the quality of files from D5200 and that extra feature of the movable display is very good in many situations. Last fall I won a Sigma DP2 Merill in a competition and since that time my travel gear consists in D5200 + Sigma DP2 Merill (which is the sharpest photographic device I ever used - but with lot of shortcomings as well). I could not be happier. Especially my back is very happy and excepting extreme low light work I have no problem.
  7. I have no intention of every "upgrading" to FX myself. If I was a pro, it would be different, but I'm decidedly an amateur, and I love the portability.
  8. The thing that's really put me off the lowest-end DSLRs is the lack of ability to store 14-bit raw files​
    Lossless compressed (or even uncompressed) isn't an option either. AFAIK, the D5300 is the first to offer lossless compressed 14-bit (as per Nikon's website; the manual says compressed); the D5200 has compressed 14-bit.
    Remember that mantra of taking your best gear on vacation? Well, the heck with that--I think I'm going to travel light from now on.​
    Not for me. Depending on where I am going, it's either the D700 with 16-35, 35/1.4, 85/1.8, (150/2.8 or 180/3.4) or the D300 with (10.5), 11-16, 16-85, 80-400, and 35/1.8. Or the NEX 6 with some manual focus "legacy" lenses.
    Saw a good deal on a new Sony A7 yesterday - but passed. For a mirrorless, the camera is just too loud (louder even than some DSLRs).
  9. Ralph, even though I have little or nothing to mention for most of the experiences you shared so far about your quest for a decent, small camera - I think having read them for most part, what you're finding is that there simply does not seem to be this perfect system yet.
    I've managed to not throw any money at it yet - every system I looked at does bring some disadvantage I deem large enough to not spend money on it, including a small/light DSLR I can use with lenses I already have. At the core, I either want to really make photos (in which case I want the really good toys, so my D700 does come along), or I do not care enough. In which case that Nokia Lumia really isn't all that bad (though more wide angle than I want).... It's all about a workable compromise, isn't it?
  10. I bought a D3200 for a friend/ customer, and do agree that small/light is good, but...
    I had poor results with manual focus using the screen or dot. So, I will be sticking with the D600 with 28/2 AIS on front and 50 or 85 in a pocket for a while.
  11. AFAIK you can't tether it either. I sold mine after 2 months to a friend. He loves it as a happy snapper.
  12. There are a lot of people with a lot of different needs and wants. One size doesn't fit all. That is why there are a lot of different cameras.
  13. In an age where we've come to expect more-and-more features and functionality for less-and-less money, Nikon appears to be bucking the trend and IMHO shooting itself in the foot when it comes to its latest Coolpix and low-end DSLR range.
    I bought a P100 after being quite pleased with an old CP8800. The 8800 did almost everything I wanted in a carry anywhere, cover everything, bash about, lightweight and inconspicuous body - except it was quite slow between shots and had a tiny low-res screen. I couldn't believe that the ability to shoot RAW (at any bit-depth) had been removed from the P100, or to synch with an external flash. Manual focus has also been made almost impossibly awkward to use as well. I quickly realised that the P100 had been a big mistake and wished I'd opted for one of Panasonic's much better featured bridges instead. It's no wonder that consumers are turning their backs on compact and bridge cameras as an alternative to a camera-phone; since there's almost no extra functionality to be had from one.
  14. I too have been downsizing my camera bag, getting rid of bulk and weight as much as practical. I thought long and hard about buying a pair of used D800e for wedding work, but in the end came to realize I would earn no more money with them than I already was with a D7100. And actually, probably 90% of the time my D5100 is doing what I need. I have been tempted by the small size of the D3200, but the D5300 isn't that much more and I get that fantastic swing out LCD. The only thing I miss fromn a D5300/3200 is CLS flash, but heck I have a big box full of CyberSync triggers I can use to fire remote flash anyway. I have been largely ignoring Nikon's larger cameras but have been watching closely to see what they do with their smaller ones. I like to travel and hike, and see no benefit at all to large sized cameras. If I want one, I'll simply take my Chamonix 4x5.
    Kent in SD
  15. Like Nish and Kent says maybe I shoulda stayed with a newer DX camera instead of going FX for my "hobby" but the former D7000 on clearance sale. I guess at times you have to try it out to find the hard answer. My D70 was limiting for casual friends/family shots but it was still ok for my main hobby of tripod photography but nowdays I shoot more film than digital. Apart from the hundreds of shots you do take of friends families festival functions etc .. b/c they enjoy looking at many shots on FB even thou they don't want prints.
    For me the extra resolutions or whatever doesn't matter to me with FX. I only do the occasional low light handheld. Yes I get my wides back but I don't yet have any wide primes nor do I think getting them would be a sensible idea given the lack of shooting I do with that style. Yes, I get to have a similar look to full frame film but I just adapt to the equipment really. I already have a Sigma 10-20mm. The Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 or the Nikon version are both pretty good too.
    Given that I am still using my D70 today I think the D600 would go for at least 15yrs before it gets replaced. I got the D600 9.5yrs after I had the D70. My first real camera was the D70, I did play around with a fSLR but only with a kit lens, consumer neg film etc.
    I don't do action or portraits a lot so I could afford to shoot film. I like the look that it has. I just got Agfa Rodinal to do some experimenting again with my low quantity use and that Rodinal has a extremely long shelf life. With the Ilford powder stuff I am being pushed to shoot 6 rolls per 6 months, haha. I'm quite happy to shoot a couple of images per month only, and when it is quite average to just go for a walk. I probably shoot most when I am on a trip. A 35mm Nikon FM my current with a $200 kit with lens (Bronica 645) or a $400 6x9 Fuji or even a 4x5 might be an idea ... I think I am almost done with my Nikon lenses too. I just pick the few shots to do and that I can do. For occasional portraiture mid zoom F2.8 done you could use a tele as well but as another family friend member mid zoom one lens gets the job done doing a non paid shoot. My case a cheap 35-70 $200.
  16. I went from D800 - to D610 - to D5300. Love it. Small, light weight, and uses smaller and lighter DX lenses. FUN to shoot with. As a retired pro I wasn't sure I would like it. The dials and menus are different but it doesn't take long to do most of what I want to do. I especially like the GPS and rotating LCD. Not that it matters to me that much, but it is cheaper!
  17. Ralph--I fully agree with your comments on camera/lens weight. I'm going for a D3300 and happy snap status...
  18. i don't really use my D3s other than on assignment or for a specific gig (with the exception of some street shooting in outdoor/low-light situations), but i shot a daytime event with the d90 last weekend to cut down on weight and my back wasn't hurting afterwards. another nice facet of the d90 is it works with the lenses w/out focus motors i have, like the tokina 12-24/4 and 35/2.8 macro, and has two control dials so you can shoot efficiently. i dont know that i'd be willing to use anything lower-down on the totem than a 7000-series camera, for that reason.
    eventually it will be time to upgrade one of my nikon DSLRs--i currently have three--but im currently exploring a foray into another system which is lighter and has good, small lenses and bodies, great IQ, and fits more gear into smaller bags. we'll see how that goes, but in the meantime, the d90+12-24 combo is still as capable of good shots in 2014 as it was in 2009...
  19. I know this is a Nikon forum and I shoot with the D7000, but I've been reading up on the Panasonic GH4, and it looks very enticing. M4/3 with great stills and video? Hmmmm.
  20. For me it's not a case of switching, but separating a couple interests in my photography. My main interest is landscape work I also enjoy travel photography . My Nikon rig goes with a D800 with 14-24,24-70 and 70-200 (f/4) lens and TC-14e which combined with a Gitzo series 3 tripod w/ ballhead weighs in around 24 pounds. For airline vacation travel I used a Canon G15 with a Gitzo series 05 tripod which generally worked out well but had limitations. I recently bought the Sony NEX-6 with the 10-18, 16-50, 50-210 and 24mm f/1.8 lenses all of which fit in a small slingbag. I've been very happy with the result ( particularly the 10-18 mm). That combination with the Gitzo 1542 and a RRS ballhead weighs in at 10 lbs. and fits under the aircraft seat. I don't see the Sony replacing my Nikon, but for a number of occasions it's just a lot more convenient to grab and carry
  21. Phil said:
    For me it's not a case of switching, but separating a couple interests in my photography . . .
    Precisely! For my portfolio work, I'll still bring out the big guns--no compromises there. But, I was missing so many great shots in my day-to-day activities, I became determined to have a decent two-lens (now, two-body) compact system with me at all times. Again, today I took both the Coolpix and the D3200 with me (with the 50mm 1.4G mounted), and boy, what a lightweight system! The Coolpix hung around my neck, and the D3200 was slung over my left shoulder (I also have a 26 lb. broadcast camera on my right shoulder). Now able to switch bodies instantly, I had two focal lengths at my command. Wide shots are easy, using the Coolpix 'A' like a point-and-shoot, and the DSLR form-factor of the D3200 made framing/focusing mid-tele shots easy (far easier, and much faster than with the Sony NEX-3N/60mm Sigma):

    Nikon D3200 + AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G [uncropped]
    ISO: 400; f/1.4 @ 1/320th

    Now, I just got home and opened the B+H box from UPS . . . the AF-S Nikkor f/1.8G I've been waiting for all week was inside. Wow! Another very lightweight, plastic 'G' lens--I love it! With the AF-S 85mm f/1.8G mounted, the D3200 still feels lighter than any DSLR/lens combo I've ever carried before. The 85mm (127mm-equivalent) will give me that extra bit of reach I need, plus it's still a pretty fast lens. That's the other thing I confirmed for myself today--speed is king. For hours and hours last night, I was weighing the pros and cons of buying the Sony 16-105mm f/4.0 OSS lens to outfit my NEX, for a total, all-in-one solution; but, for available-light, there's really no comparison to having a fast f/1.4 or f/1.8 prime.
  22. For me it's not a case of switching, but separating a couple interests in my photography . . .
    Which is why technological convergence is some way off. You still end up with a 'Jack-of-All-Trades and a Master-of-None' with current kit choices.
    or, put another way, it's still Horses for Courses and everyone's Course is different!
  23. I believe that Ansel Adams used a Contax system, a Hasselblad system and a large format system during most of his career. I don't believe he was that financially successful during most of his life so I assume he felt he need all three to do what he thought he needed to do.
  24. for available-light, there's really no comparison to having a fast f/1.4 or f/1.8 prime.​
  25. Nikon D3200 highlights:
    After reviewing a number of high-end compacts and ILCs, I've come to the conclusion that one of my must-haves on a camera which actually has a viewfinder, is that accepts a larger-than-stock eyecup. Hoodman's excellent line of eyecups made for Nikon DSLRs [e.g., H-EYEN22S for Nikon DSLRs with 22mm square viewfinders], significantly improves my man-machine interface (I have one for each of my FX and DX bodies). Unlike other versions, the Hoodman eyecups lock very securely into place. As trivial as it sounds, this a big reason (other than price, and slower sync speed) I'll probably never buy into the otherwise excellent Fuji X-T1 series (unfortunately, Hoodman only makes eyecups for Nikon and Canon cameras). Here's a quick overview of the Nikon D3200's strengths and weaknesses:
    • Small and light.
    • Shutter is quiet.
    • Rear AE-L/AF-L button can be programmed as an AF-ON button.
    • AF-points are nicely distributed around a large portion of the frame.
    • Accepts Hoodman H-EYEN22S eyecup.
    • Auto-ISO feature with maximum-ISO, and minimum-shutter speed settings.
    • Pentamirror is surprisingly bright with fast lenses.
    • Nice implementation of "info" display.
    • "Pro" looking UI.
    • Accepts pre-AI lenses without modification.
    • Cannot reverse command dial direction.
    • Only one command dial.
    • No dedicated ISO button [Fn button may be programmed as an ISO button].
    • Built-in flash has no commander capability.
    • No AF screw-drive.
    • Two "info" buttons.
    • AE-L/AF-L button is placed too far to the left [programmed as an AF-ON button].
    • Multi-selector button is placed too far to the right.
  26. Do the D3200/3300 feature a mirror lockup shooting mode?
    How is the Live View implementation compared to a D800? Can you focus easily on the LCD screen? Does contrast detection AF work well in Live View?
    Are you comfortable using one SD card for all of your shooting?
    How do these bodies work with VR lenses?
    How is the viewfinder?
    I don't see how changing bodies is going to make a travel kit much smaller. I would still need multiple batteries plus the charger, multiple lenses with hoods, at least one speed light plus extra batteries and/or charger, some sort of camera support option (tripod, etc.), cleaning supplies, filters and accessories. The body is a small part of the entire package.
  27. 1. Don't know--I won't ever use it for this camera.
    2. Haven't tried it.
    3. One slot works fine.
    4. VR works great!
    5. Smaller than a D7000's, but bright!
  28. This is my take-with-me-everyday camera for mostly casual shooting. A Nikon D3200 weighs only one-pound--hold one in your hand, and it feels like it weighs nothing. My D7000 weighs almost twice that, and feels like it. I'm also forgoing taking my heavy, clunky Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 (which weighs 1.9 lbs.), and taking my new AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G instead, which weighs less than half that (12.4 ozs.). So instead of lugging around a nearly four-pound camera, I'm carrying a body and lens which weighs under two pounds. It's a big difference, believe me.
  29. Well, okay, I guess I've been cutting down my camera system as well. My D800 is slightly lighter than my D700. (I put an L-plate on the D800, but then I've acquired a third-party grip for the D700, so I could bulk it up to my F5's levels if I wanted to.) I now sometimes use a 70-200 instead of my 200 f/2. I tend to use a 300mm f/4 in preference to the 150-500 I used to own.

    This was what we're talking about, right?

    In my defence, I've just got a ThinkTank shape shifter, so I don't have to carry an Airport Acceleration 2 everywhere. (And the next time I have any disposable income - i.e. when I've not just upgraded my copy of DxO so that some of the dimly-lit photos of my recently-deceased black cat are a bit less noisy - I will be bearing a D3x00 in mind. Though if Nikon does make a smaller competitor to the SL1...)
  30. Andrew said:
    This was what we're talking about, right?
    My goal for everyday casual shooting is to have two focal lengths in a small, compact package. Today, I grabbed a few shots with the 28mm-equipped Nikon 'A', but rarely had a chance to shoot the D3200 + 85mm f/1.8G combo. In fact, I was quite hampered by the second body today, since I had to deal with a rather difficult set-up with a number of other TV outlets competing for position at a studio press event. So, I just hung my D3200 on a light stand, and went off to perform my real job (shooting TV) with just the Coolpix 'A' around my neck.

    Of course, how most of us gear-up is typically highly application-specific. When I shoot portfolio/head-shots, I'll usually take a single Nikon D3s + Sigma 35mm f/1.4 + Sigma 150mm f/2.8 (currently, my two favorite FX lenses). For product/food, I'll shoot my D800E + AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm. When shooting events, I'll take two D3s bodies: one with an SB-800/24-120mm f/4.0G VR, the other with a 70-200mm f/2.8G VR.

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