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Nikon Announces A 24 Megapixel DX Crop Sensor!

By Matthew Saville on April 19th 2012

Nikon just announced their newest beginner DSLR, the D3200, with a 24 megapixel DX sensor.  This “new” Nikon sensor is borrowed (and probably improved) from the Sony A77 sensor, a 24 megapixel behemoth that performs surprisingly well actually  …For 24 megapixels on a crop-sensor, that is.

 

Pre-Order the Nikon D3200!

 

Here’s the Nikon D3200 specs and low-down:

• 24 megapixel CMOS sensor
6 more megapixels than the Canon T3i, and a whopping double the megapixels of the “DX flagship” D3oos at 12 megapixels…

 

• ISO 100-6400 native, with 12800 in “HI” modes
…Probably useful up to 3200?  Usually a good rule of thumb is, subtract 1-2 stops from the highest native stop to get the most “acceptable” results…  And it would be pretty impressive if they could pull off ISO 3200 in a 24 megapixel DX crop sensor! Judging by the performance of the Sony A77 24 megapixel sensor, …I’d say it’s possible that the D3200 sensor could deliver decent high ISO performance!

 

• 4 Frames per second (FPS)
Faster than the Canon T3i‘s 3.7 FPS, but not by much.  Faster than the D3100’s 3 FPS, same as the D800‘s 4 FPS, less than the D7000 / D300 D700 with 5-6+ FPS.

 

• 1080p, 30fps HD video, MPEG-4 / H.264 compression.
Pretty standard…

 

• 11 Point autofocus, the same as previous beginner Nikon DSLR’s.
Autofocus performance will always be a weakness of beginner DSLR’s, but the Nikon 11 point AF system is not bad.  The Canon T3i has a similar 9-point system; I prefer the Nikon’s AF point arrangement.

 

• 3″ LCD screen, the same as previous higher-end Nikon DSLR’s.
A very nice, high-res screen that will make you wonder how you ever did without it before!

 

• No LCD tilt / swivel. :-(
…Unlike the Canon T3i.  Tilt-swivel LCD’s are useful to some people, but not others…

 

• A 95% coverage viewfinder with 80% magnification. (0.8x)
…Compared to the Canon T3i‘s 95% and 85% magnification.   (Both not bad, but nothing compared to a full-frame viewfinder.

 

• SD card slot
Same type as Nikon has been using for a few years now…

 

• 540 shot battery life
Sounds kinda weak, but I think this is mostly just an adjusted estimation based on  new Japanese battery regulations.  Either way, an improvement it is not.

 

• A Wi-Fi adapter that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!
$59 for the WU-1a on Amazon.com, …compared to the ~$850 WT-5A transmitter for the D800 / D4 etc.  OUCH. (Yes, the more expensive one has a bunch more options, but still…)

 

Okay so, the question all of us professionals are wondering is, …why 24 megapixels, Nikon?  In a crop sensor?  Apparently the “megapixel race” is certainly NOT over yet.   Personally, I really like the Nikon 16 megapixel and Canon 18 megapixel sensors that current generation crop-sensor DSLRs have.  If Nikon goes much further than 24 megapixels in a beginner DSLR, they’re going to run into the same problem that I have with the 36 megapixel D800:  …No sRAW mode.  I know this is a very sensitive topic, but I do hope that Nikon is working on some sort of sRAW image file format for it’s future DSLRs.

With the semi-flagship D800 and D800E, Nikon has definitely proven that more megapixels does not necessarily mean worse image quality.   In fact the D800 sensor is the best sensor that DXOMark has ever tested!  So, if Nikon would just make these cameras a little bit more versatile by adding an sRAW mode, then camera buyers could start having their cake and eating it too.

Overall impression?  Great camera, moderate improvements over the previous generation; it will be worth buying but not necessarily worth upgrading to unless you’re really and truly in love with a particular specification.  Happy shooting, everybody!

You can pre-order the Nikon D3200 by clicking HERE, or the links below.

Take care,
=Matt=

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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

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