Nikon D3200 vs D7000 Comparison

May 24, 2012

Nikon D7000 and D3200 DSLR cameras

In this article I want to help you decide whether to buy the Nikon D3200, or rather go with the more expensive and more advanced D7000. Some might not agree that it’s fair to compare those two cameras against each other, because they really aimed for different market segments. Even so, I believe that some photographers might prefer investing in a cheaper body but better lenses, while others might prefer getting a more advanced body. Everyone has its own budget and specific needs when buying a new camera. For example, some will prefer getting the D7000 because they can use older Nikkor lenses and will Autofocus on the camera, while they won’t autofocus on the D3200. All Nikon’s entry-level cameras do not come with AF motor. That means that you need to pay more to get G lenses (With built-in AF motor). This is just one example of course, and you should really understand many of the key differences between those two cameras in order to make a smart buying decision. OK, enough with the introduction, let’s start.

Before we dive deeper into the comparison, let me introduce to you the two cameras..

 

Nikon D3200

The Nikon D3200 is Nikon’s latest DSLR camera. It’s a new addition to Nikon’s DSLR lineup, rather than a replacement for the D3100. So essentially you are paying a bit more for extra features. It inherits some of the D5100 features but adds some new features of its own.

Nikon D3200

The D3200 is equipped with a newly-developed 24.2-megapixels CMOS sensor and enjoys the new EXPEED 3 image processor. Some people find it a bit odd to see such a high resolution sensor on an entry-level camera. I think it’s kind of nice to have a more distinctive separation between Nikon’s entry-level DSLR cameras. After all, you can’t just make a custom camera for each customer, so it’s nice to see a camera that boasts a very high resolution.

Furthermore, the camera can shoot at ISO 100 up to ISO 128000 in boost mode, comes with 3-inch Fixed 921K-dot LCD, shoot 4 fps in burst and record 1080p30,24 videos. Other interesting features are the compatibility with Nikon’s WU-1a Wi-Fi module for transferring photos from the camera to your computer or even to a mobile phone and a microphone jack for attaching external high-quality stereo microphones.

So the D3200 is a more robust HDSLR in that regard and also enjoys Nikon’s latest technology to provide the photographer with an advanced camera that suitable for beginners and enthusiasts alike.

Who is this camera aimed for: Beginners moving from point-and-shoot to DSLR, amateurs, videographers wanna-be and for those who want to invest mot of their money in better lenses, and therefore opted for a cheaper camera body.

 

Nikon D7000

The Nikon D7000 is an amazing camera that find itself in the hands of many enthusiasts photographers worldwide. Certainly a worthy upgrade from the D90. If you are like me, you probably read tons of reviews and user opinions and also came to a clear conclusion that the D7000 is one hell of a camera. The D7000 was announced on September 15, 2010. Since then the price has long been stabilized and when people buy this camera they know for certain that they’ve made a very good investment.

Nikon D7000

Nikon D7000

Most people who will opt for this camera will probably do it for its faster continuous shooting speed of 6 fps, 39 AF points and amazingly fast autofocus speed, 1/8000 sec maximum shutter speed and AR bracketing option. Others might like the weather-sealing and much longer battery life (1050 vs 540).

All in all, the D7000 is a better camera of the two, at least when it comes to features, build quality and performance. Even so, some of you might not need all of that glory. In fact, that’s what this comparison is all about, giving you a good overview of the differences between the D7000 and the D3200, and help you understand what each one means for you.

Who is this camera aimed for: enthusiasts, sports photographers, HDR gurus,  those needed for a weather-sealed camera, people who don’t want to use an entry-level camera because you look like a newbie with it.

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Differences that You Should Know (and care) About

Every one of us makes its own decision based on his or her’s specific needs. That includes: budget, camera AF speed, camera size and weight, battery life, burst speed, flash sync speed, video features, etc. Advanced photographers are more aware of what they need when upgrading to a new camera, and that’s come from experience. If you are already familiar with all the available technology terms and their meanings, looking at a side by side specs table can give you quite a lot of information. Beginner’s might struggle to understand their needs because that doesn’t come with reading articles, rather than experiencing the camera themselves.

For those of you who having problem to decide, let me help you understand the main differences between those too cameras and how it can effect you daily shooting.
Weather-sealed Body

D7000: Magnesium-alloy body (top & rear) shell and weather-resistant
D3200: Polycarbonate  and not weather-sealed

Advantages:

  • More durable body
  • Moisture and dust resistant, so you can use it in harsh weather conditions
  • Feels better when you hold the camera in the hands, more “professional” feel
  • Recommended for the outdoor and adventurous photographer

Note: Not a recommendation, Don’t try this at home!

 

More AF Focus Points

D7000: Multi-CAM 4800DX AF sensor (more advanced) / 39 focus points
D3200:  Multi-CAM 1000 AF sensor / 11 focus points

Advantages:

  • More accurate, especially useful for subject tracking
  • Useful when shooting off-center subjects
  • Faster lock-on on subjet

I highly recommend reading this article about autofocus on cambridgecolour.com.

 

Faster Continuous Shooting

D7000: 6 fps
D3200: 4 fps

Advantages:

  • Create a tight sequence of shots of a fast moving subject
  • Highly recommended for sports and bird photography (ie. Soccer, Basketball, Ski, Surfing, running kids, birds, etc.)

Note: You should also check the manual of the camera to see the buffer side. Some cameras will continue to shoot in burst for just a few seconds and than lower the burst speed quite significantly. There is also a difference between the speed when shooting Raw vs JPEG.

Let’s take a look at the continuous shooting speed of the D7000 (watch how the speed is reduced after a few seconds)

 

Higher ISO Sensitivity Level

D7000: 100 – 6400 (25600 with boost)
D3200: 100 – 6400 (12800 with boost)

Advantages:

  • Being able to shoot better in low-light, especially when flash it not available or advised
  • Use with a flash to “light up”  the background at night
  • Elevate shutter speed and still maintain optimal exposure (more room for playing with ISO-Aperture-Shutter Speed)

Note: High ISO performance can differ quite significantly depends on the sensor and image processor proficiency

Observation: after viewing side by side high ISO images, I can tell you that Nikon D7000 shows its strength above ISO1600. Not a huge difference, but still visible one.

 

Higher Sensor Resolution & Size

D7000: 16.2 megapixels (23.6 x 15.7 mm)
D3200: 24.2 megapixels (23.2 x 15.4 mm)

* effective resolution

Advantages & Disadvantages:

  • More details in the image
  • More room for cropping in photo editing software
  • Considering the same sensor size, more pixels also means higher pixel density that reduce the amount of light gathered in each photo-diode. This can actually cause a degradation in image quality, especially in high ISO
  • Highly recommended for Astrophotography, portraits, studio and landscape shots

The differences in High ISO performance that I’ve mentioned above, are probably related to the fact that the D3200 features a much higher pixel count for same sensor size (almost).

 

Next-Generation Image Processor

D7000: EXPEED 2
D3200: EXPEED 3 (Dual image processors)

Advantages:

  • Faster CPU that boost camera overall performance (ie. menus, in-camera image and video processing, faster burst, etc.)
  • Improved Raw-to-Jpeg algorithms, more embedded scene modes and image effects
  • Improved scene recognition and face recognition algorithms
  • Improved power-consumption
  • Improved noise-reduction algorithms
  • Better tone reproduction
  • and many other functions…

 

Better Viewfinder Coverage

D7000: 100%
D3200: 95%

Advantages:

  • What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG)

Coverage = the amount of the image that will eventually be captured onto the sensot

Dual Memory Card Slot

D7000: Yes
D3200: No

Advantages:

  • Use as a Backup (copy images to both cards)
  • Use as Overflow (when one card is full, it write to the other one)
  • Use to separate Raw and JPEG files (Raw primary, JPG secondary)
  • Highly recommended for weddings photographers who needs that durability, or any other kind of work where losing data can cause you to lose your job

 

AE Bracketing

Term Auto Exposure Bracketing: the camera automatically takes three or more shots with a different exposure for each frame.

D7000: (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)
D3200: No AEB

Advantages:

  • Shoot three or more shots of the same scene in different exposure settings without manually changing the settings between frames
  • Make sure that you get a good exposed shot
  • When shooting changing environments, like sunset for example
  • HDR Someone?

Longer Battery Life

D7000: 1050 shots (CIPA)
D3200: 540 shots (CIPA)

Advantages:

  • Shoot more shots on a single charge
  • Very useful for those who shoot lots of shots with the built-in flash (ie. as a fill-in flash)
  • Might save you the need to purchase a second battery or buy a grip that accepts a second battery

 

Which One Should You Buy?

In this comparison we touched the key features, enlighten the main differences between the D7000 and the D3200.  The only one who can help you decide between those two cameras is you. As you can see, the differences are very obvious and it shouldn’t be hard to spot a feature that might convince you to purchase one camera over the other. I actually think that you should ask yourself whether you really need those extra features that the D7000 provides for your type of shooting habits? – If the answer is yes, by all means, get this amazing camera. My father has it and I tried it myself. An amazing camera that AF so fast that I first thought it wasn’t working right.

Of course that luxury comes for a price. If you are just starting out with photography, I don’t recommend getting the D7000, unless you really find a feature that you really wanna have. For beginners I recommend getting the D3200 and equip is the 18-55m (Kit lens). After some time you will better understand what features are important for you to achieve your goals as a photography, whether as an amateur or for some pro work. Hope that this comparison article helped you understand some of the key differences between the D7000 and D3200. See you on the next buying guide.

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  • Pradip Bandyopadhyay

    Effective comparism. Thank you .

  • http://www.beautifulnewzealandphotography.com glenn

    If its the size that “gives away” you are a “newbie” you can buy an after market battery grip that fits the D3200.For the record the battery grip comes with a remote control and fits the D3200 D3100 and the D5100.

    I am going to buy the D3200 but SHOULD be buying a Nikon Dx3 but with photography and cameras and lens costing thousands The Nikon Dx3 is worth about $7000-$8000 just for the body!!. so you need to buy a nice ZEISS lens that costs about $3000 and upward a prime lens as they are more accurate. dont even get me started on the Israeli Leaf medium formats or Leica’s or Hasselblads The sky is the limit in photography I been shooting for over 20 years and there is always people arguing ISO and MEGAPIXEL values. get over it !!..I NEVER shoot over a 100 ISO ever! and I have a lot of silhouette sunset/sunrise photos in my portfolio and they look fine!!. I use a OLYMPUS E-520 which is a crappy camera by comparison but look at Ansell Adams work sure he had a larger format camera but he didn’t have the technology that we have today and his work is breathtaking. my lousy OLYMPUS is ONLY 10mp but guess what? I take three photos manually with a slight overlap when taking a panorama shot then stitch it together in Photoshop!! (CS6) then all of a sudden its closer to 30 MEGAPIXELS! The world is in a global recession NO ONE is buying art/photography let alone expensive cameras and lenses we should be happy with what we got and HAPPY we can afford a ENTRY LEVEL camera even though I am considered a pro as have had successful exhibitions its about the art the passion and having the eye ,I have a saying that I use to describe the majority of so called “pros” out there and yes I have caught them out man I study pixel depth and compare to film emulsion and look at lens coatings but hey that’s me.

    Cheers

  • Rob Pearce

    Hi,

    I’m keen to push the boat out and go for the Nikon D7000 but just wanted assurance that the pixel count being lower (compared with the D3200) won’t give me inferior quality shots compared with the D3200. (Why is the pixel count so much lower on the more expensive camera)??

    Thanks.