My First Ever Camera – Beginner Level
The first camera that I ever owned was a Nikon D3200 SLR. When I went to college, I studied an A Level Photography course and obviously had to have a camera to start the course. The only must was that it had to be a DSLR. I had no knowledge of cameras or photography at the time, and so I had to do a lot of research before deciding on which camera I wanted. After weeks of searching, I finally decided on the Nikon D3200 which came with a standard 18-55mm lens. I knew which camera that I wanted, but as a 17-year-old, I had to save up the money for a while before I could finally buy it. I remember being super excited, practically waiting at the door for the delivery until it arrived. When it did arrive, I fell in love. I went around for the entire day taking random photos of literally anything and everything. The next day it rained, and I went out with a plastic bag over my camera capturing the way that raindrops fell off leaves, and the reflections in different puddles. It was a perfect start up camera and was what I used for the following two years of my course.
About the Camera
The Nikon D3200 is a great beginner or entry level camera for inexperienced photographers. In comparison to other Nikon cameras, it has minimal features, and has a simplified user interface. Alongside this, it is also a compact and lightweight camera. The dimensions are approximately 125 x 96 x 76.5mm and the body weighs only 455g. It is smaller than the more intermediate, higher end Nikon cameras. The only complaint I had about this camera, was that it didn’t have any weather sealing, and so it is important to be careful in bad weather conditions, particularly rain. Using a waterproof carry bag or wrapping it up when out in bad weather is helpful. However, I used this camera often in rainy weather and never had a single problem with it.
Nikon D3200 Specifications
Important specifications and features that you should know about the camera.
Single lens reflex digital camera
Nikon F lens mount
Effective angle of view is Approx. 1.5x lens focal length
Effective pixels – 24.2 million
Total pixels – 24.7 million
Image sensor – 23.2 x 15.4 mm CMOS sensor
Image size (pixels) – 6,016 x 4,000 [L], 4,512 x 3,000 [M], 3,008 x 2,000 [S]
File format – RAW, JPEG, RAW+JPEG (Recorded in both)
Lens aperture – Instant return, electronically controlled
Shutter speed – 1/4,000 to 30s
Flash sync speed – X=1/200 s, synchronizes with shutter at 1/200 s or slower
Frame advance rate – up to 4 fps
ISO sensitivity – ISO 100 to 6400, auto ISO sensitivity control available
Autofocus – Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor module, 11 focus points (including one cross-type sensor) and AF-assist illuminator.
Flash – Auto flash with auto pop up
Six automatic scene modes – Portrait, Landscape, Child, Sports, Close-up or Night Portrait
95% Viewfinder frame coverage
Media compatibility – SD, SDHC and SDXC cards
Nikon D3200 Guide Mode Feature
Nikon’s guide mode is particularly helpful for new photographers. This mode allows you to easily adjust your camera settings according to the type of photography that you are doing. With the settings taken care of, it is easier to spend more time on framing the image. In the set-up menu within guide mode, you can change the image size or quality, playback and display settings, sound and movie settings, and more. There are two shooting operations to choose from. These are ‘easy operation’ and ‘advanced operation’. Using the guide mode is easy. Just turn the dial to ‘GUIDE’ and choose which operation you would like to use.
The easy operation allows you to choose from a variety of shooting options, such as, moving subjects, landscapes, and portraits. Each option has its own functions. This enables the user to focus on the pictures that they are taking without having to worry about figuring out what settings they need to be using.
The advanced operation can be used to further enhance your camera settings by changing background, focal points, and more. Using this mode is a great way to come to terms with the different camera settings and is a way to improve the quality of images that you are taking. It is an efficient method of learning what the different camera functions do and figuring out what settings you need to be adapting.
It is important to read the descriptions of each mode that you select, in order to learn what each function does. This way, you can be sure you are using the right settings for the type of photos that you want to take. For example, in sports mode, it will shoot in ‘continuous’, maximising the number of photographs that you can take in a short amount of time to capture motion.
Using Nikon’s Built in WI-FI
The Nikon D3200 comes with built in WIFI. To enable this setting, you need to download the Nikon Wireless Mobility Utility app through either the I Phone app store or the Google Play store.
Next, just go into the setup menu on your camera, through the ‘wrench’ icon and select WIFI. Make sure that the network connection is enabled. Once you have enabled the network connection, it will say ‘waiting for connection’. The camera will create its own WIFI network, which you can join on your mobile phone, in the wireless settings.
It’s now time to launch the app. You will be presented with two options, take photos, or view photos. The ‘take photos’ option, will show you whatever the camera is seeing and will allow you to take the photograph from your phone. You cannot change any of the camera settings through the app before tasking the picture. Essentially, your mobile phone becomes the remote shutter control. In the ‘view photos’ section, you can look at all of the photographs on your camera and select any that you want to download onto your phone.
This is a great alternative to buying a separate remote for taking photos without using the camera buttons. This can be useful if you wanted to be in the photo yourself. However, the main advantage of using the remote shutter release, is that it eliminates any camera shake that may disrupt the image through you touching the camera.
Movie / Video Recording
There is a button near the screen on the back of the camera that makes entering the ‘live view’ mode simple. In live view, the camera will autofocus based on contrast detection. I found it was more efficient to half press down the shutter release button to focus instead, as the auto focus doesn’t always bring the subject into focus in the way that you would want. Another annoyance at the auto-focus mode, is that the camera makes noise as it auto focuses, which can be picked up by the microphone. It is also possible to use a manual focus instead, to really get the exact settings that you need.
This camera has a full HD 1080p movie shooting mode. The resolution settings determine the number of frames per second. However, at 1280×720 pixels, you can choose from either 24, 25 or 30 frames per second.
There is time limit on video recording, which is 20 minutes. After this amount of time, the camera will stop recording and you will have to start another video if it is longer than 20 minutes. Note that the memory card must have the capacity to hold a 20-minute recording. If not, it will cut off as soon as your card is full.
I used an external microphone when shooting video, as I find that the camera microphone isn’t the best. It is attached through the hot-shoe mount on the top of the camera and plugs in to the side. To the left, is the microphone that I used when filming.
It doesn’t require any batteries, as it draws power from the camera itself. This does make the camera battery die faster, but I prefer that to having to keep changing out batteries all the time. I have a spare battery that is fully charged, that I can swap out if needed. It is super easy to use and produces some really good quality sound.
This microphone has a shock reducing design that reduces vibration noise. You can also purchase one with a wind muffler, which is great for filming outdoors as it lessens or eliminates the wind noise.
Overall, I have a lot of love for this camera, as it was my first ever camera that I used for photography. Its easy guide mode for learning camera settings was a big help to me. The camera was able to produce great quality images and helped me to learn all the things that I needed as I beginner photographer.