The Nikon Coolpix 3200 is a 3 megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom lens. It is easy to use and you can be taking pictures almost as soon as you have taken the camera out of the box. It is small and lightweight and will slip into a jacket pocket or handbag without any problem. Therefore you can carry the Nikon Coolpix 3200 with you wherever you go and never miss a shot.
There are obviously plenty of digital cameras to choose from with very similar specifications so the main question is, "Should you select the Nikon Coolpix 3200 ahead of the competition"?
For anyone buying a digital camera in this range there are four or five key issues. The first is picture quality, the second is the feature set, the third is ease of use, the fourth is cost and the fifth seems to be does the camera look good.
88 x 65 x 38mm
The Nikon Coolpix 3200 scores highly when it comes to image quality. The most important part of any camera in terms of images quality is the lens. Nikon are always one of the leaders when it comes to lens quality. In my tests pictures taken outdoors always provided true, vivid colour and macro or close up pictures were particularly good.
One of the biggest bugbears of digital camera owners is the quality of images produced by their cameras when they are taking pictures under artificial lighting, indoors. Here again the Nikon Coolpix 3200 does very well for a camera in this category.
In my view this is where the Nikon Coolpix 3200 scores heavily. If you want to you can simply turn the camera on and start shooting in automatic mode. In fact I am sure that many, many owners will always use automatic mode and be very happy with the resulting pictures.
A step up from automatic mode, the Nikon Coolpix 3200 has what I would describe as a semi automatic mode with a number of pre programmed scene and assist modes.
The scene modes are Party/Indoor, Beach/Snow, Sunset, Dusk, Dawn, Night Landscape, Close Up, Museum, Fireworks Show, Copy, Back Light and Panorama Assist. The available assist modes are Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night Portrait.
The pre programmed modes do the hard work for you as the camera has been set up to take the ideal picture. Say for example you take a picture on a snowy day using the Beach/Snow scene setting. The camera optimises the exposure to play down any glare and reflection from the snow that might otherwise spoil the shot.
The assist modes are similar to scene modes, but take the concept further. For example to help you to take portraits the Nikon Coolpix 3200 lets you specify if the subject is standing to the right, left or centre and if you are taking a portrait of couple. Once you have told the camera the type of portrait you are taking it sets up the best possible exposure and focusing for you.
As well as the scene modes you can also adjust the settings for White Balance and Exposure Compensation. There are also Colour Options including Black and White and Sepia. The Nikon Coolpix 3200 also has Best Shot Selector and Continuous Shooting features. The Best Shot Selector is quite an advanced feature for a camera in this bracket.
If you like the idea of taking short movies on your digital camera then the Nikon Coolpix 3200 takes colour movies with sound.
For when you want to appear in the picture too there is a 10 second self timer. One more useful feature is that you can add up to 20 seconds of audio commentary to each picture that you have taken.
Ease of Use
All of these features would be of little use if they were difficult to use and to get to grips with. In fact its quite easy to use every function that the Nikon Coolpix offers if you are prepared to experiment a little. The controls on the back of the camera are well laid out and clearly marked. The main dial has a few more settings assigned to it than a lot of cameras. I think this makes it a little more straightforward to get to grips with the camera than some of its competitors.
As with any digital camera you will need to become familiar with the menu system to get the most out of the camera, but I found the menus well thought out and once you have used them a few times it is easy to find your way around them.
Images can be played back on the LCD at the touch of a button and scrolling through them and deleting any of Auntie Betty where she is not looking quite her best is not a problem.
At the time of writing you can buy the Nikon Coolpix 3200 for a shade under £200. In my opinion it is very fairly priced.
Some digital cameras are designed with the emphasis very much on style. Whilst I wouldn't say that about the Nikon Coolpix 3200 it is a bright, silver, camera that looks fine by me. If you are particularly style conscious then there are better models out there. If you are looking for a highly portable camera that takes good pictures then that is a fairly accurate description of this camera.
Batteries / Memory Cards
The Nikon Coolpix 3200 runs on 2 AA batteries or a single CRV3 battery. The camera did use the batteries up quickly, so investing in some rechargeable ones is likely to pay off in the longer term. Unlike previous Nikon cameras in this range it stores images on SD memory cards. It also has an internal memory of around 14.5MB. Although that is "nice to have" you will soon fill up the internal memory, so make sure you either have an additional memory card added in as part of the deal or that you budget for some extra memory.
I would have no hesitation in adding the Nikon Coolpix 3200 to your shortlist if you are looking for a 3 megapixel digital camera with a standard (3x) zoom lens. For me the main thing that sets it apart from many of its rivals are the picture quality and the scene modes. As long as you are not a photo perfectionist (and if you are you will have to pay a lot more than this to satisfy your requirements) you should be more than happy with the Nikon Coolpix 3200.
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