Probably, but we're spoilt for choice aren't we?
Nikon released the D3200 with a 24 megapixel sensor, which makes it the lowest priced DSLR Nikon sells with the highest resolution of any DX camera. For the moment that is. Other upgrades using Sony’s 24mp sensor will follow soon – the D5200, the D320 ... What is just as strange is that more megapixels is hardly a priority for most of us. I have my D5100 set to M, which gives me 9mp images instead of 16.
Not that long ago, in 2005, Nikon sprang the D50 on a surprised world – the first sub $1000 DSLR. The D40 followed a year later with a price tag closer to $700, and made do without the screwdrive AF motor of the D50. It had a bigger LCD screen on a more compact body, and it forced Nikon to rsuh out a bunch of new AF-S lenses with inbuilt AF motors. There hasn't been much rushing since (see below).
Both the D50 and D40 made do with a 6mp sensor, which is ample resolution for most people. The firmware in the D40 was brilliant, and I still use mine today because the images have a certain quality that is hard to describe. Canon was pushing more megapixels, however, so a year later Nikon stuck the 10mp sensor from the D80 into the D40 and called it D40x. We lost 1/500 sec synch flash and a sweet shutter mechanism, and gained an ISO100 setting and a little more dynamic range.
Around 2010, Nikon produced the D3000, which added all kinds of fancy effects and video. The D3100 followed and now the D3200. The price is still about $700 for a basic kit, but this time you get a colour choice as well.
And lots more: compatibility with Nikon's new wireless mobile adapter, WU-1, for easy image sharing, a 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD monitor, and HD video at 24 and 30 fps with fulltime AF while recording. There’s even a microphone input jack for stereo recording, and HDMI output with CEC support. The camera can shoot up to 4 frames per second at the full 24-mp resolution, and there’s an 11-point autofocus system and a Scene Recognition system for accurate focus. What you still don’t get is an articulating screen.
There is a downside to cramming so many pixels onto an APS-C / DX sensor, as Ken Rockwell explains: ‘… the D3200 has higher linear resolution than any other DSLR ever made in any format: 255 pixels per millimeter. (The 36 MP D800 only has 200 pixels per millimeter in its larger FX format.) Since the diffraction limit at 255 lpmm is f/6.3, any shots made at f/6.3 or smaller will have their resolution completely limited by lens diffraction, not the camera.’ You have been warned.
The D3200 is simply one more step in the evolution that began with the D40. The image quality coming out of the new Sony bodies using this sensor is said to be superb, and the D3200 should do even better given that Nikon is better at getting the best out of Sony sensors than Sony. Then again, you could buy a second-hand D40 for next to nothing and get great images out of it too.
DPReview sums its preview up this way: ‘In terms of how you use the camera, the D3200 isn't a dramatic step forward for Nikon, but it fits comfortably into a series that has consistently offered some of the best beginners' DSLRs, so it's hard to blame Nikon for not wanting to change the recipe more than it has to.’
DX lenses - wake up, Nikon!
Along with the D3200, Nikon announced the new AF-S 28mm f/1.8G lens for about the same money. Very odd since it’s clearly designed for an FX body. Another recent Nikon lens is the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G, which is also meant to go on FX bodies to replace the superb old 50mm f/1.8D. To make up a full threesome, Nikon then added the AF-S 85mm f/1.8G, a small portrait lens for FX bodies.
Sure, you can use all of these on a D3200 or D40 since they have built-in AF motors, but the Field Of View will be screwed up by the 1.5 DX crop factor. So what has Nikon given us DX shooters of late? Very little by way of prime lenses. We’ve had the superb AF-S 35mm f/1.8G (a great bargain at $200ish) since 2009, and it seems Nikon’s DX lens engineers have been asleep at their CAD screens ever since.
Nikon guru Thom Hogan agrees: ‘2009 was the last big push in DX. In the 2008/2009 time period we got the 16-85mm, 18-105mm, 35mm, 10-24mm, redesigned 18-200mm, and the strange 85mm Micro-Nikkor.' The only prime DX lens Nikon has released since then is the AF-S DX Micro 40mm f/2.8G, a lens I can’t imagine any Nikon shooter asking for.
What makes me say that? 40mm is too close for serious macro work (or micro as Nikon calls it) – you need 135 or more mm for that, and 200 + for live critters or you’ll scare them away. The only use for this lens is food photography, which is a highly specialised pro niche. For general work, the 40mm competes with the faster, cheaper 35mm. So Nikon has given us a pretty useless lens here since we already have the superb AF-S 60mm f/2.8G ED ($600) and the fair quality AF-S DX Micro 85mm f/3.5G ED VR ($500).
What we DX shooters really need is a prime lens in the 16-24mm range, and an ultra-wide prime around 10mm. Right now, the only way we can go wider than 35mm is with zoom lenses. As Thom Hogan concluded in the same post: ‘Lately it really feels like the wrong folk [at Nikon] are designing the wrong lenses for the wrong cameras.’ Is anyone at Nikon listening? http://www.bythom.com/