It may be an entry-level camera, but the Nikon D3200 features a 24.2-million-pixel sensor that could provide the sort of image quality demanded by enthusiasts. Can the Nikon D3200 cater for all? The Nikon D3200 review find out.
The image processing that creates a JPEG file, and certainly on an entry-level camera like the D3200, is designed to produce a bright and punchy print-ready image. The D3200’s JPEG files range between 7.5MB and 15.5MB in size, opening up to 68.8MB in Photoshop, while raw files are 18.5-28.2MB and 137MB in Photoshop.
JPEG files receive a degree of tonal compression, noise reduction, colour alteration and sharpening, all of which make an image look good straight out of the camera. However, to get the most detail from the D3200’s excellent 24.2-million-pixel sensor, it is necessary to shoot in raw format and make any such alterations manually using software.
The above image, taken at ISO 200 in good light, shows the difference in overall quality between raw and JPEG. Viewed at 100%, it can be seen that the JPEG compression process causes a loss of shadow detail and less tonal information, that the smoothing from noise reduction impacts on the level of fine detail, and that colours are very bright and not always ‘lifelike’. In contrast, the unedited raw file lacks punch in areas of clarity and colour, while luminance noise is evident in shadow areas. Manually addressing these elements using software means it is possible to get excellent image quality from this entry-level camera, and at a fraction of the price of an enthusiast-level model.