This guide looks at the Nikon D3200 vs. Nikon D5200, and it will reveal a few surprises. Both cameras are entry-level DSLRs that sport APS-C sensors. Keep reading to see which is better for your needs.
Nikon launched its D3200 DX-format DSLR on April 19, 2012. In November the same year, came its close rival, the D5200. They look similar at a glance but have obvious differences on closer inspection.
Neither camera has a significant list of advantages over the other. Still, each model is sure to have some features that attract photographers for different reasons
One camera is slightly less advanced than the other and thus more novice-friendly. Keep reading as we use the format below to uncover the real differences between these two models.
|Nikon D3200 Digital-SLR||Nikon D5200 Digital SLR|
|Best For||First-time DSLR Users||Advanced beginner level photographers|
|Camera Weight||17.8 oz. (1.8 oz. lighter)||19.6 oz.|
|Sensor Pixel Area||14.85µm2||15.28µm2 (2% bigger)|
|Battery Life||540 shots (40 more frames per charge)||500 shots|
|Flash Sync Port||Yes||None|
|UHS Memory Card Support||Yes||None|
|Number of Focus Points||11||39 (28 more focus points)|
|Number of Cross Type Focus Points||1||9 (8 more cross type focus points)|
|Continuous Shooting||4.0fps||5.0fps (faster by 1fps)|
|Color Depth||24.1||24.2 (higher color depth)|
|Dynamic Range||13.2||13.9 (higher dynamic range)|
|Low Light ISO||1131||1284 (better low light performance)|
Here’s what we cover in the review:
Nikon D3200 and Nikon D5200 Shared Features
Both cameras are Nikon Digital-SLRs aimed at a similar market. That also means they share some of the same and similar features. This section highlights their collective strengths.
Each Nikon comes with a built-in pop-up flash. A built-in flash is not a flattering light source, but it’s still useful. For example, spur-of-the-moment shots in low light when there’s no flash on the hot shoe.
The Nikon D3200 and Nikon D5200 have external flash shoes for better flash photography. An external flash unit is always the preferred option when it’s on the camera and ready to fire.
These Nikon DSLRs share optical viewfinders (OVF). When a photographer looks through an OVF, he or she gets to see what the lens sees—exactly. That results in better control and more accurate framing.
Shared shooting modes include Face Detection Focus and AE Bracketing. The former is a great help with precise facial focus. The latter is invaluable when shooting in challenging light conditions.
Photographers who like to shoot in RAW file format get that with either camera. The unprocessed data of a RAW file allows for more creative control when photo editing.
Camera Body Comparison
The bodies and physical control layout are similar between the Nikon D3200 and D5200. The slight differences are worth noting, but they’re unlikely to swing buying decisions.
Looking at the cameras from the front, the Nikon D5200 is larger than the D3200, but only by 5%. The D5200 also has more heft and weighs around 10% more than the D3200.
The table below gives a snapshot comparison of the cameras’ main dimensions and weight:
|Nikon D3200||Width: 4.9”||Height: 3.8”||Depth: 3.0”||Weight: 17.8 oz.|
|Nikon D5200||Width: 5.1”||Height: 3.9”||Depth: 3.1”||Weight: 19.6 oz.|
The total weight of any camera depends on the lens mounted at any given time. Both these models have comparable sensors and share the Nikon F lens mount. That means the choice in lenses is equal.
Each camera has a similar—not identical—shape and physical control layout. The D5200 has a bit more going on along its top. Extras include a stereo mic and a Live View switch to the right of the mode dial.
The top of the D5200 also has a self-timer button. We can find the most evident differences at the rear of the cameras. This time it’s the D3200 that has a busier layout.
The D3200 has a fixed screen, and that means no hinge. That gives it space for five physical buttons along its left edge. The rear right side is similar for both cameras with slight variances in contours.
Why Consider the Nikon D3200 over the Nikon D5200?
You might want to choose the Nikon D3200 rather than the Nikon D5200 if you’re new to DSLRs. It’s more novice-friendly for one. It also offers five considered advantages over the D5200.
The D3200 is 50g lighter than the D5200, though that alone is not enough to make it a key selling point. The Ultra High Speed (UHS) memory card image storage support is a more significant advantage.
It’s also possible to connect an off-camera flash to the D3200 via its flash sync port. And the camera’s 540 shots on a single charge give 40 more frames per battery than the D5200.
Nikon’s D3200 is less expensive than their D5200. However, prices have evened out considerably since both cameras launch dates. The savings are currently somewhere between 20–40 dollars.
Other reasons to choose Nikon’s D3200 over its D5200 are subjective rather than overt. Keep reading to see if the D5200 has more of what you want and expect from an entry-level DSLR.
Why Consider the Nikon D5200 over the Nikon D3200?
There are twice as many reasons to ponder the Nikon D5200 over the Nikon D3200. That doesn’t mean it’s a no-brainer. After all, there’s no point buying into features unless they matter to you.
Many of the advantages the Nikon 5200 has that the D3200 lacks are minor. One of its most appealing features is the articulating screen—invaluable for flexible shooting angles.
Rotating LCD screens also make a camera selfie-friendly. That’s something for photographers to consider if they take—or intend to take—lots of self-portraits.
Image quality between these two Nikons is comparable. The D5200 does have slightly higher color depth. The numbers are 24.2 to the D3200’s 24.1, though the difference is negligible.
The D5200 fares a tad better with its dynamic range at 13.9 vs. the D3200’s 13.2. That suggests it does a slightly better job at capturing light and dark tones in a photograph.
Some photographers look for the best possible high ISO performance in a camera. The D5200’s low light ISO numbers are 1284 to the D3200’s 1131, so higher shutter speeds in lower light.
Nikon’s D5200 pixel area is larger, though at 2% it’s quite minor. The focus advantages are more noteworthy. There are 28 extra focus points and 8 more cross type focus points than the D3200.
It also offers faster continuous shooting by 1fps (frame per second) at 5fps to the D3200’s 4fps. The last pro over the D3200 is the time-lapse recording that’s sure to sway some decisions.
The Nikon D3200 and Nikon D5200 share a few weaknesses. These are things they both lack or that could benefit from improvement. The improvement example here is the optical viewfinder types.
Each camera has a pentaMIRROR viewfinder, and they work well. However, photographers prefer pentaPRISM type viewfinders as they tend to be brighter.
Entry-level DSLRs are always going to lack some advanced features of course. That doesn’t make the lack of weather sealing and built-in stabilization any less disappointing.
No sensor-based stabilization is a letdown for folks who need it. That’s because it forces photographers to ditch their kit lens & buying lenses that offer optical stabilization instead. Lenses with OS do a good job, but they cost more.
Nikon currently has about 287 native lenses for its F mount. Out of those, there are around 88 lens choices with image stabilization (IS).
Neither camera has a fine-tune autofocus (AF) feature or autofocus micro adjustment (AFMA). That’s not such an issue for raw beginners, but it makes more sense with experienced shooters.
What the Reviewers Say
Fans of DX-format CMOS sensors have plenty of praise for both the D3200 and Nikon D5200. The D3200 here replaced the D3100 and has been a big hit among entry-level users ever since.
The D3200 is especially popular with first-time DSLR owners, despite the newer D3300. The reviewers like its lightweight, ease of handling, and available functions to grow into.
Nikon’s D3200 is a simple camera to fathom, made even easier thanks to the built-in Guide Mode. The Guide Mode walks newbies through how to use the camera and take great photos.
Most reviewers are more than happy with the model’s image quality and flexible shooting. DSLR versatility impresses new users the most compared to their point-and-shoot smartphones.
User feedback for the D3200 is shorter and less detailed than with higher-end models. The comments are mostly favorable, though. That’s always helpful when using reviews as part of the buying decision.
The camera does have a few critics though their gripes are more personal than widespread. The price and value for money is something most reviewers can agree on.
Reviewers’ Take on the Nikon D5200
Nikon’s D5200 enjoys more detailed reviews than the D3200 due to its target audience. It’s still an entry-level DSLR, but the company aims this model more at the advanced beginner.
The higher the user level, the more authority one has to talk about a camera, and that’s a good thing. Real user reviews tell us more about the pros and cons of a product than the makers ever would.
The swivel screen gets a big thumbs-up from all types of users. Image quality and color accuracy get praise in online reviews for a camera in its class too. Acceptable low-light performance is another.
Amateur vloggers welcome the external microphone port and adjustable screen. And enthusiastic stills photographers love the option to shoot and edit RAW image files.
Some would have liked to see a dedicated ISO button, but it’s a minor gripe rather than a major criticism. Few have anything favorable to say about the harsh pop-up flashlight, but that’s normal.
The D5200—like the D3200—enjoys a seemingly endless flow of positive feedback. There would be plenty to criticize if these were mid to high-end DSLRs, but they’re not, so there isn’t.
These are two similar cameras by Nikon aimed at slightly different markets. The D3200 is an ideal choice for anyone who’s never used a DSLR before but is keen to learn. It truly is beginner-friendly.
Nikon’s D5200 is also an excellent choice for the raw beginner who wants to jump in at the deep end. It’s a little more complicated in features and handling than the D3200, but nothing too daunting.
This page highlights all the similarities and distinctions between these two popular models. The winner for me is the Nikon D5200 for no other reason than its articulating screen.
For the one that is right for you, consider your style and skill level. The rest is subjective based on personal preferences.Back to Top