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Nikon D3200 Ken McMahon, June 2012
 
 

Nikon D3200 vs Sony NEX-7 vs Canon EOS T2i / 550D quality

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To compare real-life performance when zoomed-out, I shot this scene with the Nikon D3200, the Sony NEX-7 and the Canon EOS T2i / 550D within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

All three cameras were fitted with their respective 18-55mm kit lenses which were set to their widest angle 18m settings to provide an equivalent field of view. I didn't attempt to adjust the zooms to compensate for the marginal differences in crop factor between the three cameras.

  Nikon D3200 results
1 Nikon D3200 Quality
2 Nikon D3200 RAW vs JPEG
3 Nikon D3200 Noise
5 Nikon D3200 Sample images

All three cameras were set to f5.6 in Aperture priority exposure mode, stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and tone enhancement features were left on the default settings - Active D-Lighting on the D3200 was on, Auto Lighting Optimizer on the T2i / 550D was set to Standard and DRO was set to Auto on the NEX-7. The ISO sensitivity was manually set to 100 ISO on all three models.

The image above was taken with the Nikon D3200 with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 lens. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f5.6 and the sensitivity was set to 100 ISO. The D3200 metered an exposure of 1/640 at f5.6 - the same as the EOS T2i / 550D. The NEX-7 selected an exposure of 1/800 at f5.6 and so 1/3EV exposure compensation was set to produce the same exposure as the other two cameras.

Overall the D3200 has produced a good result from this high contrast scene. Despite its tendency to occassionally over-expose in just these kinds of situation, this time it's got the exposure bang on with a histogram right in the middle of the chart and no clipping. The colours are well saturated and the white balance is good.

Moving onto the crops, the first one is distinctly average in terms of the fine detail, while you can make out the window frames and crosses on the roof of the chapel, the detail in the stonework and the foreground rocks isn't as clear as it might be. The second crop with the lighthouse is much more promising though. Despite the slight atmospheric haze, the lighthouse is a distinct white cylinder and the foreground roofs and window frames are reasonably cleanly defined. There's a slight softness to the edge detail in this crop that could almost certainly be addressed with different processing and there's not too much evidence of noise at the base 100 ISO setting.

The third crop from closer to the edge of the frame also looks very good with no visible softening and no evidence of colour fringing. Lastly in the crop from close to the centre of the frame the edges look sharp and well-defined, but the softness apparent in the other crops is evident here too.

Given that they probably share the same sensor the D3200 crops make for an interesting comparison with those from the Sony NEX-7. The most obvious difference is that the NEX-7 crops are a little more contrasty than those from the D3200, so the detail looks a little bit sharper, but there isn't really any more detail there. In the second crop, the lighthouse looks more clearly defined as does the foreground detail, but again, I think this is mostly, if not all, down to the contrast and possibly more aggressive sharpening. It's the same story in the final crop where the NEX-7 has produced a more contrasty result with more apparent detail, but more noise too. It's quite likely that what we're comparing here is results from the same sensor and the differences are entirely due to lens characteristics and processing.

Compared with the results form the Canon EOS T2i / 550D's 18 Megapixel sensor, the Canon crops again look a little sharper and more clearly defined than those from the D3200. The Canon kit lens is prone to fringing at the edge of the frame, but other than that I think these outdoor crops look a little more detailed than those from the D3200. The truth is that the quality gap between 18 and 24 Megapixels is less than you might expect.

Check out my D3200 RAW vs JPEG results on the next page or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my D3200 Noise results.

 


Nikon D3200
 
Sony NEX-7
 
Canon EOS T2i / 550D
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Nikon D3200
results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise


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