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Nikon D3200 versus Nikon D3100

The Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D3100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2012 and August 2010. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The D3200 has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the D3100 provides 14.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D3100

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D3100 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D3200 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D3100
D3200 versus D3100 top view
D3200 and D3100 rear side
Body view (D3200 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D3100are of equal size. Similarly, the two cameras are very close in terms of weight. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3200 nor the D3100 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D3200 (⇒ rgt) 125 mm 96 mm 77 mm 505 g 540 no 2012 599discont. check
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft) 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 no 2010 599discont. check
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 no 2017 549 latest check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 no 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 465 g 970 no 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 97 mm 70 mm 420 g 820 no 2015 899discont. check
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 no 2014 499discont. check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 no 2013 799discont. check
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 136 mm 107 mm 76 mm 765 g 950 YES 2013 1,199discont. check
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) 129 mm 98 mm 78 mm 555 g 500 no 2012 749discont. check
Nikon D5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 128 mm 97 mm 79 mm 560 g 660 no 2011 749discont. check
Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 no 2009 599discont. check
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 no 2009 749discont. check
Nikon D40 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 no 2006 499discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The two cameras under review were launched at the same price and fall into the same market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.


Sensor comparison: Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D3100

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D3200 and Nikon D3100 sensor measures
Sensor size

With 24.1MP, the D3200 offers a higher resolution than the D3100 (14.2MP), but the D3200 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.85μm versus 5.01μm for the D3100). However, the D3200 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the D3100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

D3200 versus D3100 MP
Sensor resolution

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the D3200 provides substantially higher image quality than the D3100, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D3200 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 24.1 6016 4000 1080/30p 24.1 13.2 1131 81
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft) APS-C 14.2 4608 3072 1080/24p 22.5 11.3 919 67
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 23.6 13.4 1041 79
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.8 13.9 1192 86
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1306 84
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.1 14.0 1438 84
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.3 12.8 1385 82
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.0 13.9 1338 83
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.2 13.7 1256 83
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60i 24.2 13.9 1284 84
Nikon D5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p 23.5 13.6 1183 80
Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 10.0 3872 2592 no 22.3 11.1 563 62
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 720/24p 22.7 12.5 868 72
Nikon D40 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 6.0 3008 2000 no 21 11.0 561 56

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D3200 provides a higher frame rate than the D3100. It can shoot video footage at 1080/30p, while the D3100 is limited to 1080/24p.

Feature comparison: Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D3100

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D3200 and the D3100 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3200 and Nikon D3100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D3200 (⇒ rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft) optical no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 12 no
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 5.0 9.8 no
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 5.0 7 no
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel YES 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.2 1037 swivel no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 8000 6.0 12 no
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon D5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 swivel no 4000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 230 fixed no 4000 3.0 12 no
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.7 230 full-flex no 4000 4.0 17 no
Nikon D40 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 4000 2.5 17 no

Both the D3200 and the D3100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3100 was replaced by the Nikon D3200, while the D3200 was followed by the Nikon D3300.

Review summary: Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D3100

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D3100? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3200:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 14.2MP) with a 30% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/30p versus 1080/24p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the D3100).

Advantages of the Nikon D3100:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2010).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3200 is the clear winner of the match-up (8 : 1 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

D3200 08:01 D3100

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D3200 or the D3100 handle or perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D3200 (⇒ rgt) HiRec 73/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 599discont. check
Nikon D3100 (⇒ lft) 84/100 HiRec 72/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2010 599discont. check
Canon SL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 78/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 549 latest check
Nikon D3400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 76/100 4/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 499 latest check
Nikon D5600 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4/5 2016 699 latest check
Nikon D5500 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 899discont. check
Nikon D3300 (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 499discont. check
Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2013 799discont. check
Nikon D7100 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 85/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2013 1,199discont. check
Nikon D5200 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 749discont. check
Nikon D5100 (⇒ lft | rgt) 86/100 HiRec 76/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2011 749discont. check
Nikon D3000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 80/100 Rec 72/100 HiRec 4/5 3.5/5 4.5/5 2009 599discont. check
Nikon D5000 (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec 75/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 4.5/5 2009 749discont. check
Nikon D40 (⇒ lft | rgt) 81/100 HiRec reviewed 5/5 4.5/5 2006 499discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.


Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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