Nikon D3200 vs D800
The Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D800 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in April 2012 and February 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D3200) and a full frame (D800) sensor. The D3200 has a resolution of 24.1 megapixels, whereas the D800 provides 36.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Nikon D3200||Nikon D800|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||36.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO 100-6400 (100-12800)||ISO 100-6400 (50-25600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 921k dots||3.2" LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|4 shutter flaps per second||4 shutter flaps per second|
|Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|540 shots per battery charge||900 shots per battery charge|
|125 x 96 x 77 mm, 505 g||146 x 123 x 82 mm, 1000 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D800? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D800. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3200 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the D800 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D800 is considerably larger (50 percent) than the Nikon D3200. Moreover, the D800 is substantially heavier (98 percent) than the D3200. It is noteworthy in this context that the D800 is splash and dust-proof, while the D3200 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. A larger imaging sensor (as in the D800) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D3200). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.
|Nikon D3200»||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||540||n||Apr 2012||599||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D800«||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D850« »||5.7 in||4.9 in||3.1 in||35.5 oz||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5600« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||16.4 oz||970||n||Nov 2016||699||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D3400« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.7 oz||1200||n||Aug 2016||499||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D5500« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||14.8 oz||820||n||Jan 2015||899||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D810« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||34.6 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D3300« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.2 oz||700||n||Jan 2014||499||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D610« »||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D5300« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||16.9 oz||600||n||Oct 2013||799||Nikon D5300|
|Nikon D800E« »||5.7 in||4.8 in||3.2 in||35.3 oz||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D5200« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||500||n||Nov 2012||749||Nikon D5200|
|Nikon D5100« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.8 oz||660||n||Apr 2011||749||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D3100« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||550||n||Aug 2010||599||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D3000« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D700« »||5.8 in||4.8 in||3.0 in||37.9 oz||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||Nikon D700|
|Sony A58« »||5.1 in||3.7 in||3.1 in||17.4 oz||690||n||Feb 2013||599||Sony A58|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D3200 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 80 percent) than the D800, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3200 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D800 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D800 is 141 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 36.2MP, the D800 offers a higher resolution than the D3200 (24.1MP), but the D800 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 3.85μm for the D3200) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D800 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D800 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inch or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inch or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inch or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3200 are 30.1 x 20 inch or 76.4 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24.1 x 16 inch or 61.1 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20.1 x 13.3 inch or 50.9 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3200 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D800 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D800 offers substantially better image quality than the D3200 (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 1.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 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.
|Nikon D3200||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/30p||24.1||13.2||1131||81||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5600||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1306||84||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D3400||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||13.9||1192||86||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D5500||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1438||84||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D3300||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.8||1385||82||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D5300||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.9||1338||83||Nikon D5300|
|Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D5200||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.2||13.9||1284||84||Nikon D5200|
|Nikon D5100||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.5||13.6||1183||80||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D3100||APS-C||14.2||4608||3072||1080/24p||22.5||11.3||919||67||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D3000||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80||Nikon D700|
|Sony A58||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.3||12.5||753||74||Sony A58|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D3200 and the D800 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 viewfinder in the D800 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D3200 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D800 has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D3200, the Nikon D800, and comparable cameras.
|Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D800||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D850||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||n||n||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5300|
|Nikon D800E||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D5200||optical||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5200|
|Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n||Nikon D700|
|Sony A58||1440||n||2.7||460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||Y||Sony A58|
One feature that is present on the D800, but is missing on the D3200 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The Nikon D800 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D3200 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D800 uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The D800 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D3200 only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D3200 and Nikon D800 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon D3200||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3200|
|Nikon D800||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D850||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5600||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D3400||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y||Nikon D3400|
|Nikon D5500||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D810||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D3300||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D610||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D610|
|Nikon D5300||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D5300|
|Nikon D800E||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D5200||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5200|
|Nikon D5100||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5100|
|Nikon D3100||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3100|
|Nikon D3000||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D700||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D700|
|Sony A58||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A58|
It is notable that the D800 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The D3200 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D800 (unlike the D3200) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D3200 and the D800 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D800 was replaced by the Nikon D810, while the D3200 was followed by the Nikon D3300. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D3200 better than the Nikon D800 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3200:
- More compact: Is smaller (125x96mm vs 146x123mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 495g or 49 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (80 percent cheaper at launch).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D800:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 24.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.53x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (900 versus 540) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D800 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3200 and the Nikon D800 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3200 or the D800. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon D60 vs Nikon D800
- Canon SX610 vs Nikon D800
- Fujifilm X20 vs Nikon D3200
- Leica M Typ 262 vs Nikon D800
- Leica S Typ 007 vs Nikon D3200
- Leica S Typ 007 vs Nikon D800
- Nikon Coolpix A vs Nikon D800
- Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D5000
- Nikon D3200 vs Olympus E-PL8
- Nikon D3200 vs Panasonic FZ80
- Nikon D3200 vs Sony RX1
- Nikon D800 vs Sony A7R IV
Specifications: Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D800
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D3200||Nikon D800|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2012||February 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 2999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3200||Nikon D800|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.2 x 15.4 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||357.28 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27.8 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.1 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6016 x 4000 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.85 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.74 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-6400 ISO||100-6400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-12800 ISO||50-25600 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 3||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||95|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.1||25.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.2||14.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1131||2853|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3200||Nikon D800|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.2 inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3200||Nikon D800|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3200||Nikon D800|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3200||Nikon D800|
|Environmental Sealing||Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||540 shots per charge||900 shots per charge|
125 x 96 x 77 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||505 g (17.8 oz)||1000 g (35.3 oz)|
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