Nikon D3200 vs Zeiss ZX1
The Nikon D3200 and the Zeiss ZX1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in April 2012 and September 2018. The D3200 is a DSLR, while the ZX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D3200) and a full frame (ZX1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24.1 megapixels, whereas the Zeiss provides 37.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3200 and the Zeiss ZX1? 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 physical size and weight of the Nikon D3200 and the Zeiss ZX1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3200 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the ZX1 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 Zeiss ZX1 is notably larger (10 percent) than the Nikon D3200. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3200 nor the ZX1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZX1 has a lens built in, whereas the D3200 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the D3200 and their specifications 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 would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||142 mm||93 mm||46 mm||800 g||250||n||Sep 2018||5,999|
|3.||Leica Q2||130 mm||80 mm||92 mm||718 g||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|4.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|6.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|7.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|8.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|9.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|10.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|11.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|12.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|13.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|14.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|16.||Sony RX1R II||113 mm||65 mm||72 mm||507 g||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299|
|17.||Sony A58||129 mm||95 mm||78 mm||492 g||690||n||Feb 2013||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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. 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.
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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 Zeiss ZX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the ZX1 is 142 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 37.4MP, the ZX1 offers a higher resolution than the D3200 (24.1MP), but the ZX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 3.85μm for the D3200) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the ZX1 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 5 months) than the D3200, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Zeiss ZX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.4 x 25 inches or 95.1 x 63.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.1 x 50.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.6 inches or 63.4 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3200 are 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20.1 x 13.3 inches 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 Zeiss ZX1 are ISO 80 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||Full Frame||37.4||7488||4992||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|4.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|16.||Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the ZX1 provides a better video resolution than the D3200. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the ZX1 has an electronic viewfinder (6221k dots), while the D3200 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the ZX1 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 ZX1 has a higher magnification (0.74x 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 Zeiss ZX1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||6221||n||4.3 / 2765||fixed||Y||1/1000s||3.0||n||n|
|3.||Leica Q2||3680||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||20.0||n||Y|
|4.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|7.||Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D5200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D5100||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000||2359||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
|17.||Sony A58||1440||n||2.7 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3200 has one, while the ZX1 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3200 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the ZX1 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The D3200 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the ZX1 uses an internal SSD.
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 Zeiss ZX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D3200||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|3.||Leica Q2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||-||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Nikon D5600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Nikon D3400||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|8.||Nikon D5500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D3300||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D5200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5100||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A58||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D3200 has a microphone port, which is missing on the ZX1. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The ZX1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Zeiss. In contrast, the D3200 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D3200 was succeeded 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 and Zeiss websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D3200 or the Zeiss ZX1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3200:
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (540 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
Arguments in favor of the Zeiss ZX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.4 vs 24.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (0.74x vs 0.53x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (4.3" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2765k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D3200 requires a separate lens.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More prestigious: Has the Zeiss luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the ZX1 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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 Zeiss ZX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3200 or the ZX1. 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 expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|2.||Zeiss ZX1||..||..||..||83/100||..||..||Sep 2018||5,999|
|3.||Leica Q2||..||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|4.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|6.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||4/5||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|7.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||4/5||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|8.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|9.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|10.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|11.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|12.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|13.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|14.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|15.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|16.||Sony RX1R II||5/5||..||..||82/100||..||4.5/5||Oct 2015||3,299|
|17.||Sony A58||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Nikon D3200 vs Zeiss ZX1
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||Zeiss ZX1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||35mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||April 2012||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 599||USD 5,999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3200||Zeiss ZX1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.2 x 15.4 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||357.28 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27.8 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.1 Megapixels||37.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6016 x 4000 pixels||7488 x 4992 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.85 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.74 MP/cm2||4.33 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 12,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.1||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.2||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1131||..|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3200||Zeiss ZX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||6221k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||4.3inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||2765k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3200||Zeiss ZX1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||Internal SSD|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single SSD|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3200||Zeiss ZX1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3200||Zeiss ZX1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||540 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
125 x 96 x 77 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
142 x 93 x 46 mm
(5.6 x 3.7 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||505 g (17.8 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.