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I like digital cameras, I've had a few in my time, but I'd stuck with a 0.8 megapixel Ricoh for a long time. It doesn't sound like much from the spec, but it actually takes good quality pictures, has a lot of storage capacity, a good zoom, and a good macro function, plus it could record sound. I didn't really want much more.
I saw the Nixon Coolpix 3200 on sale in Jessops for about 125 pounds and figured it might be worth a shot - I'm thinking of going away early next year and figured it might be a good occasion to try out a new camera.
This model is a 3.2 effective megapixel one - effective meaning it's 3200 not 3.2 mega bi-pixels or whatever the new fancy name for the binary 1024=mega. I was careful to check this - I *hate* it when they give interpolated resolutions in the blurb.
I won't bore you with the tech specs, shutter speeds, or anything - I compared this camera to a more modern Ricoh and a modern Canon and for the price range it compared well on paper.
====HOW IS IT IN USE THOUGH?=====
Well, firstly it's a fairly small camera, comfortable to carry in a coat pocket, and comfortable to hold. The viewfinder is OK, but you'll quickly find yourself using the screen instead. The screen is bright, refreshes at a decent rate, and easy enough to read.
I was disappointed that it didn't come with a carrying case - keeping it in a pocket is a recipe for a damaged display, but I'll let them off for that.
The menus are a little annoying to navigate - this isn't a camera you pick up and take pictures with - it has modes for EVERYTHING. Video (at 15 frames per second), portraits, night portraits, fireworks shows, sports, spectator sports, museams, indoor parties, sunsets, paper, the list goes on and on.
If you use the wrong mode, then you might as well not bother taking the picture - the modes are very, erm, extreme in what they do to the shutter settings, light, focus, etc.
I tried to take a photo at a concert - I tried museam (no flash), indoor party, fireworks show, normal mode, and a couple of others and to be honest all the photographs were awful. My old Ricoh could cope just fine but this thing really didn't like the bright flashing lights and quickly moving people.
======UNDER NORMAL PHOTO CIRCUMSTANCES=====
The zoom function is nice as it is decently graduated. The camera can do decent photos if the lighting is good, but indoors it doesn't seem to like dull energy saving lights very much. Once again there are.... tada!... menu options for flourescent or luminescent lighting but neither of them seem to help very much.
The slow shutter speed means taking pictures of TVs or other displays is out of the question, and the weaker macro than my RDC 2 means huge close-ups aren't too hot either.
I did take this camera to the pub with me and took a few photographs in 'indoor' mode of people just having a laugh, and for generic party snaps it's pretty good - they all came out just fine.
I also took some random photos on the way home of some wildlife that I came across - they came out well too.
Most of the time colours come out well - everything looks right and skin tones look natural. The flash supports redeye reduction too which is a good thing.
======EASE OF USE=====
This camera has a on/off button at the top that requires pressing for a couple of seconds to operate - this is quite nice as it reduces the chance of the camera being accidentally turned on.
The button to operate the camera is on the top in one corner, comfortably in reach, although again a little unresponsive. Sometimes you have to press this one and hold it for the camera to operate, sometimes not. There's a 'lag' on taking pictures also which takes some getting used to and has ruined a lot of pictures for me.
I would much rather it be near instant - otherwise how are you ever going to time capturing those funny moments.
The menu navigation is done by a d-pad that also acts as a selector for things like timer and flash. There's also a button to access the menu and a button to access playback mode.
Picture modes are selected by way of a wheel at the top of the camera - if this wheel is out of alignment when the camera is turned on you get a nice little error message about it. I was concerned the wheel would be a bit flimsy but it's stood up to use well so far.
The menus, changed with the wheel and navigated by the d-pad are easy enough to understand, although sometimes I still find myself hunting for a particular option.
You get some editing options like converting to sepia tone or cropping the picture, but most of these aren't that amazing and are probably best left for a real photo editing package once you have uploaded the image.
Thankfully this camera supports USB 2 - uploading is fast and easy. It also takes Secure Digital memory, so if you have a card reader you can just use a memory card to transfer pictures.
I bought a memory card immediately - the camera can hold a lot of images, but memory cards are cheap these days so it never hurts to have more storage.
I don't know what to make of this camera - it's fairly easy to use, it is cute, compact, and comes with good expansion options.
But, it uses normal rechargable batteries and eats through them in no time. If you're taking a photo, looking at it on replay afterwards, showing it to someone with you, then taking another, in my experience with good, fresh batteries you'd be lucky to get thirty photographs taken before you need to change the batteries.
That's not acceptable.
Neither is the slow shutter speed and bad behaviour in low light conditions.
If you just want a cheap camera to pop off a few photos down the beach without looking at them till you get home then it might be OK. If you're a die hard Nixon fan you might like this one.
Personally I'm not that impressed. It's nice, it's probably even good for the price point, but it isn't what I was looking for.
I'm still saying I recommend it, just with warnings.