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Old Jun 22, 2013, 12:18 PM   #1
alphaod
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Nikon D3200 for telephoto

I'm considering picking up a Nikon D3200 for telephoto use. I find it's pretty comparable in price to buying a teleconverter (if I shop around) being the 1.5x crop factor. There is the added advantage of being another camera, so I have a backup body and it's much lighter than the D800.

The disadvantage I see is the slower AF performance and perhaps issues with tracking especially for wildlife?

Not really worried about lack of certain features like effects and such; or the lack of a AF motor screw.

Any thoughts on this?
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Last edited by alphaod; Jun 29, 2013 at 02:20 PM.
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Old Jun 22, 2013, 03:44 PM   #2
phrehdd
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Originally Posted by alphaod View Post
I'm considering picking up a Nikon D3200 for telephoto use. I find it's pretty comparable in price to buying a teleconverter (if I shop around) being the 1.5x crop factor. There is the added advantage of being another camera, so I have a backup body and it's much lighter than the D800.

The disadvantage I see is the slower AF performance and perhaps issues with tracking especially for wildlife?

Not really worried about lack of certain features like effects and such; or the lack of a AF motor screw.

Any thoughts on this?
I don't know what lenses are in your possession but I remember using back when (film days) strictly manual lenses and was more than able to get the shots I wanted. The best I can say is either rent or handle a 3200 with a long lens first. See how the auto-focus and tracking work for you. Also try it with manual focus which is always a good practice.

The advantage of the 3200 is twofold - you are only using the most center part of your full-frame telephoto which avoids some fall off issues usually and of course you get the full "pixel load" of the 3200 which should be superior to cropping down a full frame from your 800. Just know that some of the best shots still may require post work via digital 'enhancement' via software.

Last edited by phrehdd; Jun 22, 2013 at 11:16 PM.
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Old Jun 23, 2013, 07:00 AM   #3
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I don't know what lens you'll be using for this but I have a D5000 which also lacks the AF motor compatibility and it is very tricky to focus on telephoto lenses that aren't compatible. I bought an old AF Nikkor 75-300 4.5-5.6 (very good bargain, it was for the fun of having a 450mm equivalent zoom) and it is near impossible to get the focusing right manually in the second half of the zoom range. It works great on my friend's D800, but it's near unusable on my D5000.
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Old Jun 23, 2013, 09:16 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by alphaod View Post
I'm considering picking up a Nikon D3200 for telephoto use. I find it's pretty comparable in price to buying a teleconverter (if I shop around) being the 1.5x crop factor. There is the added advantage of being another camera, so I have a backup body and it's much lighter than the D800.
...
With the megapixel difference between the D3200 and the D800, wouldn't cropping the D800 pictures pretty much give the same result?

If you do decide to go with a DX camera, while more expensive, a D7100 might be a better choice. It uses the same batteries as the D800 and is also dust and water resistant like the D800.
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Old Jun 23, 2013, 01:08 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by alphaod View Post
I'm considering picking up a Nikon D3200 for telephoto use. I find it's pretty comparable in price to buying a teleconverter (if I shop around) being the 1.5x crop factor. There is the added advantage of being another camera, so I have a backup body and it's much lighter than the D800.....
Please don't tell use that you intend to use the crop-body as a kind of focal length multiplier. You could simply crop a full frame "FX" image and get the same result.

Can't you simply set the D800 to "DX" mode and read out only the center part of the frame? That is NOT what a teleconverter does.

If you are shooting something critical that requires a backup. Buy a backup that at least uses the same battery and type of memory cards. I don't know if the D800 and D3200 share those parts or not. But make sure your backup can share cards and batteries.

Also if you need the D800 for the kind of work you do, how could a D3200 provide a backup? Does this mean you'd get the same acceptable result with a D3200? If so you over spent on the D800. I guess what I'm saying is that you'd need a second D800 (or something very close to it) if you needed the first D800.
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Old Jun 23, 2013, 04:38 PM   #6
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Going to chime in.

I think you are asking very different questions and the answer for you depends on what you shoot and the reasons you shoot (i.e. hobby shooting or shooting for your income). You mentioned "effects" which makes me think you are shooting in JPEG rather than RAW.

I currently shoot with a Leica rangefinder most of the time because I desire a small package that is easy to carry around. Fits my shooting style. I've also really begun to appreciate manual focus making use of depth-of-field markings on the lens.

I recently bought a D3200 for my wife for an upcoming trip to Italy. Wanted something that is compact but can produce decent images if used correctly. Also bought this for my niece who is just starting out in photography but has a good eye.

I was pleasantly surprised by the D3200. In the past, the FX vs DX debate was largely centered on the technological restraints of sensors available at the time. DX sensors were much worse than FX sensors in low-light. I'm not sure this is currently an issue.

FX sensors can be better if you routinely shoot wide. DX sensors have some advantages if you routinely shoot long.

Obviously this is heavily dependent on what lenses you own.

Playing around with the D3200 with some of my lenses surprised me in a good way. I took this moon shot last night with a D3200, 300mm prime, and 2xTC. This is combining both elements of your question



The D3200 is a consumer body. It requires more work (hunting through menus) to make adjustments compared to my D800.

If the "convenience" factor of easy access to controls matters for your workflow, the D3200 may not work for you. If you need the more advanced auto-focus of the D800, the D3200 may not work for you. If you intend this to be a backup body and you routinely shoot wide the D3200 may not work for you (depending on your lenses).

Importantly, realize that many lenses won't work with a teleconverter. These same lenses may be usable on a DX body. Depending on what you have, this may really be the most important factor.

Again, complicated question that doesn't have an easy answer. It depends on your lenses. It depends on your shooting style and workflow. It depends on why you "need" a D800 body in the first place.
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Last edited by kallisti; Jun 23, 2013 at 05:55 PM.
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Old Jun 29, 2013, 02:08 PM   #7
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I want to update, I went ahead and picked up a D3200 basically the next day after posting this question elsewhere. As there isn't really a buy and try… I decided to make the leap.

There really is a lack of options, and the controls are in different places. The lack of two dials makes using manual weird. AF performance is fine for most things, and it's fast enough. It's smaller… a lot smaller than the D800, almost half the volume and weight. It's actually very bizarre using any of my lens except the 50 f/1.4 as the rest of my quite a bit lenses are heavier than the D3200. So I guess I'm kind of glad I got the kit since it gives something a bit lighter to use.

It does get a bit noisy around ISO6400 and there aren't really any advance options. Switching between spot/center/matrix metering is a bit tedious (as well as any other options basically); there is no custom menu, which is too bad.

Build-quality is fine for the price, but my SD card door is a bit stiff.

Not the best purchase I've made, I guess I don't know what I was expecting or why I thought would replace a teleconverter. I actually already own a 1.4x and 1.7x, but it's back in the US, so instead of buying a new one I figured I could really get a cheap body. Oh well.


Also I don't need a D800. It was just an upgrade from a D700 that was showing its age.

In response to using a Leica, the image quality is excellent, but the issue I have is it's not that great when a quick shot is needed. Not sure if it's just mine, but the auto mode gives unpredictable results, so I almost never use it—Not everyone wants to wait 5 seconds while I make adjustments. I need a lighter lens for it: right now looking at the 35 summicron.
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Last edited by alphaod; Jun 29, 2013 at 02:16 PM.
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