The Nikon D3300 sits at the bottom of Nikon’s entry-level chain, positioned as the friendliest of beginner-friendly DSLRs, just below the D5300. Don’t be deceived by their class bearing though, both cameras use a powerful 24MP APS-C sensor. Opting for the D3300 rather than the D5300 means dwelling with a fixed 3.0-inch LCD, rather than one that’s fully articulated, and no built-in Wifi.
The Nikon D3300 is a solid camera, in more ways than one: solid build quality and solid image quality. While autofocus functionality is a little below average, and also the limited external controls and smaller size could be a turn off for some, the D3300 excels in most regions. In the event you’re ready to make the hop to a DSLR camera, the Nikon D3300 provides a good starting point with a great mixture of image quality, ease of use and price.
Superb image quality with plenty of fine detail; Quite good high ISO performance; Good dynamic range; Great print quality; Deep buffers with JPEGs; 1080/60p video; Uncompressed HDMI output.
Nikon D3300 crucial attributes
24.2 MP DX-format (APS-C) sensor
Expeed 4 chip
Mended 3.0″ 921k-dot LCD
1080/60p HD video
5 fps continuous shooting
700 shot battery life
The D3300’s Expeed 4 branded chip is accountable for a lot of its gains over the last model, the D3200. This version gets an upgrade to 1080/60p video recording, an extra frame per second in burst mode, and a higher ISO range up to 12800 (25600 with expansion).
Moving up the chain of Nikon’s crop-frame DSLR line AF systems get increasingly advanced. The D3300 sits at the very bottom with an 11-point system and also just one cross-type detector at the middle – nothing that would tempt a sports photographer, but absolutely able for its group. Outside of this, Wi-Fi plus a vari-angle screen are the only other clear hardware advantages to the D5300 over the entry level model.
Body & Design
Being an entry-entry-level version, the D3300 has a seemingly plastic shell that is not exactly tough-feeling but doesn’t appear excessively economical. It sports a sculpted handgrip on the front plus a wide thumb rest on the back, both coated in a cheerfully resistive textured leather-like finish. Like the D3200, its double infrared sensors are placed in the front of the hand grip and on the top rear left of the camera. Buttons for drive mode and image delete are now stacked side-by-side below the compass switch on the camera’s rear panel but, aside from this rearrangement, everything else is in step with all the model before it.
The D3300’s viewfinder offers 95% coverage, and with 0.85x magnification, it’s marginally larger than the D5300’s 0.82x viewfinder and bigger still than the D3200’s 0.80x viewfinder. The Pentax K-500 leads the group with regards to coverage with an uncharacteristic 100% OVF and 0.92x magnification. The diagram below shows the D3300 to be average for the category.
The D3300’s ports are ranged down its left flank, behind two separate rubber covers. From the top, these are a GPS/remote socket, a mic port (still relatively rare in a product at this level), the USB/AV interface and an HDMI connector.
Operation and Controls
In the Vehicle and scene modes, the D3300 behaves very much as a point-and-shoot, with very little user intervention required or allowed (you get control over focus and flash modes, but that’s about it). Guide mode is a middle ground – you take control of the camera’s exposure settings using a ‘usage scenario’ logic – but it is on switching to the PASM modes that the D3300 really comes into its own.
The other shooting controls – ISO, white balance, focus mode and the like – are all set from the active control panel on the back display, accessed by pressing the ‘i’ button. Furthermore, Live View is obtained by pressing the ‘Lv’ button, which you’ll need to do to be able to record video.
The function button acts as a direct control to whichever setting it’s assigned. Pressing and holding the Fn button makes it possible to utilize the command dial to modify the setting. This means that the user has direct access to either shutter speed or aperture (depending on the shooting mode), exposure compensation, and another setting like ISO. For a beginner learning the basics of exposure, that is probably enough.
The D3300 features a slightly more condensed ‘rapid’ menu than is offered in its bigger siblings like the D5300, omitting Active D-Lighting access, but all of the essentials are present. The command dial can’t be used in either picking a function or setting it. We were annoyed by this behavior in the D5300 since the utilization of the command dial would make changing settings only a bit quicker, but D3300 users (who we expect to be using one of the automated modes more often) may not find this as irritating.
This camera is targeted more certainly toward a user moving up from a point and shoot, so this point-and-shoot-like interface is likely not a problem – unless that user has dreams beyond that approach.
The D3300 offers an Auto ISO system similar to what’s offered in the D5300. It’s obtained from the shooting menu, where you could set a baseline ISO along with a maximum sensitivity and a minimum shutter speed, which may also be set to Auto. Selecting Automobile maintains a ‘1/identical focal length’ rule for shutter speed in P and A modes. In the D5300 you can also opt to skew this higher or lower, depending on your own religion in VR and your self-confidence in handholding. There’s no alternative to doing this in the D3300.
The D3300’s live view mode is activated by a press of the ‘Lv’ button on the back panel. Four different screen modes are available – they could be accessed via the ‘info’ button on the very best panel.
The D3300 is a pick-up-and-go DSLR, prepared for shooting right out of the box with the kit lens. Its default control configuration assigns the Fn button as a direct access to ISO. Together with the rear command dial, direct AF point selection via directional buttons and direct exposure compensation button, the D3300 feels as though it has access to the right fundamental controls in the appropriate spots from the very beginning.
The D3300 is quick to start up and start shooting, provided the kit lens is in its own expanded state. The camera overall is extremely responsive. Button presses activate their corresponding menus instantly, and those settings that may be changed via the rear command wheel may be got in a flash. We’ve already lodged our criticisms about not having the ability to use the back dial to navigate fast menus, but that is another conversation. At default settings, playback mode uses a slideshow-style transition when scrolling through images that’ll annoy impatient types (such as us). This is easily turned off in the playback menu (playback display alternatives > transition effects ‘off’)
Continuous Shooting and Buffering
Nikon claims a top explosion speed of 5 fps at full resolution for the D3300, an extra frame per second over the preceding version.
The good news is that the camera consistently hit this framerate in each compression mode we analyzed. The bad news is the fact that it only keeps that speed for 5 or 6 frames. There was a not-insignificant delay while pictures wrote to the card too, in testing. In all modes, it took about 10 seconds for a longer burst of images to write to the card, though just a few seconds when shooting only to the point the buffer fills. You’re not blocked from camera menus or shooting while this is going on though, so there’s no sizeable ‘lockout’ time after an extended chain of burst shooting.
The D3300 ships with Nikon’s EN-EL14a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, providing a CIPA-rated life of 700 shots per charge. That’s head and shoulders above the Canon T5’s estimated 440 shots and the Pentax K-50’s 410 shots (and miles ahead of the 300-odd pictures most of its mirrorless opponents will produce, thanks to their need to use their rear screens). In testing this proved to be a realistic figure, fielding a very long day of shooting without a difficulty and just needing a recharge with reasonable use every handful of days. An MH 24 charger is bundled with the camera, charging a depleted camera in under two hours.
The most apparent thing missing here for video shooters is an articulated LCD, a feature reserved for the step-up model above this one. For individuals who desire them, the camera offers access to exposure controls for video, but getting there is a little tricky. By enabling ‘Manual Movie Mode’ and entering a full manual mode in live view, you will gain access to some exposure controls. Without this mode enabled, all exposure modes in live view are essentially auto modes after you begin recording video.
Recording video on the D3300 first requires you to engage live view via the ‘Lv’ button on the back panel. You can then begin a recording by pressing the red picture-record button sitting just behind the shutter release. To prevent unintended operation, the record button is disabled when live view is turned off.
At its highest resolution and 60p framerate, the D3300 creates very well, comprehensive video. At this frame rate actions is fairly easy, so it might be ideal for things like casual video of kids’ sporting events. As in still shooting, as light levels drop fine aspect has a tendency to become smudged, and grain in shadow areas is kept under control. There is a reasonable amount of moir where you’d expect to see it pop up, but it is not enough to worry about for casual shooting.