Nikon D3300 Review

 
Camera Reviews / Nikon Cameras / Nikon D i Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Nikon D3300
Resolution: 24.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
(23.2mm x 15.4mm)
Kit Lens: 3.06x zoom
18-55mm
(27-83mm eq.)
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 12,800
Extended ISO: 100 - 25,600
Shutter: 30 - 1/4000
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in.
(124 x 98 x 76 mm)
Weight: 23.4 oz (662 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
MSRP: $650
Availability: 02/2014
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon D3300 specifications

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Kit with 18-55mm Lens
24.20
Megapixels
Nikon F APS-C
size sensor
image of Nikon D3300
Front side of Nikon D3300 digital camera Front side of Nikon D3300 digital camera Front side of Nikon D3300 digital camera Front side of Nikon D3300 digital camera Front side of Nikon D3300 digital camera

D3300 Summary

The Nikon D3300 is a solid camera, in more ways than one: solid build quality and solid image quality. While autofocus performance is a little below average, and the limited external controls and smaller size may be a turn off for some, the D3300 excels in most areas. If you're ready to make the jump to a DSLR camera, the Nikon D3300 provides a nice starting point with a great combination of image quality, ease of use and price.

Pros

Excellent image quality with lots of fine detail; Very good high ISO performance; Good dynamic range; Good print quality; Deep buffers with JPEGs; 1080/60p video; Uncompressed HDMI output.

Cons

AF struggles in low-light; Contrast-detect AF in live view is slow; Buffer depth is shallow with RAW files; No AE bracketing; No built-in Wi-Fi.

Price and availability

The Nikon D3300 went on sale in the US market from early February 2014, with a choice of three body colors -- black, red, or gray. Suggested retail pricing is set at around US$650, including the new collapsable 18-55mm kit lens. The optic itself is also sold separately for US$250.

Imaging Resource rating

4.5 out of 5.0

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Nikon D3300 Review

Overview by
Posted: 01/06/2014
Shooter's Report by Rob Taylor Case and Cullen Welch

Updates:
04/30/2014: Shooter's Report Part I: A welcome reunion
04/30/2014: Part II: Wowed by the kit lens and AF, less so the limited controls
12/02/2014: Part III: Another take, by Cullen Welch
Review finalized with Conclusion

Nikon D3300 review -- beauty shot

When we announced our Camera of the Year award winners back in 2012, our pick of the crop among entry-level interchangeable-lens cameras was the Nikon D3200, a great little camera with lots to recommend it to beginners and amateur photographers alike. Great as it may be, though, the camera market has come a long way in the almost two years since the D3200 shipped, and so it was clearly time for an upgrade. And in the form of the Nikon D3300 that upgrade has arrived.

From the outset, it's clear that the Nikon D3300 is a new camera. Sure, the basic control layout is almost unchanged, but the D3300 sports a brand-new body incorporating carbon fiber, which is at once just slightly smaller, and designed to offer better ergonomics. The reduction in size comes in at 0.1 inch (3mm) in width, and 0.2 inches (5mm) in depth.

Nikon D3300 Review -- Front view, no lens

On the inside, Nikon's dropped the resolution-sapping optical low-pass filter. That's an interesting decision in a camera aimed at consumers. We've seen plenty of mid-range and high-end cameras shunning the OLPF in favor of a slight boost in resolution, but it comes at a potential price -- increased risk of moiré and false color artifacts. That may be a worthwhile tradeoff for enthusiasts and pros, but we find ourselves doubtful that the average consumer will even notice the subtle resolution improvement. They're far more likely to notice hard-to-remove moiré patterns, though. (Although in fairness, we don't see these in real-world subjects quite as often as we'd once feared -- fine repeating patterns such as fabrics, fences, window blinds, and water ripples seem to be the most frequent offenders.)

The Nikon D3300's sensor is coupled with an EXPEED 4 image processor, a development first seen in the pricier D5300. When compared to the EXPEED 3 chip of the D3200, the D3300 can now shoot still images at five frames per second, up from 4fps in the earlier model. It also allows for Full HD (1080p; 1,920 x 1,080 pixel) video capture at a 60fps rate, where its predecessor was limited to 24 or 30fps. That allows for smoother motion, or for a 0.5x slow motion effect without reducing the frame rate beyond that of the older model.

Nikon D3300 Review -- Rear top right view

We're especially keen to see how the newly-expanded ISO range stacks up in our ISO testing, as Nikon dramatically raised the camera's maximum expanded sensitivity to encompass everything from ISO 100 to 25,600 equivalents. In fact, the D3200's expanded ISO 12,800 limit is now part of the standard ISO range in the D3300!

Nikon D3300 Review -- Rear top right view

Tweaks have been made in the Nikon D3300's firmware, as well. For example, the Effects mode sees some welcome additions. The most noteworthy of these is the 'Easy Panorama' mode, which is making its first appearance in a Nikon HD-DSLR of any kind. And all effects except panorama (for obvious reasons) are available not just for stills, but also for movie capture. Nikon has also updated its user-friendly Guide function, which now provides information on night landscape shooting.

Nikon D3300 Review -- Product Image
The D3300 shown here with its new retractable 18-55mm VR II kit lens in fully-extended position.

And the Nikon D3300's bundle has also been updated, with a brand-new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II lens included in the box. Even though the new optic includes four-stop vibration reduction capability and a silent wave autofocus motor, the collapsing design allows it to shrink its size to be much smaller than its predecessor. Whereas the lens of the D3200 was something of a weak point we found this new optic a pleasant surprise. Check out our Shooter's Reports below for more info.

Nikon D3300 Review -- Product Image
The D3300 shown here with the 18-55mm VR II kit lens in the retracted position.

The Nikon D3300 uses a proprietary rechargeable EN-EL14 lithium-ion battery, and ships with a dedicated charger. Battery life is CIPA-rated for 700 shots/charge when using the optical viewfinder is above average for a consumer DSLR, though Nikon does not specify battery life for Live View mode, which will certainly be a lot lower.

Nikon D3300 Review -- Front view, no lens

For storage media, the D3300 uses Secure Digital memory cards (SD, SDHC and SDXC) cards and supports UHS-I. There is no wireless connectivity on the D3300, but for wired connections, the camera supports high-speed USB 2.0. It also has a Type-C Mini-HDMI port, an Accessory Terminal (for use with the MC-DC2 remote cord or GP-1 GPS unit), and a standard 3.5mm stereo mic jack.

 

Nikon D3300 Shooter's Report Part I

A welcome reunion

by Rob Taylor Case |

Nikon D3300 shooter's report photoWhen I was about 12, I got a mid-range Nikon compact for my birthday. It had zoom and autofocus, it could print the date on the film and even had a little LCD screen with information I didn't understand on it! It was far better than my first compact camera that I'd been using for many years at the time, and the best camera I could imagine... Until it died, three days later. I replaced it with a cheap, non-zoom Olympus compact, and I never used Nikon again.

Until now. Twelve years later, I think it's time this dyed in the wool Canon guy gave Nikon a second chance. And so I find myself sitting here with a brand new D3300 entry-level DSLR next to my EOS 40D and T3i, tentatively prodding the back and waiting for it to explode.

I jest! It's actually quite a delightful camera. I'm coming at it as someone not only unfamiliar with Nikon controls and ergonomics, but actively accustomed to the opposite. Conversely, I'm also one of those people who can pick something up and use it immediately without instruction, just based on the practical foundations of UI/UX (user interface/user experience) design and technology itself.

Read Shooter's Report Part I

Nikon D3300 Shooter's Report Part I

Nikon D3300 Shooter's Report Part II

Wowed by the kit lens and AF, less so the limited controls

by Rob Taylor Case |

Nikon D3300 shooter's report photoAs would be expected from a camera in this price range and size, the control layout can be a little limiting. Since the target demographic isn't generally expected to use quite a number of features, they've been omitted; those needing them can upgrade to the D5300 or the D7100.

IS-NO. Let's get the first omission out of the way: There is no dedicated ISO control. I know I mentioned this previously, but it really did feel to me like a standout missing feature while shooting. I still don't trust a camera to auto-ISO, which may be a hangover from the bad old days of sensor noise appearing the second you crested the ISO 200 hill. You can access it via the quick menu, but that's far too slow for my liking, so I set the Function button to adjust ISO.

For an actual real ISO button, to the D7100 you must go. If you're not loyal to Nikon, and in a budget DSLR you're probably not, you can seek greener pastures in Canon land: both the T5 and SL1 offer dedicated ISO control. Pentax's excellent K-50 not only gives you your ISO button, but also weather sealing and a host of other great features. If you intend to use the D3300 as a 'set-it-and-forget-it' camera though, the lack of a dedicated ISO button is really a non-issue.

Read Shooter's Report Part II

Nikon D3300 Shooter's Report Part II

Nikon D3300 Shooter's Report Part III

Another take

by Cullen Welch |

Nikon D3300 shooter's report photoWow! What a brilliant couple of days I've had with the Nikon D3300. As a mid-range consumer photographer on the verge of a semi-professional hardware and skillset upgrade, the D3300 provided a well-rounded and robust shooting experience for me. The camera fired on all cylinders and continued to surprise me positively throughout our time together

My first DSLR foray was with a Nikon D40 back in 2009, purchased with little foresight and even less understanding of the craft at the time. I have since graduated to a Nikon D7000 that has exceeded all expectations and provided a superb photographic experience for almost three years now. It alone has accounted for over 30,000 of my personal images along the way, and I am keen on it continuing to serve me into the foreseeable future! That said, the D3300 presents a particularly interesting blend of commendable elements from both the nimble and compact entry-level DSLR class in terms of size, weight and cost, and the intensive and more lumbering mid- to high-end consumer DSLR range in terms of sensor performance and image processing, finding an excellent combination of portability and image quality that is friendly on the pocketbook.

Read Shooter's Report Part III

Nikon D3300 Shooter's Report Part III

Nikon D3300 Image Quality Comparison

Does the D3300's AA-filterless design pay off?

by William Brawley |

Nikon D3300 image qualityHere, we compare crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Nikon D3300 with the Canon T5, Fujifilm X-A1, Nikon D3200, Pentax K-500 and Sony A5000. Does the D3300's AA-filterless design pay off with crisper detail? And how does it do at avoiding aliasing artifacts? Go ahead and pixel peep! Let your eyes be the judge.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested, you can access the full set of RAW images we shot via the Nikon D3300's Thumbnails page -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world renowned Comparometer to compare the Nikon D3300 to any camera we've ever tested.

Read our Nikon D3300 Image Quality Comparison

Nikon D3300 Image Quality Comparison

Nikon D3300 Conclusion

Big on resolution, not on size.

by William Brawley |

The lightweight and compact entry-level DSLR from Nikon brings a lot to the table for the budding DSLR photographer. A significant upgrade over the previous D3200, the new Nikon D3300 offers improvements in both body construction and under-the-hood features, including the sensor, the image processor and ISO range.

Introduced earlier on the D5300, the D3300 shares a similar carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic monocoque construction, which results in a very lightweight, yet sturdy, solid-feeling camera. The new model is slightly lighter and smaller than the older D3200, which is great for portability's sake, but those with larger hands might find the camera slightly cramped or have to leave a finger hanging from the grip. That said, the contoured, ergonomic handgrip is still comfortable, and controls are easily accessible. The amount of external controls are limited, however, so be ready to dive into the menus often.

 

In the Box

The Nikon D3300 retail kit w/18-55mm package (as reviewed) contains the following items:

  • Nikon D3300 DSLR Camera Body
  • AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II Lens
  • EN-EL14A Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery for Select Nikon Cameras
  • MH-24 Quick Charger for EN-EL14 Battery
  • UC-E17 USB Cable
  • EG-CP14 A/V Cable
  • BF-1B Body Cap
  • DK-25 Rubber Eyecup
  • AN-DC3 Strap
  • ViewNX 2 Software CD-ROM

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. 16GB Class 10 should be a minimum.
  • Extra EN-EL14A Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery (~US$40)
  • Nikon Speedlight external flash (~US$150-550)
  • Small or medium-sized DSLR bag

 

Nikon D3300



Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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