Nikon D3300 Conclusion

Pro: Cons:
  • Generally excellent image quality
  • Very good high ISO performance
  • Excellent per-pixel sharpness and resolution
  • Good dynamic range
  • Compact kit lens with very good performance stopped-down
  • Good performance for its class
  • 5fps burst mode with deep JPEG buffers
  • Very good battery life for a compact DSLR
  • Full HD video at up to 60p
  • New Easy Panorama mode
  • Excellent print quality
  • External mic jack
  • Clean, uncompressed HDMI output (1080/30p)
  • On-screen Guide Mode to assist beginners
  • Good build quality; lightweight design
  • Excellent value
  • Autofocus can struggle in low light
  • Weak and inconsistent flash test exposures
  • Slow contrast-detect autofocus in Live View mode
  • Aperture not adjustable while in Live View
  • No AE bracketing support
  • Limited external controls means lots of visits to the menu
  • No built-in Wi-Fi
  • Smaller size might be cramped for larger hands

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 is limited, however, so be ready to dive into the menus often.

The updated sensor in the D3300 maintains the same 24.2-megapixel resolution as its predecessor. However, like the higher-end D5300 and D5500 models, the D3300 lacks an optical low-pass filter (OLPF). The resulting benefit of this is increased fine detail resolution. However, there's a bigger risk to having moiré and other aliasing artifacts appear in your photographs -- primarily on objects such as fine meshes, certain fabrics, roofing shingles, etc., which can be difficult to fix in photo-editing software.

We're not sure if beginner photographers, the target users of the D3300, would notice a substantial improvement in image sharpness and detail due to the lack of an OLPF. However, it's an interesting direction for a consumer-level camera. Beginner photographers might be unaware of what moiré and false color artifacts are and the need to be mindful of how to avoid them while out shooting. However, that being said, in real-world testing, we actually didn't find moiré and aliasing to be much of an issue, if at all. We did notice it subtly in some videos on certain objects and patterns, however, but that's not all that uncommon for DSLRs, filter or not.

All in all, though, the image quality achievable out of this "entry-level" camera is top-notch for this class of camera. Image sharpness and detail resolution are both very good, as is high ISO performance and dynamic range, which matches our experience with Nikon's other recent 24MP APS-C cameras as well. Not only do digital images look excellent, but print quality is also impressive with large prints sizes at a wide range of ISOs.

Performance is good overall for an entry-level class of camera, though autofocus speed was a bit slower than your average consumer-level DSLR, and it suffered the most in low-light situations. Buffer depth with RAW files was also rather shallow, though that isn't unusual for this class of camera (JPEG buffer performance is much better).

For videographers, the Nikon D3300 feels decidedly "non-entry-level." This small DSLR features Full HD video recording up to 60fps, a 3.5mm external microphone jack, plus the ability to output clean, uncompressed Full HD (30p) video via HDMI -- a feature formerly reserved for higher-end, if not pro-level cameras. Live View AF, including during video recording, leaves a lot to desired as it's quite sluggish, and the aperture cannot be adjusted while in Live View, which can be awkward and frustrating at times.

Overall, though, the Nikon D3300 is a solid camera, in more ways than one with both solid build quality and solid image quality. While autofocus performance is a touch 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.

Nikon squeezes so much good stuff into the trim and affordable D3300, it's an easy Dave's Pick.

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