Nikon D3300 Optics


Kit Lens Test Results

Zoom
A typical zoom range for a DSLR kit lens, with mixed performance.

18mm, f/8 38mm, f/8
55mm, f/8

The Nikon D3300 comes bundled with the new, retractable Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II kit lens. This 3.1x zoom lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of about 27-83mm because of the D3300's 1.5x "crop factor."

Sharpness and contrast are excellent across most of the frame at full wide angle and f/8. There's minor coma distortion in the leaves at the corners and some flare is noticeable in white areas of the building, but chromatic aberration isn't an issue because it is suppressed by the D3300's image processor (see below). Performance at a medium focal length of 38mm (57mm eq.) isn't as good, with a drop in sharpness in the center, and noticeably soft corners and edges. Results at full telephoto are however quite good at f/8, with very good sharpness and contrast across most of the frame.

Macro
A slightly smaller-than-average macro area with the kit lens, with soft detail overall. Flash throttles down well.

Macro with 18-55mm II Kit Lens
55mm, f/8
Macro with Flash
55mm, f/8

The Nikon D3300 captured a slightly smaller-than-average macro area with the 18-55mm II kit lens, measuring 2.27 x 1.51 inches (58 x 39 millimeters). Detail is a touch soft in the center, and there is additional softening in the corners despite being stopped down to f/8. (Most lenses have some softening in the corners at macro distances.) The Nikon D3300's flash throttled down well at minimum distance, resulting in a well exposed image with fairly even flash coverage.

Geometric Distortion
Higher-than-average barrel distortion at wide angle with the 18-55mm II kit lens.

Barrel distortion is ~1.3% at 18mm
Pincushion distortion is ~0.1% at 55mm

The Nikon D3300's 18-55mm II kit lens produced about 1.3 percent barrel distortion at wide angle, which is higher-than-average and quite noticeable in its images. At the telephoto end pincushion distortion is only 0.1 percent, hardly noticeable. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide-angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Auto Distortion Control
Low geometric distortion when Auto Distortion Control is enabled.

Barrel distortion at 18mm is ~0.3%
Barrel distortion at 55mm ~0.1%

The Nikon D3300 offers an Auto Distortion Control feature to reduce geometric distortion automatically with most modern Nikkor lenses. As you can see it worked quite well with the 18-55mm II lens, reducing barrel distortion at wide angle significantly to only about 0.3% and overcorrecting pincushion at telephoto to about 0.1% barrel distortion. Note that some of the image is cropped away in the process, especially at wide angle. Since this option is database driven, it's only available for Nikkor D, E and G-type lenses with certain optics such as Fisheye and Perspective Control lenses excepted. Auto Distortion Control is Off by default.

You can also apply Auto or Manual Distortion Control to JPEGs after the fact, in the Retouch menu. Manual mode works with images from any lens.

Chromatic Aberration and Corner Sharpness
Low C.A. in JPEGs, much higher in uncorrected RAW files at wide angle. Corners are soft at wide-angle when wide open, but improve dramatically stopped down.

Maximum Aperture
Wide, f/3.5: Upper right
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Soft
Wide, f/3.5: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
Tele, f/5.6: Lower left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Fairly sharp
Tele, f/5.6: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp

Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration is moderately low at the full wide-angle setting of the 18-55mm II VR kit lens, suppressed by the D3300's image processor. (See below for crops from uncorrected RAW files.) At full telephoto, chromatic aberration is even lower and hardly detectable. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness. The Nikon D3300's 18-55mm II VR kit lens produced soft corners at full wide angle when wide-open at maximum aperture. The top-right corner was the softest, while the bottom-left was fairly sharp, indicating some decentering. Softness didn't extend very deep into the frame from the left, though it extended moderately deep from the right. The center was however quite sharp. At full telephoto, the bottom left corner showed some minor softness, but the other corners were sharp, as was the center. We did however notice the lens was quite soft across the frame at some medium focal lengths when wide-open, however it sharpened up nicely stopped down.

Vignetting. There's some moderate vignetting (corner shading) at the wide end, and some mild vignetting at the telephoto end of the zoom, as indicated by the darker corner crops.

f/8 Aperture
Wide, f/8: Upper right
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Very sharp
Wide, f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Very sharp
Tele, f/8: Lower left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Fairly sharp
Tele, f/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Very sharp

F8. Stopped-down to an aperture of f/8, corner performance improved dramatically at wide angle (and most medium focal lengths) with excellent sharpness across the frame. At full telephoto, sharpness also improved across the frame, though the lower left corner was still not tack sharp. Vignetting was negligible. Overall, excellent results for a kit lens when stopped down.

Uncorrected Raw
Higher levels of C.A. at wide-angle from uncorrected RAW files.

In-camera JPEG Uncorrected Raw
Wide: Upper left
C.A.: Very low
Wide: Upper left
C.A.: Moderately high
Tele: Upper left
C.A.: Very low
Tele: Upper left
C.A.: Low

As you can see from the crops above comparing camera JPEGs (on the left) to uncorrected RAW files (right), levels of lateral chromatic aberration are higher in uncorrected RAW files, particularly at wide angle. Thus, the D3300's JPEG processing does a good job at suppressing lateral chromatic aberration.

See our in-depth Nikon 18-55mm VR II review at SLRgear.com for more detailed test results.

 

Viewfinder Test Results

Coverage
About average coverage accuracy from the optical viewfinder. Very good accuracy from the LCD in Live View mode.

60mm, Optical
60mm, Live View LCD

The Nikon D3300's optical viewfinder showed about 95 percent coverage with our reference Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 macro lens. This is average for an entry-level digital SLR and meets Nikon's specification of 95% for the D3300, however the viewfinder image is shifted horizontally compared to the imaging sensor, which unfortunately is not that uncommon in consumer models. In Live View mode, the Nikon D3300's LCD showed just over 99% coverage, which is very good though we often see 100% coverage here.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Nikon D3300 Photo Gallery .



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