NIKON D3300 Review: Should You Buy this Camera?
- 2MP APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
- 3-inch 921k dot TFT LCD display
- 11 AF points, 1 cross-type, 10 line-type
- Expeed 4 with 1080p video in 60p/50p fps
- No optical low-pass filter
- Optical viewfinder with 0.85 magnification
- 5fps burst shooting
- Nikon F lens mount
- ISO sensitivity 100-12,800, expandable up to 25,600
- Full HD 1080p video recording
In January 2014, Nikon launched D3300 which comes as a successor to Nikon D3200. While the latest one retains many features of its predecessor in terms of design and specs, there is one upgrade that impacts the image quality to a considerable extent. For Nikon D3300, the company has eliminated the optical anti-aliasing filter. Digital cameras include this filter to reduce the rate of optical aberrations (like moiré patterning) and other unwanted artifacts that appear on the images. Due to this effect, the sharpness of the image is lost to a certain extent.
Apart from the design, you also get the same 11-point AF system, 420 pixel RGB sensor metering system, a 3-inch 921k dot LCD display as you get in D3200. Other notable upgrades include the new Expeed 4 image processor, an improved sensor and optical viewfinder and some new automatic flash modes. However, the camera lacks the inbuilt Wi-Fi and relies strictly on separately available WU-1a adapter. Let us get into the detailed review of Nikon D3300.
Design, Build, and Handling
Nikon’s entry-level camera has an entirely plastic build which does not exactly feel sturdy but is not overly cheap either. On the front, the camera sports a well-sculpted handgrip and on the back is a wide thumb rest which is slightly raised on the outer edge. However, the grip is a bit slim that makes it slightly uncomfortable to hold the camera for a prolonged time. The twin infrared sensors are placed on the rear top left of the camera and in front of the hand grip. This model sports side-by-side buttons for drive mode and image delete on the back panel of the camera. Apart from this, the model features same buttons as that of its predecessor.
The optical viewfinder offers coverage of 95% with 0.85x magnification which is a bit larger if we compare this to Nikon D5300 (0.82x) and D3200 (0.80x).
There are four ports that are arranged in the rear left of the camera. These ports are: (from the top) a GPS/remote socket; a mic port; the AV/USB port and the HDMI connector. There are two separate doors for the ports that make it easy for the users to connect the WU-1a Wi-Fi adapter. The rear of the camera sports one of the two Infrared receivers which got eliminated from the D3100 model only to be reintroduced in D3200.
The camera’s hotshoe is compatible with all the flashes present in the Speedlight range of Nikon. This allows you to wirelessly create and control various flashes something that D3300 is not capable of.
The dedicated card slot is positioned on the right side of the camera along with the battery compartment. And we must say that this will make your tripod experience even better. The battery compartment is nicely slotted inside the handgrip which can be accessed via a hinged door on the camera’s base. The socket for tripod lies straight with the axis of the lens on the base of the camera placed far enough from the battery compartment. This enables you to charge the battery even when you are working on the tripod.
Performance and Image Quality
Nikon D3300 is overall quite responsive. The 3-inch 921k dot LCD screen is bright and clear with a nice level of contrast. The images came out to be great and the credit goes to its excellent metering system. The auto white balance is pretty good and reliable too. The camera somewhat favors the highlights which often leads to the shadow areas look dark. But this can be avoided and thanks to the impressive dynamic range of the camera (12.98EV at ISO 100). The detail in images is pretty nice from ISO100 to ISO6400. The image tends to lose a lot of detail as you go up to ISO12,800 and even worst when extended to ISO25,600. The camera provides in-camera retouch option that can be used to edit both JPEG and Raw images.
The 11-point autofocus with kit lens performs decently in bright lighting conditions. However, it struggles in the low-light setting. When we used the focus points toward the center, the camera gave more sharp photos. Direct access to the AF point is quite a good feature. The autofocus performs well with the viewfinder shooting but continues to lag with the live view as compared to the mirrorless competitive market. The feature can be used to capture portraits and static subjects but struggles while capturing the moving subjects.
As claimed by Nikon, the camera can shoot with a top burst speed (5fps) at full resolution. The camera frequently hits this framerate in every compression mode we tried. However, it maintains the speed for just 5 to 6 frames. It took us about 9-10 seconds for a longer burst of images to write to the card. But it took only a few seconds while shooting to the points which the buffer fills.
Continuous AF can be used with viewfinder continuous shooting, but as the camera needs to refocus on a new subject there is a momentary pause. Continuous shooting can also be used in live view. While the focus is fixed from the first frame, the exposure isn’t. The screen goes absolutely blank for about 4 seconds after a burst in live view mode.
The 24 MP APS-C sensor does pretty good job in terms of image quality. The lack of OLPF is basically designed to blur the fine detail in order to reduce the moiré to a certain extent. Nikon’s JPEG engine takes quite a good approach in reducing the noise. As we tried to tone down the noise reduction settings, the camera captured some more sharp images.
One of the advantages of shooting Raw is that it gives you the ability to regain the fine detail and tone from the parts of a particular image something that the JPEG engine of the camera has not shown. Coming to the video quality, the camera produces fine and detailed video when shooting at its highest resolution and 60 framerate.
Nikon D3300 has a rechargeable EN-EL14a lithium-ion battery that provides a CIPA-rated battery life of 700 shots. Upon our testing, we found the figures to be true. An MH-24 charger is packed with the camera that has the capability of charging a completely depleted camera within two hours. Coming to the ports, the camera includes an HDMI output for a quick playback. The 3.5mm microphone input is great for recording audio in stereo.
Should You Buy the Nikon D3300?
Nikon D3300 is priced at $446.95 (with AF-P 18-55mm VR kit lens), $546.95 (with D-Zoom KIT AF-P 18-55mm VR + AF-S 55-200mm VR II kit lenses) and $596 (with D-Zoom KIT AF-P 18-55mm VR + AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR kit lenses).
Well, we would like to conclude it by saying that this camera perfectly hits the mark for the beginners. Comparing it with its market counterparts, it offers some great features that include high-resolution, 1080/60p video, 95% coverage optical viewfinder, the 11-point AF system, speedy burst rate of 5fps and a battery life of up to 700 shots.
However, it would disappoint those who want to move beyond the basics as you cannot use the command dial in the quick menu or you have to get into the menu first for the Auto ISO option. Apart from this, features like a flip-out LCD and built-in Wi-Fi are missing. But again these features are not that important to every user. Being an entry-level model, we should also consider its high points.
- Superior image quality with fine detail
- High pixel count
- Performs well in high ISO setting
- Good print quality and dynamic range
- Detailed 1080/60p video recording
- Deep buffers with JPEGs
- Uncompressed HDMI output
- Very good battery life- CIPA rated 700 shots
- Tutorial and an improved guide mode
- Excellent value for money
- Autofocus struggles in low-light settings
- Contrast-detect AF is slow in live view
- No AE bracketing
- Buffer depth is slow with Raw files
- Very few direct controls; settings like Active D-lighting and Auto ISO on/off has to be accessed from the camera menu
- Absence of built-in Wi-Fi