Hands-on review on Nikon D3300

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  • June 11, 2014

Nikon upgraded its entry level DSLR a couple of months back and I had some hands-on time with it to share my thoughts on this new camera. This camera has created some buzz around the photography world because of it sensor quality and DXOmark has reviewed the sensor quality on this camera is equal to some of the high end DSLRs out there. (if you’re wondering what is DXOmark, they are the people who test different aspects of a camera and create a comprehensive review based on the technical aspects of the camera *Super geeky stuff*.

To skip all the geeky stuff and to keep it simple, I will talk about some of the basic features like camera size, sensor, image quality, focusing, lens and some of the exciting new features that I liked and notable improvements by Nikon making this camera to stand apart from other DSLRs.

You’re always welcome to ask more question/doubt if you have any regarding this camera and will always be happy to help. So, here’s my review on D3300.

Camera Size & Weight

“Tiny” will be the perfect word to describe this camera. Considering all the chunky and heavy DSLRs out there this camera is remarkably small and feels light on your hands. This is the probably the most compact DSLR I have ever used and it almost feels like point and shoot camera with all the advantages of a DSLR. If you’re like me who likes to carry a camera around all the time, then this one is just perfect. Takes very little space in your bag, a huge advantage if you travel a lot. And this camera comes in 3 different colours, helping you stand out in the crowd.

Sensor

The sensor of this camera is marked equivalent to sensors on some of the high end cameras. This is the least pricey camera which has an amazing sensor. So, this camera has a CMOS sensor with 24.2 million effective pixels and has no low pass filter as Nikon did with D7100 and D5300. [Low pass filter essentially reduces blur in images rendering a sharper final image when compared to DSLRs which has one]. All you will need is some better glass on this camera and get some amazingly detailed pictures.

Also the camera sensor supports a wide ISO range from 100 to 12,800 (expandable to 25,600) and performs really well in low light too [Better than my Nikon D7000 *a little sad*]. Noticeable noise appears from ISO 6400 and above which is still a huge benefit if you’re going to shoot in low light (like concerts or want to freeze some high speed action with less light).

Focusing

Probably this is the one area where I would expect this camera to get better. With 11-point AF system, D3300 is quite okay with the focussing. It is good enough if you’re going to shoot stationery / slow moving subjects,but doesn’t work well for fast moving subjects. This might be due to the fact that focus points are not close enough to form a cluster and thus not much helpful for subject tracking. This wouldn’t be necessary for the majority of users, but I personally would prefer a faster focus and more focus points to help with my wildlife photography.

To make up for the mediocre focusing system, Nikon D3300 has a 5fps on continuous high mode (burst mode) to freeze some action – Credits to the new and advanced EXPEED 4 image processor. Point to note, this frame rate is equal to some of the pro level DSLRs in the Nikon range and far better than some of the Canon counterparts.

Ease of use

If you’re new to photography or moving on from a point and shoot camera, then this DSLR is totally meant for you. It has an easy guide mode to help you through with your learning curve. Controls are simple enough to understand; making you’re learning curve with this camera very small. There are not many buttons on the back and almost reminds me of the P&S I had a few years back.If you’re moving on from a Nikon Coolpix series then you would feel at home when using this DSLR.

View Finder and LCD

As a little extension to the ease of use, LCD features an improved GUI from it predecessor. This makes understanding Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed, easier. The LCD screen is 3 inches diagonally with 921,000-dot type (more dots = better clarity). The viewfinder is also a lot better with 95% coverage area and has a 0.85x magnification. As always comes with a dioptre control.

Kit Lens

With all the upgrades in this DSLR, Nikon has made a leap forward and updated it’s most popular kit lens the 18-55mm f/3.5 – 5.6G VR II lens. This is very similar to the build of a Nikon 1-series lenses, making it more compact. If you’re not familiar with the Nikon-1 series lenses, this lens has a “Lock” mode for make the lens smaller when not in use. Bottom line,this is a great starting lens with good improvements from the older version.

The lens has a “A/M” toggle and a “VR” toggle on the side if you’d ever wanna switch from Auto to Manual focus or turn VR (Vibration reduction) off.

Video

Nikon has moved a lot forward with the video features on this camera, supporting 1080p recording with 60fps, an improvement from the usual 24fps. So, this can qualify this entry level DSLR to be a great video recording solution for people who wish to start up with video recording {!Yayyyy, SHORT FILM ENTHUSIASTS !}. Honestly, I would consider going for a Canon if my work involved a lot of video recording, but this camera with all its new video features, I will probably prefer this over buying some new Canon gear [No, I am not against Canon gear]. Only disadvantage is that the audio input is mono, renders you’re audio recordings a little flat but can be fixed by using an external recorder.

Honourable mentions

Easy Panorama

If you are a huge fan of your phone’s panorama feature then this is no different, but gives you a far better picture quality and dynamic range.

HDR photography

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and this essentially means that the tonal range is wider so get a lot more details in shadows (low lit areas) and help you pull down on the highlights to get some detail [Google it if you’re intrigued]. This is a built in feature from the Nikon D3200 but worth mentioning if you like HDR photography.

Final Verdict

If you’re new to the photography world and looking for a great camera to start that could guide you or considering to move on from your ‘point and shoot’ to a better camera or even if you’re a pro and considering a second DSLR then this one is will fit in perfectly. A compact DSLR with a some powerful features similar to the Nikon pro-range nicely packaged with a great starting lens for a very less price to pay gets a huge thumb up and I will definitely recommend to any person until Nikon comes up with a better improved entry DSLR

 


SAMPLE IMAGES

I have added some sample images taken by me with EXIF data. Look at the image quality and be the judge.

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