While it lacks some of the fancy tricks of pricier DSLRs, the D3300 still offers everything the beginner needs to take great pictures. It’s a cheap way into a sprawling system that includes all kinds of different lenses, and it’s super simple to use, having been designed very much with those completely new to photography in mind.
Do you need a DSLR or would you be better served by a mirrorless camera? DSLRs typically have the bonus of more lenses and often have better handling, but mirrorless cameras at this level often provide a few sweeteners, such as 4K video recording, tilting screens and USB charging. If you’re not sure what’s best for you, read our guide to mirrorless vs DSLR cameras.
|1||Nikon D3300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with Auto Focus-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II Zoom Lens (Black)||Check Price|
- APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
- 3.0-inch screen, 921,000 dots
- 24.2 MP DX-format (APS-C) sensor
- Expeed 4 processor
- 1080/60p HD video
- 5 fps continuous shooting
- 700 shot battery life
The Nikon D3300 features a 24.2MP APS-C sensor, which may well be standard for a camera of its class, but it’s pretty impressive when you consider the enthusiast-focused (and much higher priced) D7200 shares an almost identical sensor. Like the rest of the Nikon range, the D3300’s sensor does away with an optical low-pass filter on the sensor as well, which means even more detail can be captured.
In addition to this, the native sensitivity range runs from ISO100 to 12,800, and there’s an expansion set that takes it to the equivalent of ISO25,600. That should provide plenty of flexibility for a range of lighting situations, so you can still carry on shooting as light levels fall.
Like some of the cameras positioned above the D3300 in Nikon’s lineup, the D3300 sports Nikon’s now second-generation processing engine, the EXPEED 4. This allows the camera to shoot continuously at a maximum rate of 5fps, while it can sustain this burst rate for up to 100 fine quality JPEGs. Not probably quite a match for some mirrorless rivals, but more than enough for most people’s needs.
The EXPEED 4 processing engine is also responsible for allowing the D3300 to record Full HD movie footage at frame rates up to 50p/60p and with continuous autofocus. Helpfully, there’s a microphone port as well as a built-in stereo mic for better sound recording during movie shooting.
Unlike some (pricier) rivals that offer articulating LCD screens, the 3.0-inch display on the rear of the D3300 sits flush to the body. The absence of a touchscreen interface is also a little disappointing, especially when you consider how many of the camera’s controls are changed via the menu system. If these are deal-breakers, then you might want to look further up the Nikon range to the D5600 or rivals from Canon.
Like pretty much every DSLR at this price point, the D3300’s optical viewfinder only offers a 95% field of view. While it is bright and clear, not being 100% does mean that there is a chance of something appearing in the final image that you didn’t notice when framing up your shot.
There are a host of Special Effects about tap, allowing you to jazz-up JPEG files and videos with a collection of styles. Nikon has boosted the list of Effects to 13 for the D3300, and it now includes Pop, which increases colour saturation, Toy Camera, which creates a retro effect, and Easy Panorama. These effects can be previewed in real-time on the LCD screen, so you can see exactly what you’ll get once you trigger the shutter.
One thing that isn’t too great next to the more modern offering is connectivity options. Wi-Fi isn’t built-in, so if you want to wirelessly transfer images you’ll have to invest in the optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter. If you want a connected entry-level Nikon DSLR, you’ll want to turn your attention to the D3400; featuring Nikon’s SnapBridge technology, this functionality allows the D3400 to be connected wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet.
Build and handling
- Polycarbonate construction
- Small and lightweight body
- Weighs 460g (including battery and memory card)
The D3300 is the second DSLR from Nikon to use monocoque construction, which means that the chassis is made from a single piece of material. Lighter than the D3200 it replaced, the D3300 is actually a bit heavier compared to the D3400, with Nikon managing to shave a very modest 15g off the 410g body-only weight of the D3300.
The grip is still deep and comfortable to hold, with the textured surface making it feel particularly secure in the hand. The 18-55mm kit lens that the D3300 will probably most likely be purchased with is collapsible. While by no means small in comparison to compact system camera lenses of the same equivalent zoom range, when collapsed the lens is quite a bit shorter than its predecessor, rendering it easier to fit into a small bag when not in use. When you want to use the camera (with this kit lens attached), you’ll first need to press a button on the zoom lens barrel to expand it back into normal proportions. This does mean that start-up time from packed away is a little slower than other cameras, but you can of course leave it extended if you need a quicker start. There isn’t a huge number of buttons on the D3300, which is to be expected of an entry-level camera. On the top plate, you’ll find a mode dial for switching between exposure modes, such as fully automatic, aperture priority and the newly incorporated Effects mode. Also on the top plate, you will discover the exposure compensation button (for use in automated and semi-automatic settings) and an info button, which helpfully turns off the rear display, preventing it from being a distraction while using the viewfinder.
A sort of quick menu is accessed on the D3300 by pressing a button labelled ‘i’ on the back of the camera. After you’ve pressed this, use the directional keys to pick a setting you want to change – such as for example white balance – and then push OK to bring up the different options available to you. Unfortunately, these menus aren’t customisable, so if there’s something on this menu you rarely use, you’re stuck with it.
There is also a function button near the lens mount. By default holding this down will allow you to quickly change the ISO, but you can change this to control JPEG quality, white balance or Active D-Lighting. ISO seems like a sensible choice since it’s something you’ll probably need to change the most often out of the options available.
- 5fps burst shooting
- Helpful Guide mode
- 700-shot battery life
The D3300’s interface has a pleasingly modern appearance, with the high resolution giving the display beautifully rounded edges and displaying the interface’s colors well.
When shooting, the camera displays three circles which represent shutter speed, aperture and sensitivity (ISO). These shows change as you alter settings using the scrolling dials, most obvious being the aperture circle which closes and opens to represent the opening and closing of the aperture blades. If you’re new to creative photography, this is a great way to get to grips with the basics. The D3300 includes a dedicated 420-pixel RGB sensor to gather exposure, white balance and focus information to inform the Automatic Scene Recognition system. In the majority of everyday shooting conditions, the D3300’s general-purpose matrix metering program does a good job of producing accurate exposures, while the camera’s automatic white balance also performs well. It manages to produce faithful colours even while shooting indoors, where under artificial lights produces images which are hard to fault, hardly erring towards warm tones at all, which is excellent to see in an entry-level DSLR.
Battery life is very good too, lasting for around 700 shots – better than similarly priced mirrorless rivals, though not quite as impressive as the D3400’s 1200 shot battery life.
Check Out: Best Nikon D3300 lenses
The D3300 has been one of our favourite entry-level DSLRs, and it’s only because of the arrival of the newer D3400 and D3500 that’s it’s started to lose its sheen a little. But if you’re not too fussed about the very latest tech, this is still a bargain buy, with a great sensor and an easy-to-use body and menu system as its key draws, as well as a huge selection of lenses to help you get creative.