PROS / This camera features exceptional video and still-image quality.
CONS / It lacks additional features, such as an articulating LCD screen.
VERDICT / The D3300 performs the essentials exceedingly well, and sheds the rest in favor of a good price.
As DSLRs for beginners go, the Nikon D3300 is one of the best available. Rather than offering a long list of auxiliary features, the D3300 favors simplicity, image quality and a good price. Although it costs less than its competitors, its image quality is excellent; in fact, it's nearly on par with Nikon's best DSLRs. For this reason, the Nikon D3300 is our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner.
The D3300 achieves its image quality with a high-quality 24.2 megapixel APS-C sensor. Having a quality sensor means that your camera can shoot well in low light, easily capture detail and accurately reproduce color. The D3300 also produces images with good dynamic range, low-light performance and color depth.
Dynamic range refers to how well a camera captures information in the brightest highlights and the darkest shadows. Purchasing a camera like the D3300 that has good dynamic range can help you avoid blown-out highlights and overly dark shadows. When shooting in less-than-ideal lighting conditions, it can be difficult to achieve a perfect composition.
Setting the camera's ISO to a high number makes for brighter images. Unfortunately, it can also make for images that are noisy and unclear. The D3300 handles high ISOs better than others in its price range, which is particularly useful when shooting in low light or at high shutter speeds.
Accurately replicating colors is another important aspect of image quality, and another aspect in which the D3300 excels. Color depth is the camera's ability to detect and replicate minute color changes for the most accurate reproduction of a scene.
In addition to producing excellent stills, the D3300 has remarkable video-capturing options. You can shoot in a variety of resolutions, like 424p, 720p and full HD 1080p, at up to 60 frames per second. This allows you the freedom to prioritize file size or image quality. Most entry-level DSLRs are unable to match this top-notch quality.
Battery life for this camera is exceptional. The cameras we reviewed typically fall between 400 and 700 shots per charge. Impressively, the D3300 is rated for 700 shots on a single charge.
Continuous shooting, however, is average, offering up to five frames per second for action shooting. While this isn't particularly impressive, it's standard for entry-level DSLRs. Those seeking much faster speeds will be better off with a mid-range or professional-grade camera.
Though still good by entry-level standards, the D3300's 11 auto-focus points pale in comparison to the 39 found in other Nikon cameras. Still, at this price point, very few cameras available can boast more. In fact, perhaps only the D5200 can.
Features & Design
The D3300 delivers well in the arenas of video and still-image quality, but in order to keep costs down, it lacks the extra features found in other models. There's no built-in Wi-Fi or GPS, and there are only eight scene modes, as opposed to the typical 16 found in more expensive entry-level Nikons. While these omissions aren't deal breakers, it's important to understand what you're losing in favor of a decreased price.
The design of the camera is also simplified when compared to models that are more expensive. Most glaringly, it omits an articulating LCD. In recent years, articulating screens become an expected feature on many beginner DSLRs.
On the plus side, the camera feels great to shoot with and there isn't a lack of quality in the build itself. It has a comfortable grip and its buttons are well placed. Additionally, its kit lens is notably more compact than previous versions because of a new retract feature.
Help & Support
The D3300 is covered under a one-year warranty against manufacturer defects. For non-warranty issues, the Nikon website is packed with useful information like FAQs, tutorials and troubleshooting guides. For further support, you can easily contact Nikon representatives by phone or email.
The Nikon D3300 is an excellent DLSR camera for beginners. It offers a great price coupled with excellent image quality that won't hold you back as you progress as a photographer. Despite lacking several features, the D3300 is incredibly versatile and one of the best values on the market.