Don’t be fooled by the entry-level status of the Nikon D3300. With a 24.2-million-pixel sensor and no anti-aliasing filter, the diminutive DSLR has ideas far above its station. Richard Sibley finds out just how good this £500 DSLR really is. Read the Nikon D3300 review...
Nikon D3300 at a glance:
- 24.2-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-12,800 (expandable to ISO 25,600)
- Expeed 4 image-processing engine
- 11-point AF system
- Street price around £499.99 body only or £599 with 18-55mm lens
- See product shots of the Nikon D3300
- See sample images taken with the Nikon D3300
Nikon D3300 – Introduction
It can be hard for enthusiast photographers to get excited about entry-level DSLRs. With slower shooting rates and smaller arrays of AF points, these cameras are often perceived as rather anaemic compared to their ‘gutsier’, more advanced counterparts. As a consequence, they tend to be disregarded as serious tools. But that’s a shame: let’s not forget that the technology we now find in entry-level cameras was, just a few years ago, the preserve of the professional DSLR.
One example of this is the four-year-old Nikon D3S. On its release, professionals fawned over its 24.5-million-pixel sensor, yet sensors of this resolution are now commonplace, even in entry-level models. The latest Nikon D3300 is one such camera.
Although the Nikon D3300 may appear to house the same 24.2-million-pixel sensor as its predecessor, the D3200, there is one very significant difference – this time around, there is no anti-aliasing (low-pass) filter, which should maximise the detail that can be captured. With the right lens, in the right light, and in the hands of the right photographer, it is entirely reasonable to expect images produced by this entry-level DSLR to match those of an apparently more advanced camera. With this in mind, the D3300 suddenly looks a far more attractive proposition – and much more than a camera for new photographers only.
Nikon D3300 – Features
With no anti-aliasing filter in front of the Nikon D3300’s 24.2-million-pixel, DX-format CMOS sensor, we can expect it to preserve the maximum image resolution and sharpness that is afforded to the sensor. While it is the sensor that will, of course, grab many of the headlines, the D3300 has been improved in other ways. The key upgrade is the use of Nikon’s new Expeed 4 image processing engine. It is this engine that, when paired with the sensor, enables a 1EV increase in sensitivity range compared to the D3200. The D3300 can shoot at an impressive extended setting of ISO 25,600. Both JPEG images and 12-bit raw files can be captured, and saved to SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards.
The faster processor also increases the shooting rate of the D3300 to 5fps – one frame faster than both its predecessor and the Canon EOS 100D. This is extremely impressive for an entry-level camera, and is more in line with the shooting rate seen on enthusiast DSLRs just a few years ago.
Other features new to the D3300 include automatic flash modes and an option for fill-in flash. The viewfinder has been improved, and the camera body has seen some tweaks, but more on these later.
For the most part, though, the Nikon D3300 has the same key features as the D3200. For instance, the AF system still comprises 11 points and the metering system has the same 420-pixel RGB sensor. The 3in rear screen again has a 920,000-dot resolution, and the camera requires AF-S lenses to autofocus as it does not have a built-in AF motor.
The big surprise is the absence of built-in Wi-Fi. When Nikon launched the Wi-Fi-enabled D5300, the general assumption was that this functionality would feature in all subsequent Nikon DSLRs. Instead, the D3300 must rely on the WU-1a adapter for a Wi-Fi connection. The logical conclusion is that this is to help keep the cost of the camera down, while still allowing Wi-Fi connectivity if required.