cameras
  • Best of Year 2014
Expert Score
7.8

Nikon D3300 Digital Camera Review

An essential foundation for a new shooter's toolkit.

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By the Numbers

Entry level cameras typically have a large tradeoff or two, but that's not the case with the Nikon D3300. Though none of its test results are particularly mind-blowing, none of them even approach what we'd call "bad."

That said, there is one are where the D3300 excels in: Video performance. The camera may not challenge high-end DLSRs. Still, a camera with mostly good performance with few blemishes is something to be celebrated at the entry level. If you're looking for a good "all-around" performer, this is it.

Color

As accurate (or inaccurate) as you want

Even when splitting hairs, any ∆C00 saturation error of around 2 is just about perfect. The Nikon D3300 is perfectly capable of reproducing color with a ∆C00 saturation error of 2.27, while saturating its color gamut to 101.3%. This is a wholly forgivable—and even great—result in comparison to higher-end cameras.

Though this result was achieved in the "portrait" color profile, your results will vary slightly, but errors are kept in check. Even the worst level of ∆C00 saturation error of 3.19 is in the "vivid" mode: A color profile that intentionally oversaturates greens, reds, and blues.

If you want even finer control over your profiles, hitting right on the d-pad will open up a menu to access finer points of your color profile controls, including sharpness, contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue sliders. Though we tested with default settings, you may be able to "fix" any perceived deficiencies by fiddling with these changes.

Sharpness

Don't cut yourself

With a combination of a good sensor and some software processing, the Nikon D3300 posts some respectable sharpness results. For comparison, it's much better than those of the D3300's predecessor: The D3200.

To the naked eye, problems like coma, chromatic aberration, and oversharpening are all but invisible until you zoom in quite far. Telltale signs like halos around dark spots, fuzzy edges, and color that shouldn't be there are basically eliminated by the D3300, save for the rare issue around the edges of the image.

Of course, issues that you may run into with the basic kit option of the D3300 are largely due to the lens—it's reasonable to assume that upgrading your lens will boost performance in sharpness notably, as the sensor itself should be able to handle it.

Video

Diamond in the rough

Video performance on the D3300 is stellar for an entry-level option. In bright light, the Nikon SLR was able to resolve 750 lw/ph both in horizontal motion and vertical motion. In low light, these numbers dropped to 625 and 600 respectively.

The camera needs only 5 lux of ambient light to capture video at 50 IRE.

Common issues like frequency interference, artifacting, and trailing are all but nonexistent. It's very surprising how well this camera does with video, but perhaps it shouldn't be news to anyone given how well the D3200 and D5300 perform recording motion.

If you often find yourself trying to capture video at a birthday party or night out, you probably won't be using an SLR. However, if you find yourself with the D3300, you'll do famously. The camera needs only 5 lux of ambient light to capture video at 50 IRE (minimum broadcast standard), so shooting video in auto mode will be relatively good even in low light. However, this all comes with the caveat that

Noise

Clean, until it's not

Entry-level cameras aren't typically the greatest at keeping noise at bay—especially at high ISO speeds—but the D3300 does better than many similarly-priced models. The results we found in the lab were great even without the noise-reduction on.

From ISO 100 through ISO 800, you can expect noise to be kept under 1% of your total image. Beyond that, however, you can expect a steadily increasing amount of garbage data, topping off at 2.47% at ISO 25600 (maximum). Honestly though, that's impressive for this level of camera, and a decent result any way you slice it.

Nikon-D3300-Review-science-noise-rosie.jpg

Noise is kept fairly well in check, but the Nikon D3300 isn't perfect.

With noise reduction disabled, fine details are maintained fairly well, but it is tough to prevent things getting lost in even a low amount of noise. For example, tiny lines and differences in shading might get lost in the shuffle of garbage data added from higher ISO speeds, so using the lowest ISO setting you can is generally a good idea.

Nikon-D3300-Review-science-noise-alice.jpg

Fine detail drops off quickly, but as a result of noise.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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