Build and handling
- Polycarbonate construction
- Small and lightweight body
The D3300 is the second DSLR from Nikon to use a monocoque construction - this means that the chassis is made from a single piece of material, making it both lighter and stronger compared to the D3200.
Nikon has also reduced slightly the size of the camera when compared to the D3200, but placing the two side by side doesn't reveal too dramatic a difference. The grip is still deep and comfortable to hold, with the textured surface making it feel particularly secure in the hand.
What does make a significant difference however is the new 18-55mm kit lens, which is now collapsible. While by no means small in comparison to compact system camera lenses, when collapsed the lens is quite a bit shorter than its predecessor, making it easier to fit into a 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 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.
A dial on the back of the camera is used for altering the aperture or shutter speed, depending on the mode you're shooting in. When in fully manual mode and needing to control both, you'll need to hold down the exposure compensation button while scrolling the dial to switch between the two parameters.
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'll find the exposure compensation button (for use in automatic and semi-automatic modes) 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 white balance – and then press OK to bring up the different options available to you. Unfortunately, this menu isn'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.
- 11-point AF, 1 cross-type AF point
- AF-assist illuminator
- 3D-tracking AF
Autofocusing speeds are pretty high, especially in daylight or well-lit conditions. It's rare for the kit lens to hunt around to acquire focus, and rarer still for it to present a false confirmation of focus. Speeds do drop a little in lower light conditions, but it's only when it gets very dark that the lens struggles to focus at all.
It's worth bearing in mind, though, that focusing speeds drop significantly when using Live View, so it's only really recommended you use that if you're shooting something stationery, or you're shooting from an awkward angle and can't compose using the viewfinder.
Changing the AF point is very simple. All you'll need to do is press the directional arrow keys to move around to the point you need. As the central AF point is cross-type, it is more sensitive than the others, so you may find it beneficial to focus and recompose in certain situations, or, if you're just aiming for speed.