The D3300 is the second DSLR from Nikon to use a monocoque construction. That means it's made from one piece of material, making it both lighter and stronger than 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.
Like the D3200, the D3300 has a three-inch LCD screen with 921,000 dots. This is a fixed unit and Nikon is still resisting the urge to join the touchscreen revolution, which is a little disappointing given how many of the camera's controls are changed via the screen itself.
That brings us to the user interface. The D3300 has a pleasingly modern appearance, with the high resolution giving the display beautifully rounded edges and displaying the interface's colours well. When shooting, the camera displays three circles which represent shutter speed, aperture and sensitivity (ISO). These displays 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.
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.
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.
The viewfinder is optical and 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 in composition. With such a large resolution though, cropping out any of those mistakes shouldn't lead to a reduction in quality.