Although mirrorless cameras got a firm grip on the market in the last several years, DSLR sale numbers are higher still. They are bigger, heavier and do not offer better image quality than comparable mirrorless with APS-C sensors. So what’s the catch? Why are they still more popular on global market? I tried to figure it out testing the latest entry-level Nikon DLSR: the D3300.
NIKON D3300 SPECIFICATIONS
- Announced: 2014.
- Type: Digital SLR
- Dimensions: 124 x 98 x 76 mm (4.88 x 3.86 x 2.99″)
- Weight: 430 g (with battery, no lens)
- Sensor: CMOS 24MP, no AA filter (6000 x 4000 pixels)
- Lens: Kit lens: 18-55mm II VR (27-82 in 35mm), F/3.5-5.6
- ISO range: Native 100 – 64000, Extended 100 – 25,600
- Image stabilization: No (possible with stabilized lens)
- Dust and moisture protection: No
- Flash unit: Yes, pop-up + hot-shoe
- Continuous shooting: 5 fps
- LCD screen: 3″, 921,000 dots, fixed
- Memory card: SDHC
- Battery: Li-Ion EN-EL14
- Video: 1920 x 1080 (60, 50, 30, 25, 24fps), 1280 x 720, 640 x 480
- Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, 3,5mm MIC, GPS dongle connector
CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING
The D3300 is built rather well; you can see it’s a cheap camera, but the plastic feels good and buttons are large with a very well defined click feeling. The grip is covered with rubber as is the thumb rest at the back. Some details are even better than on Nikon D5300 like the multi-way controller which protrudes more out of the camera and has better feel.
D3300 is clearly a camera aimed at amateurs; there are almost no direct controls for various shooting functions like white balance, ISO, metering mode or auto-focus settings. There is only a button for drive mode and programmable “Fn” button which most users will use for ISO value. All of other settings are adjusted via LCD interface which might look OK to amateur users but it is a slow process to find a setting and change it. Two visual styles and several color combinations are available for customization of “info” screen.
I noticed a peculiar bug in use – when you press the exposure compensation button the LCD info screen turns on always no matter if you use optical viewfinder and there seems to be no way to disable it. This could be solved with face proximity sensor.
Start-up time is instantaneous. Camera is ready to take a picture almost at the same millisecond as you turn the power switch – a detail where DSLR beats all mirrorless cameras; they all need a second or two for start-up and this is one of the main reasons why you would want classic DSLR.
D3300 is available in three colors: black, red and grey.
LCD has a 3 inch diagonal and 921,000 dots. Specifications may be the same, but this seems to be a different LCD than the one on previous D3200. It is sharp with excellent viewing angles and better colors. If it were a tad brighter or used better anti-reflections protection it would be near perfect.
Viewfinder is as big as expected for an APS-C sensor and easy to use. As always, you get the basic shooting information at the bottom of it.
NIKON D3300 SENSOR AND IMAGE QUALITY
This camera uses the same 24 MP sensor without optical low pass filter like found on the more expensive D5300. Sensors without anti aliasing filters could allow you to get very sharp and detailed images with it. The thing is this will depend on the lens you use. Cheap kit lenses like 18-55mm, 18-140 or similar are reasonably good for casual photography, but if you want to get the most out of the sensor in this camera, you will have to buy better lenses, like a 35mm f/1,8G prime on expensive zoom lenses which will be able to resolve enough details for this sensor.
Sensor performance is excellent and seems to be even better compared to Nikon D3200, especially at high ISO. I used the camera regularly up to ISO 3200 without any problems, and when needed got perfectly usable results at ISO 6400, especially from RAW file. Colors are realistic and dynamic range is up to the task.