Review of the Month; Nikon D3300

This review kinda shows how disjointed I am in my line of thought. I was thinking that I could make a decent, non-professional review about a camera now that I have a new camera. You see the problem right there. I can’t take pictures of the object I take pictures of, unless I have mirrors, and I have exactly one I can use.

And my God that mirror is old and scratched, lost a of its polish and sheen. No amount of scrubbing could save it outside polishing
And my God that mirror is old and scratched, lost a of its polish and sheen. No amount of scrubbing could save it outside polishing

I’ll just have to use some stock photos from Nikon.

Anyway, these entry-level DSLR aren’t the cheapest, but they’re not from the high-end price either. At best, they’re middle ground between your pocket camera and those high-end complex ones. And truth to be told, no camera is really complex, using a camera at its most basic level requires use of three elements; shutter speed, aperture and ISO. That neither here or there, the idea of this review is not the go into large paragraphs of how to use a camera or technical jargon.

What most people care about if it takes good photos, and despite the camera being few years old at this point, its 24 megapixel camera does its job just fine with its CMOS sensor. The kit lens is decent, not the best out there, but does its job as a freebie nonetheless. It can take 1080 HD video at 60fps, which is pretty damn good, but the filesize will be rather large. That goes for everything with cameras like this; the larger and more detailed things get, the larger the filesize. Dropping few bucks for a 64gb card would be recommended for DSLRs anyway. You can read a more comprehensive and technical review at DPreviews, I’ll be concentrating more on the general use and design.

The general shape of modern cameras is largely the same across the board with some modifications here and there to distinguish them from each other. Some tweaks fit other hands better than others, but overall there’s to complain about D3300’s ergonomics. It’s on the small side, light to hold, but its surface makes it feel a bit cheap. This is because the surface plastic is sleek and shiny, a standard fare in the end.  There are three colour options; red, black and grey silver. I picked up the red because I got tired of everything being black, white or grey.

How does it feel to be picked is a bit different matter.

Straight from Nikon's own site
Straight from Nikon’s own site

The rubber pad on the right just between the buttons and the selection wheel is where your thumb should probably rest. In a quick and dirty session where you just point and shoot it works the best, but when you want to use the wheel and the lock button just left to it, you might find your thumb wandering around. With your thumb and hand shifting, finding the right spot is challenge. People with longer thumb or larger hands most likely won’t find this an issue, but the size of the camera may be cumbersome.

Because of its size, I would recommend getting a battery grip of some sort. A smaller camera like this tend to be cramped no matter what, and taking vertical photos is more or less uncomfortable. A grip adds more surface area to grab, and overall makes it feel more robust in your hands.

The camera’s laid with buttons everywhere except the down under. Coming from an older Canon, having all these buttons may seem a bit over the top, but realizing that most of them are where you most need them is makes things easier. All the buttons on the left are essentially for menu use, needless for the general photo taking. The LV buttons toggles live view on and off. It would’ve been preferred to have something else at its slot, as it sits at a perfect spot near your thumb. However, you can modify the buttons’ actions to some degree, this isn’t as big of a deal as you’d expect.

Z-d3300-top[1]The weirdest position for a necessary button on this camera is the Fn on the left front of the camera, the lower one. This controls the ISO sensitivity and is a bit cumbersome to access. Above it is the flash opener, and that’s a fairly good place for it, away from everything else.

The main selection wheel is your standard one, nicely clicky and surprisingly wide. All symbols are clearly defined, using standard icons. The three buttons around the shutter button should be more useful, as two of them are largely wasted. The Big Red One is your video Record button, Info turns the LCD screen off. This buttons should’ve been the ISO changer automatically. The ± symbol changes the Aperture.

They general layout is pretty decent, but using the camera will need to practice because of it. As mentioned, you are able to change what some of the buttons do in the Menu, and I would recommend finding your personal best position.

The camera takes images pretty well. You can pick up a lot of details  from darkness, especially if the image is taken in RAW. You may not want to use RAW format, as it uses Nikon’s own NEF. Without an image viewer that supports or Photoshop plugin, it’s largely useless for you. However, whether or not an image is a good one is up the user, not how good the camera is.

DSC_3908
This is the full size, maximum resolution photo the camera can take. It’s pretty hefty and has a lot of data despite the odd settings used here. No retouching has been done, just a straight up conversion from .nef format to .jpeg. Here’s another one of a toy Godzilla for comparison

The Nikon D3300 is a generic, good overall use camera that doesn’t necessarily amaze you in what it can do, but HD quality video and decent photo capabilities do make it the better option in its class. Currently it runs around 350-400€ depending where you buy it from. As mentioned, it’s one of the better ones in the category, and if you want to upgrade from a pocket camera or just need a quick replacement for your older DSL, this may be up your alley. Throwing few hundreds more in would yield you a level better camera, but sometimes you just want something you can grab with you. The D3300 does both semi-professional stuff and point and shoot well enough to be said that is a good camera worth looking into a bit more.

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