Nikon's D3300 is the successor to the entry-level DSLR D3200, so it is natural to compare the two.
The metallic grey review unit (the camera also comes in black or red) arrived with the new Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II kit lens.
It uses a retractable lens barrel design, making the overall package about 30 per cent smaller and 25 per cent lighter than its predecessor.
There are plenty of similarities. Both the D3200 and D3300 have the same 24.2 megapixel count, 11 autofocusing (AF) points, 3-inch fixed LCD screen and 420-pixel RGB sensor metering system. However, both lack built-in Wi-Fi.
Improvements in D3300 include the new Expeed 4 image processor, higher ISO setting of 25,600 (from ISO 12,800 previously) and a faster shooting speed of five frames per second (from 4 fps in the D3200).
The D3300's body feels quite plasticky. But the rubberised grip makes it extremely comfortable to hold. With the lens on, it weighs only 650g, which is 200g lighter than the body of its full-frame cousin, D610.
Button layout is impeccable. The mode dial, command dial and rear four-way directional pad are all within easy reach of my right thumb.
In front, to the left of the lens mount, a customisable Function button can be used to access ISO settings or white balance.
The retractable barrel of the lens may save space but you do need to unlock it before powering up.
This is done by pressing a button on the barrel and rotating it to the focal length of 18mm. If not, even when the camera is switched on, you cannot take any pictures.
Powering up and shutting down takes only 0.4sec, which is normal for entry-level DSLRs. Shutter lag is also about 0.4sec.
Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 45MB per second, the D3300 can take eight RAW images in 1.6sec before the buffer runs out.
AF performance is mixed. Almost instantaneous in bright light, it may take more than 2sec to lock on to a focus in dim lighting, even with the aid of AF-assist light.
Though both cameras have the same megapixel count, the D3300's image sensor lacks an optical low-pass filter. This filter helps to reduce moire or wavy patterns at the expense of image sharpness. So, you can expect better image quality.
The D3300's images look sharper and cleaner than the D3200's. Details are more distinct and colour reproduction, more vivid.
Also, you will notice few noise artefacts until ISO 1,600. Pictures are still usable even at ISO 6,400, when detail loss and colour desaturation are more evident. But higher settings are not recommended.
The D3300 manages about 700 frames on a full charge, which is above average for DSLRs and certainly a big improvement over its predecessor's 540-frame battery life.
If you are looking for an affordable first DSLR and do not mind a fixed display, the Nikon D3300 is an easy choice.
Price: $919 (with 18-55mm kit lens)
Image sensor: 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS
Display: 3-inch fixed LCD with 921,000 dots
Sensitivity: ISO 100 to 25,600
Shooting speed: Up to 5 frames per second
Weight: 460g (body only, with battery and memory card)
Value for money 4/5
Battery life 4/5
This article was published on April 16 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.
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