Features & Controls

The D3300 has the same 23.5 x 15.6mm, APS-C CMOS DX-format image sensor that is included with the more advanced D5300. Both image sensors include 24.2-megapixels of resolution. You can pick between three image sizes -- 6000 x 4000, 4496 x 3000, and 2992 x 2000 -- and all photos will be recorded at the 4:3 aspect ratio with the Nikon D3300.

This entry-level model includes the ability to shoot in JPEG or RAW format, or you can shoot in both formats at the same time. (Nikon uses the term NEF to indicate the RAW format.) You can choose from three compression formats when shooting in JPEG:

  • Fine (1:4 approximate compression)
  • Normal (1:8 approximate compression)
  • Basic (1:16 approximate compression)
On the right side of this photo you can see the lens release button, which is shaped like a D.

front with lens.jpg
The Nikon D3300 kit I reviewed included the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II compact lens. This lens includes a manual zoom ring, visible here as the raised area at the upper section of the lens.

The 18-55mm lens includes a lock (the L setting visible here) that prevents the lens from moving while you're transporting the camera and that allows the lens to be stored at a compressed size when not in use. To unlock the lens press the round button on the left side of the lens and twist the zoom ring. If you forget to unlock the lens, you'll see an error message on the D3300's LCD screen. Once you twist the lens past the 18mm position, the lens cannot be locked in place again until you press the round button again while at the same time twisting the zoom ring back to the L position. The small white dot under the L indicates the current focal length setting for the lens.

When attaching the lens to the D3300, just line up the larger raised white dots on the lens and the camera body and twist the lens to the right until it clicks in place.

lens buttons.jpg
The 18-55mm lens contains a set of control switches that are common with Nikon DSLR kit lenses. The A/M switch toggles between autofocus and manual focus settings. Just below it is the Vibration Reduction switch, which toggles between on and off.

To the right you can see the flash button, which opens the popup flash unit on the top of the camera body. If you want to adjust the flash mode setting in Viewfinder mode, hold down the flash button and spin the command dial. The flash setting will light up in yellow on the LCD screen, and you can select the flash setting you want.

You can assign a particular camera setting to the Fn button. And in the lower right corner of this photo, you can see the side of the lens release button.

The D3300 uses the Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor module with through the lens (TTL) phase detection. This camera has an 11-point autofocus mode as well as a single-point AF mode and an auto-area AF mode. The lens servo autofocus options are autofocus (AF), single-servo AF (AF-S), continuous-servo AF (AF-C), auto AF-S/AF-C selection (AF-A). An electronic rangefinder also can be used with the camera.

open flash.jpg
With the D3300 you'll have two options for using flash photography. You can use the hot shoe on top of the camera to attach an external flash or you can use the popup flash pictured here.

To open the popup flash just press the flash button, which is visible in the lower right corner of this photo.

The flash compensation range is allowed between +3 and -1 in 1/3 increments, and it has a sync speed up to 1/200th of a second.

The list of available flash modes are: Auto, auto with red-eye reduction, auto slow sync, auto slow sync with red-eye reduction, fill flash, rear-curtain sync, rear-curtain with slow sync, red-eye reduction, red-eye reduction with slow sync, slow sync, and off. Not every flash mode is available in each shooting mode.

top buttons.jpg
Along the top panel of the Nikon D3300 you can see a variety of control buttons. On the left side of this photo, you can see the outline of the closed popup flash unit. The silver brackets on the hot shoe are visible in the lower left corner.

Along the end of the right hand grip (visible in upper right corner), you'll see the shutter button surrounded by the power switch. This is a great design because the shutter button is in a good location and is comfortable to use. The power switch is easy to find and operate when you're in a hurry.

The trio of buttons just below the power switch include the movie recording button on the left (with the red dot). The Info button in the middle changes the information displayed on the screen in Live View mode, adding and removing data icons from the screen and adding a 4x4 grid to the screen. In Viewfinder mode the Info button toggles the information on the LCD screen on and off. On the far right is the EV button. When you hold this button down and spin the command dial, you can adjust the exposure valuation setting.

In the lower right portion of the photo you can see the mode dial. The four more advanced shooting modes are listed inside the curved bracket. The active shooting mode is indicated by the white bar to the left of the mode dial. The 14 mode dial options are:

  • Manual - M
  • Aperture-priority auto - A
  • Shutter-priority auto - S
  • Programmed auto - P
  • Guide mode - GUIDE (this setting will walk you through learning about and using different aspects of the camera, including shooting, basic scene modes, playback, retouch, and set up)
  • Auto - Camera icon in green
  • Auto (flash off) - Flash icon with slash through it
  • Portrait - Woman's head icon
  • Landscape - Mountain view in square icon
  • Child - Child's body icon
  • Sports - Runner icon
  • Close-up - Flower icon
  • Night Portrait - Person with star icon
  • Special Effects - EFFECTS (multiple special effect modes, including Night Vision, Super Vivid, Pop, Photo Illustration, Color Sketch, Toy Camera Effect, Miniature Effect, Selective Color, Silhouette, High Key, Low Key, HDR Painting, Easy Panorama)
With the mode dial set to Special Effects, you'll need to turn the command dial to see and select the options.

back top buttons.jpg
The upper portion of the back panel of the camera includes the viewfinder, which is a bare-bones pentamirror single-lens reflex unit that offers approximately 95% horizontal frame coverage and an approximate 0.85x magnification. The diopter adjustment dial is to the upper right of the viewfinder.

The AE Lock/AF Lock button is to the right of the viewfinder, while the command dial is on the far right. You can see the edge of the mode dial in this image above the AE Lock/AF Lock button.

back left buttons.jpg

To the left of the LCD screen are five additional control buttons. From top to bottom the control buttons are:

  • Playback - Opens Playback mode
  • Menu - Opens on-screen menus
  • Magnify - Allows for magnification of the scene on the LCD to ensure sharp manual focus; increases number of thumbnail images in grid in Playback mode; increases magnification of single image in Playback mode
  • Reduce Magnification/Help - Reduces magnification of scene on LCD; decreases number of thumbnail images in grid in Playback mode; decreases magnification of single image in Playback mode. You also can press this button to access a help screen any time a question mark icon is displayed in the lower left corner of the LCD.
  • I button - In Viewfinder mode use the I button to make changes to the grid of settings along the bottom of the screen

back right buttons.jpg

To the right of the LCD screen are some additional control buttons including (from the top down):

  • Live View - Marked with Lv; toggles between Live View and Viewfinder modes
  • Four-way button - Use this button to scroll between menu options and other settings; press OK to make a menu selection
  • Delete - Delete photos and videos from the memory card with this button when in Playback mode
  • Drive/Self-timer - Use this button to select the continuous shooting mode, the self-timer mode, and the remote control mode

LCD view.jpg
The Nikon D3300 includes a 3.0-inch LCD screen, which is slightly smaller than the LCD included with the D5300. The D3300's LCD offers 921,000 pixels of resolution and a 160-degree viewing angle. Unlike the D5300's screen this camera's screen does not twist or swivel away from the camera body.

ports view.jpg

As you're holding the camera, you'll find two compartments on the left side, both of which have flexible hinged coverings that protect the ports.

In the upper compartment is the accessory terminal and the external microphone connector port. The lower compartment contains the USB and HDMI ports.

memory card slot.jpg

The right side of the camera contains another compartment with a hard plastic hinged door that protects the memory card slot. You can use SD family memory cards with the D3300.

battery slot.jpg
The Nikon D3300's battery fits inside the right hand grip through a compartment with a latched door on the bottom of the camera. Nikon included a separate battery charger with this camera, which is handy. And Nikon included a USB cable with its D3300 kit. This camera does not have a built-in Wi-Fi option.

Nikon estimates 700 shots per battery charge, which is possible as long as you use Viewfinder mode all of the time and turn off the LCD most of the time. Under normal usage patterns, which almost certainly will involve using the LCD and Live View from time to time, I'd estimate the battery life more in the 300 to 400 shots per charge range.

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