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Michael L. Berman Headshot

New Nikon D3300 Redefines 'Entry Level'

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What is "man's best friend?"

A dog? No.

A spouse? No.

It's his faithful, trusting camera.

Think about it: It never lies to you, is always by your side and oftentimes shows things as they really are.

But many of us fear the "new-fangled" digital single lens reflex cameras, because "they're just too complicated."

Enter, stage left, the new entry-level Nikon D3300 DSLR ($649), which will not only become your faithful companion, but will show you how to take advantage of its many features, including setting the correct exposure/parameters for the shots you want to take and retouching photos using a built-in Guide mode. Also, like most DSLR cameras, the D3300 uses Secure Digital (SD) memory cards and has a built-in flash.

The camera we tested came with a Nikkor DX 18-55 millimeter lens, which is designed to work specifically with the camera. Other DX lenses, which include image stabilization, range from fisheyes to telephoto zooms. It can also work with an optional wireless remote adapter that allows you to transfer photos to a PC or mobile device without using cables.

We used the camera under various lighting sources ranging from the very low light of recital halls to sunlight and shadow conditions at sporting events. For comparison, we took the same shots using an Olympus Evolt 620 and were amazed with the results. Color density, lighting compensation and image sharpness were all much better in the photos we took using the D3300.

Not totally convinced this was the best entry-level camera, we re-shot the photos using a Canon Rebel T3i and the results were the same.

Its other features include:

  • A 22.4 pixel image sensor
  • A built-in five-shot per second "motor drive" or burst mode
  • A three-inch VGA LCD monitor
  • Autofocus
  • Image stabilization built into the camera body
  • Eight reprogrammed scene modes
  • A huge selection of special effects (including monochrome and fisheye)
  • High definition movie mode

Even though this camera has been designated as "entry level," we discovered many features that weren't available on the other cameras we used, making it a good choice for more experienced photographers.

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