Welcome to the Nikon D3300 Forum for Beginners

Howdy dudes and dudettes! Well, it's pretty simple. If you've got questions about your Nikon D3300, you can start a new discussion and get tons of helpful replies from other D3300 owners all across the world, including yours truly. :)

To get started, go ahead and register an account here at Camera Tips.

Next, just click the Start a New Discussion button at the top of the page.

To reply to a current topic, navigate to the Nikon D3300 Forum homepage, click a discussion thread and you'll see a Post Comment button towards the bottom of the discussion.

Happy shooting!


  • edited February 2015
    Hello, I'm a 59 year old (female) and have just purchased the D3300. This is the first camera I've owned in decades (except my phone camera), so I've been in the dark ages as far as cameras are concerned. I've been reading my manual and watching you tube tutorials, but I'm still overwhelmed! I have been practicing taking pictures but most look pretty awful. I have tried the different effects and shooting modes. I took better pictures on my phone but I'm sure that's because I don't know how to operate the camera properly. I've been trying to practice controlling aperture, shutter speed and ISO on manual mode. I can figure out how to change the shutter speed and aperture by using the dial but can't figure out how to change the ISO. Any help would be appreciated! Any hints at all on anything would be helpful. :) Thank you.
  • edited February 2015
    I printed out the cheat sheets, but feel like I need to know how to operate the camera first. I guess that makes sense.
  • edited February 2015
    I just went on you tube and found that you press the fn button and then scroll to set ISO. I hope there are some other beginners on here too at some point.
  • edited February 2015
    For changing ISO, the easiest thing is to leave it set at the default, which is to use the Fn button and the wheel. You can go to the menu and reassign the Fn button, and still vary ISO either through the menu or using the "i" button.

    Many but not all functions are easily reset using the "i" button which opens a selection of various settings that you can access without going to the full menu. This is where you will go if you want to change focus modes, meter modes, etc.

    The default in the D3200, and probably in the D3300 as well is "auto ISO". What this means is that if the camera's meter disagrees with your settings, it will set ISO higher than what you've chosen. You will not see that choice until after the picture is taken. It will also not set the ISO to a lower speed than you've chosen. This can be very handy when shooting on the fly, but annoying when you're trying to take complete control. In particular, in manual mode, the meter will reset ISO and not allow you to underexpose on purpose, though you can always overexpose. That's handy if you want to be very specific about aperture and shutter speed, and still want meter control, but annoying if you really want to disobey the meter.

    There are very few important operating differences between the D3100, D3200 and D3300, so check out the other D3xxx forums too.

    Make sure you access the full instruction manual on the CD that comes with the camera. The printed one is not as complete.

    ISO is poorly explained in the manual, in part owing to the confusion of terminology.

    Here is a brief rundown, which I hope helps (D3200 here, but I think it's the same). Apologies if it's a bit long, but it takes some explaining to get it right.

    In P,S,A and M modes, you will use the dial to choose your starting ISO. In these modes, "auto" is not a dial option; it is always grayed out. You must go to the menu to change it. With Auto ISO on, if the camera's meter decides your exposure is wrong, it will adjust ISO, but only in the upward direction. For this reason, if using auto ISO, always start at the lowest ISO, and the camera will raise it only as necessary. Low is almost always best when it's possible. If you want complete control of ISO, turn "auto ISO" off. The choice that auto ISO makes will not show before you take the picture, but you will see the ISO display flash. In the EXIF information for the shot after it's done, the choice will be shown in red.

    In the menu you can choose how high the auto ISO will go. It will not go higher than your choice. NOT DOCUMENTED is the fact that this upper limit will also not allow you to manually choose a higher ISO either. The display may show a higher number, but it will not be used. The display is wrong. In P, S, A and M modes, the upper limit you choose will not be overridden manually. Therefore, if using auto ISO, never set the upper limit too low. Unless you're going to be fussy about digital noise, leave it very high.

    Modes other than P,A,S and M use a completely different and separate set of ISO rules, and your menu settings are entirely irrelevant. In those modes (except "auto" on the dial where no control at all exists), the default is a different sort of "auto ISO" in which the camera decides what to use, and you do not set any starting point. You can shift from that to a specific ISO of your choice with the dial, and when this is done, the camera will use only that choice and never override it. In these modes you will see "Auto" on the dial.

    The word "auto" here means two entirely different things, depending on your mode.

    Various choices will change settings in other modes, so always check when you change modes. Any change of ISO in P, S ,A or M modes will carry over among those four, but return all the scenic modes to "auto", and any change in the scenic modes out of auto will set all other modes to the same, including P,S,A and M.

    It's a little bit crazy, but eventually it makes sense. It makes the most sense if you get used to shooting only in P, S, A and M modes anyway.

    As you've probably noticed the cheat sheets favor either M mode with very specific settings, or A mode. For general shooting many prefer A mode in which there is a great deal of control, but the camera's meter rules exposure.

    In A mode you set the aperture (which determines your depth of field), and the meter then sets the shutter speed. If you see a shutter speed you do not like, you change the aperture or the ISO or both until you see what you like. If your camera is set to Auto ISO and you shoot in A mode, the meter will raise ISO any time your shutter speed gets too low, pretty much guaranteeing a proper exposure.

    Remember it's a digital camera. You can shoot thousands of pictures of nothing and erase them all. Experiment and try everything, and get used to the controls. It's daunting at first, but there really are not that many.
  • Hey @harris34061 - If you go to the very last cheat card, you'll see instructions for adjusting things like ISO, aperture, shutter speed, etc... This will allow you to easily setup your camera without having to memorize every feature and mode. As always, feel free to email me at support "at" cameratips.com if you have any questions about the cheat cards and how to use them.
  • edited February 2015
    Hi my name is Jesus and everyone calls me Jesse. I just got the cheat cards. Thanks @Moose for all the help. I'm a beginner so I'll be asking a lot of questions; let the fun begin.
  • edited July 2015
    Thanks to the camera tips team and especially to Moose for the great help. I'm always asking and I do hope that they will not get annoyed with me for asking so many questions, considering that I already have the cheat cards. Well anyhow as Jesse would say it - let the fun begin!

    More power and regards to everyone!
  • edited November 2015
    Hi, @Moose I have bought Nikon D3300 and have two lens sets with me.
    1) 18-55mm
    2) 70-300mm
    I love to take pictures, but I want know how to take pictures with a blurred background. What are the settings to be used, and which lens could I use from the ones available to me?
  • edited November 2015
    I'll throw in a bit just in case Moose is busy. The blurred background is an artifact of shallow depth of field. Depth of field depends on three factors:

    Aperture - the larger the aperture (lower f stop number) the shallower

    Focal length - the longer the focal length, the shallower

    Distance - the closer the shallower

    In addition, for portraits and the like, it's important not to place your subject too near to distracting background objects. The more separation you can get, the better.

    If you can get the distance (outdoors, for example) you'll get the shallowest depth of field shooting the long lens at 300mm, close up, with a wide open aperture. For portraiture, that's probably too long, but try a focal length of somewhere in the 70-100mm range, and you should have little trouble getting a nice look.

    For normal portraiture, you can do pretty well with the 18-55mm wide open at 55mm, if the placement of subject and background is right.

    For the opposite effect, use the 18-55mm lens fairly wide, set the aperture at about f/11, and focus at a few hundred feet away, and everything from about 10 feet to the moon will be in focus!
  • edited December 2015
    Does anyone know if a Canon Speedlite will work on a D3300? They look the same and have the same name, etc.
  • edited December 2015
    It's almost certain that a Canon flash will not work in TTL mode with a Nikon. The electronic handshaking that goes on between camera and flash is very specific. If the Speedlite has a manual mode, and if it has an on-flash "automatic" mode, those will almost certainly work with the camera in manual mode.

    I regularly use flashes that are not TTL compatible on my D3200. Many automatic flashes work extremely well, and if you already have one, you'd do well to try it. If you're looking to buy one for TTL use, make sure it is specific not only to Nikon but the family of models you're using.
  • Hi all, new D3300 owner here.
    I was lucky enough to receive this camera as a Christmas present, and I'm loving it. I have mostly been taking photo's on my Smartphone (LG G4) and learning manual settings that way, which has been much easier to get to grips with but it has given me a good starting place with the more complicated DSLR.
    I was also given two very imformative books (Dummies guide to D3300 and Snapshots to Great shots) which I have been reading through and testing as I go along.
    I look forward to getting hints and tips from the friendly people here, and maybe sharing some as I improve.

    edited February 2016
    Hi everyone!

    A long time ago, in the age of film cameras, I had a Pentax K1000 camera that I loved dearly. Then the digital age came along so I picked up a Fuji fine pix (an okay point and shoot), and had some fun with that, but really missed being able to use different lenses etc. So November I got a Nikon D3300 and I'm falling in love with it! Still have a lot to learn about all the digital stuff, but I'm having fun doing it.
  • A Nikon D3300 strikes me as an ideal step from the old Pentax, since it can do everything manually if you need it to. Much of the digital stuff is icing on the cake, and you can learn it bit by bit.

    I harp on this often, but make sure you get the full PDF version of the owner's manual off the CD or from the Nikon web site, because the paper one is incomplete.
    edited February 2016
    Thanks Bruto! I still miss the old Pentax. I knew that camera so well that it didn't matter if the battery for the light meter died because I could still take good photos. The new ones, if the battery dies, nothing works. I keep a spare battery with me just in case.
  • edited March 2016
    I've been using my iPhone 6s and I want to have more professional pictures! I bought the D3300 with the 55-300mm lens and the 35mm f/1.8G lens to get blurred pictures. I would like to know the dummy version of how to get blurred background with the 35mm f/1.8G?
  • edited March 2016
    Blurred background = shallow depth of field.

    For this, you need one or more of these things, and the more the merrier:

    First, a large aperture (smallest number = largest aperture, so 1.8 is largest).

    Second, relatively close distance. Depth of field increases logarithmically with distance. If you focus on the distant hills, everything from the front yard to the planets will be sharp. If you focus on the eyes of a fly close up, very little else will be sharp.

    Third, as long a focal length as is available. It's much easier to get blur at 85mm than at 35mm.

    Fourth, as much distance as you can achieve between your subject and the background. Isolate the subject if you can.

    So, with the 35mm lens, shoot with the aperture wide open if you can. Pull in as close to your subject as you can, and try for intimacy.

    You can't do much about the focal length, which in this case is a bit short for the best portraits, so you must maximize other factors.

    Try to keep your subject as far separated from the background as you can. If, for example, you have a brick wall behind a person, you will never get a blurred wall if the person is right up against the wall, but you will get at least some if you have the person step several feet away from it.

    As much as you can, try to avoid background objects whose shapes are conspicuous or easily identified as whole objects. Try to find an angle in which the shapes are relatively abstract. If you can, sometimes it's better to shoot from a low angle upward than from a high angle downward, which will get sky behind a subject instead of ground.

    Finally, don't forget that if you can't lose the background, you must use it. Some of the best portraits ever made have been "environmental" portraits in which blurring was avoided, the background providing a commentary on who the person is.

    Make sure you focus specifically on the subject. Avoid auto area focusing, and if your subject is standing still, use single servo single point focus, which also allows you to recompose if you don't want the focal point right in the middle. If a person, aim for the eyes. If the subject is standing against a light background, make sure you compensate the exposure or change the metering pattern so as not to have a silhouette.

    Finally, if you have the 55-300mm lens, don't count that out for portrait use, especially when outdoors. Even though it has a pretty small aperture, you'll find that it gives you a pretty good portrait when you zoom in around the middle of its range. Try it too. At higher zoom levels you might even find that you must stop the lens down a little just to keep all of your subject in focus.

  • edited May 2016
    Good day all.

    First of all, I am new to using a DSLR and new to using the Nikon D3300. I have been doing a considerable amount of reading and of course, plenty of practicing. The other day I came across the "Cheat Sheets" and I'm glad I did. Now when I go out and about, I will have these to quickly reference.
  • edited June 2016
    I'm new to using a DSLR and to my Nikon D3300. I'm going on a Mediterranean cruise soon and would like advice on an additional lens to purchase. I bought a 50mm and was thinking about a 35mm. Do I need both or would the 50mm be fine?
  • edited June 2016
    If you're cruising, I'd strongly recommend something wider than the 50mm. If you have the kit lens also, that will cover it, but if not, then at least a 35mm (which is a normal width and perspective) if not something wider. If you're cruising, you might really consider a zoom with more range and the ability to get wider for scenery.
Sign In or Register to comment.