Deciding between the Nikon D3300 and the D5300

edited January 2015 Posted in » Nikon D3300 Forum
Howdy! Struggling to decide between the D5300 and the D3300. This is going to be my first DSLR. Help! :-)


  • edited January 2015
    What you need to know are the differences between these two camera bodies, then ponder over it along with the price differential and figure out what’s right for you.

    The main difference is the flip-out swivel screen. This is a very nice feature for taking shots at odd angles and makes video shooting more comfortable (Not going to bore you with technical stuff, but this camera still doesn’t really allow manual control for video. If you’re an advanced videographer, this camera’s video features won’t excite you.).

    More AF points 39 versus 11
    Simply put, if you shoot static subjects, 11 is fine. More AF points will help for tracking when you shoot subjects in motion (Sports, etc), but if you’re good with panning, then 11 will work just fine especially if your subject moves predictably (Race cars, etc). You’ll appreciate the extra AF points if your subject moves erratically (Wild life, etc).

    Allows you to transfer images from camera to phone and allows you to use your phone as a viewfinder and remote shutter. To be honest, I don’t find this useful at all. The Nikon mobile app is not well-designed. It’s not practical to transfer full resolution images since the large file size makes it take too long. The remote shutter feature is nice, but I’d much rather just get and use the cheap ML-L3.
    By the way, as of right now, the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility app doesn’t work for Android 5.x.

    Not a big deal. It’s easy to geo-tag your photos afterwards, but if you feel you must geo-tag every shot on the fly, then this is the feature for you.

    D3300 has panorama mode, but most smartphones actually have a better implementation of panorama mode than this camera.
    The D5300 has Interval Timer Shooting to make time lapses.
    The D5300 shows the ISO value in the viewfinder update in real-time if you use Auto-ISO.

    So, which one is for you? It depends on how much you value each of D5300’s features. A quick check shows that as of today, the price difference between these cameras is about 100 USD.
    If it were me, I’d get the D3300 (or even the D3200 if you can find it for cheap) and use whatever savings towards lenses such as the 35mm f/1.8G DX, 50mm f/1.8G, or a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8.
    There’s nothing wrong with the D5300, but I do feel it’s priced at an awkward position considering how the price of the D7100 has been discounted so heavily due to the holidays and the imminent release of its replacement.
  • edited January 2015
    As a D3200 user, married to a D7100 user, I will add a couple of points though @ohyeahar has covered most.

    If you are seriously chasing wildlife, I would suggest the more expensive option. I believe the D5300 has a similar auto focus engine to the D7100, and there is no doubt that it is better than that of the D3200, which I believe is the same as the 3300. Not that the 3200 is bad; it's pretty good. With a bit of panning practice you can do very well, but the more expensive one will catch birds in flight and such faster and more reliably.

    In basic image quality the cheaper model gives up nothing. There are fewer options, but it's still plenty capable and the sensor is as good as anything. If you don't need the features specific to the D5300, then the D3300 or D3200 will give you equally good images. With each version, it seems, they increase the low light capability, which gives an edge to the D3300 and 5300, but the D3200 is no slouch.

    If shopping now, I'd get the 3300 rather than the 3200 unless the 3200 is an irresistible bargain. The 3300 has a very slight edge in sharpness, owing to the dropping of the anti-aliasing filter. It's nearly unimportant, but it is not nothing. They also changed a feature that is one of my greatest bugaboos with the 3200. The multifunction switch is placed just where my grip accidentally changes the focus point. It has been moved down a bit on the 3300. In addition you get a slightly bigger viewfinder and one stop better ISO, and a slightly newer processing brain which ups the speed a little.

    Don't sweat the panorama feature. Microsoft makes a free panorama program that will stitch JPG files beautifully, both horizontally and vertically, making gigapixel images possible if you want.

    Any one of these models will give you images as good as anything, if you follow the precepts of Johann Sebastian Bach.

    Bach was not only a famous composer, but in his day was considered one of the greatest organists ever. Someone asked him once what gave him his extraordinary skill. He replied that it's nothing special at all. All you have to do, he said, is hit the right key at the right time, and the instrument plays itself.

  • edited January 2015
    Hi @benj12 - I really couldn't of answered your question any better than the way @ohyeahar and @bruto broke it down. Kudos to @ohyeahar and @bruto for posting one of the best D3300 vs D5300 comparisons on the web.

    One thing I'll add, is that lenses are so much more important than the camera body. Quality lenses will produce top notch images that stand out above kit/budget lenses. If you're interested in a certain type of photography (portraits, landscapes, birding, ect...) I would allocate most of your budget to the right lens and then whatever you have left, put that towards a camera body...even if it's a used D3100, D3200 or D5100. All the best!
  • edited January 2015
    Top quality information guys, thanks a lot! One more question I would like to throw at you if possible. What is the best lens for natural scenery shots like dramatic sky's, landscapes and also for portraits? Do you think the guide is helpful on the D3200/D3300 or am I best off trying to learn how to use camera with the help of the built in guide? Many thanks.
  • edited January 2015
    I think you're best off with the printed guide on the D3200, but make sure you download the one on CD, as the printed guide packaged with it is not complete. The PDF on the CD is, and it's easy to access on a computer. However, I must confess that although I have had my D3200 since May, I have never used the guide setting on the camera, so it might be fine for all I know. I'm most comfortable with printed instructions. I don't know whether the same applies to the D5300 or the D3300.

    And of course, one can get a lot of pointers from things like the cheat cards. There are many ways to skin a cat, but if you start with a specific, repeatable list of settings that give consistent results, you can make additional choices one at a time and know what is changing what. If you browse the site, you will see that Moose favors a pretty straightforward style, high in information content without excessive saturation or dynamic clipping. Recommended manual settings and specific changes to metering and AF modes will insure that the results depend on what you do, not on the invisible choices of the camera's automation.

    AS for dramatic landscapes and skies, there are a lot of different tastes here. You usually will want to go fairly wide, though you can get a good result from normal width. If you start out with the kit lens, you can experiment with what focal lengths you're most comfortable with. You may find that that lens is adequate for the job, as it is very sharp, and you don't need the shallow depth of field a fast lens gives. The D3200 is handicapped in this job because its kit lens has a rotating front element that makes it impractical to use a polarizer with auto focus. I believe the later retracting 18-55mm does not rotate (you can't use a petal-style hood on a rotating lens). In that case, I'd strongly advise getting a decent circular polarizer. It increases sky contrast, makes skies bluer and cuts reflected glare in varying degrees, but sometimes dramatically. A lot of the drama in a landscape comes from the composition though, and that is your job. One of the few issues that makes a zoom less effective in landscapes is flare. Make sure you always use a lens hood, and once you're sure what kind of focal length you favor, prime lenses often will behave better in difficult light, backlight and such. My favorite landscape lens is a 1960's vintage 28, famous for being so flare free you can shoot straight into the sun.

    Here's a severely downsized one from Antarctica - D3200, 28/3.5 polarized, 1/2500 shutter, about f/8 aperture:

    (see here)

    For portraits, one good possibility many people like is the 50mm f/1.8, which just happens to be one of the cheapest prime lenses made, and also one of the best. As out of focus blur increases with focal length, a longer zoom can make for pretty good portraits at distance, even if it is a bit slow. The 55-300mm, for example, turns out to be pretty good at this despite its unexciting aperture.

  • edited January 2015
    You can also download the full pdf guide online from Nikon’s support site. It’s the same as the one on the CD. It’s a good idea to keep a copy saved on your phone so you can access it anywhere and anytime.

    The guide mode built-in to the D3300 is actually very elaborate. I don’t think this is the case on the D3200. Anyway, read the manual to get a sense of the camera’s controls. The manual doesn’t do a great job at explaining photography techniques. Then see what you can learn from the guide modes.

    If that doesn’t cut it for you, there’s an ocean of information available elsewhere. Moose’s cheat cards have helped lots of folks. There’s also books you can buy. I recommend “From Snapshots to Great Shots”, and there’s plenty of articles online (including here on this site).

    As for lenses, it’s good that you know what you want to shoot (i.e., landscapes and portraits), but perhaps it would be wise to learn how to shoot before you go out and buy expensive lenses.
    It wouldn’t be right if I said that the best portrait lens is the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G which costs $1600 and you went out to get it only to just shoot it in the Portrait Scene mode.

    As for the best lenses to learn from (that doesn’t cost a fortune), this would be the kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and either the 35mm f/1.8G DX or the 50mm f/1.8G.

    The kit 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is good for learning the differences between the focal lengths.
    But (to me at least) they’re not so good for understanding exposure since the variable aperture seems to confuse a lot of people. I also find that it’s not the best for understanding depth of field because even at the closest focus distance and at 55mm f/5.6, the shallow depth of field is still not dramatic enough for people to really appreciate it.
    That’s where the prime lenses come in. Since the aperture is constant, you can manipulate your exposure in a more controlled way, and the large aperture means that the concept of depth of field can’t help but smack you over the head until you see it. The fixed focal length forces you to move around so it helps with practicing composition.

    Once your understanding of photography matures, you’ll no longer have to ask which lens to get. You’ll know.
  • edited January 2015
    Indeed, creative use of depth of field is very difficult with a short slow lens, and for the most part you will be learning other things first. The longer the lens, the less the depth of field, which is one of several reasons why longer lenses are often favored for portraits.

    One of the unfortunate casualties of autofocus lenses is the good old fashioned focus and DOF scale that used to reside on lenses, and which was a very good graphic way to understand how things varied. You could learn a lot just looking at a lens.

    I enclose, for example, a picture of an old Vivitar 20mm manual lens, which happens to be well marked. Longer lenses, with narrower depth of field are harder to read, and most Nikkor lenses used color coding that does not show up so well. If you look at the picture you will see some of what such scales can show, and also, incidentally, one of the penalties of smaller formats. In FX format a 20mm lens was once super-wide, now just ordinarily wide in DX. Depth of field remains the same in any format, and you can see that at long distances depth of field is extreme even at large apertures. A lens this length is grand for getting things sharp without being finicky, but terrible for getting creative blur.

    In the picture you see at the bottom the aperture ring set to f/11 (the red dot). Above this, on the non moving lens body, is a depth of field scale with a red dot and bar indicating the focus point straddled by pairs of numbers corresponding to available apertures. Above that is the focus ring with distances in feet and meters. At any focus point, the depth of field at a particular aperture is the area falling between the right and left numbers.

    The picture shows the lens set at f/11, and what is known as "Hyperfocal" distance. The lens is focused at a little over 4 feet. The right hand f/11 point is lined up with the infinity mark, and the left hand one at about 2.5 feet. The estimated depth of field is probably a bit loose for high definition digital these days, but give or take a little, this lens at this setting will be sharp between infinity and 2.5 feet. Creative blur at f/11 is clearly out of the question. Even if you peg the focus at infinity, it will be sharp down to 10 feet at f/3.8! Prefocused at anything between 4 feet and infinity, almost anything this lens hits will be acceptably sharp.

    Note also that the focus scale itself is logarithmic. The focus ring distance between infinity and 6 feet is approximately equal to the distance between 1.3 and 1.7 feet. Depth of field increases dramatically with distance. When you choose a focal point, background focus will be much sharper than foreground.

    (see here)

  • edited July 2015
    Hi Moose and the rest of the team,

    I wanna ask about which is the best next lens I should get for my D3300. My level is a beginner. I have the 18-55mm kit lens and I'm planning to have another lens, one that has nice bokeh - 35mm f/1.8G DX or the 50mm f/1.8G. Should I buy this lens right now or do I have to go for the accessories like lens hood, filter (this stuff is expensive!), flash gun, etc.? I said planning because I had to save up to buy one of these things. I am pretty sure every photographer should have all of this but I'm on a tight budget so I need advice from you guys.

    Do these lenses have IS? I am worried if they don't have it, because it may produce blur.
  • edited July 2015
    The 35mm and 50mm prime lenses do not have VR (Nikon's code for image stabilization). This should not generally be a problem, as those short focal lengths are pretty easy to hand hold at normal shutter speeds.

    As far as which one you will like best, it's hard to tell, but your kit lens covers both focal lengths. So one thing you should do for a little while at least is to shoot prolifically with your kit lens, and keep an eye on what you find you are setting the zoom to. The 50mm will give you closer views, slightly better "bokeh", and probably be nicer for straight portrait work. The 35mm is more of a "normal" viewpoint, and will give you more versatility and a perspective similar to what your eye sees. Both are generally considered fine lenses at bargain prices.

    The 50mm has a pretty deeply recessed front element and hardly needs a hood at all. The 35mm is not quite so deep, and would benefit from a hood, but this is not a terribly large expense and not absolutely necessary. I would get the lens first, and if it's a 35mm, try to afford to throw in the hood when you buy it. Skip the filters until or unless you find you really need one. I would also wait with the flash until you know what your flash needs are. Some people just love a flash and become flash experts, desiring and requiring sophisticated controls and articulations. Others love available light and rarely bother with a flash at all.

    If you are worried about whether you will miss VR, try turning it off for a while on the kit lens. I think you may find you miss it very little if at all, except when shooting in very low light with slow shutter speeds. In some cases you might even find that your shots are a tiny bit sharper with it off.

    A sort of rule of thumb for non-VR shooting in the days of 35mm was that the shutter speed should be the reciprocal of focal length. That rule follows the crop factor, so it must now be 150% for the DX format. So you're pretty safe shooting a 35mm at a shutter speed of 1/50 and a 50mm at 1/75. Below those speeds you will often do fine too, but not always so consistently. When you use flash or a tripod you never need VR.

    Experiment and become adept at hand holding and panning, and use a tripod whenever you can.
  • edited July 2015
    Finally, a straight to the point answer!!! I've been searching for the answer to this question and nobody out there seems to have one until here. Once again thanks guys you are awesome. I took notes on all the things you said in here.

    I've been busy lately from work and photography. I have an account over flickr and if you have the time guys please check out some of my shots. I am very much happy to hear your comments and suggestions, just search in "Felizardo Cabal Jr.". Those shots in there are possible because of you guys; I coudn't done it without Moose and Bruto's help. The pictures may not be like a pro, but it is a start.

    Do check it out if you have the time, once again Thanks!.
  • edited July 2015
    Nice. I like the shots of people there especially.

    I wonder how Crocodile Ice Cream compares to Ben & Jerry's.

  • edited March 2016
    Hi guys,

    Its been a while since I visited this awesome site. This is the site and the nice people that made me decide to push through my new hobby - photography! I'm struggling over buying a new camera body in addition to my D3300. I'm deciding between the D7100 or D7200. The reason is I already have 3 lenses - a kit lens 18-55mm, a telephoto 55-200mm and my beloved prime 50mm 1.8g (this site convinced me to buy this one and I didn't regret it at all!) Which one do you guys think is nice and affordable and delivers great quality photos as well? I am leaning towards the D7200, but it is a bit expensive compared to the D7100. I really need your help with this guys and I already started saving to buy this camera.

    If you have a better suggestions I am willing to take them.
    Thanks and regards.
  • edited March 2016
    With regard to the crocodile ice cream, I have no idea, I never tasted it myself. :)
  • Howdy. Check out this review that details some of the differences. Good luck and keep us posted!
  • edited March 2016
    I've been waffling on this very same issue, as I find some things on the D7xxx rather nice, and some of the limitations on the D3200 occasionally annoying. My wife has a D7100, and it's done very well.

    I don't think the D7200 is WAY better than the D7100, and although it includes some improvements, I would base the decision mostly on which, if any, you feel you need, as against the additional cost. Both are about as good as you can get in terms of features and image quality, with the D7200 better on very high ISO, a little better on autofocus, and with a deeper buffer for multiple shots. That latter feature could be a game changer if you shoot a lot of sports, as the biggest complaint against the D7100 has been that it can only shoot about 9 Raw shots in a row before it slows down. The D7200 better than doubles that. The D7100 is already capable of great high ISO work, but the D7200 is better. The D7100 also has one of the best AF systems around, and the D7200 is about the same with perhaps a slight edge in very low light. About the only real fault of the D7100 is that at very low light, it is possible for dark areas to show some banding. I've never noticed this in ordinary photos my wife has made with hers. It's an uncommon problem affecting only low light and careful looking, but it exists. The problem is apparently quite gone on the D7200.

    All in all, both are, at least until the new D500 comes along, about the best DX format cameras ever. If you're satisfied with the D3300 in terms of performance and image quality, you'll likely be quite satisfied with the D7100, which is getting to be a pretty good bargain. However, as the D500 comes closer, the D7200 price may be coming down too.

    If you get the D7xxx with a kit lens, it usually comes with the 18-140mm zoom, which is a good bit more robustly made than the 18-55mm, has manual focus override, metal mount and a little bit better weather sealing. It's a very nice lens for general walking around, overpriced alone but rather a bargain when thrown in as a kit lens.

    Ken Rockwell may consider the lens boring, but it's nice and sharp and has enough more reach than the 18-55mm that you can get by with little else most of the time.

  • edited May 2016
    Let me suggest you go for the D5200. The price of the camera body only is excellent, and you can buy the exact lens you really want.
  • edited May 2016
    @haggis, the D5200 is a fine camera, but because it has the anti-aliasing filter that was dropped on the D3300, D5300, and D7100, it actually may represent a slight decrease in image sharpness going from a D3300. Although the difference is very slight, it is noticeable, for example, between my D3200 and my wife's D7100. In most ways the images are indistinguishable, but there is a slight improvement in out of camera sharpness. Most of the time this does not matter and can be corrected in post, but I'd go for the later model if it's possible.

    I would also mention that, between the various models, one thing that the D7xxx family has that makes a real difference is a true pentaprism viewfinder. If you do manual focusing the difference in viewfinders between this and the other DX models is quite noticeable. They all work nicely, but the D7xxx has a definite edge for macros and manual focusing. The other difference is that the D7xxx family includes an in-camera focus motor and an AI meter follower, which make the camera fully functional with older AF lenses, and able to meter with AI and later manual lenses. The D3xxx and D5xxx are in some ways more versatile, since they will accept any manual lens including pre-AI, but none will be metered by the camera.
  • edited May 2016
    I have tried the D3300. Having a D3200 and a D5200, I prefer the image on the older models. Anti-aliasing filter has advantages too.
    Using older lenses isn't much fun, but if budget dictates, try a lens converter available on Amazon. I started off with a Praktica to Nikon f mount. These allow the excellence of Zeiss and Nikon, again manual only, at a ridiculous price, more for postage.
    The D5200 is a far better model than the D3300 and D3200, which I prefer to the D3300. Best to go into a camera shop and handle them. Quality and weight can be considered. The D7**** are far more expensive and a different quality and features again.
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