How do I know if my camera is faulty?

edited January 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3300 Forum
Hi all,

I have a D3300 on its way, and I'm so looking forward to its arrival.

But I am anxious, as I have no real experience on photography, much less with an SLR. What I am concerned about it, is that when I start to use it, how will I know if I have a faulty or bad one? I have nothing to compare it to, or anyone really to ask.

My nightmare is that I could have a below par one and not know it. Although this is the entry model it has taken a lot of saving for. So any reassurance would be hugely appreciated. :)

Thank you


  • edited January 2016
    Make sure you read the instructions, and try all sorts of things.

    The D3300 is an entry model, and that means that it has fewer fancy features, but it is a very competent camera, with a very good sensor, and is capable of very good pictures. Most of what higher models offer is more convenience features, and more sophisticated auto focus, but the image quality of a D3300 is about as good as anything. The lower models are not as tough or weatherproof as the higher ones, but they're well made. Though the kit lens uses lots of plastic and is rather cheaply put together, it's optically very good too.

    You can usually figure out pretty quickly if the camera is faulty, by the results of photographs. Read the instructions as much as you can, and try taking photographs of things that are fairly simple and easy to judge. Make sure that you know what adjustments do what, where the buttons are, and make sure you don't accidentally change things and blame the camera. Make sure the auto focus works reliably and that the flash works when it's needed. The more familiar you are with the mechanics of the camera itself, the easier it will be to use. Remember it's a digital camera, made to work for many many shutter actuations , so don't be afraid to fire away. Try many things, find out what changes when you change things, and erase a lot. If you have some doubt about what a control does, you do not need to make art. Aim at a book case or the living room rug or the trees in the back yard. Do not be afraid to make test shots, throwaways and mistakes.

    Make sure the lens's autofocus is working, and that the AV is working. You can usually hear a little clunking or clicking when the AV operates. As an experiment, try with the shutter speed at something around 1/4 second (use shutter priority for this test), to take a picture at 55 millimeters with AV on and off. If AV is working, you'll get a moderately sharp picture with it on, but probably not with it off.

    If possible, one thing you should do is to find a fairly complex plane surface such as a brick wall, in reasonably good light. Now, using the camera's viewfinder and autofocus, take a picture. For this test it hardly matters what other mode you use. You can do it in Auto mode or the mode of your choice, as long as the shutter speed is sufficient (or the flash is on) to avoid blur from camera jiggling. Don't keep it at the 1/4 second of the earlier test.

    Now, take the same picture using Live View. The Live view auto focus uses a completely different mechanism. If your camera's AF is properly adjusted, both images will be in focus. In good light, AV focus is always accurate, because it uses the image plane itself, but it can be slow and not very good at tracking motion. Viewfinder focus is more versatile, and when it and the lens agree, it's accurate and sometimes even more accurate in poor light. It's also easier for most people to aim, compose, and hold the camera steady using the viewfinder.

    If AF varies greatly between the two modes, the camera may need adjustment. Most of the time it's fine.

  • edited January 2016
    Thank you so, so much for this. I am so grateful for you taking the time to explain this to a newbie like me.

    I have had a good play with the camera and I'm very impressed. I have done the final test a few times, and while there is some slight difference, they are broadly similar, so I take it that it is okay.

    I am a little puzzled by the first test though. How do I turn the AV on and off? I can't find the instruction in the manual?

    I know this will be a simple thing, but I just can't find it for the life of me.

    Thank you again :)

  • edited January 2016
    I think @BRUTO was referring to IS (image stabilization) rather than AV, but I'm sure he'll put you right.
  • edited January 2016
    On the Nikon, image stabilization is "AV" for anti vibration, and the switch is on the lens only. You'll also find an AF switch on the lens, and when you turn that off, the camera gets the message so when you do need to go manual, you don't need to do it in the camera too.

    And by the way, it looks as if I misprinted above, and should have said that "AF focus" is more accurate in Live View. AV should not affect focus.
  • edited January 2016
    My lens is the 18-55mm VR II.

    On the barrel it has two switches. One is A and M, which I take to be auto and manual, which I am content to leave on A for now.

    The other switch is VR on and off, which I have on. Is that correct?

    Thank you so much again.

  • edited January 2016
    Yes, that is correct. In these cameras there is no VR (or image stabilization) in the camera itself, and all is done by the lens.

    There are very few instances where you're better off with VR off. It may be a little sharper when you're on a tripod, and if you are fanatical about the last pixel maybe when the shutter speeds are very fast, but for all practical purposes you'll do best leaving it on.

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