D3300 vs D5300: Key differences
Buying an entry-level DSLR from Nikon is not as straightforward as it sounds. Should aspiring enthusiast photographers stepping up from a compact go for the most basic DSLR in the range (the Nikon D3300) or pay a bit more for a camera with a few more features, namely the Nikon D5300? If you’re agonising over this choice, read on for enlightenment…
The Nikon D3300 boasts a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor without an optical low-pass filter to enable more detailed, sharper shots (more on this later), while there is also an ISO range up to 25,600 and a fast continuous shooting rate of 5 frames per second.
Meanwhile the Nikon D5300, also has a 24.2MP sensor without an optical low-pass filter, expanded ISO range of 25,600, 5fps continuous shooting mode and so on… see the problem?
The main areas where it trumps the Nikon D3300 are more AF options, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS and a flip-out, ‘vari-angle’ screen. Oh and the rear LCD has a few more pixels…
That said, there is obviously the crucial difference of price. The Nikon D3300 price tag for the body plus a compact 18-55mm VR lens stands at around £319 ($ 545), while the Nikon D5300 with the same lens will set you back about £140 ($ 150) more.
Just to compound the confusion, there is also the D5500 – the replacement to the D5300. We’ll leave that out of the equation here as the D5500 is about £250 ($ 400) more than the D3300.
Does the D5300 justify the extra spend?
So the fundamental question we need to answer is whether the differences between the Nikon D3300 vs D5300 that really justify the D5300’s extra spend…
If you’re still not sure what kind of camera you need, then read our easy to follow guide to camera types: What camera should I buy?
And if you want to get a beginner DSLR but aren’t sure it should be one of these two, take a look at our guide to the best entry-level DSLRs.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Sensor
The Nikon D5300 has a 24.2 megapixel, DX format CMOS sensor that lacks an anti-aliasing filter. Although this can increase the risk of ‘moire’ distortions when photographing certain patterns, it’s a small risk, and is outweighed by the benefits of greater resolution.
Despite being cheaper, the Nikon D3300 has a similar 24.2 CMOS sensor, which also lacks the anti-aliasing filter.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Image processor
Both cameras use the Expeed 4 image processing system. Expeed 4, which is also used on Nikon’s higher-end SLRs, enables faster image processing, five frames per second rapid shooting, and better control of image degradation, or ‘noise’ at higher ISO settings.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: ISO range
Sorry folks, it’s getting boring, but you’ve guessed it, both the Nikon D3300 and D5300 have a native ISO range of ISO100-12,800, which can be expanded to 25,600.
Keep the ISO below 1600 and you’ll enjoy relatively clean, low-noise shots in low light conditions, but it’s good to know you’ve got all that extra sensitivity if you need it.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Autofocus
Here’s where it gets more interesting. The Nikon D5300 has a 39-point AF system, based on nine cross-type AF points.
This means that more AF points are available to cover a particular scene useful if you are photographing a group of people for instance, or a sports match.
In comparison the entry level Nikon D3300 only has an 11-point AF system, based on 1 cross-type AF point.
Now, this may seem like a major difference, but bear in mind that more experienced photographers often only select the most sensitive central AF point anyway, particular when taking portraits of still subjects.
So sure, it’s good to have those extra AF points to cover a scene if you’re less confident about selecting individual points, but it’s not a deal breaker.
D3300 vs D5300: Verdict
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Continuous shooting
Any advantage the Nikon D5300 has when it comes to a wider choice of AF points is evened out when it comes to continuous shooting both cameras will let you fire off a burst of five pictures per second in fine-quality JPEG (rather than raw) mode.
Unless you’re a sports or wildlife photographer this should be more than enough, and is obviously great for ensuring you get usable shots of fast-moving action.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Rear screen
A key difference between the two cameras is the rear screen. The Nikon D5300 boasts a 3.2-inch, 1,037,000-dot screen which can be viewed at different angles.
The screen provides a lovely clear view with lots of detail visible, making it particularly useful for shooting candid street compositions, or in LiveView mode. The screen isn’t touch sensitive, though.
In comparison, the Nikon D3300 has a fixed 3-inch screen with 921,000 dots.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Connectivity
Again, the Nikon D5300 aces its sibling here. Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity comes as standard on the more expensive camera, while you will have to buy an adaptor for it to work on the D3300.
It’s easy to connect the Nikon D5300’s Wi-Fi system to your Apple or Android smartphone, but you’ll need to download the Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility app to control the camera.
For the Nikon D3300, you need to buy the WU-1a adaptor, which costs around £50/$ 60.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Build quality and dimensions
Both cameras are tough. Their shell is made from one piece of Sereebo CFTRP, a type of polycarbonate. This ‘monocoque’ construction omits the usual joints and seals, making the camera stronger.
The Nikon D5300 is slightly heavier, weighing in at 530g with battery and memory card, compared to the Nikon D3300’s 460g. You’ll hardly notice an extra 70g in practice though and both cameras have similar dimensions.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Battery life
Guess what, both cameras share the same battery, too. The EN-EL14a can power 700 shots on a single charge.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Kit lens
Both cameras now come bundled with the latest retracting AF-P 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens, making it suitable for both still and video capture thanks to the new Stepping Motor.
Its also much shorter when retracted than its predecessor, getting around the complaint that previous entry-level Nikon DSLRs have felt quite bulky and awkward.
Some kits are available with the older non-VR lens, so pay attention to the spec of the lens to make sure you get the kit you want.
Nikon D3300 vs D5300: Verdict
Given the large number of similarities between the two cameras, it really boils down to how much you value built-in Wi-Fi, a flip-out screen and a few more AF points.
The ‘guts’ of both cameras are not massively different, both are made from sturdy monocoque casing and both have an easy to understand graphic interface to help beginners figure out camera functions.
If money is tight we recommend going for the Nikon D3300, and if extra money becomes available, put it towards an extra lens (a standard prime like the AF-S 35mm f/1.8G is a great option) or a tripod and some filters.
A good lens and sturdy tripod will have more impact on the quality of your pictures than some extra AF points and built-in Wi-Fi. As for the screen, vari-angle LCDs are nice to have, but photographers have lived without them for a long time…