Nikon D3300 Hands-On Field Test

  By Jordan Drake

You know what we hate? Shooting episodes in white/gray/gross Calgary winters. Based on your feedback, you hate watching videos shot there too. So we’re always excited when we have a new location for a video. The Chinese New Year celebration gave us an excellent opportunity to capture the rarest thing in Alberta, colour!

We’ve been really focused on high end gear and mirrorless cameras for the last couple of years since those are the products we get most excited about. We’ve checked out the Canon Rebels a few times, but never looked at an entry level Nikon DSLR. It was time to rectify that with the D3300, the first entry level camera with no low-pass filter. I was also curious how Nikon’s implementation of 1080/60P capture would look, since I never had a chance to test the D5300. For glass, we brought the new retractible kit lens and the wonderful Nikkor 85mm F1.8G.

I filmed this episode, like many other with the Sony FS700. For glass, I used the Canon 24-70 F4 IS, a lens I’m really starting to like for the impressive macro capability, also the Canon 24mm F1.4 and Zeiss 35mm F2 were used for some darker scenes inside the Chinese Cultural Centre. I used a Metabones Speed Booster to adapt the lenses. We used a Sony UWP-130 wireless lav kit to record audio. Everything was supported with a good ol’ Manfrotto 561BHDV monopod.

The shoot itself was a lot of fun, there were a huge variety of subjects, which let us really put the D3300 to the test. We have to thank the event organizers for getting us press passes, so we had a great spot to shoot the dragon dance. It was a change of pace shooting such a crowded event, more than a few retakes were required when people walked into a shot, and stared at Chris and I until they pieced together what was happening. Sound was also tricky, but putting a bit of music underneath the footage helped enormously.

I did run into a serious issue this shoot, which I discovered when editing. For the last few months, we’ve been recording our footage to an Atomos Samurai. I’ve loved the flexibility I get in post by recording the video as Prores 422. However, when importing the footage from this shoot, I found that only the first few clips had been recorded. Fortunately, I always back footage up to Sony’s FMU128 memory unit, so I still had all the clips, but with regular AVCHD compression. I was able to put together something I was reasonably happy with, but I sure missed the better codec when trying to adjust exposure and colour. I’ll keep my eyes on the external recorder more on the next shoot.

In all the excitement of the latest mirrorless cameras, it was a nice change to see how the more affordable DSLRs are performing. I was never a huge fan of Nikon’s entry-level offerings, as I found the AF inconsistent and the lack of support for older lenses to be infuriating, but with the autofocus improvements and the large collection of AF-S lenses, I’d suggest taking a good look at the Nikon line if you are considering a Canon Rebel.

Order the Nikon D3300 body only from TCS here:…

Order the D3300 kit from TCS here:…

Shot and Edited by Jordan Drake
Filmed on the Sony FS700

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Shot and Edited by Jordan Drake
Filmed on the Sony FS700