There are two key factors which I look for in a good budget DSLR which is great for budding beginner photographers. First of all, I would look for a camera which is below $500, as this is what I would deem to be in the ‘budget range’ for those who don’t want to spend too much on a DSLR camera. Obviously, the cheaper the camera is, the better. But, we still want to have a camera which offers great specifications and is built with a beginner in mind.
Secondly, I would look for a camera which is relatively straightforward to use. Something which I could pick up straight away, and quickly learn how to use it, efficiently and effectively. I am not the type of person to sit and read through the manual of a product for hours before I use it. Therefore, I look for something which takes common sense to use, or can be quickly researched online.
The main focus of this review is going to be the Nikon D3300, as well is the direct Nikon ‘competitors’ for the crown of the best beginner DSLR. Below you can see a comparison of all the DSLR cameras mentioned in this article, comparing all the specifications, as well as providing a link to the best price online to purchase the product.
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Nikon D3300 vs Nikon D5300
The Nikon D3300 is the lowest entry-level DSLR in Nikon’s range right now, while the Nikon D5300 is arguably the top tier in the beginner range. However, the main argument here is whether or not it is worth spending a bit more cash in order to get a few extra features that are present in the Nikon D5300.
If you’re not fixed on getting a Nikon, I’ve broken down what I believe to be the best DSLR for beginners in an article here.
The Nikon D3300 and D5300 are both incredibly similar, which can make this decision difficult. First of all, their sensors are both practically the same. As well as the image processing which is the same. However, the image processing on these two cameras is the same as is used on Nikon’s higher end DSLR cameras. In addition to what has been mentioned so far, the ISO range on the cameras are the same too! So, you’re probably thinking that the Nikon D3300 is the obvious choice, as it is significantly cheaper. However, there are some differences, I promise.
The Nikon D5300 has better auto-focus than the D3300. This would be useful if you plan to take sports photos, or photographs of large groups of people, as there are more auto-focus points. The D5300 has a 39-point auto-focus system, compared to the D3300’s 11-point system. On paper, this may seem like quite a significant difference. However, in reality, it is unlikely going to make a noticeable difference to you as a beginner. This really isn’t a deal breaker for a beginner. Especially when you consider how much cheaper the D3300 is in comparison to the D5300.
The main difference between these two cameras is that the rear screen on the Nikon D5300 can swivel and be viewed at alternative angles, while the D3300 has a fixed rear screen. Also, the D3300 does not have any wireless capabilities to transfer your images. However, if this is the only key factor, you may look towards the D3400, which does have bluetooth connectivity, but is still significantly cheaper than the D5300.
Overall, unless the limited benefits of the D5300 are significant enough, I would choose the D3300. Then, if you really want the wireless connectivity, I would choose the D3400, which I will discuss below.
Nikon D3300 vs Nikon D3400
As stated above, I would recommend the D3400 if wireless connectivity is a significant factor for you. If you thought the D5300 and the D3300 were similar, then the D3400 is even more similar. As a general statement, the two cameras are the same, with some slightly different extras. Therefore, neither camera is better, it is just a case of which is best for what you need it for.
As mentioned, the D3400 has the wireless connectivity factor. However, it also has a weaker flash, and it loses the external microphone jack connectivity of the D3300. Then again, because of the slightly weaker flash, the battery life of the D3400 is far superior to that of the D3300.
I’ve argued in articles before that I believe for my uses, the D3400 is better, but if you plan to make a lot of video, I would go with the D3300. There’s no doubt that these two cameras are at the pinnacle for the best value beginner DSLR cameras on the market right now. Realistically, you’re not going to be disappointed with either choice. The D3300 is slightly cheaper, as it is the older camera, which may sway your decision. I would be interested to hear whether you think the extras that the D3400 offers is worth the extra $50 or not. Let me know in the comment section at the bottom of the page.
Nikon D90 vs Nikon D3300
The D90 is now discontinued, which means you cannot get it brand new anymore. However, Amazon has the D90 as an option used. This means that you can get an incredibly low price for the Nikon D90, which may make it the perfect low-budget DSLR for you.
The D90 is older than the D3300, however, in terms of specs, it definitely isn’t worse. In fact, it isn’t hard to argue that if you get a good second hand deal, that the D90 would be a better choice than the D3300.
The downside to the fact you can only buy the D90 used, is that you won’t have the same warranty and protection. I personally would prefer the protection of warranty. Especially for if I was a beginner, as my knowledge on DSLRs was limited. However, if you were to get a good used deal, it would be hard to turn it down.
Is the Nikon D3300 the Best Budget Beginner DSLR?
To quickly conclude on everything I’ve discussed in this article. The simple answer is, only you know the answer. Whether or not the D3300 is the best budget beginner DSLR depends entirely on what you plan to use it for, and the required specs you need. As I stated, for my needs, the D3400 was the better overall package. However, you may feel as though the swivel screen on the D5300 is essential, and therefore that would be the best option.
I would look at the comparison chart at the top of this page, and decide which camera suits your needs best. If you have any further questions, I’m happy to help answer them below.
Below are a couple of image examples of what the Nikon D3300 is capable of producing.