Enter the world of DSLR

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Apr 3 2014, 08:11am hrs
Picture this. I have spend a full day in a famous tiger reserve, and as I am about to leave since its getting dark, I see the king of the jungle behind some bushes. Because I dont have a clear view, because I cannot get off my jeep, and because the light is fading, all I do is hold my SLR with a raised hand, put it in the Auto mode, choose an angle, and shoot. And another. And another.

Now, because the background was a much larger area than the subject, because the tiger was rapidly disappearing into the wilderness, and because my camera was not steady, I initially feel disappointed to have missed a clear shot.

Not quite. As I check out the camera display, I find Ive got some really striking photos. One, my SLR is light enough to be operated with a single hand; two, the moving subject has been captured well; and three, low-light conditions havent proved to be much of a challenge.

I have with me the Nikon D3300. Launched at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014, this entry-level and light-weight DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) is being targeted at beginners.

For people who plan to upgrade from a compact digital camera, the Nikon D3300 comes as a breath of fresh air. It not only surprises you with the stunning images it can click, but its compact body and light weight (460 gm) ensure it is relatively easy to operate. The D3300 is equipped with a high resolution 24.2 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor without an optical low-pass filter and the latest EXPEED 4 image processing system to deliver noteworthy image and video quality. In fact, the video quality is full HD with 1080/60p support. Then, for beginners, there is an instructive Guide Mode that is quite simple to follow. The camera also comes equipped with a short minimum focusing distance.

The D3300 features 13 special effect modes and various retouch menu options. Users can also take advantage of the WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter to wirelessly control the cameras shutter, and transfer images to smartphones and tablets based on Android and iOS operating systems, designate image size and add location information to images. (But for the WU-1a adaptor one has to shell out an extra R3,880.)

As far as design is concerned, the D3300 clearly looks like an entry-level DSLR. While it is very well build, you can notice that there is an emphasis on simplicity, and there are not too many dials and buttons to confuse you. Yes, there are a few direct-access buttons for settings, but not a lot.

On the top part of the camera, close to the shutter release, there is the exposure compensation control, and then there is a button that can be customised to control a preferred function. Mention must be made of the display screen, which is bright and clear enough even in the sun. At the bottom left side of the display screen is an i button that gives you quick control over file format and image size, flash settings, ISO, white balance, autofocus mode, metering pattern, flash output power and exposure compensation.

The D3300 doesnt come with an in-camera battery charger, but there is a standard wall charger. No, you dont have to carry extra wiresthe charger is, in fact, a plug that houses the battery and that folds in when not in use. The battery life is very good and on a full charge you can click hundreds of photographs, literally.

Overall, the best things about the D3300 are its high resolution, light weight, ease of use and competitive price. In fact, if you use this camera regularly and are eager to improve, you are sure to click some great images in just a few daysthe D3300 is just the right vehicle to learn the ropes of advanced photography.

Available in black, grey and red colour optionswe prefer black for obvious reasons, although the red colour truly stands outat a body-only price of R32,450 (currently, Nikon is offering a 4GB SD card and a DSLR bag with the camera at no extra price), the D3300 is a competent and affordable option for people who want to upgrade to a DSLR.

* Estimated street price: Rs 32,450 (Body only)