The D3300 is quick to start up and start shooting, provided the kit lens is in its expanded state. The camera overall is very responsive. Button presses activate their corresponding menus quickly, and those settings that can be changed via the rear command wheel can be accessed in a flash. We've already lodged our complaints about not being able to use the rear dial to navigate quick menus, but that's another conversation. At default settings, playback mode uses a slideshow-style transition when scrolling through images that will annoy impatient types (like us). This is easily turned off in the playback menu (playback display options > transition effects 'off')

Auto focus is pretty quick in good light with the kit lens, slowing down a bit in darker conditions, but never unreasonably slow for its class. All-out focus failures were rare, though in less-than-ideal light, using the focus points toward the center turned in more consistently sharp photos. Direct access to AF point is a handy feature indeed, so when conditions challenge the D3300's 11-point auto focus system, it's easy to take control and in get your subject in focus.

An important distinction to make here, however, is that auto focus is good with viewfinder shooting. Nikon's live view auto focus continues to lag well behind the mirrorless competition. It's usable, if a bit annoying, for static subjects and portraits, but struggles to keep up with moving subjects. Those stepping up from compact cameras looking for a live view experience similar to what they're familiar with should look seriously at the D3300's mirrorless rivals.

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

Nikon claims a top burst speed of 5 fps at full resolution for the D3300, an extra frame per second over the preceding model. The good news is that the camera consistently hit this framerate in each compression mode we tested. The bad news is that it only maintains that speed for 5 or 6 frames. There was a not-insignificant delay while images wrote to the card too, in testing. In all modes it took about 10 seconds for a longer burst of images to write to the card, though only a few seconds when shooting only to the point that the buffer fills. You're not blocked from camera menus or shooting while this is going on though, so there's no significant 'lockout' time after a long string of burst shooting.

Continuous AF is available with viewfinder continuous shooting, but there's a momentary pause as the camera re-acquires focus on a new subject mid-burst. Continuous shooting is also available in live view - focus is fixed from the first frame, though exposure isn't. There's a blackout period of about 4 seconds after a burst in live view mode.

Raw+ Fine JPEG
Burst shooting
5.0 fps (5 frames) 5.0 fps (~6 frames) 5.0 fps (~6 frames)

Battery Life

The D3300 ships with Nikon's EN-EL14a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, providing a CIPA-rated life of 700 shots per charge. That's head and shoulders above the Canon T5's estimated 440 shots and the Pentax K-50's 410 shots (and miles ahead of the 300-odd images most of its mirrorless rivals will produce, thanks to their need to use their rear screens). In testing this proved to be a realistic figure, fielding a long day of shooting without a problem and only needing a recharge with moderate use every couple of days. An MH-24 charger is bundled with the camera, charging a depleted camera in under two hours.