This review dives into a comparison of the Nikon D3300 vs Nikon D90. You may think it’s a no-brainer considering the price difference, but hang tight. The cheaper D3300 might have everything you need.
The D90 has been around since August 2008 – and that’s a good sign. It tells us it’s still a popular prosumer DSLR camera among photographers over a decade on.
Nikon launched the newer D3300 in 2014. It has also earned a good reputation, especially at the entry level. Keep reading to see which of these beauties checks your boxes. The outcome may surprise you!
Nikon D3300 Advantages
- Lighter body
- Twice the number of sensor pixels
- Higher video resolution
- External mic port
- Newer Digital-SLR by Nikon
- Budget-friendly camera
Nikon’s D3300 body is lighter than the D90 by 273 grams or 39%. Any photographer who carries equipment around for long periods knows the importance of keeping things as light as possible.
At 24MP the newer D3300 has double the max sensor resolution of the older Nikon. It simply means there are 100% more megapixels compared to the D90’s 12MP.
The D3300 has a max video resolution of 1920 x 1080 vs the D90’s 1280 x 720. The higher resolution video affords larger file sizes and better opportunities for file management and video editing.
Many photographers today like to exploit the audio-visual functions of modern DSLRs. The external mic port provides a simple solution for recording high-quality audio using an external microphone.
Technology changes fast. In the life of a camera, the D90’s a middle-aged adult and D3300’s a mere teenager. Arriving 5 years and 4 months later means it has some definite technological advantages.
This is a budget-friendly and user-friendly DSLR with a great reputation to boot. It’s also a good backup camera for prosumers and semi-pros, and an affordable quality product for keen amateurs.
A few other advantages include the 300% higher max ISO and a slightly faster continuous shooting mode. Compared to the D90, the D3300 also has a higher dynamic range and better color depth.
There are some notable differences between these two Nikon cameras, but we’re not done just yet. Take a moment to read the D3300’s disadvantages below and my candid review on the D90.
Nikon D3300 Disadvantages
- No in-body image stabilization
- Doesn’t have AE Bracketing
- No AF Motor in body
- No environmental sealing
- Too many buttons
Which is better, in-body image stabilization vs lens? It’s a good question, and the answer you get depends on who you ask. The D3300 doesn’t have built-in stabilization but it’s not a major setback.
There are around 88 lenses available for Nikon’s F mount that sport optical image stabilization or OIS. These are all capable Nikon lenses that do a good job of stabilizing.
Our D3300 doesn’t have AE Bracketing (AEB). It would be a useful feature for challenging light conditions and to help produce perfect shots with the best dynamic range or HDR.
Alas, there’s no autofocus option for Nikon lenses as there’s no AF motor in this camera’s body. If autofocus is an important feature for you then consider the D90 instead.
All-weather photographers don’t need the hassle of ducking and diving between raindrops. The lack of environmental sealing makes this camera unsuitable for harsh outdoor conditions.
My final gripe is the overly cluttered body of an otherwise user-friendly DSLR. Too many controls and buttons on an entry-level product can prove detrimental. You may love them, though.
Nikon D90 Advantages
- Better flash coverage
- Larger pixel area
- Top mounted LCD panel
- Built-in AF motor
- AE bracketing
- Longer battery life
There comes a time when all photographers need some artificial lighting. The advantage of the Nikon D90 is that is has a 5m longer range than the D3300. In this case, that’s 17m vs 12m.
The D90’s 99% larger sensor pixel area is another significant benefit. The advantage of this is more surface area to accommodate larger pixels. For the D90, it’s 30.54µm2 to the D3300’s 15.28µm2.
Viewing and changing various settings is a lot easier with a top mounted LCD panel. It’s a convenience feature and therefore contributes to the pleasure side of photography.
The built-in AF motor is a major upgrade on the D3300 which doesn’t have it (not sure why). Knowing you can autofocus with all Nikon native lenses is one less thing to concern yourself with.
Another useful feature is the AE bracketing or AEB. With AEB on, the D90 automatically takes three or more shots at varying exposures. It’s a simple yet smart way to ensure you get the perfect image.
Bracketing exposures is not a feature with the cheaper Nikon D3300. You’ll want to seriously consider the D90 if you need an easy option to take multiple shots at different settings.
Nikon’s D90 beats the D3300 on battery life too. This typically translates to frames per charge. You can expect 850 shots which give around 150 additional frames per single charge over the D3300.
This camera’s optical viewfinder is also slightly more accurate than the D3300. It’s a pentaprism viewfinder too, which is generally brighter than the pentamirror type found on the cheaper Nikon.
Nikon D90 Disadvantages
- No microphone port
- Doesn’t have an articulating screen
- Heavy body
- No built-in WiFi or Bluetooth
- Higher price tag
You might think a prosumer level DSLR like the D90 would have an external mic port—it doesn’t! This makes it less appealing for people who rely on a simple high-quality audio option for their video shoots, like vloggers.
Most photographers love an articulating screen but the D90 doesn’t have that either. The beauty of tilting LCD screens is that they let you shoot from flexible viewing angles—without the guesswork.
Photographic equipment can be heavy to lug around. It’s why camera manufacturers make such hoo-ha when they lighten things up. Alas, at 703g the D90 has a body that’s 273g heavier than our D3300.
With no built-in WiFi or Bluetooth, connectivity options are restricted. To some users these things are novelties. To others, they form an essential part of their photographic prerequisites.
The cost of a new Nikon D90 is worth every penny, in my opinion. Yet cameras are different for good reasons—each one designed to meet the needs of specific users.
Nikon’s D90 is one of the best cameras available at the prosumer level. The key selling points — for me — are its longer battery life, built-in AF motor, and AE bracketing.
The winner, though, has to be the Nikon D3300 for no other reason than it has more of what I want (see review). This includes slightly better image quality, extra features, lighter body, and added value.Back to Top