Handholding the Nikon D3300: How Low Can You Go?

By Julie Adair King

People often ask how slow they can set the shutter speed on their Nikon D3300 and still handhold the camera rather than use a tripod. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

The slow-shutter safety limit varies depending on a couple factors, including your physical abilities and your lens — the heavier the lens, the harder it is to hold steady. Camera shake also affects your picture more when you shoot with a lens that has a long focal length. You may be able to use a slower shutter speed with a 55mm lens than with a 200mm lens, for example.

A standard photography rule is to use the inverse of the lens focal length as the minimum handheld shutter speed. For example, with a 50mm lens, use a shutter speed no slower than 1/50 second. That rule was developed before the advent of today’s modern lenses, though, which tend to be significantly lighter and smaller than older lenses, as do cameras themselves.

For example, a very light, superzoom lens can be handheld at speeds as low as 1/80 second even when zoomed to focal lengths way beyond 80mm. The best idea is to do your own tests to see where your handholding limit lies. Select the picture-playback mode that enables you to see the shutter speed you used for each picture.

If your lens offers Vibration Reduction, turning on that feature can compensate for small amounts of camera shake. See the lens manual to find out whether your lens offers this feature and, if so, how to enable it. (On the D3300 kit lens, just set the VR switch on the lens to the On position.)