Nikon D3400 Camera is the latest upgrade version of the entry level camera from Nikon. The performance has been slightly improved from its predecessor, D3300 but it still maintains its target as an easy-to-use camera for first-timer of DSLR. With the guide function, the user will take a shorter time to be familiar with camera’s functions. Nikon D3400 camera also comes with Bluetooth technology for transferring images to your smart devices or cloud memory through the mobile application “SnapBridge”. This application is available for both IOS and Android operating system. You may even choose to automatically transfer images without turning on the camera.
Key Features of Nikon D3400 Camera
- 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- The latest EXPEED4 processor
- 11-point phase detect auto-focus system with Multi-Cam 1000
- 420 Pixel RGB metering sensor
- Full HD 1080p/60fp video recording
- 3” with 921k pixel LCD screen
- Additional Effect mode creating a variety of effects on images
- 5 fps burst shooting speed
- Guide menu navigation system makes easier to use the camera
- Built-in Bluetooth function
- Images transfer through SnapBridge application
Specification and Design
Like its predecessor, Nikon D3400 camera still uses APS-C (23.5×15.6 mm) DX format sensor with a high resolution of 24.2 MP. Unlike other entry level DSLR or compact camera, Nikon has removed the optical low pass filter from the camera. Nikon claims that it substantially improves the resolution of the image and can work with ISO sensitivity range of ISO 100 – 25,600. The camera comes with the latest EXPEED 4 processor that greatly increase the overall performance of the camera and improves the image’s quality. It also helps reducing noise when taking the image at high ISO sensitively. The ISO sensitivity can be set from 100 to 25,600. With fast processing speed, Nikon D3400 camera can be shot at 5 fps burst shooting speed.
The 11-point phase detect autofocus system with Multi-Cam 1000 sensor works very well even with a kit lens ( the new AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 VR ). The sensor covers almost the entire frame both vertically and horizontally. The focus area can be selected either as a single-point or multiple-point focus with the single cross-type point of the array. Simply move 4-way controller on the rear of the camera up-down or left-right and select your desired focus point. You may also let the 11-point phase detect autofocus do the job for general photography which does not require any particular focus point.
Nikon D3400 camera retains the same look and feels as its predecessor. It has only single menu selector pad on the rear side which you can access to all operation menus including the shooting mode. Alternatively, you may use the i button on the lower left corner next to the screen to adjust your setting without opening the main menu. This function really gives a quick set-up and is easy to use.
The Fn button on the front side is used as a shortcut to quickly access some functions such as ISO sensitivity, white balance, and Active-D Lighting. Above the Fn button is the button to pop up the built-in flash and it is also used to adjust exposure compensation.
Nikon D3400 camera has equipped with USB and HDMI ports for viewing images and video records on any HDTV. The transfer rate is up to the standard with crisp, clear picture and sound. The SD card slot is compatible with SD, SDHC, and SDXC types. On the top of the camera body, you will find a large mode dial which you can switch from full Auto to P (Program), A (Aperture), S (Shutter speed), and M (Manual). The video record button marked with a red dot is up above the mode dial. Next is the info button for viewing display information on the screen. The last one is the exposure compensation button.
Besides the professional mode (Auto, P, A, S, and M), Nikon D3400 camera has offered various ready-to-use shooting modes such as portrait, children, scenery, close-up. These modes are designed to capture the photo by simply rotating the mode dial to desired shooting format and take the shot. The camera will handle all settings automatically. Nikon D3400 camera also has the Effect mode for creating special images such as Night vision, Silhouette, Photo Illustrations, and selective color. You can utilize the Effect mode by rotating the mode dial to EFFECTS and then moving 4 Way controller pad to select the desired effect.
In Selective Color effect, you can select 3 different colors at the same time and adjust the level of color contrast from 1 to 3 level. First, you rotate the mode dial to Selective Color mode, then select Live View to bring up color recording mode. The camera will display a color window at the top of the screen with the rectangular frame in the center of the image frame. Then you align the rectangle frame with the desired color and press 4-way controller to save. To repeat the same process, you may move 4-way controller to the next target and record. The camera will retain those selective colors and turn a non-selective color to black and white. You can also press the zoom button to enlarge the color area for more accurate color recording.
The first-time user of DSLR may rely on various auto modes and still comes up with decent quality images. For those who already have a solid ground of photography may endeavor the advanced shooting modes. The camera in Program mode (P) automatically adjusts both shutter speed and aperture but you may rotate the control key to change the value. The shutter speed mode (S) allows you to control the shutter speed while the camera automatically adjusts the aperture. However, you can use the exposure compensation button to make the image lighter or darker than the recommended exposure.
On the contrary, the aperture mode (A) allows you to adjust the aperture’s value while the camera automatically controls the shutter speed. You can still use the exposure compensation button to alter the image’s exposure level. In manual mode (M), you have to manually adjust both shutter speed and aperture. Additionally, you may have to adjust other functions such as sensitivity, white balance, exposure compensation, or image control as needed. Like other mid-range cameras, Nikon D3400 has a single rear dial. You will spin it left or right to adjust the shutter speed in the manual mode. To adjust the aperture, you must press and hold the exposure compensation button (+/-). Then, spin a rear dial to adjust the aperture value.
You may use the i button to adjust all of the settings on the screen. Normally, the photographer needs to work with the camera setting almost everytime when switching to the new shooting mode. The i button comes in handy because it helps you to speed up the settings. By pressing the i button, the camera will pop up various control icons. Then press the i button again to highlight the menus with a yellow bar. Use the 4-way controller to select the menu you want to adjust and press OK to enter the submenus. Use 4-way controller again to set the value and press OK button to confirm the setting.
Nikon D3400 camera can transfer images to various smart devices like any other digital cameras in the market. It will connect to a smart device with Bluetooth function via the SnapBridge application. It uses always-on Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) technology to sync images with your smart devices either a smartphone or a tablet. Furthermore, you may opt to transfer images to cloud storage via Nikon image space as well. Finally, you can also record the coordinate of each image for further reference on the information and a particular location.
Performance and Image Quality
Let start from noise testing. The Nikon D3400 camera can automatically adjust the ISO sensitivity from 100 – 25,600. Thanks to the power of new processing chip EXPEED 4 which bring us lower noise level even though the image is taken in high sensitivity ISO level. It is quite impressive with entry-level DSLR like Nikon D3400 camera. The camera did a fine job with ISO range from 100 to 3,200. We will find more noise when the ISO level is pushed up to 6,400 level but the color hasn’t yet become distorted.
However, the noise becomes clearly visible when we move the ISO to 12,800 level. The image quality is still acceptable for posting on the social media like Facebook. The color of the image has begun to distort with the ISO12,800 level. Please also note that a single 24 MP JPEG format requires 14 MB of memory storage while a single 24 MP RAW format takes up to 24 MB of memory storage.
We move next to test its performance. We started our first shot at ISO 6,400 level and was amazed that the entry-level camera like Nikon D3400 could deliver us a fine quality image with less noise at any exposure conditions. Thanks to new processing chip and AF-P kit lens with faster and more accurate autofocus system as well as the improved VR (Vibration Reduction).
Nikon D3400’s metering system works much better than the D610 which is powered by EXPEED 3 and the image quality is on par with middle and high-end models.
The 5 fps burst shooting speed is considered sufficient for entry level DSLR user. The camera is relatively light in weight and is easy to carry around. The camera grip has been redesigned for a better grip than its predecessor, Nikon D3300. It is best suit for street photography that requires light weight, easy-to-carry camera while walking on the street and it is less noticeable to the people around.
Since Nikon D3400 camera is a relatively small in size, some features have been omitted. You may find that it is a bit awkward to operate the camera in manual mode because of the absence of some assisted buttons. The remote-photography is not available because of the lack of built-in Wi-Fi.
The focus speed in Live View mode is pretty much slower comparing to that of the optical viewfinder. Video recording mode doesn’t get any improvement from the previous models but you still can take HD video at 1080p/60 fps. As mentioned earlier, Nikon’s weakness is the autofocus speed in Live View mode which is much slower than that of the optical viewfinder even with the new AF-P kit lens. The Vibration Reduction system is up to the standard.
Nikon D3400 camera comes with longer-lasting battery life than its previous models and capable of shooting up to 1,200 shots for a single charge.
The Bottom Line
- Small in size – easy to carry, light weight, better grip.
- Longer battery life.
- Built-in Bluetooth with SnapBridge compatible.
- Great image quality both in JPEG and RAW.
- Enhanced EXPEED 4 processor greatly increases the overall performance of the camera.
- The ideal camera for entry-level DSLR user.
- Improved Autofocus system even in the dark condition.
- Lack of built-in WI-FI and 3.5 mm microphone port.
- Slow autofocus in Live View mode.
- Low screen resolution.