Nikon D3400 Review
|Full model name:||Nikon D3400|
(23.5mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||Optical / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in.
(124 x 98 x 76 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Nikon D3400 specifications|
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The Nikon D3400 combines great image quality from its 24-megapixel APS-C sensor with a user-friendly design and good, reliable performance across the board. Some of its capabilities may be lacking, particularly with regard to continuous autofocus, video and its new SnapBridge support, but compared to its peers, the D3400 still proves to be an excellent entry-level DSLR at a great price.Pros
Compact DSLR camera body; Excellent image quality; Reliable single-shot autofocus; Good continuous JPEG shooting performance; New kit lens has improved AF; Great value at current prices.Cons
SnapBridge is slow and limited; Poor continuous autofocus; No built-in Wi-Fi; Mediocre video features.Price and availability
The Nikon D3400 is currently available in black or red in a kit with the new AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens for around US$500, about $150 less than when first introduced. A dual-lens kit which adds the unstabilized AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens currently sells for only around US$500, about $500 less than first announced!Imaging Resource rating
4.5 out of 5.0
Nikon D3400 Review
by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 08/17/2016
09/14/2016: First Shots posted
10/24/2016: Field Test posted
11/11/2016: Performance test results posted
12/09/2016: Image Quality Comparison and Print Quality posted
12/22/2016: Conclusion posted and review finalized
"Compact yet powerful" is how Nikon describes their new entry-level DSLR, the Nikon D3400. Equipped with always-on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), the D3400 is always ready to help you share your memories. While aimed at new DSLR users and budding photographers, Nikon hopes that the D3400 will be able to help users grow through the use of its Guide Mode. What other features and performance does this budget-friendly DSLR offer? Let's find out!
Nikon D3400 continues to offer 24 megapixels, EXPEED 4 processor
The Nikon D3400's imaging performance starts with its 24.2-megapixel APS-C (DX-format) CMOS sensor, likely a tweaked version of the sensor used by its predecessor. Image processing is handled by the Nikon EXPEED 4 processor (also seen in the D3400's predecessor as well as numerous other more expensive models in Nikon's lineup, including the D810 and D750). Native ISO sensitivity range is now 100 to 25,600 (the D3300 offered the same overall sensitivity range, but you needed to use an expanded ISO above 12,800).
Nikon did not make note of any changes to the camera's imaging pipeline compared to the D3300, so we expected image quality to be identical, however we were pleasantly surprised that dynamic range has improved. The sensor otherwise performs on par with the D3300's which is to say very well, however Nikon's default JPEG processing has also changed, mostly for the better. Visit our Image Quality Comparison page for see how the D3400 stacks up against its predecessor and a few competitors.
Still compact, but the D3400 body has undergone a few changes
Save for the shutter release button changing from silver to black, you'd be hard-pressed to point out many differences between the Nikon D3400 and the D3300 it succeeds. Both cameras share the same button layout, single command dial set-up, lack of a top info screen and a 3-inch non-tilting 921k-dot TFT-LCD rear display. The Nikon D3400 is a small DSLR (hence the lack of top display), with the exact same compact dimensions as its predecessor, but it weighs a bit less at 13.9 ounces (395 grams) for the body only, compared to 14.5 ounces (410 grams) for the D3300.
Given its similarity, our thoughts on the Nikon D3400's body essentially mirrored the ones we had about the D3300, which is to say that it offers solid build quality but limited external controls. Aimed at new DSLR users, it's understandable that the external controls are minimal, but more advanced users may wish that Nikon had made some changes for the D3400, including a second command dial and maybe an additional function button or two.
There are a few differences between the D3300 and D3400 worth pointing out. Unlike its predecessor, the Nikon D3400 does not include a built-in ultrasonic sensor cleaning system, however it still supports Nikon's Image Dust Off Reference Photo feature for software removal of dust spots, and mirror lock-up is still provided for manual sensor cleaning. The Nikon D3300's external stereo microphone jack and accessory terminal have been removed as well.
Like its predecessor, the D3400's shutter offers a top shutter speed of 1/4000s and a max flash sync of 1/200s. The pentamirror viewfinder provides the same 95% frame coverage and 0.85x magnification according to Nikon.
Nikon SnapBridge comes to Nikon's new entry-level DSLR
One of the defining characteristics of the Nikon D3400 is its connectivity features. Unlike the D3300, the D3400 includes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) functionality, which allows it to be always connected with Nikon SnapBridge on your smartphone. When connected, the camera can sync all of the images you capture with your compatible smart device and automatically transfer photos, or selected photos, to your Nikon Image Space, which is the company's free online image sharing and storage service. Unlike the SnapBridge-compatible Nikon D500, the D3400 cannot be controlled remotely using the SnapBridge application. However, the camera can still be remotely triggered via an optional ML-L3 infrared remote.
Note: Nikon SnapBridge support was originally only available for the Android version of the app, but iOS support has since been added in Nikon D3400 firmware v1.1.
11-point autofocus system and 420-pixel RGB metering sensor
Autofocus is still provided by Nikon's Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor with TTL phase detection (the same as the one found in the D3300) and has a rated effective detection range of -1 to 19 EV. The 11-point autofocus sensor includes 3D-Tracking and single point autofocus. The sensor includes a single cross-type AF point. When shooting in Live View, which uses contrast-detect AF across the frame, the camera also offers Face-Priority autofocus.
Metering is accomplished through the use of a 3D color matrix metering II 420-pixel RGB sensor. Metering modes include matrix, center-weighted (weight of 75% given to an approximately 8mm circle in the center of the frame) and spot metering (3.5mm circle which is centered on the selected focus point). The metering range is 0 to 20 EV for matrix and center-weighted modes and 2 to 20 EV for spot metering. Exposure compensation of up to +/-5 EV is available. Like the D3300, no AE bracketing is available on the Nikon D3400.
EXPEED 4-powered D3400 offers same burst speed as predecessor
Given that the Nikon D3400 has a very similar sensor and the same processor as the camera it is replacing, it is unsurprising that its top continuous shooting speed rating has held steady at 5 frames per second for both JPEG and RAW files. Buffer depths when shooting JPEGs is a very generous 100 frames, however when shooting RAW or RAW+JPEG files, buffer depths fall dramatically to 12 and 6 frames respectively. That's still good for an entry-level DSLR, though, and an improvement over the D3300's 7 and 5 frames respectively. RAW shooting is limited to 12-bit compressed NEF files as with the D3300. See our Performance test results for details.
Fewer special effects, but still offers Nikon's helpful "Guide Mode"
The Nikon D3400's mode dial still provides quick access to Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority and Manual exposure modes in addition to Guide Mode, Auto, Auto Flash Off, Scene modes (Child, Close-up, Landscape, Night Portrait, Portrait, Sports) and Special Effects. The latter provides access to Night Vision, Super Vivid, Pop, Photo Illustration, Toy Camera Effect, Miniature Effect, Selective Color, Silhouette, High Key and Low Key as offered on the D3300, however Color Sketch, HDR Painting and Easy Panorama modes are no longer available.
For those not familiar, Nikon's Guide Mode is an “intuitive and informative” shooting mode that helps the user select the best settings for a given situation. As the name suggests, the camera guides the user through various settings with examples to help them understand what makes it a good option for the shooting scenario. In addition to shooting, there are also guides for retouching photos, viewing and deleting photos, and general setup of the camera.
Nikon D3400 doesn't offer 4K video, mic input removed
Capable of recording 1080p resolution video at up to 60 frames per second, the D3400 shares its video capture specs with the D3300. Video files are recorded in MOV file format with H.264/MPEG-4 advanced video coding. When recording at highest quality, the maximum clip length is 20 minutes. At normal quality you can record up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds of continuous video.
On the camera body side of things, the Nikon D3400 has a movie record button placed on the top of the camera next to the shutter release that allows you to start and stop video recording in any mode. (There's no dedicated movie shooting mode on the camera's mode dial.) The built-in microphone has adjustable sensitivity, but it's still monaural rather than stereo which is a bit disappointing given the D3300's external stereo microphone jack has been removed.
Improved battery life, fewer connections
Powered by the same EL-EL14a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, the Nikon D3400 can capture up to a whopping 1,200 shots per charge (CIPA rated), which is a marked improvement over the already generous 700 shots the D3300 was capable of with the same battery. Part of the improvement comes courtesy of a weaker built-in flash, though. The D3300's flash was rated with a Guide Number of 12m / 39 ft (ISO 100), while the D3400's GN is only 7m / 22 ft.
The camera records to an SD/SDHC/SDXC card with UHS-I support via a single SD-card slot, and includes High-Speed USB 2.0 and HDMI Type-C ports. As mentioned above, now gone are external mic and accessory ports, and composite A/V output has also been dropped.
New optics announced with D3400, including new AF-P 70-300mm
Alongside the D3400 DSLR, Nikon announced a handful of new lenses. Technically the pair of AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lenses -- one with VR (Vibration Reduction) and one without -- were announced back in January at CES 2016, but Nikon took the opportunity to call attention to them again as the D3400 is sold in the US with the stepping motor-equipped AF-P 18-55mm VR kit lens.
The AF-P designation means that these lenses are designed to provide faster autofocus and smoother focus performance when in Live View. The focus is also "whisper quiet," lending itself nicely to video recording. And indeed, our testing has confirmed these claims are true. If purchased separately, the non-VR lens has an SRP of about US$200 and the VR version adds $50, bringing the SRP to about US$250.
Nikon notes that because AF-P lenses incorporate a stepping motor, the number of compatible cameras is limited. And even for compatible cameras, a firmware update may be required. The Nikon D3400 is however compatible with AF-P lenses straight out of the box.
Not previously announced, Nikon also introduced two new AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED telephoto zoom lenses, again one with VR and one without. Thanks to its smaller APS-C (DX) image circle and slightly slower maximum aperture of f/6.3 at the tele end, the lens has been reduced in size and weight compared to Nikon's AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens, shedding over ten ounces, 0.3 inches of diameter and nearly an inch of length. If you want the VR version, it'll cost you around US$400. For $50 less, you can get the new optic without VR capabilities.
Nikon D3400 Field Test
No major changes, yet still a great entry-level DSLR
Currently available at a street price of about US$500 with the new AF-P 18-55mm kit lens (list price at launch was US$650), the Nikon D3400 represents an excellent value for photographers looking to get their feet wet with an interchangeable lens DSLR. With the D3400, Nikon has mostly stayed with what has worked -- and what didn't -- in its entry-level DSLR offering. In most ways, the D3400 is identical to its predecessor, the D3300. The D3400 interestingly represents a downgrade in a few notable areas compared to the D3300 and brings little new to the table.
The Nikon D3400 looks essentially identical to the D3300, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's a rather unremarkable camera body. Its grip is surprisingly large for what is otherwise a compact camera body and this helps make the D3400 comfortable to hold. It is small by DSLR standards, but not at the cost of comfort. However, there are some consequences associated with the small stature, such as the lack of a top display -- which is typical for the class -- and a single-dial control scheme. I am a huge proponent of twin command dials on cameras. Having quick, reliable access to both shutter speed and aperture, in addition to making other adjustments quickly, is a necessity on a more advanced camera body.
Nikon D3400 Image Quality Comparison
See how the D3400's IQ stacks up against competing models
Here we present crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Nikon D3400 image quality to its predecessor, the D3300, as well as against several competing entry-level interchangeable lens models at similar price points: the Canon T6, Panasonic G7, Pentax K-S2 and Sony A6000. While we wouldn't call the Sony A6000 "entry-level," at the time of writing, it was available for about the same price as the Nikon D3400, so we decided to include it in this comparison.
NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera.
Nikon D3400 Print Quality Analysis
Find out how large you can print at each ISO!
Print quality and image quality are similar but not identical, because what you see on a print isn't always the same as what you see on the screen. Our print quality analysis answers the important question: "Just how big can I print my photos at higher ISOs?"
The Nikon D3400 certainly delivers in the print quality department, and when you consider its sub-$500 street price, it jockeys to be the best all-around print camera as ISO rises for that price point. Starting with a large 30 x 40 inch print at base ISO, providing a solid 13 x 19 at ISO 1600, and still delivering a usable print all the way up to ISO 25,600, we'd say this is a very worthy camera for image quality at this price. Topping the already good D3300 for print sizes at a few ISOs, the D3400 furthers what we loved about its predecessor. Indeed, you are in good hands for printing with the Nikon D3400.
Nikon D3400 Conclusion
Excellent image quality from a good entry-level DSLR
New entry-level DSLRs rarely represent substantial upgrades over their predecessors and the Nikon D3400 is no different in that regard. However, the D3400 is a very capable camera and is well-suited for new photographers, not only because of its user-friendly design and strong performance, but also because it is an excellent value with kits currently selling for under US$500.
As an entry-level, compact DSLR, the D3400 should be easy to use, yet still offer plenty of control over critical camera settings. The Nikon D3400 strikes the balance quite well, offering a simple user interface and control scheme while still allowing users to comfortably operate the camera in various manual modes.
The Nikon D3400 is compact for a DSLR, weighing in at 13.9 ounces (395 grams) body-only with dimensions of 4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 inches (124 x 98 x 76 millimeters). It does weigh slightly less than the Nikon D3300 and part of the reason why is because the D3400 doesn' t have the built-in sensor cleaning system that its predecessor did.
In the Box
The Nikon D3400 retail kit w/ AF-P 18-55mm lens (as reviewed) contains the following items:
- Nikon D3400 DSLR Camera Body
- AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens
- EN-EL14a Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery for Select Nikon Cameras
- MH-24 Quick Charger for EN-EL14 Battery
- UC-E17 USB Cable
- BF-1B Body Cap
- DK-25 Rubber Eyecup
- AN-DC3 Strap
- Warranty cards
- Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. 16GB Class 10 should be a minimum, UHS-I compliant card recommended.
- Extra EN-EL14a Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
- Nikon Speedlight external flash
- Small or medium-sized DSLR bag
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