• APS-C 332.3mm2
  • 24.2 megapixels
  • ISO 100 - 12,800
  • APS-C 366.6mm2
  • 24.2 megapixels
  • ISO 100 - 25,600

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Comparison Review

Canon T6i vs. Nikon D3400

The entry-level cameras from Canon and Nikon both sport a variety of useful features and offer a high-res, APS-C-sized, 24-megapixel sensor. However, the Canon T6i is significantly more expensive -- more than three hundred dollars (at the time of this write-up) -- than the Nikon D3400. If price is your major motivator, you won't need to read much further: both cameras offer excellent performance. The Canon T6i offers a few more advanced features than the Nikon D3400, but in most day-to-day shooting situations, either camera will perform very well.

Design

Both cameras offer a small and light design, with the Nikon D3400 tipping the scales more lightly at 22 ounces compared to the 27 ounces of the T6i. The D3400 achieves its lower price point by sacrificing many design perks -- most notably, a movable LCD screen that's found on the T6i. The T6i takes this one step further by offering touchscreen functionality. The resolution on these screens are comparable -- the T6i has slightly more pixels -- but not so much that you'll mistake either of them for high-resolution displays.

Further, both the D3400 and T6i are geared towards a more simplified shooting experience compared to higher-end cameras, with fewer buttons and controls -- often relying more heavily on automatic settings and menu selections. Both cameras offer a single, primary control dial; the T6i on the top behind the shutter release, and the D3400 on the rear by the thumb grip. More advanced DSLRs often provide both front and rear controls dials, which let you adjust things like aperture and shutter speed independently in manual exposure mode. Changing both aperture and shutter settings on the D3400 and T6i, in manual mode, are therefore a bit more complicated.

Shooting performance

Both cameras offer a 24-megapixel sensor, with the ability to create images of 6,000 x 4,000 pixels in JPEG and/or RAW format. The Canon T6i offers 14-bit RAW files, compared to the 12-bit RAW files of the Nikon D3400. While both companies use APS-C sensors in these cameras, they define the dimensions differently: in the Canon T6i, the sensor is physically 22.3mm by 14.9mm in size, while the Nikon D3400 sensor is 23.5mm by 15.6mm. This isn't a huge difference, but when you're packing millions of photo-sensitive pixels into this area, the bigger, the better.

This slight size advantage is backed up by the DXOMark performance for the cameras: the D3400 offers better ISO performance and a higher dynamic range. Without delving too much into the DXOMark test results, this just means that the Nikon D3400 is slightly better at providing images that don't have as much digital graininess in low-light situations (all things being equal). The D3400 is also able to more faithfully capture scenes, which have areas of both bright and dark areas.

Both cameras offer a shooting speed of five frames per second, or thereabouts, but there are a few important differences beyond that. The Canon T6i offers a much better mirror mechanism: the viewfinder blackout time is only 0.09 seconds (this is the time that you won't see anything in the viewfinder while the camera takes the photo). Compared to the 0.2 seconds of the D3400, it's not a huge difference, but it's probably enough that you'll notice it.

The number of photographs each camera can take before the buffer fills up and it has to take a break to write out the data is slightly different. The T6i can take a mere six photographs in RAW mode before its buffer is filled, whereas the D3400 can take 12. However, in JPEG shooting mode, the T6i can shoot until the cows come home, never needing a break, while the D3400 can only shoot 100 photographs before its buffer needs a break.

The T6i offers a much more advanced autofocus system than the D3400. In the T6i, there are 19 cross-type AF sensors, which provide excellent performance when focusing upon and tracking subjects. In the D3400, there is only one cross-type AF sensor (in the center) and ten regular AF sensors -- it's no slouch, though, and will probably perform satisfactorily in most situations, but Canon has just invested a bit more heavily in this area than has Nikon.

Image Quality

While both cameras offer a similar 24-megapixel resolution, Nikon has elected to go without an Optical Low-Pass Filter (OLPF) on the sensor. An OLPF has been used traditionally to soften the image slightly thereby reducing the occurrence of unsightly moiré and aliasing artifacts. The positive tradeoff by forgoing the OLPF is sharper, more detailed images, especially when the camera is used at its lower ISO settings. As ISO is increased, this sharpness is hampered by increased noise, so generally, this advantage is only present when you use lower ISO speeds.

Otherwise, both cameras offer very good image quality with excellent options for fine-tuning contrast, saturation, and hue.

Features

Of the two cameras, the Canon T6i offers better options for connectivity, including NFC (near field communication) and Wi-Fi connections, while the Nikon D3400 offers only Bluetooth. If getting your photos off your camera without a wire is important to you, the T6i will be faster in this regard. However, this comes at a cost: battery life. Bluetooth uses much less power than Wi-Fi, even if it's not as fast.

The bottom line on battery life is that you'll want to stock up on extra batteries if you're taking the Canon T6i out for the day: under standardized CIPA testing, the Canon T6i can manage approximately 440 shots on a fully-charged battery, compared to a much greater 1,200 shots with the fully-charged Nikon D3400.

The Canon T6i offers a few other advancements that aren't present in the Nikon D3400, probably reflecting its higher price point: the T6i includes a port to attach an external microphone, and its live view system offers on-sensor phase-detect autofocus (meaning, it will focus more quickly and more accurately in Live View mode, compared to the Nikon D3400). Lastly, the pop-up flash on the Canon T6i is slightly more powerful than the one found on the Nikon D3400, offering a guide number of 12 compared to the Nikon's 7.

Conclusion

Both the Canon T6i and the Nikon D3400 are extremely capable cameras, offering a wide array of features. The Nikon offers a simpler, less expensive shooting experience compared to the Canon, but in everyday situations, both cameras will get the job done admirably. The only other factor that might be worth considering is that the Nikon D3400 was introduced a bit more recently than the Canon T6i, meaning that it will probably be supported by Nikon for a bit longer, before a new model comes out to replace it.  With the Canon T6i, it has already been succeeded by the newer, and more expensive, Canon T7i.

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Differences

Canon T6i advantages over Nikon D3400

  • Tilt-swivel screen
    Tilt-swivel vs none
    Tilt and swivel the screen for maximum shooting flexibility
  • Touchscreen
    Touch vs No touch
    Interact with your camera just like your smartphone
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
    Wi-Fi vs None
    Share your photos wirelessly
  • NFC
    Yes vs No
    Simplifies pairing your camera with supported phones
  • On-sensor phase detect
    Yes vs No
    Usually improves live view and video AF performance
  • External Mic Jack
    Jack vs No jack
    Improved sound fidelity when shooting video
  • More cross-type AF points
    19 vs 1
    Cross-type AF points improve autofocus performance
  • Less shutter lag
    0.09 vs 0.20 sec
    Focus and take a photo quickly (wide angle)
  • More AF points
    19 vs 11
    More AF points improve autofocus
  • Has anti-aliasing filter
    Filter vs No Filter
    Reduces unsightly moiré in photos
  • Bigger JPEG buffer
    Unlimited vs 100 shots
    Take more JPEG shots before waiting (burst mode)

Nikon D3400 advantages over Canon T6i

  • Less expensive
    $397 vs $599
    Save money for lenses or accessories
  • Larger sensor
    APS-C vs APS-C
    More sensor area. Bigger is (generally) better.
  • Fast startup
    ~0.50 vs 0.9 sec
    Faster startup lets you catch the moment
  • Built-in Bluetooth
    Yes vs No
    Always-on wireless connectivity
  • Higher effective ISO
    1,192 vs 919 iso
    Take photos in low light with less noise
  • More dynamic range
    13.9 vs 12.0 evs
    Retain detail in highlight and shadows
  • Longer stills battery life
    More info 1200 vs 440 shots
    Capture more photos
  • Newer
    15 months vs 3 years old
    Newer cameras often support more advanced features
  • More viewfinder magnification
    0.57x vs 0.51x
    Get a bigger view of the scene through the eye-level viewfinder
  • Lacks anti-aliasing filter
    No Filter vs Filter
    Enjoy sharper photos
  • Bigger RAW buffer
    12 vs 6 shots
    Larger buffer for RAW shots (burst mode)

Similarities

Common Strengths

  • Eye-level viewfinder
    Both provide
    You'll be able to frame photos even when the sun is out
  • Internal flash
    Both provide
    Useful in a pinch for fill flash
  • HDMI out
    Both provide
    Use an external screen to monitor or review video
  • Hot shoe
    Both provide
    Off-camera flashes open new possibilities
  • Bulb shutter
    Both provide
    Hold the shutter open manually for long exposures

Common Weaknesses

  • Focus peaking
    Neither provide
    Your camera will highlight what's in focus
  • In-Camera Image Stabilization
    Neither provide
    Reduces the effects of camera shake at slower shutter speeds
  • In-camera panoramas
    Neither provide
    Stitches multiple shots into a panoramic photo
  • Built-in GPS
    Neither provide
    Geotag your photos
  • Top deck display
    Neither provide
    Check settings with a screen on top of the camera
  • Pentaprism viewfinder
    Neither provide
    Much better viewfinder picture fidelity
  • Dual card slots
    Neither provide
    Gives you more storage flexibility
  • Headphone jack
    Neither provide
    Monitor audio recording while you shoot video
  • Slow-motion videos
    Neither provide
    Shoot slow-motion videos

User reviews

The Competition

Compared to Nikon D5500

Canon T6i
Nikon D5500
  • $599
  • APS-C
  • NFC
  • On-sensor phase detect
  • $628
  • APS-C
  • Larger sensor
  • Fast startup
Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500
  • $397
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • $628
  • APS-C
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • Touchscreen

Compared to Pentax K-3 II

Canon T6i
Pentax K-3 II
  • $599
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • $829
  • APS-C
  • Focus peaking
  • Larger sensor
Nikon D3400
Pentax K-3 II
  • $397
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • Fast startup
  • $829
  • APS-C
  • Focus peaking
  • In-Camera Image Stabilization

Compared to Sony A68

Canon T6i
Sony A68
  • $599
  • APS-C
  • Lens selection
  • Less expensive
  • $598
  • APS-C
  • Focus peaking
  • Larger sensor
Nikon D3400
Sony A68
  • $397
  • APS-C
  • Lens selection
  • Less expensive
  • $598
  • APS-C
  • Focus peaking
  • In-Camera Image Stabilization

Compared to Nikon D5600

Canon T6i
Nikon D5600
  • $599
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • On-sensor phase detect
  • $647
  • APS-C
  • Larger sensor
  • Fast startup
Nikon D3400
Nikon D5600
  • $397
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • Longer stills battery life
  • $647
  • APS-C
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • Touchscreen

Compared to Canon SL2

Canon T6i
Canon SL2
  • $599
  • APS-C
  • More cross-type AF points
  • More AF points
  • $499
  • APS-C
  • Fast startup
  • Built-in Bluetooth
Nikon D3400
Canon SL2
  • $397
  • APS-C
  • Less expensive
  • Larger sensor
  • $499
  • APS-C
  • Tilt-swivel screen
  • Touchscreen

Review Excerpt

  • Highest resolution Canon APS-C camera yet; Improved dynamic range over T5i; Good high ISO performance for its class; Very fast autofocus; Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC; Touchscreen tilt/swivel LCD.

  • Shallow buffer depth with RAW files; Below average battery life; No Servo AF in Live View; No 60p video frame rate.

  • 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.

  • SnapBridge is slow and limited; Poor continuous autofocus; No built-in Wi-Fi; Mediocre video features.

Canon T6i vs Nikon D3400 Discussion

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