The D3400 is the latest entry-level product line from Nikon. Nikon D3400 is a camera that boast of minimalist design with all poly-carbonate construction, small size and low weight which is around 445g. The D3400 is target to the amateur photographers who are thinking to buy their first DSLR to take the advantage of interchangeable lenses. Being said that, it comes with 24.2 Megapixels under DX-Format APS-C sensor support. This sensor specification is more or less common to all entry-level cameras now-a-days.
Let me start with a pro, the first thing that comes into my mind is that it has no anti-aliasing filter that its predecessor D3300 had, which helps the successor D3400 to take better and crisp images with lot more details stored into it. Additionally, Nikon has incorporated its famous Expeed 4 processing engine under the hood which is capable of taking burst shot up to 5 fps and can capture Full HD (1080p) videos up to 60 fps with auto-focus.
This entry-level camera D3400 supports 11 Point AF system along with single cross-type point in the center array, which means you have to struggle a bit while taking images of landscapes under low lighting condition or a fast moving object. Considering the fact that this model is tossed at the amateurs, the AF system used in this camera can be considered.
Another point worth mentioning is that it has maximum sensitivity down to -1 EV, which means if you are thing to use this device for HDR Photography (i.e. capturing the same shot under different exposure settings say 1st shot at 0 EV, 2nd shot at 5 EV and the 3rd one at -5 EV, and then combining them all at post processing), then you might have to compromise with the darker shade of the image taken at lower EVs.
The fact that I didn’t like at all was that the Flash on camera body has become weaker. In Nikon D3300 the guide number was 12 meters but with Nikon D3400 the guide number went down to 7 meters only. A difference of 5 meters really matters. The device has an ISO range from 100 – 25600, a perfect upgrade from its predecessor Nikon D3300 which has an ISO range from 100-12800, which means D3400 has better low lighting imaging compared to its predecessor at least on papers. I say this, because images above ISO 800 will be quite noisy and reaching up to ISO 25600 won’t be tolerable. This higher ISO marks get justifications in pro-cameras not in this type of entry-level cameras. So, don’t judge it by the numbers, these numbers look great only on papers, practically it won’t affect you in any ways.
Nikon D3400 do support Nikon’s 3D tracking Technology but it may lack sometimes due the inbuilt autofocus system that is incorporated within its body. You also get manual focus but you have to select it from the menu; you don’t have any manual button dedicated to this. You also have the option to switch over between the live mode and the viewfinder mode. Talking about the viewfinder, it is of good quality based on the Penta-mirror construction concept but shows approximately only 95% of the scene.
Another quality add on that can be seen in Nikon’s D3400 is the 3” size LCD screen. The screen has got a whopping resolution of 921K dots, which means viewing under live mode won’t be an issue neither you would have any difficulty hovering your controls for various selections under bright daylight. Point to be noted, this is not a touch screen (I said it thinking you might have expected, just Kidding).
Nikon D3400 comes with the 10 special effects Picture Controls. But within this device you can control these styles using the mode dial. Of course you can’t access them all with the dial but the important ones like Super Vivid, Illustration and Toy Camera.
Nikon’s familiar Picture Controls are also on hand, although for those wanting their images and videos processed into more distinct styles immediately, Effects such as Super Vivid, Illustration and Toy Camera are also accessible through the mode dial. Nikon was smart enough to incorporate the interactive Guide Mode which helps its user by explaining the common camera functions. Nikon has also kept the controls straight forward considering the fact that it would mostly be used by amateur photographers.
The D3400 sadly doesn’t have the Wi-Fi option, but you can fit an external Wi-Fi adapter in case you really need one. To compensate for this unavailability of Wi-Fi, Nikon has incorporated SnapBridge feature under the hood.
SnapBridge helps you to transfer your images through wireless from the camera directly to you smartphones or desktops with the use of an always-on Bluetooth fitted inside the camera. Don’t worry it won’t drain your batter because it consumes very low energy. Unfortunately, you cannot use this feature to control the camera’s settings remotely using your smart devices. Still this is an add-on which is worth having on a camera like this.
The D3400 out perform all entry-level rivals in the battery section. It can take 1200 shots on a single charge, which means that you can easily carry it to remote places for beautiful landscape, family get together events or anywhere else where you will not have the time to recharge your battery or you may not have easy access to a charging point. It is of a great advantage considering the fact of usability.
Enough about the body, let’s move to the kit lenses. The basic kit lens that ships with Nikon D3400 is the new AF-P DX-Format NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR (Vibration Reduction). It has a retractable design which helps it to be more portable when not being used. It is really very compact. The specialty of this kit lens is that that it has Nikon’s Stepping Motor Technology embedded into it. This means you will have smooth and quite auto-focus experience during the process of capturing an image. This lens also offers up to 4 stops of image stabilization. Of course this lens is not at par with the NIKKOR’s prime lenses but still I strongly recommend you to have this. You also get an option to have a zoom lens as a second kit lens. This zoom lens is AF-P DX-Format NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G VR (Vibration Reduction) ED (Extra-Low Dispersion). This is another piece of excellence and a must buy if you are into lot of landscape photography. This is a new lens and is built with the same Nikkor’s Stepping Motor Technology.
Let’s take a dig into the storage system. The Nikon D3400 supports SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. It only supports UHS-I (Ultra High Speed) cards. Don’t go for UHS-II cards, which are new in the market and offers greater speed compared to the UHS-I. You also get A/V output, mini HDMI and an USB terminal as per connectivity of the Nikon D3400 goes. But unfortunately, you cannot connect the optional cable release because the connector port is missing.
Without the low pass filter before the sensor, you can now achieve excellent image quality with greater level of details under proper lighting condition. At low light the Nikon D3400 really struggles. At times it may struggle with the AF-System depending on the lighting conditions. At dawn and dusk, both the time it struggled to auto-focus the landscape subject. With light getting little better, the camera starts its magic.
The images turns to be smooth with wider aperture. You can easily manage to get a sharper image under proper lighting condition. Chromatic aberrations are well handled in JPEGs compared to the RAW files.
Up to ISO 1600, the images are well colored but beyond that you lose quite an amount of details. The noise reduction technology works great till ISO 800 and beyond that it completely fails. I would suggest not to take an image beyond ISO 800 because it really becomes tough in post processing.
I am quite surprised to see the Flat setting option under the Nikon’s Picture Control. This Flat setting really comes handy after the most used Standard setting if you are thinking to take a dig into post processing colour grading. This Flat setting provides more natural looking images compared to any other settings. The Vivid Picture Control settings is really good for flowers or any other foliage because this setting adds a balanced punch to an image which really looks awesome.
It is worth mentioning that the VR system works really well till 2 seconds exposure in my case. It may differ depending on the person’s handling style and decent amount of photography experience. Overall, the quality of the image is great under proper lighting conditions.
Nikon has really managed to incorporate many goods into this entry-level camera to target the beginner’s niche in the market. Starting from its design, AF System, Image quality and the mammoth battery, Nikon has done a great job. If you are someone who is just getting into photography, than Nikon’s D3400 is the obvious camera that you should look for. The price tag of $495 (Indian Rupees 30000) is really lucrative for the beginners. And in case if you can spare a little more money, then Nikon D5300 should be your choice.