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Nikon D3400 DSLR Review

We review the new Nikon D3400, the entry level DSLR from Nikon, with built-in Bluetooth for instant image transfer.

| Nikon D3400 in Digital SLRs

Nikon D3400 DSLR Review: Nikon D3400 DSLR (3)

Announced earlier this year, the Nikon D3400 is an update to the D3300, and features low-power Bluetooth for automatic transfer of images, a built-in guide mode, plus long battery life, and a 24 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. Nikon says you can "blow away your friends with DSLR image quality" - let's find out how the D3400 performs.

Nikon D3400 Features

Nikon D3400 DSLR Review: Nikon D3400 DSLR (4)

The Nikon D3400 features a 24 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with no anti-aliasing filter, for sharp detailed images, and the camera has an ISO range from ISO100 to ISO25600, with an extended "Night Vision" mode that extends the ISO range even further. 

The camera has built-in Bluetooth for low-power image transfer, using Bluetooth instead of Wi-Fi.

In kit form, the D3400 comes with an updated AF-P NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens which does away with the VR and AF/MF buttons. Instead, you can use the camera's menus to change these settings. 

The D3400 updates the D3300 with:

  • Bluetooth
  • Improved battery life of up to 1200 shots
  • Black shutter release button
  • Weaker GN7 (8 with manual) Flash (vs GN12)

There are numerous features and shooting modes to make the camera easier to use for beginners, including scene modes, a built-in guide mode, special effects, and auto shooting modes. When you've got used to the more basic shooting modes, you can then move on to full manual controls if you want. 

The camera records FullHD video at 60/50p with mono sound.

Battery life is impressive, with the camera now offering up to 1200 shots, an improvement over the D3300's already good 700 shots.

There is 11-point auto focus (AF) with the focus points highlighted in the optical viewfinder. As well as the traditional optical viewfinder, which has a dioptre adjuster, you can use Live View which is activated by a button on the rear.

The photo retouch menu lets you edit photos, where there are a range of tools and effects. Options include Resize, Quick Retouch and Straighten as well as effects including Selective Colour, Colour Sketch, and Miniature Effect. Active D-Lighting helps retain more detail in the dark and bright areas of high-contrast lighting conditions.

Nikon D3400 DSLR Review: Nikon D3400 DSLR (10)new

Key Features

  • 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (no OLPF)
  • Nikon F (DX) lens mount
  • Nikon 18-55mm VR (Vibration Reduction optical image stabilisation)
  • 3inch screen, 921K dots
  • Optical viewfinder with approx. 95% frame coverage and 0.85x magnification
  • 11-point AF system
  • FullHD video at 60/50p (mono microphone)
  • ISO100 to ISO25600
  • Night Vision mode (ISO Hi.2)
  • Guide mode built-in
  • 5fps continuous shooting 
  • Available in black or red

Nikon D3400 Handling

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The Nikon D3400 features a large rubber hand grip so that you can get a firm hold of the camera, and there is a rubber grip on the back for your thumb. This makes the camera pleasing to hold, despite the small size for a DSLR. There's also side access to the memory card slot, making it easy to change the memory card when needed. The camera feels well built, and solid, despite the plastic construction of the camera. The D3400 is slightly lighter than the D3300, weighing 445g with battery and memory card (without the lens). 

Unlike some recent Nikon DSLRs, the D3400 doesn't feature the more useful white balance settings, such as "Warm" or "White" auto white balance. When we were using the camera, the self-timer needed to be re-set every time, which made work in the studio a little slower than normal. 

The Nikon D3400 feels a little like a slightly cut-down version of the D3300, with the microphone socket removed, as well as the A/V out removed, and remote socket removed (instead there is HDMI, and USB). The flash rating is slightly lower, but still suitable for smaller group shots. Like the D3300, there is no Auto Exposure Bracketing mode, nor an auto-HDR mode, and unlike the D3300 there is no HDR painting mode, and the auto-panoramic shooting mode has also been removed. 

Nikon D3400 DSLR Review: Nikon D3400 DSLR (6)

Using Nikon's Snapbridge app on your smartphone lets you setup image transfer so that when a photo is taken it is automatically sent to your smartphone. However, as the D3400 doesn't feature built-in Wi-Fi, the remote shooting option isn't available. This is disappointing considering that other budget cameras from Nikon, such as the Nikon Coolpix B500 feature built-in Wi-Fi, and therefore allow remote shooting.

There are 11 focus points that are highlighted in red when active, with a cross-type sensor in the middle, and the optical viewfinder has a soft rubber surround along with dioptre adjustment. With an AF assist light, the Nikon D3400 is able to focus in low-light, although can struggle at times depending on the subject being photographed, and the success in low-light conditions is worse when using live view.

Using live view is slower than using the optical viewfinder, with focus and shutter response being noticeably slower, particularly if you've come from a compact or mirrorless camera, and are expecting it to be as rapid. For the quickest focus and speed, using the optical viewfinder is the way to get the best performance out of the camera.

You can change settings using the buttons on the camera, or using the i button to change settings on the rear screen. The menus are clearly and neatly laid out with colour coded sections for photo, setup and retouching photos. There's also built-in help, which will help beginners, and to access this you simply press the question mark button.

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Battery life - Battery life is rated at 1200 shots according to Nikon / CIPA test results (with Bluetooth switched off), which is excellent for an entry-level Digital SLR. 

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D3400

LightA Foggy DayWhere's the Magic?Lying in the SunWho Lies in the Shadows 2Who Lies in the ShadowsNew Years Day GloomThe Twisted WoodTree TrunksMisty WoodThe BellsFrosty View 3Frosty View 2A Frosty ViewAberchirder - 3

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17 Oct 2016 4:32PM
The Cons--
1-No HDR or Auto Exposure Bracketing mode
2-Remote shooting not possible (camera doesn't feature Wi-Fi)
3-No auto panoramic mode (D3300 featured this)

Features 5 out of 5

I find that extremely difficult to understand. If the features are 5/5 how are the above items cons?
Niknut Plus
12 3.5k 82 United Kingdom
18 Oct 2016 12:08PM
Great camera !.....lightweight, compact, good ergonomics, & impressive image
quality......all at a reasonable price !

Definitely the best of the D3000 series yet !!......would make a darned good carry
all day camera, the only slight negative for me is the lack of an articulated rear
screen.......NFC, & similar attributes are of no consequence to me !...I just want to
take pictures with it, not comunicate with the rest of the world !!

If I were looking for a new toy, this beastie would be worth a closer look !.Smile
themak 9 1.1k Scotland
18 Oct 2016 4:22PM

Quote:the only slight negative for me is the lack of an articulated rear screen

The flippy screen seems to be one of the upgrades reserved for the D5000 series.
aitchess3 8 6 United Kingdom
19 Oct 2016 3:05PM
I believe another deletion from the feature list previously included on the D3300 is the automatic sensor cleaning - I think that is a rather unfortunate loss (I'm aware that Canon did something similar around the EOS 1200D model (maybe the 1100D - whatever the case, the 1000D had it but the current 1300D doesn't and isn't the first). I don't understand why Canon and now Nikon think that it's wise to leave their models aimed at first-time DSLR owners with MORE likelihood of dust on the sensor and the need for a manual clean. Perhaps they imagine that the owners of these models will only rarely change lenses, if at all, and that if the sensor does need cleaning they will take it along to a camera shop - but I don't think it's a wise product strategy.
ElSid 14 11 United Kingdom
20 Oct 2016 4:41PM
Definitely a significant downgrade from the D3300 and as for these new lenses with no VR/AF switches - Yuk! I hope that's not a trend that spreads to higher end lenses, especially as it's not back compatible with earlier bodies. Canon haven't been tempted by such a daft idea and if they haven't I can't see why Nikon have....Sad

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