Nikon D3400 - Performance, Image Quality, Video and Verdict

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  • Page 1Nikon D3400
  • Page 2 Performance, Image Quality, Video and Verdict

Nikon D3400 – Performance and Autofocus

In good light, the camera is capable of locking onto a subject very quickly – and generally pretty accurately, too. In lower light, it’s best if you can use the central AF point and focus and recompose, since this is a more sensitive cross-type AF point and in most scenarios will be more accurate than those on the outer peripheries of the scene.

Using Live View is great when the subject is still and you have time to wait for the focus to snap into place. However, this isn’t something I’d recommended for every shot; in fact, it’s probably best reserved for still-life shots, macros and anything for which you might be using a tripod.

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You can switch on 3D-tracking if you want to follow a moving subject. It copes reasonably well with slow-moving subjects, but it’s fair to say that this isn’t a camera designed for shooting fast-paced action – such as quick wildlife or fast-paced sports. With 3D-tracking turned on, you’ll see the AF points flash red as your subject moves across the scene if the camera is able to keep up with it.

If you shoot in raw format, and activate the continuous 5fps shooting mode, you’ll only get to about three to four shots before the buffer stops you from shooting at the maximum frame rate. By contrast, if you switch to the Fine JPEG-only shooting mode, you’ll be rewarded with around 50-60 shots before the buffer slows you down.

General operational speeds are good. Start-up time is quick, especially if you’ve already extended the kit lens.

If you take a lot of shots in quick succession, you may find that you have to wait a couple of seconds before you can look at them in playback. However, generally moving to playback, through menus and so on, is a pleasantly speedy experience.

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Nikon D3400 – Image Quality

Despite the D3400 being an “entry-level” camera, it can produce some excellent images – especially once you’ve got to grips with how it works.

Colours are vibrant, without going too far into being unrealistic, with a pleasing amount of warmth under a variety of different shooting conditions. Detail is great, too, perhaps in no small part down to the fact that the camera’s sensor doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter getting in the way of detail resolution.

Automatic white balance copes well under different conditions, although you may find that images are little more warm when you switch to the cloudy setting when skies are overcast. Under artificial lighting, the camera copes well to produce accurate colours, which aren’t too blighted by a yellowish or orange tinge that many cameras are often afflicted by.

Under general-purpose metering, images are well exposed. You may find you need to dial in some exposure compensation in high-contrast settings to ensure details aren’t lost in the shadows, but no more so than I’d expect from a camera sensor of this type.

Low light, high ISO performance is pleasing. All of the ISOs are usable, even the highest setting of ISO 25600. For best quality, stick to speeds of below ISO 3200. At between ISO 1600-3200 images are great, with very little noise and image smoothing, which is only really apparent if you scrutinise at 100%.

Images from the D3400 really shine when accompanied by better-quality lenses. While the kit optic is a good starter option, and will suit a variety of subjects, using something like a 50mm f/1.4 to isolate the subject from the background shows the camera’s true capabilities.

Here’s a selection of sample images shot on the Nikon D3400:
Nikon D3400 5Nikon D3400 9Nikon D3400 13Nikon D3400 17Nikon D3400 7
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Nikon D3400 – Video

By current camera standards, the fact that the D3400 shoots in Full HD, and not 4K, seems to make it stand out for all the wrong reasons. However, it’s fair to say that this is essentially a stills camera with the capability of recording the odd video clip, rather than a device for videographers.

It’s possible to record some pleasing videos, and of course Full HD should be more than enough for the average user.

Nikon has taken away the microphone port for this camera, again suggesting it isn’t a device aimed at serious videographers.

Should you buy the Nikon D3400?

If you’re looking for your first step into DSLR photography then the D3400 is a great choice. You’ll be entering a well-supported system that allows you to grow and develop your skills with time. In addition, it’s a relatively affordable entry into more advanced photography – although it’s just a tad more expensive than Canon’s EOS 1300D.

For beginners, the “Guide” mode is super-useful, and you should find that it helps you to become a better photographer far more quickly. As soon as your budget permits, you may also want to upgrade beyond the kit lens, which will be fine to get started but may quickly frustrate if you’re looking for super high-quality images.

SnapBridge is the ideal app for the target user of this camera. Although the lack of Wi-Fi is frustrating in terms of being able to remotely control the camera, using the low-power Bluetooth connection to transfer shots without you having to do anything, is ideal for those who want to share images online hassle-free.

It’s clear that some specifications have been left off in a bid to keep the cost down – the screen is fixed and isn’t touch-sensitive, plus video is restricted to Full HD. However, if you’re simply looking to get on the first rung of the DSLR ladder, the D3400 is an excellent choice.

Verdict

Nikon’s entry-level DSLR is easy to get to grips with, producing fantastic images – especially if you upgrade the supplied kit lens.

Score in detail

  • Value 8
  • Features 7
  • Image Quality 8
  • Build Quality 8
  • Performance 7
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