- Page 1 Nikon D3400
- Page 2 Performance, Image Quality, Video and Verdict
Nikon D3400 – Performance and Autofocus
In good light, the camera was capable of locking onto a subject very quickly – and generally pretty accurately, too. In lower light, it was best to use the central AF point and focus and recompose, since this was a more sensitive cross-type AF point and in most scenarios was more accurate than those on the outer peripheries of the scene.
Using Live View was great when the subject was still and you had time to wait for the focus to snap into place. However, this wasn’t recommended for every shot – it was probably best reserved for still-life shots, macros and anything for which you might be using a tripod.
You could switch on 3D-tracking if you wanted to follow a moving subject. It coped reasonably well with slow-moving subjects, but the D3400 wasn’t really designed for shooting fast-paced action – such as quick wildlife or fast-paced sports. With 3D-tracking turned on, you’d see the AF points flash red as your subject moved across the scene if the camera was able to keep up with it.
If you shot in Raw format, and activated the continuous 5fps shooting mode, you’d only get to about three to four shots before the buffer stopped you from shooting at the maximum frame rate. By contrast, if you switched to the Fine JPEG-only shooting mode, you’d be rewarded with around 50-60 shots before the buffer slowed you down.
General operational speeds were good. Start-up time was quick, especially if you’d already extended the kit lens.
If you took a lot of shots in quick succession, you’d often need to wait a couple of seconds before you could look at them in playback. However, generally moving to playback, through menus and so on, was a pleasantly speedy experience.
Nikon D3400 – Image Quality
Despite the D3400 being an “entry-level” camera, it produced some excellent images – especially once you got to grips with how it worked.
Colours were vibrant, without going too far into being unrealistic, with a pleasing amount of warmth under a variety of different shooting conditions. Detail was great, too, perhaps in no small part down to the fact that the camera’s sensor didn’t have an anti-aliasing filter getting in the way of detail resolution.
Automatic white balance coped well under different conditions, although images were often a little more warm when you switched to the cloudy setting for overcast skies. Under artificial lighting, the camera coped well, producing accurate colours, which weren’t too blighted by a yellowish or orange tinge that many cameras are often afflicted by.
Under general-purpose metering, images were exposed well. You sometimes needed to dial in exposure compensation in high-contrast settings to ensure details weren’t lost in the shadows, but this was no more so than you’d expect from a camera sensor of this type.
Low light, high ISO performance was pleasing. All of the ISOs were usable, even the highest setting of ISO 25,600. For best quality, it was best to stick to speeds of below ISO 3,200. At between ISO 1,600-3,200 images were great, with very little noise and image smoothing, which was only really apparent if you scrutinise at 100%.
Images from the D3400 really shone when accompanied by better-quality lenses. While the kit optic was a good starter option, and suited a variety of subjects, using something like a 50mm f/1.4 to isolate the subject from the background showed the camera’s true capabilities.
Here’s a selection of sample images shot on the Nikon D3400:
Nikon D3400 – Video
The fact that the D3400 shot in Full HD, and not 4K, seemed to make it stand out for all the wrong reasons. However, it’s fair to say that it was essentially a stills camera with the capability of recording the odd video clip, rather than a device for videographers.
It was possible to record some pleasing videos, and of course Full HD was more than enough for the average user.
Nikon took away the microphone port for this camera, again suggesting it wasn’t a device aimed at serious videographers.
Should you buy the Nikon D3400?
The D3400 was a great choice for anyone looking to take their first step into DSLR photography – and despite the arrival of the D3500, it still could be a solid buy, if bought second-hand or at a reduced price.
You’ll be entering a well-supported system that allows you to grow and develop your skills with time. For beginners, the “Guide” mode is super-useful, and you should find that it helps you to become a better photographer far more quickly. If budget permits, you should also upgrade beyond the kit lens, which is fine to get started but may quickly frustrate if you’re looking for super high-quality images.
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 were 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, that’s also the case with the D3500 and if you’re simply looking to get on the first rung of the DSLR ladder, the D3400 could still be an excellent choice.
Nikon’s entry-level DSLR may now have been succeeded by the D3500, but its fantastic images and intuitive interface could still make it a good buy if bought second-hand or on offer
Score in detail
Image Quality 8
Build Quality 8