Nikon D3400 Specifications and review
Ever since its popular D40 model back in 2006, Nikon has done well to dismantle the idea of a DSLR needing to be a large, cumbersome machine. Of course, since then the company has released many even more compact mirrorless 1-series cameras aimed at a junior audience, although it’s maintained its footing in the entry-level DSLR sector with a slew of compact and easy-to-use alternatives for those after something more traditional.
For a number of years, Nikon has chosen to split these into two camps. The D5xxx series has presented an approachable but reasonably powerful solution for those wanting to get going with DSLR photography, but have a little extra growing space as they become more confident, while the D3xxx series has adhered to a no-frills template, one that prioritises small size, light weight and a simple design, all the while maintaining the benefits of an interchangable-lens system.
The D3400 is Nikon’s latest contribution to the latter series, and a follow-up to the D3300. Not only has the company managed to shave a little of the D3300’s weight off the body for this new iteration, but it’s also boosted its battery life and improved a number of features to make it a mightier proposition for the novice user. It’s also launched the camera alongside a redesigned kit lens, one that sports a retractable inner barrel and a more streamlined design that eschews the focusing and Vibration Reduction switches we’re used to seeing.
But, after so many warmly received models and a raft of fine competitors in both DSLR and mirrorless categories, does the D3400 have enough going for it to make it worth the beginner’s attention?
Colour, dynamic range and vibrancy
Having used this very sensor in previous Nikon cameras, we did not really expect out-of-order aberrations, and neither did we experience any such moments. The D3400 produces very good colours across a wide array of situations, with crisp and vibrant bold colours and good dynamic range signature to Nikon’s usual imaging performance.
The colours look crisp and punchy, and this sensor retains highlight areas and shadow zones with a deft touch. This helps in retaining the colour accuracy of diverse areas within brightly lit, diversely arranged compositions. The metering sensor, while shooting in RAW also picks out the highlight and shadow areas really well, and this gives you a fairly deep scope of post-processing photographs to bring out correct colour shades and tones, detailed shadows and smooth highlights.
You can also underexpose frames with significantly differing exposure areas while shooting in RAW, and the D3400’s good dynamic range, true-to-source and amply vibrant colours combine to allow post-processing recovery of shadow areas. This allows you to successfully retain details while keeping the colours intact. Even with differing shades of the same colour, the Nikon D3400 shoots in good level of colour details.
The colours also retain good vibrancy for a camera of this price and range, and all of this leads to clean photographs with bright, accurate colours that look sharp enough. Good dynamic range further aids colour reproduction along with details
White balance and colour saturation
Continuing the good work it does with colours, the Nikon D3400 produces good auto-calibrated white balance across scenes. It reads situations well as per ambience, not going off-the-mark with warm environments, as many budget DSLRs tend to do. You can also opt for manual white balance adjustment with the presets, or your custom colour temperature as you require. All of this works as intended, and is true to the environment you shoot in.
When it comes to colour saturation, the Nikon D3400 produces slightly richer saturation levels than the competing Canon EOS 1300D. Colours are more vibrant here, and that also leads to more saturated colours, particularly bold reds. Yellows and blues are more subtly optimised, and the overall performance of the camera yields good colour saturation points. For RAW shooters looking to tinker with the colours, setting picture control to flat does the job as intended.
Build and handling
- Polycarbonate construction
- Design little changed from D3300
The D3400 is designed to be small and lightweight, but Nikon has ensured there is enough grip to get hold of the camera and space on the rear for the thumb to rest without knocking into any controls. At just 650g with its battery, memory card and kit lens in place the model is one of the lightest DSLR combinations around, around 40g lighter than the Canon EOS 1300D and its own 18-55mm kit lens and around 200g lighter than the Pentax K-50 and lens.
- 11-point AF, 1 cross-type AF point
- AF-assist illuminator
- 3D-tracking AF
In line with many other APS-C based rivals, the camera’s 11-point Multi CAM 1000 AF system covers a healthy proportion of the frame, the points arranged in a diamond-like formation. This is essentially unchanged from previous models, although the new AF-P 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens has been engineered to provide fast and quiet focus.