Nikon D3400 Review: Worth it in 2021?

This is a review guide covering the Nikon D3400.

In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:

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In a hurry? Here’s the quick summary

Nikon D3400

The D3400 is an entry-level DSLR from the Nikon stable. It is a neat little camera if you are looking to foray into the world of manual shooting and explore different lenses in the process.

It is a great gifting option too. Especially, if there is a budding photographer in the family.

In this review of the Nikon D3400, we will go through the many features of this camera and find out if it is a good buy.

Entry-level DSLRs like the D3400 are great because they allow you to exploit the entire range of OEM lenses.

It means you can choose to use anything from a 10mm ultra-wide-angle prime to a 24-70mm or even a 200-500mm lens (these are lenses designed for the full-frame image circle of FX camera) without ever wondering if the lens will be compatible.

With great pieces of glass, you can enjoy the best bits of being a Nikon user. Another thing we love about this camera is the simplicity of the user interface.

The large interactive GUI that lights up on the LCD screen makes understanding basic exposure stuff easy.

A few shots and a few trials after you will have a good understanding of exposure, shutter speed, aperture, and ISO, and how all of these are interrelated.

Pros and Cons Nikon D3400

Pros
  • Lightweight camera
  • Easy to use
  • Large GUI accessible from the LCD screen
  • Fully compatible with the entire range of Nikkor G lenses
  • 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • No optical low pass filter (OLPF) ensure that the images captured will have a lot of detail
Cons
  • Limited compatibility with Nikkor D-type lenses.
  • Non-compatible with older Nikkor AI and AI-S lenses
  • Basic 11-point autofocusing mechanism
  • The absence of OLPF increases the risks of false colors and moiré.
  • Continuous shooting speed is only 5 fps

Nikon D3400 Specs

If you need a one-sentence summary of the D3400, it would be – an entry-level, easy-to-use DSLR that offers excellent image quality and access to the entire range of Nikkor G and D type (with limited usability) lenses.

As it has been observed in the opening paragraphs the last one is a huge advantage for anyone foraying into the world of interchangeable lens cameras.

The first important spec of the D3400 is its sensor. At 24.2-megapixel it is decent and for all practical purposes, it is a great camera to shoot with because it can capture a lot of detail.

The plus point about this sensor is that it does not have an OLPF. That means it can capture a lot more detail than your average sensor without an OLPF.

Nikon D3400 Sample Image
Nikon D3400 Sample Image – Source

That is an advantage and an issue at the same time. This is because without the OLPF the sensor is sometimes unable to render fine patterns correctly resulting in moiré and false colors.

EXPEED 4 image processor is paired with the sensor. That ensures that the camera can perform at a decent speed.

Continuous shooting speed is nothing special though. It is only 5 fps. Plus, video resolution is full HD only with a frame rate of 60 fps.

Can you shoot wildlife, sports and do birding with the D3400? Yes, but to a limited extent only.

This will depend on how calculated your approach is and how you can work around the problem of a smaller number of frames in continuous shooting mode and the slower DIGIC 4 image processor, which evidently, is not the fastest in the business.

Nikon D3400 Sample Image
Nikon D3400 Sample Image – Source

The low light capability of a sensor is especially important to ensure clean images in inadequate lighting situations. Some sensors have a low noise threshold.

Others come with a dual native gain. It is equivalent to having two different film speeds loaded into a single camera.

One you can use in broad light and the other in low light situations.

Though digital cameras of the modern world have variable ISO, in practical terms it merely pushes the gain of the light signal to achieve an acceptable exposure.

Some top-end cameras have been incorporated with dual native ISO technology to handle low-light situations better. But entry-level cameras like the D3400 do not have that feature.

Resultantly, you have to be careful when shooting with your camera at ISOs of 800 and above.

Noise invariably picks up as you push the ISO number and the images become unusable after a while if you keep pushing the ISO.

Nikon D3400 Design

The D3400 is a simple design. The buttons and dials are layouts in a way so that you can access them without any fuss.

If this is your first-ever Nikon camera, which is highly probable, don’t worry the learning curve is not too long.

On the back of the camera, you have the Play button, followed by the menu button that opens up all sorts of options for controlling exposure, camera settings, etc., and the other important buttons.

On the right, you have the Live View (Lv) button, the main multi-directional switch, and the delete button among the main ones.

Nikon D3400 Sample Image
Nikon D3400 Sample Image – Source

The command dial is on the top right and on the top panel you have the mode dial. This allows you to change the shooting modes.

The Auto Exposure and Auto Focus lock button are directly below the main command dial.

Further, the top panel has the Switch-on and switch-off toggle switch and the dedicated video button. There is also the exposure compensation button.

The back of the camera is dominated by a large 3-inch monitor that offers a 921-k display resolution.

The viewfinder at the back of the camera offers 95% of the view that the sensor captures. This is quite normal with entry-level DSLRs.

All you have to do is stay careful when composing your images.

There is a high chance that your composition may have something in the fringe areas which you did not intend to include in the frame.

Nikon D3400 Image Quality

The D3400 captures very sharp images in all kinds of lighting. Yes, the sensor is not at peace when shooting in low-light situations.

But stay within the technical limitations of the camera and it will produce good results for you. For example, don’t push the ISO limits to the maximum.

The 5-fps continuous shooting speed isn’t the most inspirational feature of this camera. It is not enough for shooting sports or wildlife photography.

But in the right hands, and with a measured approach it is possible to get a few clean, sharp shots in these two genres, despite the camera not being the first pick.

Nikon D3400 Sample Image
Nikon D3400 Sample Image – Source

Nikon D3400 Video Quality

The video feature of the D3400 is what you would come to expect from an entry-level DSLR. It is basic but it does the job.

There are no fancy features like highlight warnings or focus assist etc. The Nikon D3400 shoots full-HD videos only.

The world has moved on to 4K and sitting in 2021 that’s the least that a camera manufacturer can do.

Except that the D3400 did not come out in 2021 and that is the reason why it seems a bit out of place in comparison to some of the other cameras that came out in the last couple of years.

The D3400 incorporates Nikon’s SnapBridge connectivity feature that uses Bluetooth to transfer images from your camera to your compatible smartphone/tablet.

There is also an option that automatically transfers a shortened 2 MP version of every image that you take seamlessly to your smartphone/tablet.

The idea is to have those images ready for upload to social media.

Nikon D3400 Overall Performance

We recommend the D3400 to anyone looking for their first DSLR or interchangeable lens camera. We love the simple and easy-to-use interface of the camera.

For someone who may not be aware of the fundamentals of exposure and the relation between aperture, ISO, and shutter speed, this interface is going to be an easy introduction to this fundamental aspect of photography.

The fact that it is a lightweight camera means anyone can pick it up and use it for extended periods without any issues of pain in the forearm or shoulders.

The biggest benefit of using an entry-level DSLR, especially something that belongs to either the Nikon or the Canon stable is that you get to use the entire range of compatible lenses to work with.

Most of the leading brands including Nikon and Canon make their full-frame lenses compatible with their crop bodies. And the D3400 being a crop body is not immune to that advantage.

That said, there are a few things that we don’t quite like. The viewfinder is powered by a pentamirror rather than a pentaprism and that is why it is less bright than a comparable pentaprism-powered viewfinder.

Then again this camera misses out on many of the advanced features like 4K video, external mic-in, faster frame rate, and a few more AF points.

But on the flip side image quality is excellent. We believe, as long as you are aware of the shortcomings of this camera and can work around them, you will have a great time shooting beautiful images with it.

We have no problems recommending this camera to anyone looking for an entry-level interchangeable lens camera.

Final Remarks

We hope you enjoyed this review guide on the Nikon D3400.

Consider everything we’ve reviewed as to whether this is the right camera for you!

Have fun, good luck, and keep photographing!

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