Nikon continually expanding its DSLR line-up, bringing a new entry-level model to market is harder than ever. If it’s filled with features, sales of mid-range cameras are threatened but stand still and you risk getting outgunned by the competition.
A quick glance at the D3400 spec sheet reveals that Nikon has opted to play it safe and change very little from the Nikon D3300. It shares the same 24.2MP resolution and, like its predecessor, Nikon has ongoing to omit an optical low-pass filter in the quest for maximum image sharpness.
Nikon D3400 Price
The sensor’s sensitivity is also ultimately unchanged, with a total ISO range of 100-25,600; although where the D3300 kept its topmost sensitivity as an expanded setting, the new model includes it in the standard range.
Given that the Nikon D3300 has also passed on its Expeed 4 image processor to the D3400, it’s no surprise that both cameras boast an identical 5fps burst shooting rate and Full HD video recording at 60fps. The D3400’s autofocus module continues the recycling theme: it’s the same 11-point Multi-Cam 1000 sensor with a single cross-type point in the center.
It’s disappointing that the D3400 carries over-all of the D3300’s core specs – but its Canon arch-rival the 1300D already trailed the Nikon D3300 on sensor resolution, burst shooting rate and AF points, so it’s small wonder that Nikon hasn’t made the D3400 a game-changer. The only area where it needed improvement to match the competition was connectivity, so the Nikon D3400 now sports built-in wireless picture sharing.
This isn’t accomplished using typical Wi-Fi, but rather Nikon’s new SnapBridge system, first showcased in the Nikon D500. By using Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) to keep a continued connection between the camera and your smart device, the D3400 avoids the usual Wi-Fi bugbears of fiddly pairing techniques and dropped connections.
It’s a convenient system for automatically transferring images for easy social mass media sharing, but it’s not best. Images aren’t offloaded at full quality, and you can’t use SnapBridge for remote camera control, and Nikon’s WU-1A Wi-Fi adapter is certainly no longer detailed as an accessory. The camera is compatible with the ML-L3 infrared remote control.
The D3400’s other headline improvement over its predecessor is battery life, which has been boosted to an impressive 1,200 shots. That’s a huge increase from the D3300’s 700-shot rating, and no mean feat considering the D3400 is still fuelled by the EN-EL14a lithium-ion power pack used in the D3300.
Build and Handling
Entry-level SLRs used to feel cheap, even when they cost substantially more than their modern-time equivalents. Thankfully, the D3400’s material and build quality is every bit as high as the Nikon D5500’s, the next step up in the range, and you’d become hard-pressed to tell the quality of its plastics and rubber inserts apart from also pricier Nikons. Obviously the D3400 has to do without a magnesium alloy internal frame, but it feels solid more than enough all the same. The choice of plastic structure helps keep weight down to just 445g, however, making the Nikon D3400 a full 15g lighter than its predecessor.
However, just simply because the brand new camera’s battery efficiency may not be without drawbacks, the same could be true of this weight saving. Nikon has chosen not to include any image sensor-cleaning capacity in the D3400, as it believes novice users won’t modification lenses as frequently as photographers who very own more glass. While there could be some truth to this, it could also end up being argued that photographers new to SLRs might not be as confident with manual sensor cleaning and will sorely miss automatic dust removal.
External changes between your D3300 and the D3400 are non-existent. Both cameras use the same case design and measure the same 124 x 98 x 76mm. It’s a pity Nikon didn’t reshape the D3400 to be more like the D5500, with a deeper recess between the hand grip and lens mount: people with larger paws may find the D3400’s grasp to be rather small. Otherwise, there’s little to complain about ergonomically, with key controls just like the exposure compensation switch, video record key and one control dial falling within easy reach.
An immediate and pleasurable surprise when shooting with the D3400 is its autofocus performance. While the autofocus system is nothing fresh, its pairing with the new AF-P kit lens is a successful one: AF efficiency is impressively fast, and maintains this rate in low light and even though using Live Watch. The lens’ brand-new stepping motor isn’t completely silent – although it’s certainly quiet and smooth – but focus transitions in video still lag slightly. It’d also be great if the 11 AF points covered more of the image body, although their positioning is normally adequate for the majority of subjects.
Image quality has been a strong stage of Nikon’s entry-level DSLRs since the D3200 upped the ante with its 24MP sensor. The D3400 follows fit with convincing dynamic range backed up by accurate matrix metering. Colour reproduction is radiant yet faithful, and in everyday capturing, detail is well-resolved.
Shooting our resolution test chart revealed a visible drop in outright clarity at lower sensitivities when compared to the D3300 and D5500, although items level out above ISO 1,600. In fairness to the Nikon D3400, it still resolves details well, just not to the exceptional standard of its predecessor.
Nikon has treated us with some terrific entry-level SLRs, but the D3400 is a relatively minor upgrade that almost negates its new features by slicing and downgrading others. It’s a more compelling option than the Canon Rebel T6/1300D, however the Pentax K-S2 remains the feature-rich pick.