For DSLR beginners, the D3400 offers a thoroughly attractive equipment package with the correspondingly high image quality of the 24-megapixel sensor in APS-C size. This now achieves a maximum sensitivity of ISO 25,600 instead of 12,800, the minimum sensitivity remains at ISO 100. The mechanical shutter allows exposure times from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds, a bulb long time exposure function is also available. The 0.85x magnifying pentas mirror viewfinder covers 95 percent of the image field. The 3D Color Matrix Metering II uses a 420 pixel RGB exposure sensor, the 11-point autofocus has a central cross sensor.
Of course, the Nikon D3400 also has a screen with Live View function to offer. The TFT monitor has a resolution of 921,000 pixels and a diagonal of 7.5 centimetres. With Live-View there is also face recognition and subject tracking. A video function is then also available: At Full HD resolution, a maximum of 60 frames per second are achieved and stored as MOV on the SD card with H.264 compression. The D3400 is also compatible with SDHC and SDXC. The microphone connection, which is no longer available, might be missing for some video enthusiasts. The large lithium-ion battery allows 1,200 recordings according to the CIPA standard measurement procedure, at least without the current-hungry Live View function. The Expeed 4 image processor allows up to five continuous shots per second.
The built-in flash has a guide number of 5, but thanks to the TTL flash shoe, powerful Nikon system flash units can also be used. New on board is the Snapbridge function from Nikon, which allows a permanent, energy-saving connection to the smartphone thanks to the energy-saving Bluetooth 4.1 LE. This allows the camera to tap into the GPS module of the smartphone to store the recording coordinates in the photos, but also to transfer two megapixel small versions of the photos to the smartphone in the background. Unlike the previous Snapbridge, however, the D3400 does not support the Bluetooth with a WLAN, so there is no possibility of remotely triggering the camera or transferring high-resolution photos and videos.
Ergonomics and workmanship
The Nikon D3400 weighs only 440 grams, ready for use without a lens. The AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR used by us in the test increases the weight by a good 200 grams. There is a reason for the low weight: The camera body is completely made of plastic. Nevertheless, it makes a well processed, quite robust impression. The gap dimensions are minimal, although not always 100 percent uniform. Even if you grab it with your heart, the case neither gives way nor makes any noise. The small handle is generously covered with rubber, which provides a non-slip grip. The hollow between handle and lens bayonet, however, is likely to be deeper for my hands in order to offer enough space.
The tripod socket on the underside of the camera is located in the optical axis and far enough away from the lithium-ion battery built into the handle. With 1,200 images running time according to the CIPA standard measuring procedure, this offers a very high endurance. However, this only applies if you do not use the power-guzzling Live View function. The built-in Bluetooth (more on this in the Equipment section), on the other hand, barely sucks on the battery. But there is a reason for the significantly increased battery life compared to the D3300: the built-in flash, which is ignited every second shot in the CIPA measurement procedure, has a guide number of only seven instead of twelve in automatic mode. Manually controlled, the guide number is eight, which confirms our measurement. The SD memory card, on the other hand, is inserted at the side of the handle, which is much more practical than with combination solutions, where the memory card is also located in the battery compartment. Behind the thick rubber cover on the left side of the case is a Micro-USB and a Mini-HDMI connector.
The key feature of a DSLR is its optical viewfinder, which uses deflected light to look at a focusing screen, which in turn shows the image seen through the lens. With the D3400, however, there is only the absolute minimum due to the low price. The light is deflected by a mirror construction instead of a glass pentaprism, which makes the viewfinder image slightly darker. In addition, it only covers 95 percent of the image field. The magnification of 0.85x is also not particularly high, especially as it is an APS-C viewfinder. Compared to a 35mm viewfinder, the magnification is only a factor of 0.57. The diopter correction is also quite economical. The exit pupil is only 18 millimetres, so that the viewfinder is shaded with the glasses on despite the low magnification in the corners.
The autofocus is also a more economical solution, as it offers only eleven measuring points, of which only the central one is designed as a high-quality cross sensor. After all, the autofocus with the AF-P lens used is very fast; the D3400 triggers within a quarter of a second, including focusing from infinity to two meters. As a modern DSLR, the Nikon naturally also offers a Live View function on the rear 7.5 centimetre screen. With over 920,000 pixels, it has a sufficiently fine resolution, but is firmly installed and not movable. During the live view, which is indispensable for video recordings, the viewfinder remains dark and even the fast phase autofocus is not available. Now the camera takes 1.0 to 1.2 seconds to focus and release. This is sufficient for static motifs, but less suitable for action shots. Thanks to the focus magnifier that can be activated, you can focus much more precisely manually in Live View than when looking through the small viewfinder. The photographer at Nikon only has to do without a focus peaking function.
The operation of the camera is quite simple. For a beginner DSLR, the D3400 offers surprisingly many controls, a button can even be freely assigned, but not too many functions to choose from. This is partly due to the fact that Nikon has saved on equipment (see section Equipment). However, the guide mode, which can be found on the program selector wheel, is particularly helpful for beginners. Using pictures and text, he explains the camera functions in a simple and understandable way, as well as how best to set them for typical motifs. Especially photo beginners are not left alone with the many functions of their digital camera.
A little bit confusing or needs getting used to is Nikon’s distinction between the “info” and “i” buttons, which perform completely different tasks. The “info” button displays shooting information or, for example, a short help in the menu, while the “i” button displays the quick menu. The main menu itself is divided in a meaningful way. The submenus partly extend to some screen pages, but due to the limited range of functions a maximum of five is possible.
As an entry-level camera, the Nikon D3400 is equipped with a fully automatic mode as well as motif programs. Their number, however, remains within manageable limits. Each of the seven subject programs, which cover the most common shooting situations, has its own place on the program selector wheel. The picture effects, on the other hand, occupy a place of their own, here you can let off steam more creatively in a non-photographic sense. Photographic creativity is found in the semi-automatic and manual modes, which give the photographer control over exposure time, aperture, ISO sensitivity and other settings.
However, the red pencil is unmistakably noticeable in the equipment: there is neither an HDR nor a panorama mode, not even series of exposures can be taken in order to create one’s own HDR photos on the computer. We also painfully missed a mirror lock-up, which would reduce vibrations when shooting from a tripod, and a dimming function, which would give an impression of the depth of field before shooting. Actually, these are important standard functions that characterize a DSLR. After all, there is a continuous shooting function with five frames per second and the possibility to save images in raw data format.
The Nikon D3400’s built-in pop-up flash, reduced in performance as already mentioned, automatically flips up when needed. In the creative programs you have to press the flash button first. If you press this button with the flash open, it serves as a flash function button – very clever! Here the photographer can choose, for example, whether he wants long-term synchronization or a pre-flash to reduce red eyes. Even flash exposure correction is possible and, unusually for an entry-level camera, even manual flash output control in six stages. Thanks to the flash shoe, it is also possible to use central contact and system flash units.
The Nikon D3400 records videos in either HD or FullHD resolution at up to 60 frames per second. For electronic image stabilization, however, the image detail is significantly reduced, which can be displayed in the Live View beforehand if desired. The sound is only recorded in mono, there is no microphone connection. The autofocus tracking in the video works out quite well, the contrast autofocus, as already mentioned, is anything but fast. However, an AF-P lens does a much better job than an AF-S lens that is not optimized for contrast autofocus.
If the picture is in the box, then it can be worked on amazingly extensively. Like the semi-professional and professional Nikon models, the D3400 even has a built-in raw data converter. In addition to image cropping, many creative filters, the D-Lighting function for shadow brightening or an automatic fast image optimization are available. Even cut videos to remove unwanted scenes at the beginning or end.
About a year ago, Nikon introduced the Snapbridge function, which offers Bluetooth in the energy-saving LE version in addition to WLAN. The permanent Bluetooth connection is able to transfer photos in the background (and even when the camera is “switched off”) to a smartphone in low resolution (two megapixels). In addition, the camera can tap the smartphone’s geocoordinates via the Bluetooth connection to save them in the EXIF data of the images, saving a lot of energy. If necessary, Nikon cameras normally switch on WLAN, e.g. for image transmission in full resolution or for remote control of the camera. So much for the theory, which didn’t convince us in practice in the test of the Nikon D500. The D3400, for its part, is even cut off from the WLAN function, so it only offers Bluetooth.
Once the connection has been set up, where stumbling blocks lurk, such as Bluetooth permissions for the app only after a failed first connection attempt by Android, Snapbridge does its job without complaint in the background and does not even suck big on the camera battery. When location data is activated, the smartphone automatically retrieves it on a regular basis anyway, as you can see when you look at the location log of your Google account. This also hardly costs any additional battery. A two-megapixel recording is also automatically transferred to the smartphone in less than ten seconds. But the first stumbling block is already lurking here. If one wants to transfer pictures – the automatic transfer can of course be deactivated – then one has to photograph in the JPEG or Raw+JPEG mode. Raw files or videos are too large for transmission.
The biggest limitation, however, is the lack of WLAN. It is also possible to transfer images manually via Bluetooth in full 24 megapixel resolution, but this takes two minutes per photo. Also annoying is the missing remote triggering function. It’s clear that you can’t get a live image transmission via Bluetooth, but at least there could be a remote trigger function. So you have no other choice than to buy an infrared remote control as an accessory (after all, Nikon offers one). Despite all criticism, the Snapbridge function is still very useful. The two-megapixel photos provide enough resolution to display on a smartphone display and publish to social networks, location data transfer works fine, and the Bluetooth connection automatically establishes when the camera and smartphone are within range. Due to the low power consumption, the function can be left activated throughout the day, but should be switched off if the camera is not used for a longer period of time, as it remains active even when the camera is switched off.
Even if the red pencil was applied at one or the other place, Nikon hopefully didn’t save on the image quality. To find out, we tested the D3400 with the set lens AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR in our lab for image quality. As usual, the detailed laboratory test with all diagrams can be called up via the links for 1.40 Euro in individual retrieval or as part of a prepaid flat rate from the equivalent of 2.08 Euro per month together with the entire laboratory test archive (over 1,600 tests). If you would like to honor this free test report and support our work with it, the easiest way to do so is to buy the lab test, even if you don’t need it at all.
The set lens is the first time in our laboratory. The former Nikon set lens was not necessarily among the best. The AF-P has a plastic bajonet, but is well made and a little more compact than normal 18-55s due to the retraction mechanism during transport. The AF-P 18-55 VR gives those who only want to expose or print on DIN A4 sufficient image sharpness from the center to the edge of the image – at all apertures and focal lengths. The edge darkening is very clear especially in wide angle, but also at medium focal length, at least as long as you don’t close the aperture by one, better two steps. Also the distortion is strong, but only in wide angle with 3.5 percent ton shape. At medium and long focal lengths, on the other hand, the distortion is low at just over and just under half a percent. Color fringes are also a problem; although they only occur at wide angles, they are all the stronger. At high contrasts this is not really nice, especially towards the edge of the picture.
At a resolution of 50 percent contrast, however, the AF-P can clearly gain ground. Not that the resolution at open aperture would already reach highest values, but you have to fade to F8 to F11, but the edge resolution is only slightly below the level of the resolution in the image center. So Nikkor doesn’t show what most set lenses suffer from, namely a sharp drop in resolution at the edge (and often not only in wide angle). There are only ten to twenty percent losses in resolution. With over 40 line pairs per millimetre (lp/mm) resolution, the 18-55 can serve all focal lengths even with the aperture open. In wide angle, up to 59 lp/mm are possible after dipping down, at medium focal length even 60 lp/mm and in Tele 54 lp/mm. The diffraction starts beyond F11, but also at F16 the resolution is still very high. However, you should not dim down further. Despite the high resolution, the sharpness artifacts remain surprisingly low, they are below ten percent, which is really very unusual for a beginner camera. Nikon did a very good job! The resolution is sufficient for images beyond DIN A3 size.
The rest of the image processing of the sensor signal is also impressive. The signal-to-noise ratio is within an acceptable range up to ISO 800 and only slightly below that at ISO 1,600. Image noise only shows up slightly from ISO 6,400 and does not increase too much even up to ISO 25,600. This is only brightness noise, color noise plays practically no role. Although noise reduction causes a certain loss of detail with increasing ISO sensitivity, this is uncritical up to ISO 1,600. This makes the images softer, which only becomes clearly visible at ISO 6.400 and above, because at ISO 3.200 sufficient details are preserved with small cutbacks. The dynamic range reaches almost eleven f-stops from ISO 100 to 800 and slowly begins to decrease. Up to ISO 3,200, however, it is over ten f-stops and thus a good value. Only above ISO 6.400 is the critical limit of nine f-stops undershot.
The tonal value curve is steep, which provides a crisp, high-contrast picture impression. The output tonal range is ok and uncritical up to ISO 1,600, up to here over 160 of 256 possible brightness gradations are displayed. However, the strong difference between the color channels is conspicuous, especially red and blue show clearly less fine brightness gradations than the green and brightness channels. The color accuracy is tolerable on average, but some colors show much stronger deviations. The pictures should look subjectively beautiful, but show less exact colors. Above all, the saturation is slightly increased with green tones, stronger with red tones and particularly strongly increased with violet tones. Cyan, on the other hand, has a clearly saturated blue colour that is shifted in a saturated direction, resulting in a bright blue sky, while colourful flowers shine brightly and the grass looks fresh. The colour richness itself is very good. Up to ISO 200, over four million colors are differentiated, up to ISO 6,400 over two million colors.
The Nikon D3400 is a neatly crafted entry-level DSLR at an attractive price. You may notice the red pen in the classic photo functions, but useful functions such as the guide mode are on board, especially for beginners. Advanced photographers may not reach their limits immediately, but they will soon, so a Nikon D5xxx is certainly the more durable investment for this target group. The innovative Snapbridge function on the D3400 is a useful, uncomplicated everyday helper, but the lack of the WLAN function also causes certain limitations here. Occasional photographers don’t have to make any compromises with the D3400, especially when it comes to image quality. The image processing is very good and does without any visible artefacts. Especially up to ISO 800 the image quality is very good, at ISO 1.600 good and at ISO 3.200 still fine with some small compromises. The new set lens AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6G VR surprised in the laboratory test especially with the very even, somewhat dimmed even very high resolution. The typical sharp drop in the resolution of such lenses does not occur. The situation is different with edge darkening, distortion and color fringing, which, however, only cause slight losses in image quality in the wide-angle angle.
|Sensor||CMOS APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5
)24.8 megapixels (physical)
24.2 megapixels (effective)
|Pixel pitch||3.9 µm|
|Resolution (max.)||4.496 x 3.000 (3:2)|
|Video (max.)||1.920 x 1.080 60p|
|Lens||Nikon AF-P 18-55 mm 3.5-5.6G DX VR (Zoom Lens)|
|Reflex viewfinder||Mirror viewfinder, 95 percent image field coverage, 0.85x magnification (sensor-related), 0.57x magnification (KB equivalent), 18 mm eye distance, diopter correction from -1.7 to 0.5 dpt, fixed focusing screen|
|AV connector||HDMI Mini Output (Type C)|
|Automatic motif control||–|
|Bulb long time exposure||yes|
|Exposure metering||Matrix/multi-field measurement (420 fields), center-weighted integral measurement, spot measurement|
|fastest shutter speed||1/4.000 s|
|Lightning bolt||built-in flash|
|Synchronous time||1/200 s|
|Flash connection||Hot shoe: Nikon, standard center contact|
|GPS||external, permanent smartphone connection|
|Remote release||yes, infrared trigger|
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
|Number of measuring fields||1 Cross sensors10
|Speed||Phase autofocus: 0.26 sLive View autofocus
: 1.00 s to 1.23 s
|AF auxiliary light||LED|
|Dimensions (mm)||124 x 89 x 75 mm|
|Weight (ready for operation)||440 g (housing only
)640 g (with lens)
|Tripod socket||in optical axis|
|Zoom adjustment||manual on lens|
|Battery life||1.200 images (according to CIPA standard)|
|– = “not applicable” or “not available”|
This test of the Nikon D3400 with Nikon AF-P 18-55 mm 3.5-5.6G DX VR was done with DxO Analyzer from DxO Labs.
- Smart guide mode explains camera and photography
- Very good image quality up to ISO 800, good at ISO 1,600
- Compact, lightweight housing
- Set lens with surprisingly good resolution
- Important basic functions (bracketing, mirror lock-up, dipping button) missing
- Very simple autofocus module with only one cross sensor
- Very small viewfinder
- Slow autofocus in Live View
Firmware updates for numerous Nikon DSLRs and accessories
The WLAN adapter WT-7 itself also requires a firmware update to version 1.1 to support the four new DSLRs. In addition, a problem has been fixed which prevented PASV mode connections to certain FTP servers and the HTTP server mode is now available in Turkish.
The firmware update C 1.02 for the Nikon D7200 ensures, besides the support of the WT-7, that for photos taken in Live-View with lenses with electromagnetically controlled aperture (lens types E and PC-E), the exposure is now optimal, which was sometimes not the case before. In addition, a problem with Auto-Distortion Correction is fixed. Although this was enabled, distortion could be visible at the edges of photos taken with the image quality setting to NEF (RAW) + JPEG Fine and the image size setting to M. Also, sometimes no images were recorded at all. It should also be noted that the settings are lost during this firmware update. However, it is possible to save them to a memory card beforehand using the corresponding menu function and reload them after the firmware update.
The D750 also struggled with the problems of image recording and distortion correction, which the firmware update C 1.11 fixes. In addition, the RGB histogram display is corrected during playback because it sometimes displayed incorrect values. In addition, the setting selected for Individual function f5 (dials) > Function assignment in the Individual functions menu of group f (controls) was not saved if the Save settings command was executed in the System menu under “Settings” on memory card.
The image recording and distortion correction were also a problem with the D810, which is solved with the firmware update C 1.12 in addition to the compatibility to the WT-7. Also, multiple exposures were not recorded correctly, and the RGB histogram display showed incorrect histograms for some images during playback. Furthermore, photo shots could be incorrectly exposed immediately after changing the lens. Also, the Protected Files icon was not displayed correctly. Another problem was the Auto Distortion Correction turned on: it could happen that the camera stopped responding if the user wanted to take pictures with the following settings: NEF (RAW) + JPEG Fine for image quality, S for NEF (RAW) settings > image size and RAW primary, JPEG secondary for secondary memory card slot function. The last problem resolved was the exposure times for the “electronic 1st curtain shutter”, which were sometimes shorter than 1/2000 sec.
However, the changes in firmware update C 1.02 for the D810A are minor: The camera sometimes stopped responding when a WR-R10 radio remote control with firmware version 3.00 was installed.
The firmware update 14.002 for the SB-5000 fixes a problem with the zoom function that did not work as expected at low temperatures. In addition, the AF Assist Light was not activated when the flash mode was set to AF Only (no flash transmission, only AF Assist Light mode) after the camera was turned on or woken when the shutter-release button was pressed until the first pressure point.
The firmware updates can be downloaded from the Nikon website.
Nikon D3400 Specifications
|Sensor||CMOS sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5
)24.8 megapixels (physical) and 24.2 megapixels (effective)
|Pixel pitch||3.9 µm|
|Picture formats||JPG, RAW|
|Colour depth||24 bits (8 bits per color channel), 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)|
|Metadata||Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard (version 2)|
|Audio format (video)||PCM|
|Autofocus mode||Phase comparison autofocus with one cross sensor, autofocus working range from -1 EV to 19 EV, contrast autofocus|
|Autofocus Functions||Single Auto Focus, Continuous Auto Focus, Tracking Auto Focus, Manual, AFL Function, AF Assist Light (LED), Focus Magnifier|
Viewfinder and Monitor
|Reflex viewfinder||Reflex viewfinder (95 % image coverage), 18 mm eye relief with 0.85 x magnification (0.6 x KB equivalent), diopter compensation (-1.7 to +0.5 dpt)|
|Monitor||3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 921,000 pixels, viewing angle 170°, brightness adjustable|
|Exposure metering||Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 420 fields, spot measurement (measurement over 3% of the image field)|
|Exposure times||1/4,000 to 30 s (automatic
)1/4,000 to 30 s (manual)
|Exposure control||Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual|
|Exposure compensation||-5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV|
|Sensitivity to light||ISO 100 to ISO 1.600 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (manual)
|Remote access||Remote release, Infrared release|
|Motives||Children, Landscape, Night portrait, Close-up, Portrait, Sports/Action, 1 additional scene modes|
|Picture effects||HDR Effects, High Key, Low Key, Miniature Effect, Selective Color, Blue Tint, Color Drawing, High/Low Key, Pop, Selective Color, Skylight, Tone Separation, Warm Tone, 1 more image effects|
|White balance||Auto, Clouds, Sun, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent lamp with 7 presets, Incandescent, Kelvin input, Manual|
|Color space||Adobe RGB, sRGB|
|Continuous shooting||5.0 frames/s at highest resolution|
|Self-timer||Self-timer with intervals of 2 or 20 s, special features: (manually adjustable)|
|Shooting functions||AEL function, AFL function, live histogram|
|Lightning bolt||built-in flash (hinged
)flash shoe: Nikon, standard center contact
|Flash range||Flash sync time 1/200 s|
|Flash functions||Auto, Fill-in flash, Flash on, Flash off, High speed sync, Slow sync, Flash on second shutter curtain, Manual flash output (6 levels), Red-eye reduction, Flash exposure compensation from -3.0 EV to +1.0 EV|
|Image stabilizer||no optical image stabilizer|
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
|GPS function||GPS external (permanent smartphone connection)|
|Power supply||Power supply connection|
|Power supply||1 x Nikon EN-EL14a (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.3 V, 1,230 mAh
)1,200 images according to CIPA standardNikon
EH-5B Power supply unit
|Playback Functions||Red eye retouching, video editing, image cropping, image rotation, image protection, highlight / shadow warning, playback histogram, playback magnifier, image index, slide show function, zoom out|
|Voice memo||Voice memo (PCM format)|
|Face recognition||Face recognition|
|Picture parameters||Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction|
|Special functions||Grid can be faded in, orientation sensor, Live View|
|Ports||Data interfaces: Bluetooth, USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High Speed
|AV connectors||AV output: HDMI output Mini (Type C
) Audio input: noAudio output
|Supported direct printing methods||DPOF, PictBridge|
|Tripod socket||1/4″ in optical axis|
|Features and Miscellaneous||Real-time noise reductionIn
NTSC video mode, 30p and 60p frame rates are available simultaneous
recording of JPEG and RAW/NEF image files is possibleD-Lighting technology
for camera-internal compensation between bright and dark image areasImage parameter presetsGuide function
explains the optimum shooting settingsISO
Size and weight
|Dimensions W x H x D||124 x 89 x 75 mm|
|Weight||440 g (ready for operation)|
|included accessories||Nikon AN-DC3 Storage AccessoriesNikon
BF-1B (Case Cover)
Nikon DK-25 (Eyecup)
Nikon EN-EL14a Special BatteryNikon
MH-24 Charger for special batteries
|optional accessory||Nikon AS-15 Adapter Flash AccessoriesNikon
EH-5B Power SupplyNikon
EP-5A Battery Compartment Adapter CableNikon
ML-L3 IR (Infrared Remote Control)
Nikon ML-L4 (Infrared Remote Control)