The Nikon D3400 is the best entry level budget DSLR in the market right now. Even though it has its own set of few flaws, but it delivers top class imaging performance. The camera body is very light and the controls prompt ease of use. It’s missing external mic port, ultrasonic sensor cleaning, touchscreen and second control toggle. Comes powered with bluetooth and battery life is remarkable, both of which are really important for any one starting out with photography. It comes with ultra smooth AF-P lenses, the Nikon D3400 is the camera to buy if you are venturing out to the world of photography.
Nikon D3400, An In depth Review
Over the past few years it has become obvious that Nikon’s latest launches in the entry segment of DSLRs have mostly been incremental upgrades. The Nikon D3400 is no different, it’s essentially D3300 with a smaller body and Snapbridge. It is quite neat, well packed in a well proven 24.2 MP APS-C sensor and older generation EXPEED 4 image processor with the same metering and autofocus mechanism into a highly compact body that will leave seasoned pros double checking if it’s really a DSLR. Nikon also launched a new line of AF-P lenses that are much quieter than the outgoing AF-S models and the D3400 is being paired with the new 18-55mm kit lens for beginners.
Now lets dive into whether Nikon D3400 is really recommendable for first time owners of interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs).
Nikon D3400 : Lets talk performance
Color, Dynamic Range & Vibrancy
Nikon has a history of manufacturing brilliant cameras, Nikon D3400 is not an exception either. The Nikon D3400 produces very good colours across a wide array of set and surroundings, with crisp and vibrant bold colours and pretty decent dynamic range signature unique to Nikon’s usual imaging performance.
The colours are crisp and punchy. The colour accuracy of diverse areas within brightly lit setting is retained with perfection. The metering sensor while shooting in RAW mode also pics out the highlight and shadow areas really well and this gives you a fairly deep scope of post processing photographs to out bring out correct colour shades and tones, detailed shadows and smooth highlights.
It’s also quite feasible when we want to 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 when there are different shades of colour, the Nikon D3400 shoots in good level of colour details.
Even though Nikon D3400 is priced economically, don’t be fooled, the colours retain a good vibrancy for a camera in this price range and all of this leads to clean photographs with bright and accurate colours that look sharp enough. Good dynamic range adds to the colour reproduction along with details.
White Balance And Colour Saturation
When it comes to colour reproduction Nikon has mastered the craft over years of producing world class cameras! Continuing the legacy Nikon D3400 produces good auto calibrated white balance across scenes. It reads situation depending on the ambience, not going over the park with warm environments as compared to what other budget DSLRs lean to do. There is also a setting to opt for manual white balance adjustment with the presets, or else we can custom colour temperature as per our requirement. All of this works in tandem to the environment we are shooting in.
As far as saturation is concerned, the Nikon D3400 produces slightly richer saturation levels. Colours are move vibrant which also leads to more saturated colours, reds in particular. Yellow and blues are subtly optimised, the overall performance of the camera yields good colour saturation points. For RAW shooters, setting the picture control to flat shall do the trick if they intend to play around with the colours.
Details and Sharpness
Most of the camera users will be shooting into the JPEG compression and the Nikon D3400 produces a good level of fine detail in that. Even with the noise reduction at play, subjects are well composed. To some it might seem as if the sharpness is bit compromised and edged look slightly loose, however photographs don’t lose out on their crisp edges. The details improve as you rely less on noise reduction without significant increase in noise, which provides Nikon D3400 an upper hand as compared to its competitors. In overall terms, Nikon D3400 produces sufficient levels of details in photographs shot in macro, falling light, landscape and other common areas of shooting, making this good first camera for casual enthusiasts.
Image Noise And ISO Performance
This is yet another area where Nikon D3400 excels with flying colours. The camera produces excellent photographs with almost non existent noise in brightly lit scenes. In the RAW modes, Nikon D3400 produces less noise than many competitors, which gives you some of the cleanest JPEG translations we have ever experienced in this segment of DSLRs. The wide range of ISO gives us more room to shoot at night or in darker areas, that’s something budget DSLRs struggle with. The Nikon D3400 is certainly better than its competitors when it comes to detailing, colours and ISO performance.
Nikon D3400 comes with 11 point phase detection autofocus. It is decently fast, however at times feels sluggish in live view. It also struggles to lock on to fast moving objects and it takes a while to master shooting objects for fast response. Overall, the Nikon D3400 has decent autofocus performance which is neck to neck with other cameras in this segment.
Build Quality and ease of Use
The size of the body is smaller and compared other competitors in this segment which is helpful for first time DSLR users. The camera misses out on an external mic port, ultrasonic sensor cleaning, and the range of the built in flash is restricted to 7 meters at ISO of 100. The camera offers ample hand grip and great ergonomics. Button layout is intuitive. The lack of touchscreen also means that there’s no continuous touch-to-focus, and all of these factors do count when you consider that this camera will mostly be bought by beginners and amateurs. Apart from that, everything about this camera including the user interface, controls and toggles remain the same. The body still doesn’t get weatherproofing, which means that you would require an upgrade once you get accustomed to shooting with DSLRs.
Connectivity, Battery Life & Ports
Nikon D3400 comes with snap bridge. This bluetooth pairing with smart phones allows you to quickly transfer compressed JPEG files for instant sharing on social media, or you can choose full size photographs transfer as well which will take some seconds more. There is a SATA connector for USB cable and a mini HDMI. Battery life has also significantly improved with the Nikon D3400, and we could shoot a full cycle of a little over 1,000 stills and 85 minutes of Full HD 60fps video. This is fairly impressive, and with a little more careful usage, you may even be able to shoot over 1,400 stills in total. Idle discharge is minimal, and the battery itself takes a maximum of one hour and 15 minutes to charge from empty.
The Nikon D3400 is the best budget DSLR in the market right now, but not without a few flaws. It delivers class-leading imaging performance, and now begs for an upgrade to the autofocus mechanism. The very light body and easy controls aid usage, but the external mic port, ultrasonic sensor cleaning, touchscreen and a second control toggle are missed. It adds Bluetooth and betters battery life, both of which are important for anyone setting out to learn photography.
However, the limitations of its small body and the lack of weather sealing mean that beyond three years or so, you would need to upgrade the body if you grow more serious about photography. Apart from that, and coupled with the new, uber smooth AF-P lenses, the Nikon D3400 is the camera to buy.