Make a con­nec­tion with Nikon’s new­est en­try-level D-SLR

Dis­cover Nikon’s brand new en­try-level D-SLR – and see how it stacks up against the ‘old’ D3300

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We’ve al­ways held Nikon’s lit­tle D3300 in high re­gard, as have the count­less pho­tog­ra­phy en­thu­si­asts who have con­trib­uted to mak­ing it one of Nikon’s most pop­u­lar cam­eras. It’s not the most so­phis­ti­cated D-SLR in the range, but its 24-megapixel DX sen­sor can match any non-full-frame Nikon for qual­ity, and while its con­trols are sim­ple enough for be­gin­ners to grasp almost im­me­di­ately, it has enough man­ual con­trol to keep keen pho­tog­ra­phers sat­is­fied.

Given all that, it’s clear that the new D3400 has a lot to live up to. Since the D3300 is al­ready such a ‘com­plete’ cam­era, im­prov­ing on it sig­nif­i­cantly was al­ways go­ing to be a challenge. It’s no sur­prise, then, that the D3400 is more of an evo­lu­tion of the ex­ist­ing cam­era than a re­design. In fact, the core spec­i­fi­ca­tions are almost un­changed, and it’s un­likely that any­one who owns a D3300 (or even a D3200) will feel the need to up­grade.

In­stant shar­ing a real­ity?

For new users it’s a dif­fer­ent story. Nikon has very clev­erly tapped into the in­creas­ing de­mand for ‘con­nected’ cam­eras and in­stant so­cial me­dia shar­ing by tak­ing the high-tech SnapBridge tech­nol­ogy first seen in the cut­ting-edge D500 and adapt­ing it for use in its starter D-SLR.

You can find out more about SnapBridge in the box op­po­site, but the bot­tom line for D3400 buy­ers is that they can take a photo with their new Nikon and im­me­di­ately have it avail­able on their smart­phones or tablets for shar­ing (though at a re­duced res­o­lu­tion), with no need to set up fid­dly Wi-Fi con­nec­tions.

Else­where, the 24-megapixel sen­sor, five-frames-per-sec­ond con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing mode and 11-point aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem are un­changed. This is a good set of spec­i­fi­ca­tions for an en­try-level D-SLR, and the D3400 looks good value even at its ini­tial launch price – which is sure to fall over time.

There has been a change to the max­i­mum ISO set­ting, up from ISO12800 on the D3300 to ISO25600 on the D3400. How­ever, the old cam­era had an ‘ex­panded’ ISO25600 set­ting too, so it seems that Nikon has sim­ply ap­plied a mi­nor tweak to make this set­ting part of the new cam­era’s na­tive ISO range.

Some more sig­nif­i­cant changes have hap­pened un­der the skin. One of these is a mas­sive in­crease in bat­tery life. The D3300 could take 700 shots on a sin­gle charge, which is al­ready very good, but the D3400 can take a mas­sive 1200. Nikon says that this

im­prove­ment is due to a low-en­ergy de­sign and a high-ca­pac­ity bat­tery, though the D3400’s EN-EL14a lithium ion cell is the same as the one sup­plied with the D3300.

The an­swer may lie in some less ob­vi­ous (and less wel­come) changes to the specs. The D3400’s pop-up flash is down on power com­pared to the D3300’s, with a Guide Num­ber of 8 at ISO100, com­pared to the old cam­era’s Guide Num­ber of 12.

A study of the specs for the new cam­era also re­veals no men­tion of the in­te­gral sen­sor dust removal sys­tem built into the D3300. This means dust spots are likely to prove more of an issue over time, re­quir­ing man­ual sen­sor dust­ing/clean­ing – though the kind of users the D3400 is aimed at are not likely to be chang­ing lenses as of­ten as en­thu­si­asts and ex­perts, so this may not be a se­ri­ous issue.

This could be a fac­tor in the D3400’s lower weight – at 445 grams, body-only, it’s 15 grams lighter than the cam­era it re­places. Other­wise, the ex­ter­nal di­men­sions are iden­ti­cal.

Smoother, qui­eter lenses

There is one fur­ther hard­ware change, and one that, in fact, was al­ready un­der way with sales of the D3300. Nikon has in­tro­duced a new AF-P 18-55mm kit lens which uses fast, near-silent step­per mo­tors for aut­o­fo­cus ac­tu­a­tion. This has been in­tro­duced with video in mind, to elim­i­nate mo­tor noise while film­ing, but it should de­liver fast, quiet aut­o­fo­cus for still images too.

Nikon has also in­tro­duced new light and in­ex­pen­sive 70-300mm tele­pho­tos fea­tur­ing this AF-P tech­nol­ogy (see New Gear, page 106). One thing to note, though, is that the AF-P 18-55mm and 70-300mm lenses are avail­able in both VR and cheaper non-VR ver­sions. Some re­tail­ers may sell bar­gain bun­dles which come with the non-VR lenses, but we would al­ways rec­om­mend pay­ing the ex­tra for the VR ver­sions.

We look for­ward to bring­ing you a full re­view of the D3400 just as soon as we can get one. We’re not ex­pect­ing any sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in im­age qual­ity and over­all fea­tures com­pared to the D3300, but we are keen to try out the new SnapBridge tech­nol­ogy, which could be all that’s needed to bring ‘proper’ cam­eras back into di­rect com­pe­ti­tion with smart­phones. The new AF-P lenses sound as if they could be an exciting new de­vel­op­ment too – so stay tuned!

The D3400 also comes in red. UK users can also get the D3400 in body-only form

1200-shot bat­tery life This is a big step up from the al­ready de­cent 700-shot bat­tery life of the D3300 – per­fect for snap­pers tak­ing a long day out. Guide mode The D3400 is de­signed to be easy for be­gin­ners to pick up, but the mode dial also of­fers a full set of man­ual and semi-auto modes too. Lighter op­tion Out­wardly, the D3400 is iden­ti­cal to the D3300. In­ter­nal changes, how­ever, have re­duced the weight by 15 grams. Re­tractable lens Nikon’s lat­est kit lenses are re­tractable to save space when you put the cam­era away. You press this but­ton to re­lease the lens. AF -P aut­o­fo­cus Nikon’s step­per mo­tor aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem is de­signed to be vir­tu­ally noise­less while film­ing video clips. Pop-up flash The D3400 has a pop-up flash, just like the D3300 be­fore it, but it’s a less pow­er­ful unit with a Guide num­ber of 8, not 12.

Nikon has just re­leased new 70-300mm lenses specif­i­cally for DX cam­eras. Turn the page to dis­cover more about these

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