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
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