The D3400 is Nikon’s latest entry-level DSLR, but does it represent a solid investment for those looking to buy their first serious camera? Audley Jarvis put it to the test.
Nikon D3400 review: Performance
The D3400 uses the same Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 phase-detection autofocus sensor module as its predecessor, and this provides 11 AF points arranged in a diamond formation across the central portion of the viewfinder. Only the central point is of the cross-type variety, with all the others being horizontal.
Used in good light with the new 18-55mm AF-P VR kit lens, we found focus acquisition to be all but instantaneous. When light levels drop, however, so too does AF performance, especially when using one of the peripheral AF points. In really low light the D3400’s built-in AF-Assist light and central cross-type AF point can usually be relied upon when the main subject is within close proximity.
When used in live view mode, the D3400’s contrast-detect autofocus remains impressively quick and is noticeably faster to lock on than the Canon EOS 1300D. Even when light levels drop below optimal the D3400 remains relatively snappy, although in really poor light some lengthy focus hunting does invariably creep in.
As regards AF modes, the D3400 is well served with single-servo (AF-S), continuous-servo (AF-C) and automatic (AF-A) options. Predictive focus tracking is activated automatically, although the 11 AF points are quite widely spaced across the viewfinder, and consequently the D3400 doesn’t particularly excel in this respect. Anyone looking for a DSLR to regularly shoot fast action with would find themselves much better served by the 39-point AF system of the D5500/D5600, or the 51 points found on the Nikon D7200.
Continuous shooting maxes out at 5fps, which compares favourably to the 3fps burst speed of the Canon EOS 1300D, but is slightly slower than the Pentax K-50’s 6fps. During testing we were able to record just over 100 full-resolution JPEGs with autofocus set to AF-S mode before the buffer filled. Set to raw, the figure dropped to 18 consecutive images, while in JPEG+raw the figure dropped to just six consecutive images. In performance terms, this puts the D3400 very much on a par with the Canon EOS 1300D, which provides almost identical figures.