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Nikon D3400, $650 entry dSLR, arrives with new AF-P series lenses

In addition to a minor update to its cheapest dSLR, Nikon brings its 18-55mm AF-P lenses to the US and announces new 70-300mm versions.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

The D3400's body looks almost unchanged since the D3100, which was three generations ago.


The Nikon D3300 has long been my go-to recommendation for a cheap dSLR, but after 2 years it's usually time to slap a new coat of paint on consumer products. Nikon's 2016 update to that camera, the D3400, has some small enhancements to bring it up to date, but nothing vital.

Along with the camera, Nikon has announced new kit lenses to accompany it. The 18-55mm versions of its new AF-P lenses -- they incorporate stepper motors like Canon's STM lenses for smoother and quieter focus in LCD-based Live View -- were announced in January and have been available in Europe and Australia, but they're finally making their US debut. Additionally, the company revealed another pair of 70-300mm AF-P lenses.

Shop for Nikon D3400 (with AF-P 18-55mm VR lens, black)

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There are two versions of each of the two zooms, one with optical image stabilization (Nikon's Vibration Reduction, or VR) and one without; the names differ solely by the "VR" designation and $50 (a more significant £60 in the UK and as-yet unknown price in Australia). This is going to get really confusing for shoppers, who will, I bet, inadvertently end up buying the wrong kit.

The AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G VR is $250 (£230, AU$200) while the non-VR version is $200 (£170; I don't see this version of the lens in Australia), and the AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5- 6.3G ED VR costs $400 (directly converted £307, AU$520), $350 (approximately £270, AU$455) for the nonstabilized one.

Nikon's initially offering two kits of the D3400, one with the 18-55mm VR lens for $650. The other option is a dual-lens kit with the VR version of the 18-55mm lens but the non-VR version of the 70-300mm. While that's a silly configuration -- stabilization on the lens where you don't need it and no stabilization on the one where you do -- it allows Nikon to hit its just-under-$1,000 price of...$999.95. I don't have overseas information yet, but those convert to approximately £500, AU$845 for the first kit and £770, AU$1,300 for the dual-lens kit.

What's new

  • Sensor update. Though it's the same resolution as the D3300, the new sensor follows Nikon's trend of removing the low-pass filter (also known as the antialiasing filter) to deliver sharper photos. In fact, along with the update to the company's Expeed 4 imaging engine, it looks an awful lot like the imaging system that's in the D5300. It gives the camera a better noise profile, extended into what were the expanded regions on the D3300.
  • Wireless support. No Wi-Fi here; Nikon's betting on Bluetooth to maintain a persistent low-power connection between the camera and your mobile device. That's fine given how lame the company's SnapBridge app is. Hopefully there'll be an iPhone/-compatible app by the time the camera ships, because there still isn't at the moment.
  • Improved battery life. The D3400's extends to 1,200 shots from 700, despite using the same battery.

My take

Like Canon, Nikon is now in a position where its older, better cameras (in Nikon's case the D5300 from 2013) are cheaper than their cheap dSLRs -- which, by the way, also have old technology, but a 2016 date on them. The D5300 has better autofocus and metering systems, an articulated LCD and Wi-Fi. The Canon EOS Rebel T6/EOS 1300D is cheaper, but the D3400 has better hardware, so its real Canon competition is the old EOS Rebel T5i/700D, which, like the D5300, has better specs for the same price. Still, unless Nikon broke something, it should carry on the D3300's torch as a solid first dSLR.

Comparative specifications

Canon EOS Rebel T5iEOS 700DCanon EOS Rebel T6EOS 1300DNikon D3300Nikon D3400
Sensor effective resolution 18MP CMOS18MP CMOS24.2MP CMOS24.2MP CMOS
Sensor size 22.3 x 14.9mm22.3 x 14.9mm23.2 x 15.4mm23.2 x 15.4mm
Focal-length multiplier 1.6x1.6x1.5x1.5x
OLPF YesYesYesNo
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 12800/25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 6400/12800 (exp)ISO 100 (exp)/200 - ISO 12800/25600 (exp)ISO 100 - ISO 25600
Burst shooting 5fps6 raw/22 JPEG(without continuous AF and IS off)3fps 6 raw/unlimited JPEG5fps n/a 5fps100 JPEG
Viewfinder (mag/effective mag) Optical95% coverage0.85x/0.53xOptical95% coverage0.80x/0.50xOptical95% coverage0.85x/0.57xOptical95% coverage0.85x/0.57x
Hot Shoe YesYesYesYes
Autofocus 9-pt AFcenter cross-type9-pt AFcenter cross-type11-pt AFcenter cross-type11-pt AFcenter cross-type
AF sensitivity -0.5 - 18 EV0 - 18 EV-1 to 19 EV-1 to 19 EV
Shutter speed 1/4,000 to 60 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync1/4,000 to 30 secs; bulb; 1/200 sec x-sync
Shutter durability n/an/an/an/a
Metering 63 zones63 zones420-pixel 3D color matrix metering II420-pixel 3D color matrix metering II
Metering sensitivity 1 - 20 EV1 - 20 EV0 - 20 EV0 - 20 EV
Best video H.264 QuickTime MOV1080/30p, 25p, 24p; 720/60pH.264 QuickTime MOV1080/30p, 25p, 24p; 720/60p, 50pH.264 QuickTime MOV1080/60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24pH.264 QuickTime MOV1080/60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
Audio Stereo, mic inputMonoMono; mic inputMono; mic input
Manual aperture and shutter in video YesYesShutter speed onlyn/a
Maximum best-quality recording time 4GB29m59s20m20m
Clean HDMI out NoNoYesYes
IS OpticalOpticalOpticalOptical
LCD 3 in/7.7 cmArticulated touchscreen1.04m dots3 in/7.5 cm Fixed920,000 dots3 in/7.5 cmFixed921,000 dots3 in/7.5 cmFixed921,000 dots
Memory slots 1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC1 x SDXC
Wireless connection NoneWi-Fi, NFCOptional Wi-Fi (with WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter)Bluetooth
Flash YesYesYesYes
Wireless flash YesNoNoNo
Battery life (CIPA rating) 440 shots (VF); 180 shots (LV)500 shots (VF); 180 shots (LV)700 shots1,200 shots
Size (WHD) 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1 in150 x 99 x 79 mm5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1 in 129 x 101 x 78 mm4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in124 x 98 x 76 mm 4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in124 x 98 x 76 mm
Body operating weight 20.8 oz589.7 g17.7 oz 502 g 16 oz454 g16 oz (est.)454 g (est.)
Primary kit $600£490AU$860(with 18-55mm STM lens)$500£385AU$550 (est.)(with 18-55mm IS II lens)$550£360AU$800(with 18-55mm VR lens)£380(with AF-P 18-55mm VR lens)$650(with AF-P 18-55mm VR lens)
Release date April 2013April 2016February 2014September 2016