Nikon D3400 / SHOOTING REPORT
I tested the Nikon D3400 with the AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G without prior knowledge about them, but it turned out to be good because I could examine the equipment without prejudice. First, I was shocked by the optical viewfinder (OVF) because I thought it was a mirrorless camera due to the extremely small size and light weight. I used my kitchen scale to measure how light it was and figured out it only weighs 685g including the kit zoom lens, genuine brand strap, battery (fully charged of course), and SD card (8GB). It’s slightly lighter than the mid-size beer mug. According to Nikon, it’s 15g lighter than the super-light D3300. Recently, I use a small camera bag because I don’t want to look like "I’m taking photography." But, I’d never thought an SLR would fit into this bag. Here’s the summary of specifications: DX format (with 1.5X crop factor), 24.16 megapixels, no lowpass filter, compatible with "SnapBridge" which connects the camera to smartphone seamlessly. So, you can upload images to SNS instantly while shooting. Sweet!
( Photography & Text : A.Inden )
Addicted to OVF (Optical Viewfinder)
I agree that we’re fine with mirrorless and compact cameras if they are small and light. However, once you experienced the minimum shutter lag with OVF, you will be stressed estimating the display time lag of EVF. To be honest, I was so accustomed to the time lag with EVF that I started shooting using the liveview of this camera as well. But when I switched to OVF just to check its visibility, I didn’t feel like switching back to liveview anymore because of the quick shutter response. I usually press the shutter button after fully determining the exposure, composition, etc on the LCD, but I pay more attention to people’s behaviors and eyes with the D3400. Although I admit the composition of the above two shots is bit loose, I think they express the atmosphere nicely because of their eyes and behaviors.
Pleasant instant focusing
Surfers at Kugenuma enjoy riding the best waves brought by the typhoon. Thanks to the minimum shutter time lag realized by the OVF and the "AF-P" zoom lens featuring a stepping motor, I could shoot at the very moment I wanted to shoot. The AF speed is lightening fast! Here’s my advice to those who use OVF for the first time. Compensate exposure with liveview first and switch to OVF. This way you can focus on shooting without worrying about exposure.
By shooting under, I expressed the bicycles with silhouette. As I usually shoot with AF-S (single AF) in order to focus on one point, I was blessed with the accurate AF which perfectly traced them running toward myself. I took few shots continuously and they are all in focus. Bravo!
Don't run too fast! I could focus on the running girl even under the lowlight condition on a rainy day. I didn’t mean to follow-shoot, but the result turned out to be great.
The AF captured people running away as well. Clear rendition of the colorful wears.
Rich tonal reproduction
Great reproduction of the colorful bicycles. I’m also impressed with the clarity of the white color. It’s very difficult to reproduce the tone of white color when other colors are also in the frame. The D3400 perfectly rendered the paint and the 3D quality of the white frame. This must be credited to the power of the EXPEED4 image processor inherited from the D4s, D810, and D5500.
When I shoot with one hand holding an umbrella with another hand, I appreciate the lightweight of this camera. I could also move the AF point to the biggest raindrop pressing the cross key with the thumb, without looking away from the OVF. Despite the unfriendly weather, the camera reproduced the great 3D quality of the petals, the rich tone of the white chair, and the wet air of the rainy day. And, a light and easy camera like this invites me to shoot even in the rain.
High sensitivity performance and image stabilization
Shooting in the Western style residence in Yokohama. When outside light is weak on a rainy day, the amber color of the lightbulb makes the interior look more nostalgic. If you want to capture such nice atmosphere as it is, set the ISO sensitivity to ISO 3200 and use daylight white balance. Together with the VR which gives you an extra 4 stop, you can cover most scenes while maintaining great tone and color reproduction. Did you imagine we could use ISO 3200 regularly a decade ago?
How much performance do you need?
The D3400 is an entry model in Nikon’s SLR lineup. I think this camera is more than good enough in the sense that it focuses quickly and accurately and reproduces rich tone. Of course, it’s not a full-frame camera and there’re other cameras with higher durability, better viewfinder visibility, and higher continuous shooting capability. And, how much more you need depends on what you shoot.
My children have already graduated from elementary school. If I had this camera on the sports festival day few years ago, I would have put this gear next to the large bento box inside the tote bag. People who would wonder if such a small camera could take good pictures must be surprised by the excellent result which complements the family dinner. If you still can’t decide the camera for sports festival, consider the D3400 with the AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G zoom lens seriously as it focuses as fast as the speed of light.
( 30.09.2015 )