Nikon D3400 For Dummies book cover

Nikon D3400 For Dummies

By: Julie Adair King Published: 12-27-2016

Discover the essentials to getting better photos with the Nikon DLSLR D3400

The Nikon D3400 hits stores as Nikon's most advanced entry-level DSLR camera. Along with the pixel power to deliver sharp images, it also offers tools to be instantly creative and quickly share photos to a smartphone. This book will get you up to speed on the D3400 in a flash—teaching you all the basic photography skills needed to get great shots from a DSLR camera, while also giving you clear, hands-on guidance through the D3400's specific controls.

Nikon D3400 for Dummies helps you learn the ins and outs of the Nikon D3400, including how to get started right away in auto mode, get creative with scene modes, and take full control in manual mode. Filled with practical, easy-to-follow instructions, this book will help you transform from an inexperienced beginner to an advanced shutterbug whose shots could grace the cover of any popular magazine.

  • Get the lowdown on the controls and settings on a Nikon D3400
  • Learn how pro photographers set their cameras to get better shots
  • Discover the tools that control your camera's exposure settings
  • Put your newfound knowledge together to shoot better portraits, action shots, and low-light images

If you're ready to put down your dinky, dim-lit, non-zooming smartphone and pick up a real professional-grade DSLR camera, do so with the help of Nikon D3400 for Dummies.

Articles From Nikon D3400 For Dummies

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39 results
39 results
Nikon D3400 For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-22-2022

With the D3400 camera, Nikon proves once again that you don't have to give an arm and a leg — or strain your back and neck — to enjoy dSLR photography. The D3400 doesn't skimp on power or performance, offering a great set of features to help you take your photography to the next level. But for novices, the camera also offers plenty of easy-to-use, automated modes. To help you get started using your camera, here's a handy reference to your camera's buttons, dials, and exposure modes.

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Scene Modes on Your Nikon D3400

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

Your Nikon D3400 camera offers six Scene modes, which select settings designed to capture specific scenes using traditional characteristics. For example, most people prefer portraits that have softly focused backgrounds. So in Portrait mode, the camera selects settings that can produce that type of background. Scene modes are represented on the Mode dial by the symbols shown here. Autofocusing: For the most part, autofocusing in Scene modes works as outlined for the Auto and Auto Flash Off exposure modes. To recap: Autofocusing during viewfinder shooting: The camera uses the AF-A Focus mode setting, which means that focus is locked at the time you press the shutter button halfway unless the camera senses a moving subject. In that case, focus is adjusted up to the time you press the shutter button to take the shot. For the AF-area mode, which is the setting that controls which focus point is used, the camera uses a different default setting depending on your Scene mode, so see the upcoming descriptions for details. In all Scene modes, you can dump out of the default AF-area mode if you choose. Autofocusing during Live View shooting: By default, the Focus mode is set to AF-S, and focus is set when you press the shutter button halfway. However, you can change to AF-F mode, which provides full-time, continuous autofocusing. As with viewfinder photography, you get the option to use the default AF-area mode, which varies depending on the scene mode, or to choose one of the other Live View AF-area mode settings. ISO Sensitivity: This option determines how much the camera's image sensor reacts to light and, therefore, how much light you need to expose the image. Auto is the default setting. The camera then adjusts the ISO Sensitivity option as needed to expose the picture. To change the ISO setting quickly, press and hold the Fn button (located on the left side of the camera, underneath the Flash button) while rotating the Command dial. Flash: Flash is disabled in Landscape and Sports modes. In other modes, you may be able to choose a Flash mode that disables flash or a special flash setting, such as Red-Eye Reduction mode. The fastest way to change the Flash mode is to press the Flash button while rotating the Command dial, but you also can access the setting via the control strip. (Press the i button to activate the strip.) Release mode: The default Release mode is Single Frame for all modes except Sports, which uses Continuous (burst) mode shooting. However, you don't have to stick with the default; to change the setting, press the Release mode button, located just under the Multi Selector on the back of the camera. Finally, understand that the results you get from any Scene mode vary depending on the lighting, your subject, and the range of aperture settings available on your lens. Those factors determine which exposure settings the camera can select, which in turn affects how much of the scene appears in focus and whether moving objects appear blurry.

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Enabling and Disabling Flash on Your Nikon D3400

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

In certain exposure modes on your Nikon D3400 camera, flash is set by default to fire automatically if the camera thinks that the ambient light is insufficient; in other modes, you have to manually enable the flash. Here's the breakdown: Auto mode; all Scene and Effects modes that permit flash: Flash is set to Auto by default. After you press the shutter button, the camera assesses the available light and automatically pops up the built-in flash if it finds that light lacking. If you don't want to use flash in these exposure modes, you may be able to disable it via the Flash mode setting, however. P, S, A, and M modes: There's no such thing as automatic flash in these modes. Instead, if you want to use the built-in flash, press the Flash button on the side of the camera. Don't want flash? Just press down gently on the top of the flash to close the unit. The camera does give you a little flash input, though: You see a blinking question mark or a flash symbol, or both, in the displays if the camera thinks you need flash. Press the Zoom Out button (the one with the question mark above it), and a message appears, recommending that you use flash.

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Self-Timer Shooting on Your Nikon D3400

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

You're no doubt familiar with Self-Timer mode, which delays the shutter release for a few seconds after you press the shutter button, giving you time to dash into the picture. Here's how it works on the D3400: After you press the shutter button, the AF-assist lamp on the front of the camera starts to blink, and the camera emits a series of beeps (assuming that you didn't disable its voice via the Beep option on the Setup menu). A few seconds later, the camera captures the image. By default, the camera waits 10 seconds after you press the shutter button and then records a single image. But you can tweak the delay time and capture as many as nine shots at a time. Set your preferences by using the Self-Timer option, found on the Setup menu. Here's what you need to know about the two settings: Self-Timer Delay: Choose a delay time of 2, 5, 10, or 20 seconds. The selected delay time appears with the Self-Timer symbol in the Information and Live View displays. (Refer to the figure for help locating the symbol in the displays.) Number of Shots: Specify how many frames you want to capture with each press of the shutter button; the maximum is nine. When you record multiple frames, shots are taken at 4-second intervals. Two more points about self-timer shooting: After the specified number of shots are captured, the camera resets the Release mode to Single Frame, Quiet, or Continuous. Turning off the camera also resets the Release mode. Either way, the camera selects the Release mode you used before Self-Timer mode. Cover the viewfinder during self-timer shooting. Otherwise, light may seep into the camera through the viewfinder and affect exposure. You can buy a cover designed for your camera for under $5; the Nikon part you need is DK-5. To use it, remove the rubber eyepiece that surrounds the viewfinder and then insert the cover in its place. As an alternative, you can just cover the viewfinder with a piece of cloth or card stock — even hanging the camera strap over the viewfinder can work if you're using a tripod.

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Continuous (Burst Mode) Shooting on Your Nikon D3400

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

Sometimes known as burst mode, Continuous mode shooting records a continuous series of pictures as long as you hold down the shutter button, making it easier to capture action. On the Nikon D3400, you can capture up to five frames per second. A few critical details: Enabling flash disables continuous shooting. Flash isn't compatible with burst mode photography because the time that the flash needs to recycle between shots slows down the capture rate too much. If flash is enabled, the camera operates as if you were using Single Frame mode. Images are stored temporarily in the memory buffer. The camera has a little bit of internal memory — a buffer — where it stores picture data until it has time to record them to the memory card. The number of pictures the buffer can hold depends on certain camera settings, such as resolution and file type (JPEG or Raw). When you press the shutter button halfway, the shots-remaining value in the lower-right corner of the viewfinder changes to display an r. For example, r24 means that 24 frames will fit in the buffer. After shooting a burst of images, wait for the memory-card access light on the back of the camera to go out before turning off the camera. That's your signal that the camera has successfully moved all data from the buffer to the memory card. Turning off the camera before that happens may corrupt the image files. Your mileage may vary. The number of frames per second depends on several factors, including focusing method and shutter speed. To achieve the highest rate, Nikon suggests that you use manual focusing and a shutter speed of 1/250 second or faster. Additionally, although you can capture as many as 100 frames in a single burst, the frame rate can drop if the buffer gets full or when the battery power is low.

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Single Frame and Quiet Shutter Release Modes on Your Nikon D3400

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

Single Frame Release mode on your Nikon D3400 captures one picture each time you press the shutter button. It's the default setting for all exposure modes except the Sports Scene mode. Quiet Shutter mode works just like Single Frame mode but makes less noise as it goes about its business. First, the camera disables the beep that it emits by default when it achieves focus. (You can turn off the beep for other Release modes via the Beep option on the Setup menu.) Additionally, Quiet Shutter mode affects the operation of the internal mirror that causes the scene coming through the lens to be visible in the viewfinder. Normally, the mirror flips up when you press the shutter button and then flips back down after the shutter opens and closes. This mirror movement makes some noise. In Quiet Shutter mode, you can temporarily prevent the mirror from flipping back down by keeping the shutter button fully pressed after the shot. This way, you can delay the sound made by the final mirror movement to a moment when the noise won't be objectionable.

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Setting the Release Mode on the Nikon D3400

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

By using the Release mode setting on your Nikon D3400, you set the camera whether to capture a single image each time you press the shutter button (Single Frame mode); to record a burst of photos as long as you hold down the shutter button (Continuous mode); or to delay the image capture until a few seconds after you press the shutter button (Self-Timer mode). You also get Quiet Shutter mode, which dampens the normal shutter-release sounds, and two options related to shooting with the Nikon ML-L3 wireless remote control. Why Release mode? It's short for shutter-release mode. Pressing the shutter button tells the camera to release the shutter — an internal light-control mechanism — so that light can strike the image sensor and expose the image. Your choice of Release mode determines when and how that action occurs. On the Information screen and Live View display, the current Release mode is indicated by the icons labeled here. In the figures, the S symbol represents the Single Frame release mode. Note that the Live View screen in the figure shows the default data-display mode; if your screen shows a different assortment of data, press the Info button to cycle through the available display modes. To adjust the Release mode setting, press the Release mode button, labeled in the following image, to display the selection screen shown. The figure shows the screen as it appears during normal viewfinder photography; in Live View mode, the screen appears superimposed over the live display. Either way, use the Multi Selector to select a setting and then press OK. Notice the symbols at the bottom of the screen shown on the monitor? Symbols at the bottom of settings screens such as this one represent buttons you can press to perform certain actions. For example, the i symbol with the return arrow (refer to the lower-right corner of the display) indicates that you can press the camera's i button (labeled in the figure) to exit the settings screen. Similarly, the question-mark symbol displayed in the lower-left corner of the Release mode screen tells you that if you press the camera button marked with a question mark (the button just above the i button), you can display a screen that offers a bit of information about the setting you're adjusting.

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Choosing an Exposure Mode on Your Nikon D3400

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

The first setting to consider is the exposure mode, which you select via the Mode dial. Your choice determines how much control you have over two critical exposure settings — aperture and shutter speed — as well as many other options, including those related to color settings and flash photography. Fully automatic exposure modes For point-and-shoot simplicity, choose from these modes: Auto and Auto Flash Off: The camera analyzes the scene and selects what it considers the most appropriate settings to capture the image. The only difference between the two modes is that Auto Flash Off disables flash; in Auto mode, you can choose from several Flash modes. Scene modes: You also get six automatic modes designed to capture specific subjects in ways deemed best according to photography tradition. For example, in Portrait mode, skin tones are manipulated to appear warmer and softer, and the background appears blurry to bring attention to your subject. In Landscape mode, greens and blues are intensified, and the camera tries to maintain sharpness in both near and distant objects. Flash options vary depending on the Scene mode. Because these modes are designed to make picture-taking simple, they prevent you from accessing many camera features. Options that are off-limits appear dimmed on the menus and the Information and Live View displays. If you press a button that leads to an advanced setting, the monitor displays a message telling you that the option is unavailable. That said, these modes enable you to take great pictures until you're ready to step up to the advanced modes. Semiautomatic modes (P, S, and A) To take more creative control but still get some exposure assistance from the camera, choose one of these exposure modes: P (programmed autoexposure): The camera selects the aperture and shutter speed necessary to ensure a good exposure. But you can rotate the Command dial to choose from different combinations of the two to vary the creative results. For example, shutter speed determines whether moving objects appear blurry or sharp. So you might use a fast shutter speed, which freezes action, or you might go in the other direction, choosing a shutter speed slow enough to blur the moving subject, which can create a heightened sense of motion. S (shutter-priority autoexposure): You rotate the Command dial to select the shutter speed, and the camera selects the aperture setting that properly exposes the image. This mode is ideal for capturing moving subjects because it gives you direct control over the shutter speed. A (aperture-priority autoexposure): In this mode, you rotate the Command dial to choose the aperture, and the camera chooses a shutter speed to properly expose the image. Because aperture affects depth of field (the distance over which objects in a scene remain acceptably sharp), this setting works well for portraits because you can select an aperture that results in a soft, blurry background, putting the emphasis on your subject. For landscape shots, on the other hand, you might choose an aperture that keeps the entire scene sharply focused so that both near and distant objects have equal visual weight. These modes give you access to all camera features. So even if you're not ready to explore aperture and shutter speed, go ahead and set the Mode dial to P if you need to access a setting that's off-limits in the fully automated modes. The camera then operates pretty much as it does in Auto mode but doesn't limit you to the most basic picture-taking settings. Manual exposure mode (M) In manual mode, you take the exposure reins completely, selecting both aperture and shutter speed as follows: To set the shutter speed: Rotate the Command dial. To set the aperture: Press the Exposure Compensation button while rotating the Command dial. Even in this mode, the camera offers an assist by displaying an exposure meter to help you dial in the right settings. You have complete control over all other picture settings, too. One important and often misunderstood aspect of manual exposure mode: Setting the Mode dial to M has no bearing on focusing. You can still choose manual focusing or autofocusing, assuming that your lens offers autofocusing. Remember that with an AF-P lens, you set the focusing method via the Focus Mode option on the Shooting menu. AF-S lenses typically have an exterior switch for setting the focusing method. Specialty modes (Effects and Guide modes) Your camera also offers two special-purpose exposure modes: Effects: As its name implies, this mode provides access to settings that apply special effects to still photos or movies as you record them. For example, the Night Vision effect creates a black-and-white photo or movie that has a grainy appearance, as if you were viewing the subject through night-vision goggles. After you set the Mode dial to Effects, rotate the Command dial to cycle through the various effects. Alternatively, you can apply some special effects to a photo after you shoot it. Guide: Rotate the dial to this setting to access the guided-menu feature, which provides step-by-step instructions for taking pictures, setting up the camera, retouching images, and viewing photos and movies.

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How to Restore Default Settings on Your Nikon D3400

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

You can quickly reset all the options on the Nikon D3400's Shooting menu by selecting the Reset Shooting Menu, as shown on the left. Likewise, the Setup menu also has a Reset Setup Options item to restore all settings on that menu, as shown on the right. For a more drastic camera reset, scroll to the last page of the Setup menu, where you find the Reset All Settings option, shown here. Choosing this option restores everything except the Language, Time Zone and Date, and Guide mode settings to their factory default. A few potential flies in the ointment: Resetting the Shooting menu defaults wipes out any customizations you made to a Picture Control setting — for example, if you tweaked the Vivid setting to produce even more saturated colors than it does by default. Additionally, a Shooting menu reset restores the default settings of a couple options not on the menu, including the Release mode, Exposure Compensation, Flash Compensation, Flash mode, and selected focus point. Finally, the AE-L/AF-L button returns to its normal operation as well. More worrisome is that resetting the Setup menu or choosing Reset All Settings restores the File Number Sequence option to its default, Off, which is most definitely Not a Good Thing. So if you restore the defaults, be sure that you revisit that option and return it to the On setting. See the preceding section for details. Choosing Reset Setup Options does not affect the Time Zone and Date, Language, or Storage Folder options. So you need to adjust those settings individually if necessary.

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Adjusting Settings on Your Nikon D3400 via the Control Strip

Article / Updated 03-02-2017

Found on the lower-left corner of the Nikon D3400 camera back, the i button activates a control strip that gives you quick access to some critical shooting settings. Here's how to use the control strip for viewfinder photography: Make sure that the camera is in any shooting mode except Guide. Display the Information screen. If the camera is in playback mode or you're viewing a menu screen, press and release the shutter button halfway to display the Information screen. You also may need to take this step if the camera has "gone to sleep," turning off the monitor automatically to save battery power. You also can press the Info button on top of the camera to turn the screen on and off. Press the i button. The top part of the display dims, and you see the control strip — the two rows of settings at the bottom of the screen — as shown on the left in the figure. The currently selected setting appears highlighted, and its name is displayed above the control strip. For example, in the left screen, the Image Size option is selected. Options that are dimmed in the control strip aren't available in the current exposure mode (Auto, P, Effects, and so on). Use the Multi Selector to highlight the setting you want to change. Press OK. A screen displays the available settings for the option, as shown on the right side. Use the Multi Selector to highlight the desired option, and press OK. You're returned to the control strip. You can then adjust another setting, if needed. To exit the control strip, press the i button again. Or just give the shutter button a quick half-press and release it. The Information display returns to its normal appearance. In Live View mode, the control strip looks and works the same as just described except that the strip overlays the live preview.

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