Ultimate Nikon Showdown: The Nikon 3300 vs. the Nikon 3400!

The Nikon D3000 series of entry-level DSLR cameras has been one of Nikon’s best selling lines of cameras since the original D3000 was first introduced in 2009.  Targeted towards consumers moving up from point and shoot compact cameras, the D3000 series of cameras has always had a reputation for excellent image quality in a small, lightweight and affordable DSLR package.

Since the original D3000 was introduced, Nikon has been introducing follow up models as a result of advances in DSLR camera technology.  Two of the most recent upgrades are the D3300, which was introduced in 2014 and the D3400, which was introduced in 2016.  While the D3300 has been dropped from Nikon’s lineup it is still widely available and competes head-to-head against the D3400.  So which is the better camera, the D3300 or the D3400?

The Similarities

Nikon appears to have only slightly tweaked the existing D3300, when they developed the D3400, as the two cameras are almost identical in their technical specifications and features.  To start, both cameras are based on Nikon’s DX format, which uses a smaller and less expensive CMOS sensor that measures 23.5mm x 15.6mm.  Although smaller and cheaper, the sensor found in both cameras is very advanced and has excellent image quality, with images being captured at 24.2 megapixels.  While the least expensive cameras in Nikon’s DSLR lineup, the D3300, and the D3400 are two of the highest resolution cameras currently being offered by Nikon.

Once images are captured, the D3300 and D3400 both use the same EXPEED 4 processor to process the images to the camera’s single memory card, as either RAW or JPEG files, with the files stored in a SD, SDHC or SDXC memory card.  The EXPEED 4 processor allows images to be processed fast allowing both cameras to shoot at 5 frames per second.  In addition, both cameras share a shutter speed range of 1/4,000 to 30 seconds.   While not the fastest cameras on the market, the D34300 and the D3400 are both capable of capturing fast moving subjects making either camera suitable for most sports and action photography.

Other similarities between the two cameras include an excellent viewfinder, which provides 95% coverage.  This means that the image captured by the sensor is going to be slightly larger than what is seen in the viewfinder.  The autofocus system in both the D3300 and D3400 are identical, with both cameras featuring up to 11 autofocus points that evenly distributed in the viewfinder. In both cameras, the autofocus points are accurate and capable of quickly finding and holding focus.  In addition, the photographer will find critical information concerning the camera’s settings in the viewfinder, which is very useful when composing images.

The D3300 and D3400 both feature the standard exposure modes including Aperture Priority (A), Auto, Auto (Flash Off), Manual, Programmed Auto With Flexible Program (P), Scene Modes, Shutter-Priority (S), as well as a number of pre-set scene and creative exposure modes.   The pre-programmed scene exposure modes, in particular are a very useful feature, as it allows the camera to select the ideal mix of settings to match the scene selected.

As one would expect, both cameras also feature video capabilities, which are quite good for entry-level cameras.  While neither camera uses the newer 4K format, they do both feature full HD video, as well as other formats.  In the HD format, the frame size is 1,920 x 1,080, with images being recorded in various speeds ranging from 24-60 frames per second.  Video files are stored as .MOV files.

Other similarities between the two cameras include a fixed real LCD screen, which measures 3.0”.  The screen is used to navigate the camera’s menu system, pre-view images and compose images using the “live view”.  Both cameras are very compact measuring 4.9” x 3.9” x 3.0”, while the D3400 is slightly lighter at 14.0 ounces compared to the 14.5 ounces of the D3300.  The lightweight of the two cameras is a result of an all-plastic body, which does not feature any weather sealing.

The Differences

While the Nikon D3300 and D3400 are very similar, there are a number of significant differences between the two cameras beginning with the native ISO range of the two cameras.  In the case of the D3300, the range is 100-12,800, while the D3400 has a native ISO range of 100-25,600.  In both cameras, the image quality is good even at the upper end of the native ISO range, as the camera’s noise reduction software does an excellent job of reducing noise, without reducing image detail.  However, as with almost all cameras, the best image quality in both the D3300 and the D3400 is found when using moderate ISO settings.

Another difference between the two cameras is the lack of a sensor cleaner on the D3400, which is a standard feature on the D3300.  In the D3400, dust is removed from the image via software that detects dust in the image and then removes the dust from the image.  This is an unusual process, as sensor cleaners have been pretty standard on all Nikon DSLR cameras for years.  It will be interesting to see if this feature is carried forward in the other cameras in Nikon’s lineup.

The D3400 has incorporated built-in Bluetooth® and Nikon’s SnapBridge technology that allows the camera to directly transfer images from the camera to either a Smartphone or a tablet.  This feature allows images to be shared via multiple social media formats, as well as uploaded to various “Cloud” storage mediums via the photographer’s Smartphone or tablet.  While the D3300 has wireless capabilities, an optional transmitter is required, which is actually expensive and awkward to use.

Although both cameras use the same EN-EL14a battery, Nikon has figured out a way to significantly reduce the power required to operate the D3400.  As a result of this efficiency, the D3400 can capture up to 1,200 still images compared to the 700 still images that can be captured with the D3300.

The Pros and Cons

All cameras have positive and negative characteristics as the “perfect” camera has yet to be developed by Nikon or any other manufacturer.  The significance of these “pros” and “cons” depends upon the individual photographer and their style of photography.  Consumers considering the D3300 or the D3400 should carefully look at the positive and negative features of both cameras and decide for themselves of the significance of these features.

As far as the D3300 is concerned, the biggest “pro” is the value that the camera represents. It is hard to believe that you can get a DSLR camera that captures images at 24.2 megapixels s for under $500 and that includes a very capable Nikkor 18-55mm VR II lens! (Check out the latest discounts and prices here!)

The biggest negative feature of the D3300 is the age of the camera. While only two years old, that is a significant amount of time as far as DSLR cameras is concerned, as the technology is constantly improving. That being said, the D3300 is still a very capable camera that will produce outstanding images.

The biggest positive feature found on the D3400 is the built-in Bluetooth® / SnapBridge technology, which is going to make the D3400 a very popular camera with today’s consumers that use the various social media platforms.  The ability to quickly transfer images directly from the camera to a Smartphone or Tablet and then directly to a social media platform is going to be very popular feature!

The biggest “con” of the D3400 is the elimination of the built-in sensor cleaner.   While Nikon has included built-in software to eliminate dust, many experienced photographers would prefer a sensor cleaner, especially if the camera is being used in the field.   The jury is still out on how effective the software is and many photographers may be concerned about the time and cost involved to send the D3400 to a Nikon service center to have the sensor cleaned.

Just the Facts, A side-By-Side Comparison

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Nikon D3300 and the D3400 both have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Item Nikon D3300 D3400
Year Introduced 2014 2016
Format DX DX
Megapixels 24.2 24.2
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Processor EXPEED 4 EXPEED 4
Image Format RAW and JPEG RAW and JPEG
Sensor Size 23.5 mm x 15.6 mm 23.5 mm x 15.6 mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes No
Auto-focus Points 11 11
Scene Modes Yes Yes
Creative Exposure Modes Yes Yes
Modes Aperture Priority (A), Auto, Auto (Flash Off), Manual, Programmed Auto With Flexible Program (P), Scene Modes, Shutter-Priority (S) Aperture Priority (A), Auto, Auto (Flash Off), Manual, Programmed Auto With Flexible Program (P), Scene Modes, Shutter-Priority (S)
Metering Matrix 3D Matrix 3D
View Finder Type Eye-Level Pentamirror Eye-Level Pentamirror
View Finder Coverage 95% 95%
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second 5 5
ISO 100 – 12,800 100 – 25,600
Lowest Expandable ISO N/A N/A
Highest Expandable ISO 25,600 N/A
Shutter Speed Range 1/4000 to 30 Seconds 1/4000 to 30 Seconds
Built In Flash Yes Yes
Card Slots 1 1
Card Type SD, SDHC, SDXC SD, SDHC, SDXC
LCD Size 3.0” 3.0”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed Fixed
Video Full HD Full HD
Video Type 1080p at 60/50/30/25/24p 1080p at 60/50/30/25/24p
Video Format .MOV .MOV
Internal Autofocus Motor No No
GPS Optional Accessory Optional Accessory
Wireless No No
WIFI Optional Accessory Built In Bluetooth Technology
Battery EN-EL14a EN-EL14a
Battery Life Approximately 700 Still Images Approximately 1,200 Still Images
Body Construction Plastic Plastic
Unique Features Black, Red or Grey Body Bluetooth / SnapBridge Technology
Size Without Lens 4.9” x 3.9” x 3.0” 4.9” x 3.9” x 3.0”
Weight Without Lens 14.5 oz. 14.0 oz.
Manufactured In Thailand Thailand
Body Only or with Kit Lens Sold As Kit Only Sold As Kit Only
Included Accessories EN-EL14a Battery, NH-24 Battery Charger, UC-E17 USB Cable, EG-CP14 Audio/Video Cable, DK-25 Rubber Eyecup, AN-DC3 Camera Strap, BF-1B Body Cap, NikonView NX2 CD ROM EN-EL14a Battery, NH-24 Battery Charger, DK-25 Rubber Eyecup, AN-DC3 Camera Strap, BF-1B Body Cap, NikonView NX2 CD ROM
Cost, Body Only NOT Available NOT Available
Cost With Kit Lens (Lens Varies) Starting at $499.95** with 18-55mm VR II Lens

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Starting at $649.95 with 18-55mm VR II Lens

Check out the latest discounts and prices.

* Information from Nikon USA website, including pricing.

** Although the Nikon D3300 has been discontinued, it is still widely available from select retailers.

The Final Frame: My Overall Recommendation

The Nikon D3300 and D3400 are both excellent cameras that offer excellent image quality in a small, lightweight and affordable package.  Although the D3400 has incorporated a number of significant incremental upgrades, including a higher native ISO range, built-in Bluetooth® technology and a longer battery life, I prefer the D3300 to the D3400. This preference is based on two reasons with the first being the excellent value that the D3300 represents.  At a suggested retail price of $499.95 for a camera body and lens, the D3300 is cheaper than many higher end point and shoot cameras.  The second reason is the built-in sensor cleaner found in the D3300, which was eliminated in the more expensive D3400.  I prefer to have any dust removed from the sensor, rather than the dust removed from the image.

While this is my preference, other photographers may prefer the upgraded features found on the D3400.  Anyone looking for an affordable entry-level DSLR camera should look at both the D3300 and the D3400 and see which camera best meets their needs.  You cannot go wrong with either camera, as both are excellent!

The Camera Guide Team
 

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