Nikon D3400 vs D4
The Nikon D3400 and the Nikon D4 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2016 and January 2012. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D3400) and a full frame (D4) sensor. The D3400 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the D4 provides 16.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3400 and the Nikon D4? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D3400 and the Nikon D4 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3400 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the D4 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D4 is considerably larger (107 percent) than the Nikon D3400. Moreover, the D4 is substantially heavier (201 percent) than the D3400. It is noteworthy in this context that the D4 is splash and dust-proof, while the D3400 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the D4) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D3400). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D3400 gets 1200 shots out of its EN-EL14a battery, while the D4 can take 2600 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D4 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D3400, there are third party battery grips available as optional accessories (see here on eBay).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|2.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|3.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|4.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|5.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|6.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|7.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999|
|8.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||420 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899|
|9.||Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|10.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|11.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|12.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|13.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|14.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|15.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|16.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|17.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D3400 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 92 percent) than the D4, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3400 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D4 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D4 is 134 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
In terms of chip-set technology, the D3400 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 4) than the D4 (EXPEED 3), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon D3400 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 16.2 MP of the Nikon D4. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 7.29μm for the D4). However, it should be noted that the D3400 is much more recent (by 4 years and 7 months) than the D4, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D3400 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3400 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3400 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D4 are 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3400 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D4 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|6.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|10.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|12.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|16.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|17.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the D3400 provides a higher frame rate than the D4. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the D4 is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D3400 and the D4 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the D4 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D3400 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D4 has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3400 and Nikon D4 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3400 has one, while the D4 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3400 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D4 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D3400 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D4 uses Compact Flash or XQD cards. The D4 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D3400 only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D3400 and Nikon D4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D4 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The D3400 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D4 (unlike the D3400) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D3400 and the D4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D4 was replaced by the Nikon D4S, while the D3400 was followed by the Nikon D3500. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D3400 or the Nikon D4 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Nikon D3400:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 16.2MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 4 vs EXPEED 3).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- More compact: Is smaller (124x98mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 895g or 67 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (92 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the D4 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D4:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.57x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2600 versus 1200) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in January 2012).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 11 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3400 and the Nikon D4 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3400 or the D4. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|2.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|3.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|4.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|5.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|6.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|7.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999|
|8.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899|
|9.||Nikon D7200||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|10.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|11.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|12.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|13.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|14.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|15.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|16.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|17.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D3400 vs Nikon D4
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D3400||Nikon D4|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2016||January 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 5,999|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3400||Nikon D4|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||16.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4928 x 3280 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||7.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||1.88 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||EXPEED 3|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||86||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.8||24.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.9||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1192||2965|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3400||Nikon D4|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3400||Nikon D4|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||400 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3400||Nikon D4|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3400||Nikon D4|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||2600 shots per charge|
124 x 98 x 76 mm
(4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
|Camera Weight||445 g (15.7 oz)||1340 g (47.3 oz)|
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