Nikon D3400 vs Sony A6500
The Nikon D3400 and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2016 and October 2016. The D3400 is a DSLR, while the A6500 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixels.
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 Sony Alpha A6500? 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 Sony A6500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3400 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the A6500 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 Sony A6500 is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Nikon D3400. However, the A6500 is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the D3400. It is noteworthy in this context that the A6500 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3400) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A6500, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
Concerning battery life, the D3400 gets 1200 shots out of its EN-EL14a battery, while the A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A6500 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||415 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|6.||Nikon D500||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||860 g||1240||Y||Jan 2016||1,999||amazon.com|
|7.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||470 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A6700||122 mm||69 mm||64 mm||493 g||570||Y||Jul 2023||1,399||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony A6600||120 mm||67 mm||69 mm||503 g||810||Y||Aug 2019||1,399||amazon.com|
|16.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D3400 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 64 percent) than the A6500, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 24 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the D3400 and the A6500 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. Moreover, the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. 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 A6500 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Nikon D3400 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A6500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). 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.
|13.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A6500 provides a better video resolution than the D3400. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A6500 has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the D3400 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the A6500 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 A6500 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D3400, the Sony A6500, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A6500||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon SL2||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Nikon D3500||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D500||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D7200||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D5200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Panasonic GX8||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A6700||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||11.0/s||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A6600||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0/s||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A6300||2359||n||3.0 / 922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0 / 921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0/s||Y||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The A6500 has a touchscreen, while the D3400 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A6500 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The D3400 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A6500 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 Sony Alpha A6500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D3400||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|2.||Sony A6500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon SL2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Nikon D3500||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|5.||Nikon D5600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|6.||Nikon D500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Nikon D5500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D7200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|9.||Nikon D3300||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D3200||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D5200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic GX8||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|14.||Sony A6700||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||YES||3.2||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A6600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||YES||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A6300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A77||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the A6500 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D3400 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the D3400 and the A6500 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D3400 was replaced by the Nikon D3500, while the A6500 was followed by the Sony A6600. Further information on the features and operation of the D3400 and A6500 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D3400 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony A6500 Manual.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D3400 or the Sony A6500 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3400:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (64 percent cheaper at launch).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 124x98mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 Sony A6500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3400 or the A6500. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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||+||4/5||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony A6500||5/5||+ +||3.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||4/5||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D3500||4/5||..||4/5||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429||amazon.com|
|5.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||4/5||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|6.||Nikon D500||5/5||+ +||4.7/5||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,999||amazon.com|
|7.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D7200||4/5||+ +||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A6700||..||..||..||88/100||..||..||Jul 2023||1,399||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony A6600||4/5||+||4/5||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2019||1,399||amazon.com|
|16.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||..||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||..||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Sony A6500
- Canon D60 vs Sony A6500
- Canon M50 Mark II vs Sony A6500
- Canon T5i vs Nikon D3400
- Canon XS vs Sony A6500
- Nikon D3 vs Sony A6500
- Nikon D3400 vs Nikon Df
- Nikon D3400 vs Olympus E-1
- Nikon D3400 vs Olympus E-PL1
- Nikon D3400 vs Panasonic G3
- Nikon D3400 vs Sony A7 II
- Nikon W150 vs Sony A6500
Specifications: Nikon D3400 vs Sony A6500
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||Sony A6500|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2016||October 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A6500|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||86||85|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.8||24.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.9||13.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1192||1405|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A6500|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A6500|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A6500|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A6500|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
124 x 98 x 76 mm
(4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
120 x 67 x 53 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.1 in)
|Camera Weight||445 g (15.7 oz)||453 g (16.0 oz)|
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