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Nikon D3400 versus Sony A7 II

The Nikon D3400 and the Sony Alpha A7 II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2016 and November 2014. The D3400 is a DSLR, while the A7 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D3400) and a full frame (A7 II) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D3400 vs Sony A7 II

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3400 and the Sony A7 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D3400 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Nikon D3400 vs Sony A7 II
Compare D3400 versus A7 II top
Compare D3400 and A7 II rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3400 and the Sony A7 IIare of equal size. However, the A7 II is substantially heavier (35 percent) than the D3400. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7 II 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 will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3400) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7 II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7 II, 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 A7 II can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D3400» 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499 i i
Sony A7 II« 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Canon SL2« » 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i
Canon M5« » 4.6 in 3.5 in 2.4 in 15.1 oz 295 n Sep 2016 979 i i
Canon M3« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.7 in 12.9 oz 250 n Feb 2015 679- i
Nikon D7500« » 5.4 in 4.1 in 2.9 in 25.4 oz 950 Y Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D5600« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 16.4 oz 970 n Nov 2016 699 i i
Nikon D5500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 n Jan 2015 899- i
Nikon D3300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 n Jan 2014 499- i
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799- i
Nikon D3200« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 3.0 in 17.8 oz 540 n Apr 2012 599- i
Olympus E-M1 II« » 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3400 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 75 percent) than the A7 II, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D3400 vs Sony A7 II

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3400 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7 II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7 II is 133 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.

Nikon D3400 and Sony A7 II sensor measures

Even though the A7 II has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixel. This implies that the A7 II has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 3.91μm for the D3400), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the D3400 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the A7 II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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.

D3400 versus A7 II MP

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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7 II has a markedly higher DXO score than the D3400 (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.099999999999998 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D3400» APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
Sony A7 II« Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Canon SL2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179
Canon M5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.412.4126277
Canon M3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.811.8116972
Nikon D7500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.314.0148386
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
Nikon D5600« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0130684
Nikon D5500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884
Nikon D3300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
Nikon D5300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
Nikon D3200« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/30p24.113.2113181
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/60p).

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D3400 vs Sony A7 II

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7 II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3400 and Sony A7 II along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D3400»optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Sony A7 II«2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Canon SL2« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Canon M5« »2360 n 3.2 1620 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n
Canon M3« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 4.2 Y n
Nikon D7500« »optical Y 3.2 922 tilting Y 8000 8.0 Y n
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
Nikon D5600« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D5500« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D3300« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D5300« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D3200« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n

The D3400 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A7 II has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7 II was succeeded by the Sony A7 III.

Review summary: Nikon D3400 vs Sony A7 II

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D3400 better than the Sony A7 II or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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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.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 154g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (75 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 8 months after the A7 II).

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Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7 II:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in November 2014).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 II is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 7 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.

D3400 07:11 A7 II

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the D3400 and the A7 II in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Nikon D3400»Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499 i i
Sony A7 II«Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Canon SL2« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i
Canon M5« »Rec82/1004/54.5/54/5 Sep 2016 979 i i
Canon M3« »rev75/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2015 679- i
Nikon D7500« »HiRec86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2017 1,299 i i
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D5600« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Nov 2016 699 i i
Nikon D5500« »Rec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899- i
Nikon D3300« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499- i
Nikon D5300« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799- i
Nikon D3200« »HiRec73/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2012 599- i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/5-5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i

The review scores listed above should be treated 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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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