Nikon D3400 vs Sony A7R III
The Nikon D3400 and the Sony Alpha A7R III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2016 and October 2017. The D3400 is a DSLR, while the A7R III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D3400) and a full frame (A7R III) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 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 Sony Alpha A7R III? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3400 and the Sony A7R III is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3400 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the A7R III 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 D3400 and the Sony A7R III are of equal size. However, the A7R III is substantially heavier (46 percent) than the D3400. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7R III 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3400) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7R III). Mirrorless cameras, such as the A7R III, 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 A7R III can take 650 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A7R III can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|2.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|3.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|4.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|5.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|6.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|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 D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|11.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|12.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|13.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|14.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|15.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|16.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|17.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 84 percent) than the A7R III, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3400 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7R III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R III is 135 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.
With 42.2MP, the A7R III offers a higher resolution than the D3400 (24MP), but the A7R III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 3.91μm for the D3400) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7R III is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 2 months) than the D3400, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A7R III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A7R III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 39.8 x 26.5 inches or 101 x 67.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 31.8 x 21.2 inches or 80.8 x 53.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 26.5 x 17.7 inches or 67.3 x 44.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3400 are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A7R III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the D3400, the A7R III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Nikon D3400 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A7R III are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 A7R III offers substantially better image quality than the D3400 (overall score 14 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 0.8 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.6 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|4.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|14.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|17.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7R III 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 A7R III has an electronic viewfinder (3686k 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 A7R III 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 A7R III has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3400 and Sony A7R III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3400 has one, while the A7R III 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 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 A7R III 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 Sony A7R III 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 A7R III uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7R III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D3400 only has one slot. The A7R III supports UHS-II cards (on its first slot), while the D3400 can use UHS-I cards.
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 A7R III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7R III 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.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A7R III (unlike the D3400) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D3400 and the A7R III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3400 was replaced by the Nikon D3500, while the A7R III was followed by the Sony A7R IV. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D3400 better than the Sony A7R III or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3400:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 205g or 32 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 650) 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 (84 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2016).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A7R III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 33%.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.8 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.6 stops ISO advantage).
- 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.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while 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 (0.78x vs 0.57x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 921k dots).
- 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 shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- 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.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- 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.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 2 months) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7R III is the clear winner of the contest (31 : 6 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 A7R III 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 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 A7R III. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
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.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|3.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|4.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|5.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|6.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|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 D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|11.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|12.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|13.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|14.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|15.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|16.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|17.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|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. 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? 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 Sony A7R III
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 A7R III|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2016||October 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 499||USD 3,199|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A7R III|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||42.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||7952 x 5304 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||4.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||4.90 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||100 - 32,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||86||100|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.8||26.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.9||14.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1192||3523|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A7R III|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A7R III|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations||500 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A7R III|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|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||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3400||Sony A7R III|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1200 shots per charge||650 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)
127 x 96 x 74 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||445 g (15.7 oz)||650 g (22.9 oz)|
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