Picture Quality, File Formats, & Size Settings on the Nikon D3400

The Nikon D3400 has a number of options you can choose relating to image quality, image file formats, and size. Here’s a rundown of what they mean and which is best for what.

Nikon D3400
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The Nikon D3400 has a number of options you can choose relating to image quality and size. Here’s a rundown of what they mean and which option is best for what use.

These options are all accessible through the camera’s menu system on the back screen.

If you’re after some real-world examples of the picture quality of the Nikon D3400, I’ve posted a large collection of sample images from the D3400 here.

Image Types on the Nikon D3400: RAW & JPG

With the Nikon D3400, you have a choice of two image types: RAW and JPG.

RAW offers the best image quality, but it’s less convenient because the files require post-processing to use them. JPG is far more convenient because of its wide compatibility, but it doesn’t offer the same quality benefits.

Nikon D3400 Picture Quality Setting: NEF (RAW)

Nikon D3400 RAW Images

The RAW file format saves all the information from the camera’s sensor without processing it and applying filters. Think of it as a digital negative.

Nikon cameras use Nikon’s own proprietary RAW image format that has a file extension of .NEF.

The RAW format is best if you want both maximum image quality and maximum flexibility in editing the images. Just like an old film negative, it’s the master, original photo.

The catch is that you really need to process the images before you can do much with them. Just as it doesn’t make much sense to be handing people film negatives and expecting them to do much with them, you wouldn’t, in most instances, share the RAW file. Typically you’d use something like Lightroom or one of the other RAW processing apps to create derivative versions that would be saved as JPGs or TIFFs. If you try to send someone else an NEF file, they might not be able to do much with it, and you can’t share them directly to social media or even most websites.

With the D3400 you don’t have any options with the RAW files–the option is either on or off, and all the RAW files have compression applied. With some other cameras, including higher models in Nikon’s DSLR lineup, you can choose between 14-bit or 12-bit RAW files and compressed and uncompressed images.

RAW + JPG on the Nikon D3400

This setting saves two image files simultaneously every time you take a photo. One is a master RAW file, and the other is a JPG version of the same file. It’s the best of both worlds, but creating two files instead of one takes up more space on your memory card and slows things down a bit.

It can be a handy option to use if you might want to share JPG versions without processing as well as retain the option to come back to them later and edit them.

It’s also a handy option to have in those instances where you want both maximum image quality but also need to preserve a version that can prove that the image is unadulterated and hasn’t been tampered with, such as working with photojournalism wire services, forensic photography, or insurance claims.

JPG Quality Settings on the Nikon D3400

JPG (also often rendered as JPEG) is a de facto standard and can be used pretty much anywhere. They’re easy to email and share on social media. And while their quality potential isn’t as high as RAW images, they can still have excellent image quality, especially at the higher quality settings.

You can choose from three different JPG quality settings: Fine, Normal, and Basic. These don’t refer to the pixel dimensions–they refer to the aggressiveness of the JPG compression. The more aggressive the JPG compression, the smaller the files but the lower the quality.

Because JPG compression is lossy compression, it means that information is discarded as part of the process. The more aggressively the compression is applied, the more information is discarded. While the difference between them might not be immediately visible with first-generation images straight out of the camera, it will become more noticeable if you edit the images in Lightroom or Photoshop and generate second- or third-generation versions. In extreme cases, you can see JPG artifacts and blocks of colors that visibly detract from the image.

The Fine setting, therefore, is best if you’re looking for the highest image quality, and especially if you plan to edit the files. The Medium and Basic settings have slightly lower quality, but they save space on your memory card and can be more convenient for sharing the images directly out of the camera without any post-processing. Situations where that might be important include time lapse photography, where every frame doesn’t need maximum size or quality.

Nikon D3400 Image Sizes for JPGs

Nikon D3400 JPG Sizes

In addition to choosing the quality setting, you can also choose from three different JPG size settings. They are:

  • Large: 6000 x 4000 pixels, which comes to 24 megapixels
  • Medium: 4496 x 3000 pixels, which comes to 13.5 megapixels
  • Small: 2992 x 2000 pixels, which comes to 6 megapixels

Here’s a visual version that shows the relative dimensions of each size setting. Click on it to open a full-size version.

Nikon D3400 JPG Image Sizes Compared

The Large setting will give you the maximum flexibility and potentially the highest quality, but the images take up more space on your memory card (and computer) and will take a little longer to save and download. Most users will probably want to use the Large setting to make best use of the camera’s capabilities. It’s better to take a large file and make a smaller copy if you need it than be stuck with a small file with less detail and try to make it larger.

The smaller settings do have their uses, though. One example is if you need to share the images right out of the camera and need a manageable filesize for email, etc. Another example is if you’re shooting timelapse and want to be able to fit thousands of images on the memory card.

By combining the image quality setting with the image size setting you can get quite a lot of flexibility.

Filesizes & How Many Nikon D3400 Photos Will Fit on a Memory Card?

Memory cards are a crucial accessory for the Nikon D3400. You won’t get far without one. I’ve put together some recommendations of SD cards for the Nikon D3400 separately.

What I’m focusing on here is how many photos you can fit. Memory cards are available in a variety of sizes, and in deciding what size to get, it’s useful to know how many images you can fit on a card of such and such capacity. So here are some estimates.

You’ll notice that in the file size column I give ranges. That’s because the images generated on a Nikon D3400 are compressed, and the effectiveness of the image compression varies from photo to photo depending on factors like the colors, tones, and detail of each individual scene. A photo with few colors and tones and little detail can be compressed much more than a photo with many tones and colors and lots of detail. It’s just the way that most image compression algorithms work.

For the columns on the right, which show estimates of the number of images at each setting that will fit on 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB cards, I’ve used the upper end of the range because for something like this it’s better to underestimate than overestimate. So the numbers in this column, in particular, are very much approximations and should be read as rough guides but not absolutes.

 QualitySizeFilesize / MB32GB64GB128GB256GB
RAW26-271084216843368672
JPGFINELarge11.5-1521334266853217064
Medium6.5-7.5426685321706434128
Small3.5-4.57111142222844456888
NORMALLarge5.5-7.5426685321706434128
Medium3-4.57111142222844456888
Small1.5-2.512,8002560051200102400
BASICLarge1.5-2.512,8002560051200102400
Medium0.9-1.521,3334266685332170664
Small0.6-1.226,66653332106664213328

Q&A

Can you shoot RAW on the Nikon D3400? Yes. You have a choice of RAW, JPG, or RAW+JPG.

What RAW file format does the Nikon D3400 use? It uses Nikon’s NEF file format (file extension of .nef). It’s widely compatible with RAW processing apps, but it is a proprietary RAW format.

What aspect ratios does the Nikon D3400 shoot at? The Nikon D3400 shoots still images with an aspect ratio of 3:2 and video at 16:9. There’s no option to change the shooting aspect ratio, but you can use the camera’s built-in editing functions to crop the photos afterwards to aspect ratios such as 1:1, 4:3, or 16:9. You can find more information on the Nikon D3400 aspect ratios here.

Nikon D3400 Accessories

Here are some of the key accessories and official part numbers for the Nikon D3400.

Battery & Charger for Nikon D3400

If you're looking for a replacement or spare battery for your D3400, the Nikon D3400's battery is model EN-EL14a. It's a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that's also used by many other Nikon DSLRs (7.2V, 1230mAh). You can also find very good aftermarket versions, like this one from Watson or these from PowerExtra that provide more cost-effective alternatives.

Powerextra 2 x EN-EL14 EN-EL14a Battery & Dual LCD Charger Compatible with...
  • ✔ Battery Specs:Capacity: 1500mAh / Battery Type: Lithium-ion / Voltage: 7.4V / Come with CE...
  • ✔ Standard Compatible with Nikon EN-EL14 EN-EL14a:Ideal Replacement Battery for Nikon Coolpix P7000,...

The battery charger is model MH-24. It's an AC quick charger that plugs directly into the wall socket. Unlike many other cameras, you can't charge the Nikon D3400's battery in the camera. Some of the aftermarket batteries come with a dock charger, which can be a cheaper way to solve the problem.

Memory Card

A memory card is right up there with a battery as an essential accessory for your D3400. But, unlike the battery, it doesn't come with the D3400.

There's no official SD card for the D3400, but there are some that make more sense than others. Some older-model cards are too slow. And some newer, faster (and more expensive) SD cards will work in the D3400 but go beyond what the D3400 can make use of, so you'd be paying for SD card performance that the camera can't take advantage of.

I've put together more detailed SD card recommendations for the Nikon D3400. But here's the Cliff notes version. Any of these make for a good choice and are reasonably priced:

USB Cable for Nikon D3400

If you're looking to connect a Nikon D3400 to a computer to download your photos and videos, you'll need a USB cable. If you've misplaced the one that came with the camera, replacements are easy to find and not expensive. If you'd prefer to get the Nikon original, the model number you're after is [UC-E20](https://www.nikonimgsupport.com/eu/BV_article?articleNo=000005024&configured=1&lang=en_GB), and you can find them at camera specialists like B&H Photo.

But there's no particular reason you have to stick with the Nikon-branded one. There are also many aftermarket micro-USB cables that will work just fine. But there is a bit of a catch: not all micro-USB cables will work with the data transfer that the D3400 needs.

By all means try any others you have lying around to see if the camera mounts to your computer--it won't hurt it. If it doesn't mount, you can pick up replacement data transfer cables like this aftermarket version or this one.

And a reminder that this is only for data transfer. You can't charge the battery while it's in the D3400. For charging, you'll need the MH-24 charger or equivalent (see above).

Camera Strap for the Nikon D3400

There's no particular reason you have to use the original Nikon strap with the D3400--any camera strap will work. But if you want to replace the original (the black one with the gold/yellow Nikon branding), its model number is AN-DC3.

There's also a huge variety of other good alternatives. My personal favorites are the ones by Peak Design, which come in especially handy if you're going back and forth between multiple cameras because they come with a quick-release system. And they're very strong.

Remote Shutter Release for Nikon D3400

There's a number of different options for remotely triggering your D3400 (unlike the D3500, where this functionality was removed).

The first step is Nikon's ML-L3 wireless remote. It's very simple--just a single button, without any intervalometer or other features--and with an infrared signal, its range is limited to about 16 feet or less. But it's inexpensive and designed by Nikon for use with their cameras.

And there's a variety of other wireless receiver/transmitter kits that can be set up to work, some of which get up there in terms of complexity and price.

Lenses for Nikon D3400

One of the great things about DSLRs--and especially ones that use a long-standing mounting system like Nikon's F-mount--is that there's a huge variety of lenses that you can use. So there's no "right" lens to use.

But for the D3400, in general, you want to look for lenses that have Nikon's F-mount system and that are designed for DX camera bodies (that's the cropped sensor size of the D3400). And you'll probably want one that has autofocus. None of these things are requirements, though--there are any number of ways to use adapters or manual older manual-focus lenses--but sticking to those basics will make things easier if you're looking to expand your lens collection.

If you're after some recommendations on lenses to get for the D3400 to step beyond the kit lens that comes with the camera (usually a basic 18-55mm zoom lens), I've put together some recommendations on wide-angle lenses for the Nikon D3400.

And here are some other ideas that are sensibly priced and greatly expand your options:

Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm ƒ/3.5-6.3G ED VR zoom lens. If you had to choose just one lens to take with your traveling, this is a great choice. It has a very wide zoom range. At 18mm (equivalent to 27mm on a full-frame body), it's great for interiors or landscapes. At 300mm (equivalent to 450mm on a full-frame body), there's plenty of reach for wildlife, sports, or dramatic sunsets. It has vibration reduction, is surprisingly compact and light, and is competitively priced. Sigma also makes a good version that's a bit cheaper but great quality.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens...
  • Maximum magnification of 032x
  • Angle of view from 76 degree to 5 degree 20'. Focal length range: 18 300 millimeter, minimum focus...

Nikon AF-S 50mm ƒ/1.8G lens. It's hard to go past a 50mm prime lens for versatility, fun, and learning photography. They're fast, which means they're good in low-light as well as give you that nice blurry background while keeping the subject sharp. They're inexpensive. They're often very sharp. And they're small and highly portable. This is the ƒ/1.8 version. Nikon also makes a B&H Photofaster ƒ/1.4 version, but it's about double the price. because the D3400 has a cropped DX sensor, the 50mm lens will become a slight telephoto perspective, equivalent to a 75mm lens on a full-frame camera (i.e., 35mm equivalent). Which makes it all the more useful as a portrait lens, whether you're taking formal portraits or candids of the family. And if you want a more traditional "true" 50mm perspective, you can put the 35mm ƒ/1.8G on the D3400 instead.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
  • Fast, upgraded f/1.8, compact FX format prime lens. The picture angle with 35 millimeter (135) format is...
  • Focal length 50 millimeter, minimum focus distance 1.48 feet (0.45 meter)

Nikon D3400 Body Cap

If you're transporting or storing your D3400 camera body without a lens attached, you'll want to put on a body cap over the opening where the lens goes. That prevents dust and moisture from getting inside and causing havoc (and pesky dust bunnies on your photos).

The camera comes with one, but they're easy to misplace. The model number for the replacement part is BF-1B. It's the same cap used for all Nikon F-mount camera bodies. And this is a great opportunity to save a few dollars with an aftermarket version. They're often sold paired with a rear lens cap, since you often need both of those things when removing a lens.

Nikon D3400 Rubber Eyecup

If the rubber eyecup has been knocked off when you take out of your camera bag, the replacement part model number is DK-25. There are also slightly cheaper aftermarket versions, such as the ones by Vello or JJC.

2 Pack JJC Eyecup Eyepiece Eye Cup Viewfinder for Nikon D3400 D3500 D3200...
  • Made from soft and durable silicone + high quality ABS
  • Provide cushioning around the camera's eyepiece, and are especially useful to eyeglass wearers

Battery Dummy for Nikon D3400

A battery dummy is used for longer-term power supply to the camera. They're especially useful for things like time lapse photography, astrophotography, or using your D3400 as a webcam.

It's an accessory that fits into your camera's battery compartment. By itself, it doesn't provide any power, but it's attached to a cable that you can then attach to different power sources such as AC power or a larger battery pack.

Nikon's official model is EP-5A. You can also pick up aftermarket versions. Some include only the dummy battery part; others come bundled with AC adapters.

TKDY EP-5A EN-EL14A Dummy Battery for Nikon Coolpix D3500 D5600, EH-5 Power...
  • [COMPATIBLE WITH MODEL:] EP-5A DC coupler (Connector) replace EN-EL14/EN-EL14a Battery, work for Nikon...
  • [STEPS FOR USAGE:] Remove the original battery, Replace with virtual battery, and cover the battery...

FAQs

Where Can I Find the Nikon D3400 Manual?

You can find the Nikon D3400 manuals here. There are a few different versions. The Reference Manual is the most detailed and most complete. The User Manual is basically a quick start guide. There are also versions designed for different parts of the world.

The Reference Manual is available as both a downloadable PDF and as on online HTML version.

Where Can I Find the Nikon D3400 Latest Firmware?

Nikon releases firmware updates on their website.

There are a few different types of firmware used by the D3400. The main camera firmware is the "C" version. (The others are for the lens and lens distortion control.)

I have a detailed guide on how to check and update Nikon D3400 firmware versions here.

David Coleman / Photographer
by David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »