Nikon D3400 Video Modes Explained

Here’s a rundown of the various features and modes of the Nikon D3400 for shooting video.

Nikon D3400 Video Modes And Features Explained
Nikon D3400 Video Modes And Features Explained
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The Nikon D3400 is primarily a photo camera, and that’s where the emphasis is for most of its features and modes. But you can shoot videos (or movies) with it, even if the video features are quite basic.

Resolutions & Framerates

1080p / 60, 50, 30, 25, 24 frames per second
720p / 60, 50 frames per second

It’s worth noting that the D3400 doesn’t have a switch between NTSC and PAL modes, but you toggle that by selecting the framerate. In other words, if you want to shoot NTSC-compatible video, use the 60, 30, or 24 frames per second modes.1 If you want to shoot PAL-compatible video, shoot at 50 or 25 frames per second.

Format

The video saved by a D3400 has a .MOV file extension. It’s encoded with AVC, and the audio is encoded as 48 kHz PCM stereo.

Movie Quality / Video Bitratesr

All video recorded by the D3400 (and most other cameras) is compressed before it’s saved to the memory card. The video bitrate is the amount of data that’s used to represent the video image, measured per second. The higher the bitrate, the higher the potential quality, but also the more space it uses on the memory card and the faster the data needs to be written to the card. The lower the number, the more the video is compressed and the lower the potential image quality. In other words, it’s a lot like the compression of JPG photos—the more you compress them, the smaller the files, but the more the image quality suffers.

The Nikon D3400 has two quality settings for each of the sizes and framerate combinations: High quality and Normal. These correspond to different bitrate settings.

The Nikon D3400 records video at a bitrate of between 12 Mbps and 36 Mbps.2 The precise setting depends on which resolution/framerate combination you’re using as well as whether you have the quality setting at Normal or High. This table shows which bitrates are used with what settings.3

Resolution/Framerate Normal Quality High Quality
1080p60 22 36
1080p50 22 36
1080p30 12 22
1080p25 12 22
1080p24 12 22
720p60 12 22
720p50 12 22

Those settings are quite low, which further reinforces that the emphasis with this camera is on shooting still images. Some high-end consumer cameras, for instance, can shoot at up to 400 Mbps.

Maximum Shooting Time

The maximum time you can shoot a single, uninterrupted recording is 20 minutes. It will automatically stop the recording after that time, and you’ll have to restart shooting another clip if you want to shoot more.

There is an exception: if you’re using either the 1080p60 or 1080p50 modes with the High Quality setting on, the maximum is 10 minutes.

For background, here’s a good explanation of the various reasons DSLRs like the D3400 have recording limits.

Other Features

The D3400’s video features are quite basic, and you won’t find things like in-camera video stabilization, newer codecs like HEVC, or raw video capture.

How to Shoot Video with the Nikon D3400

The basic way to shoot video is simple, but there is a catch that’s not immediately self-evident. If you just press the video record button (the small button with the red dot, next to the main shutter button and power on/off switch), you probably won’t get any response.

That’s because what you have to do first is to turn on the LiveView to show the image on the back screen. To do that, press the LV button on the back of the camera.

Once you’ve done that, you can choose from the shooting modes. For the simplest, start with the P shooting mode. Worth noting is that if you try to change the shooting mode while recording, it will cancel the recording.

Settings & Options

Aside from the resolution and framerate combination, the D3400 also has these options available. You can find these in the camera’s menu system under the camera icon and then Movie Settings.

Resolution and Framerate

As mentioned above, the D3400 can shoot 1080 and 720 video with framerates from 24fps to 60fps. Both 1080p and 720p are considered HD video and are good resolutions for web video. Both are much smaller than the 4K, 5K, or 8K that some other cameras can shoot.

On the D3400, “frame size” is used rather than “resolution.”

Nikon D3400 Video Modes And Features Explained

Movie Quality

You can choose between High and Normal. These correspond to different bitrate settings.

Nikon D3400 Video Modes And Features Explained

Microphone

The D3400 has an onboard microphone for capturing audio. It does not have a port for an external mic.

The sound quality of the onboard microphone isn’t great, and if audio quality is important, you’ll get much better results from an external recorder (or upgrade to a higher model that at least has a port for an external mic).

That said, these are the options the D3400 has for controlling the microphone.

Options:

  • Auto sensitivity (default)
  • Manual sensitivity
  • Microphone off

Nikon D3400 Video Modes And Features Explained

For general run-and-gun shooting, the Auto sensitivity is probably what you want.

The manual option is better for planned shoots where the sound is important, such as a musical or vocal performance (but an external recorder would be even better for those).

But if you’re shooting video only and don’t need or want the audio, you can turn the microphone off. It’s useful if, say, you’re shooting scenic footage and plan to add a soundtrack later. It’s easy enough to remove an audio track in a video editing app, but this just saves a step.

Wind Noise Reduction

Options:

  • On
  • Off (default)

Nikon D3400 Video Modes And Features Explained

This is an audio filter that tries to reduce the whooshing sound that microphones pick up when the camera is moving or in the wind. It works okay, but is still only a basic level filter.

Manual Movie Settings

There is an exception. You can also wrest some manual control over the shooting settings by enabling the Manual movie settings option. Setting this to On lets you manually select the shutter speed and ISO.

To do this, first enable the setting under Shooting Menu > Manual movie settings. Then rotate the top dial to M and select the shutter speed and sensitivity. You can then start recording the video with those settings.

Nikon D3400 Video Modes And Features Explained

How to Download Videos to a Computer

The D3400 has some basic image editing features built in, but nothing in the way of video editing. So you’ll need to do that elsewhere. I’ve put together a detailed guide on how to download Nikon D3400 photos and videos separately.

What Kind of SD Card to Use?

Some cameras need very fast SD cards to keep up with the amount of data being written to them when recording video. The D3400 isn’t one of them.

With relatively low video bitrates, the D3400 isn’t particularly demanding of the speed of the SD card. So you don’t need the fastest and most expensive card for this camera. I’ve put together some practical suggestions on the best SD cards for the Nikon D3400 here.

HDMI Out

The D3400 has a built-in HDMI port that you can use in combination with a display or video recorder to capture a live video feed.

The HDMI port is for a Type C connector, also known as a Mini-HDMI connector. Nikon’s model number for their own HDMI cable is HC-E1, but in practice you don’t need to use the Nikon-branded version.

Things Worth Knowing

The maximum continuous shooting time for a single clip is 20 minutes. Unless you’re shooting 1080p60 or 1080p50 with the High Quality Setting on, in which case it’s a maximum of 10 minutes.

There’s no in-camera video stabilization. That’s something you’ll have to apply in post-production (or when you upload to a service like YouTube that offers that feature).

Shooting video chews through quite a bit of battery power, so expect to deplete the battery more quickly than if you’re just shooting stills.

All the usual optical tools on the lens are available, including zooming and manual focus.4


  1. The 24fps setting is known as a film rate, or sometimes NTSC-film, and is technically 23.976 frames per second. And while we’re at it, some of the other framerates are rounded numbers. More precisely, 30 fps is actually 29.970 fps, for example. 
  2. A common area of confusion has to do with the difference between Mbps and MBps. Mbps (or Mb/s) stands for megabits per second, the typical measure used for video. It’s different from megabytes per second (written as MBps or, more commonly, MB/s). There are eight bits in a byte, so one megabyte equals eight megabits. 
  3. Like most cameras, the D3400 encodes its video with a variable bitrate encoder. That tries to adjust the quality on the fly based on the image data. The result is that the bitrates can fluctuate slightly from clip to clip. In this table, I’ve rounded them to the target bitrate, but in real-world shooting, you might see a variance of up to 1-2 Mbps either way. 
  4. With some Nikon lenses on the D3400, including the standard kit lens 18-55mm, manual focus is disabled by default. So if you turn the focus ring on the lens, nothing happens. To enable it, go to the Setup Menu tab and turn “Manual focus ring in AF mode” option to “ON”. 

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).

MaxLLTo 3FT Replacement USB 2.0 Transfer Cable Cord for Nikon D3400 D3500...
  • Length: 3FT, light and easy to carry.
  • Brand new, high quality usb 2.0 Data cable/lead.( Non-OEM )

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), here are some 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 EH-5 AC Adapter EP-5A DC Coupler Power Supply EN-EL14A Dummy Battery...
  • [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.

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