How to Change Aperture on a Nikon D3400

The method for changing the aperture, or size of the opening to let the light in, varies according to the lens you're using. Here's how to do it with the lenses most commonly used on the Nikon D3400.

If you’re wondering how to change the aperture on the Nikon D3400, there are several answers. That’s because it depends on the lens you’re using and the shooting mode you’re using. None of the methods is complicated, but there are some differences. So here’s a rundown of how to do it.

Aperture refers to the size of the opening that allows light in. So it’s actually something that refers to the lens rather than the camera—and on a DSLR like the D3400, that’s an important distinction. On older cameras, you would usually control the aperture by rotating a ring on the lens itself. But many modern lenses, including many that are most commonly used on the D3400, don’t have an aperture ring; instead, you control the aperture with one of the camera’s dials.

Compatible Lenses

But that’s not always true. There are still lenses that you can use on the D3400 that have their own aperture ring. If that’s the case, then you use that to adjust the aperture. It’s possible to use older F-mount Nikon lenses, or fully manual (i.e., not autofocus) ones for that matter that won’t allow the camera to control the aperture electronically. The way to change the aperture on those lenses will depend on the specific lens. By far the most common method is to use an aperture ring on the camera that rotates around the lens. You’d typically adjust that with your left hand as you support the camera and frame the shot. With most of those lenses, you won’t be able to see the aperture in the viewfinder or live view display; the lens can’t transmit the information to the camera, and the camera can’t instruct the lens to change the aperture.

What I’m referring to in this how-to guide are the lenses that are most commonly used with the Nikon D3400, lenses like the 18-55mm and 18-300mm. Or other lenses, such as Nikon’s G Lenses. Those lenses don’t include an aperture ring, so any aperture changes have to be done through the controls on the camera body.

Shooting Modes

First, though, it’s worth clarifying that you can’t change the aperture in all shooting modes. If you’re shooting in M (Manual) or A (Aperture Priority) you obviously can, because being able to change the aperture is a key element to making those modes work. If you’re shooting in S (Shutter Priority), you can’t, and adjusting the dial will change the shutter speed instead of the aperture. It also won’t work in P (Program) mode.

So the first thing to check is that you’re in a shooting mode that allows you to change the aperture. Then there’s a different method depending on whether you’re shooting in Aperture-Priority (A) mode or Manual (M) mode. In both of the methods I outline here, I’m assuming you’re using a lens that is compatible with the camera’s dials changing the aperture.

How to Change the Aperture on the Nikon D3400 in Aperture-Priority Mode

If you’re shooting in Aperture-Priority (A) mode, the dial to change the aperture on the Nikon D3400 is at the top of the back of the camera, on the right side as you’re shooting. Rotating the dial clockwise (i.e., right to left) will lower the aperture. Rotating it counter-clockwise will increase the aperture. If you’re shooting with Auto ISO turned on, both the ISO and shutter speed will automatically adjust to compensate.

How to Change the Aperture on the Nikon D3400 in Manual Mode

The method to change the aperture in Manual mode is slightly different. If you try only turning the dial, as you would in A mode, you’ll find that it adjusts the shutter speed. But you use that same dial while holding down the +/- button on top at the same time. It’s the button next to the shutter button. If you look closely next to it, you’ll see a little icon that looks like the aperture blades of a lens.

FAQs

My lens says it is ƒ/3.5-5.6, but I can’t get it to do ƒ/3.5.

Some lenses, like Nikon’s 18-55mm and 70-300mm, have a range in the aperture area for its name. What that means is that the maximum aperture available depends on how much it is zoomed. On the 18-55, for example, at 18mm you can get the widest aperture of f3.5, but that’s not going to be available when you start zooming in. Fully zoomed in, the maximum aperture available will be ƒ/5.6.

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