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Introduction

Today, I will make an in-depth comparison of two, entry-level DSLR cameras that have been on the market for a couple of years, one of them is the Nikon D3400 which was introduced on the market on August 17, 2016 and the Nikon D5300 that have already existed on the market, since it was launched on October 17, 2013.

Although there is a roughly 3-year gap between them, these cameras have many differences as well as numerous similarities, such as the fact that they’ve gained a tremendous popularity throughout their existence, since they are often a first pick for hundreds of photographers on the market.

My duty is to reveal their differences, and their pros and cons with the main goal to make you informed and ease your work when you would have to choose which one would be a better option for you! Ready? Let’s get started right away and keep in mind that regardless of your final decision, both cameras can be considered as a great entry point to the world of photography because they have everything needed to boost your confidence so that one day, you can become a professional!

Head To Head Comparison

Nikon D3400

The Nikon D3400 is a handsome-looking, compact SLR camera that measures 3.9 x 4.9 x 3.0″ (HWD), weighs only 13.9 and yet, it is strong enough to withstand years of use thanks to its polycarbonate construction.

In addition, Nikon did a really good job in ensuring that this model will have enough room to offer you a fairly comfortable grip of the camera, which definitely comes handy especially for the novices who are always trying to capture photo anywhere they go!

The control layout is well-designed, it is organized, and each button is strategically positioned to provide the photographer a quick access during his/her shooting sessions without putting an effort at all, like it is the case with some DSLR cameras that belong to this price range.

Namely, if you take a look at the top, you will notice a hotshoe that occupies the central position, while on the right side, there is a power switch, shutter release, Record, Info, EV, and Mode dial. On the front, you can find a flash release and a programmable FN button which is set to adjust the ISO control by default, whereas, on the rear, the dedicated buttons are spread on the left, right and the top part of its body.

Moreover, between the buttons, on the middle, there is a 3″ 920k-dot LCD screen which outputs well-defined visuals of the objects you intend to record or capture even in daylight, however, my remark is regarding the lack of touch-sensitivity and flexibility, so, you will be restricted in pursuing better angles or have your gestured detected like you’d expect.

The pentamirror viewfinder is set above the LCD screen, and it is nothing special in terms of performance, because it is smaller, and dimmer in comparisson to cameras that employ an electronic viewfinder, but still, it does its job pretty good and as a novice, you may likely be satisfied.

When it comes to the connections, the D3400 includes a mini HDMI port, micro USB port, single memory card slot that supports SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, and what’s disappointing is that you may not be able to charge the camera through its USB port, since the only way you could do that would be by taking advantage of the dedicated battery charger which is set inside the camera. The other thing I dislike regarding the connections is the lack of Wi-Fi support, however, Nikon fixes this issue as best as it could by enabling this camera to support Bluetooth, so, download the Nikon SnapBridge app and you may still taste the benefits of the wireless file transfer.

Speaking of the performance, the Nikon D3400 comes armed with a 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS sensor, an EXPEED 4 Image processor, has no optical low-pass filter along with a burst shooting rate of 5 fps, a native ISO range that stretches from 100-25,600 and an 11-point autofocus system with 3D tracking ability.

For your information, the D3400 is considerably fast for an entry-level camera since it takes approximately 0.7-seconds to start, focus and shoot, while on the other side, it produces strong images especially if you’re shooting JPGs at ISO 6400. If you lower the ISO sensitivity and shoot through ISO 3200, you will notice that the details loss their quality, whereas, at ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600 the noise appear significantly more and you should avoid these settings as much as you can.

As your photographing skills grow, you can try capturing RAW images. For instance, RAW images at ISO 3200 are incredibly defined and although the presence of noise is there, it isn’t that harsh to affect the picture quality in a negative way.

But, as you’re increasing the ISO sensitivity, blur is becoming more prominent, but in comparison to JPGs, at ISO 12,800, the detail level of RAW images is a way more better than at JPGs. At the highest level, at ISO 25,600 imagery has more blur and the details are somewhat lost, so, yet again, avoid these levels.

Before we end, I would also like to note that the D3400 records 1080p60 videos, but recording videos at 24/25/30/50 is available as well, and let’s not forget that you can also record 720p videos at 50/60 fps. The overall footage is pretty good for an entry-level camera, and you will also have an opportunity to switch between the two quality levels such as the Normal and High.

 

Nikon D5300

The Nikon D5300 is a lightweight and compact, DSLR camera that measures 3.9 x 4.9 x 3″ (HWD), weighs around 1.1 pounds without a lens and in comparison to t he D3400 who measures 3.9 x 4.9 x 3.0″, you can see that they share nearly the same compactness, hence, both of them will let you capture photos for hours without making you feel fatigued!

Furthermore, the body is made with a carbon fiber, reinforced plastic material which ensures a higher level of durability, and yet again, both cameras are strong enough to withstand years of use,and you will unlikely notice a significant decrease in terms of the look which is great!

When it comes to the controls, the D5300 has a good amount of physical buttons that can be found on the top and rear part of the body.

For instance, on the top, aside from the hotshoe, there is a programmable Fn button, lens release button, Drive mode control, Mode dial and a toggle switch that actives the Live View mode. On the handgrip, you can find a record button, button that adjusts exposure value compensation, Info button as well as a power switch and shutter release.

On the rear, the control layout is somewhat compressed, and the dedicated controls mainly occupy the top and the right part of the body.

On the top-rear, there is an optical viewfinder that offers up to 95% of coverage with a magnification of 0.52x, and in comparison to the D3400, I like this one more because it is brighter and you will have a better view for sure.

Slightly below, you can notice the presence of the 3.2″ 1,037k-dot vari-angle display which will let you adjust its position according to your preferences and even safely rotate it inwards when the camera is not in use. On the contrary to the Nikon D3400, clearly, the D5300 wins the race here because this screen is flexible and has a bigger resolution which by default means that your experience will be a lot more convenient.

Speaking of the connection ports, the D5300 packs HDMI, USB/AV out ports, single memory card slot that supports SD/SDHC/SDXC memory, stereo microphone input, receives for ML-L3 wireless remote and it is both, Wi-Fi and GPS-enabled, and yet again, the D5300 wins the race here because the D3400 lacks the aforementioned capabilities.

Performance-wise, this unit employs a 24MP DX-Format CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter, continuous shooting rate of 5 fps, 39-point AF system with 3D tracking and 3D matrix metering, and a native ISO range of 100-12,800 that is expandable to 25,600.

In practice, the D5300 does a fairly good job in maintaining the noise levels as low as possible. JPEG images taken at ISO 3200 are strong and they do really look sharp, but what also got my attention is that even at ISO 400, they remain quality and the presence of noise does not overtake the detail.

At 12,800, which is at the same time the native maximum range of the D5300, images look decent even though the noise appears more.

Overall, I can say that Nikon did an excellent job here because they’ve manufactured a camera that does really know how to control the noise throughout the ISO range.

In the end, the D5300 records 1080p videos at 60/30/24/fps, and 720p videos at 60/50fps in an H.264/MPEG 4 format, and I think that you will be pleased from the footage due to the fact that details are numerous and the color accuracy is very good as well!

Feature Comparison

Nikon D3400 Nikon D5300
Camera Type
DSLR
DSLR
Megapixels
24.2
24.0
ISO Range
100-25600
100-12,800; 25,600
Flip-Out Screen
No
Yes
AF Points
11 AF points
39 AF Points
Viewfinder
Yes
Yes
Touchscreen
No
No
Video Recording
Yes
Yes
Sensor Size
APS-C
APS-C

Conclusion

Since we’ve reached this far, I’m sure that you’re already familiar with the fact that both cameras have their pros and cons, and both of them are strong enough to pave your road to become a professional one day.

Now, I will try to make a head to head comparison of the key aspects of the cameras, and also compare their capabilities in terms of the shooting styles.

For instance, the D5300 outperforms the D3400 for sports photography and it is a bit better at street photography, however, for landscape or portrait photography, the result is a tie since both cameras output average results.

On the other hand, the D5300 comes with a built-in Wi-fi and GPS, has an articulating screen, packs more number of focus points ( 39 vs 11), has a larger and higher resolution ( 3.2″ vs 3″ and 1,037k-dot vs 921k-dot respectively), as well as performs a better under low light ISO.

In comparison, the 3400 has a larger Max ISO, strong battery life ( 1200 shots vs 600), and has a tiny advantage in terms of the color depth (24.8 vs 24).

If you ask me, I’d go for the D5300 even though it has a higher price tag, because it is worth it.