Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

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Cheaptoad Forum Member • Posts: 67
Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

I'm just starting out after many years.  Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

Nikon D3400
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FingerPainter Senior Member • Posts: 6,653
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?
1

There is no one best mode dial setting for all beginners.

Use AUTO if you don't want to think and are happy to let the camera make the choices. Or use it to let the camera make the choices, and then take note of what choices it made and try to figure out why it made them. In Auto mode you are restricted from changing many of the camera's settings yourself.

Use Scene modes instead of Auto to indicate to the camera the type of scene you are shooting. This means the camera doesn't have to make an educated guess about the type of scene there is.

Use the Guide mode, for a guided way of learning to use various controls and perform various actions.

Use P, A or S mode to allow you to have greater control over settings, but still have the camera choose the image lightness. If you want to use P, A or S modes, then take advantage of the fact that you have a digital cameras. Do this by enabling Auto ISO. In P, A or S modes, you are letting the camera decide how light or dark your image will be, though you can adjust that lightness by changing the "Exposure Compensation" setting. in these modes there is almost never a need for you to change the ISO setting yourself if you can get the camera to do so for you as needed. Since you are trusting the camera to set lightness, and ISO is essentially a lightness control, it usually makes sense to leave the ISO setting to the camera. Setting the ISO value yourself just amounts to putting needless constraints on the camera's choices. You may find that a lot of people who learned on film cameras will not understand this. They are used to setting the ISO value first. With film that was pretty much essential. With digital cameras, it is often counter-productive to set ISO first.

If you do not enable Auto ISO, P, A and S modes mostly do the same thing. You point the camera at a scene and half-depress the shutter release. The camera uses its light meter to set a target image lightness, and sets one or both of the aperture and shutter in order to get the target lightness for the ISO setting you chose. If you turn the command dial, the camera will adjust both the aperture and the shutter speed. The adjustment to the two will be by reciprocal amounts, so the image lightness remains unchanged. If the camera is no longer able to get the desired lightness after you turn the command dial, it will Display "Lo" or "Hi" in the viewfinder. To change the image lightness, turn the command dial while pressing the Exposure Compensation button.

The main difference between P, A or S modes when Auto ISO is not enabled is how the camera chooses which aperture and shutter settings to use to get the target image lightness. In S mode, the came uses whatever shutter setting you last used in S Mode, and changes the aperture to whatever value is necessary in order to get the target lightness. If it is unable to get the target lightness with the aperture wide open, the cameras displays "Lo" in the viewfinder. In A mode the camera uses whatever aperture value you last set and adjusts the shutter speed. If it is unable to get the target lightness at the slowest available shutter speed, the cameras displays "Lo" in the viewfinder. In P mode the camera might change either or both of the aperture and shutter to get the desired lightness. If it is unable to get the target lightness with the aperture wide open, and at the slowest available shutter speed, the cameras displays "Lo" in the viewfinder.

When Auto ISO is enabled, the camera acts similarly, except that if the camera encounters a situation where it would have displayed "Lo" had Auto ISO not been enabled, it will attempt to achieve the target lightness by raising the ISO setting.

KLH475 Contributing Member • Posts: 844
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

Greetings, I highly recommend getting one of these books and work your way through it with your new camera

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Nikon+D3400

Check out all these tutorials on youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Nikon+D3400+tutorial

Particularly check out Tony Northrup's one hour tutorial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJGjTUICOnc

If you click on Show More under his video you'll find a detailed list of what he covers and can review at will

Enjoy your camera!

Ken

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Chuck Yadmark
Chuck Yadmark Veteran Member • Posts: 4,382
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?
1

Auto is the best setting until you can understand for yourself why you would choose otherwise

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 5,952
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?
2

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

Here's how I use the D3300 (and D5000, and D7200):

* Shoot RAW, Standard Picture Control (you can change all Picture Controls later using the free Nikon software, no reason to worry about it in the field.

*  White Balance on Auto.  Nikon is very good about selecting the proper WB for each shot.  And again, you change it easily later with free Nikon software.

*  Active-D Lighting, Auto or Off.  Again, you can change it later in the desktop software.  There was a recent discussion in which it was stated the camera may adjust the exposure depending on the ADL setting, so maybe it's better off?

* Generally leave ISO on base.  100 or 200 depending the camera model, and change only if necessary for low light.

* Aperture Preferred Mode.

The trick is, how you wish to set up the Autofocus.  There are so many options that largely depend on what you're specifically shooting.

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Chuck Yadmark
Chuck Yadmark Veteran Member • Posts: 4,382
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?
1

The fact that OP has to ask means OP likely has little to no idea what these things are which will cause problems

Bobthearch wrote:

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

Here's how I use the D3300 (and D5000, and D7200):

* Shoot RAW, Standard Picture Control (you can change all Picture Controls later using the free Nikon software, no reason to worry about it in the field.

Will cause all sorts of problems and another thread

* Generally leave ISO on base. 100 or 200 depending the camera model, and change only if necessary for low light.

Might lead to unnecessarily blurred photos in low light if/when you forget to change settings

* Aperture Preferred Mode.

Can lead to blown out photos in very bright light

The trick is, how you wish to set up the Autofocus. There are so many options that largely depend on what you're specifically shooting.

Edit: I know that these things can be a very good idea if OP knows what they are doing, or someday if they are willing, wanting, able to learn this stuff.  Still if I were a beginner I'd rather just jump in and start shooting without learning the other stuff yet.

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inlawbiker Senior Member • Posts: 1,646
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

I would use the scene modes and play close attention to what the camera is doing in a scene.

If you use full Auto mode the camera will take a best guess and what you're trying to do, by matching the scene to its internal database of presets. Often it will guess wrong. If you pick a scene mode, say Sports or Landscape, it gives the camera a pretty good hint at what you want to do.

Then you can glance at the settings and see what the camera is doing, and in the future you can duplicate that sort of thing yourself. For example switching from Sports to Landscape you might notice the aperture go from wide-open f/3.5 to f/11. There's a reason!

Greg.

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 5,952
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Chuck Yadmark wrote:

The fact that OP has to ask means OP likely has little to no idea what these things are which will cause problems

Bobthearch wrote:

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

Here's how I use the D3300 (and D5000, and D7200):

* Shoot RAW, Standard Picture Control (you can change all Picture Controls later using the free Nikon software, no reason to worry about it in the field.

Will cause all sorts of problems and another thread

So many of the camera settings are devoted to various Picture Control items, which also take up a good chunk of the manual. Sharpening, contrast, saturation... all part of the Picture Control system.

You can skip all of that in the field by shooting raw and using the Nikon software.  Learning the Picture Control functions via the desktop software is more efficient because you can see the effects applied in real-time on the image and computer monitor.

* Generally leave ISO on base. 100 or 200 depending the camera model, and change only if necessary for low light.

Might lead to unnecessarily blurred photos in low light if/when you forget to change settings

It shouldn't.  The shutter speed is displayed right on the camera back and in the viewfinder regardless of the shooting mode.

* Aperture Preferred Mode.

Can lead to blown out photos in very bright light

Yes, depending on the metering.  Which is also incredibly more complicated and advanced than in film SLRs.  It's just something to learn.

The trick is, how you wish to set up the Autofocus. There are so many options that largely depend on what you're specifically shooting.

Edit: I know that these things can be a very good idea if OP knows what they are doing, or someday if they are willing, wanting, able to learn this stuff. Still if I were a beginner I'd rather just jump in and start shooting without learning the other stuff yet.

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No right or wrong, just explaining how I shoot, and how I set up my first DSLR to get out and shooting quickly.  My ten-year-old kid has a D3300, and he had no trouble learning the basics with these methods either.

The more 'beginner' that someone is, the more they will benefit from shooting raw.

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Wahrsager
Wahrsager Senior Member • Posts: 1,227
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

Nikon Learn & Explore

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Jonsi
Jonsi Senior Member • Posts: 2,098
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?
1

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

FYI... since no one has told you...

(A) is not auto... It is aperture-priority mode.

You need to set your own aperture for the rest to be automatic.  That could have screwed you up.

The green "auto" is the "auto" setting.

OP Cheaptoad Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Jonsi wrote:

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

FYI... since no one has told you...

(A) is not auto... It is aperture-priority mode.

You need to set your own aperture for the rest to be automatic. That could have screwed you up.

The green "auto" is the "auto" setting.

I see that now.  Most of the photos I just took are not as sharp as I would have liked.  Not enough Depth of Field.  Plus I used the camera's auto focus all day.  I think I have to stop doing that.

Chuck Yadmark
Chuck Yadmark Veteran Member • Posts: 4,382
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?
1

Cheaptoad wrote:

Not enough Depth of Field. Plus I used the camera's auto focus all day. I think I have to stop doing that.

I doubt you're correct on either of those 2 things.   Most lenses that come with a D3400 are pretty small aperture cameras meaning plenty of DOF.  And a properly functioning D3400 autofocus is pretty good, at least center point in decent light.

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Bobthearch
Bobthearch Veteran Member • Posts: 5,952
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Chuck Yadmark wrote:

Cheaptoad wrote:

Not enough Depth of Field. Plus I used the camera's auto focus all day. I think I have to stop doing that.

I doubt you're correct on either of those 2 things. Most lenses that come with a D3400 are pretty small aperture cameras meaning plenty of DOF. And a properly functioning D3400 autofocus is pretty good, at least center point in decent light.

That doesn't sound right to me either.

Someone can undoubtedly clear that up if you post a sample photo.

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GlennW Senior Member • Posts: 2,266
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Cheaptoad wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

FYI... since no one has told you...

(A) is not auto... It is aperture-priority mode.

You need to set your own aperture for the rest to be automatic. That could have screwed you up.

The green "auto" is the "auto" setting.

I see that now. Most of the photos I just took are not as sharp as I would have liked. Not enough Depth of Field. Plus I used the camera's auto focus all day. I think I have to stop doing that.

The D3400 should have a guide mode to help you with setup, once the battery is charged & memory card formatted in camera.

Set Jpeg quality FINE, & use LARGE size. Some prefer AdobeRGB over regular RGB

You can use Raw mode later............

Set ISO from 100 (daylight) to an upper value for dim light.

If you start with green A Automatic mode the camera will do all the work. Guide mode may help you adjust settings for your needs.

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I Shoot RAW

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OP Cheaptoad Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

http://www.dpchallenge.com/forum.php?action=read&FORUM_THREAD_ID=1362053

I just posted a few pics there. I hope that's OK

Steve

Chuck Yadmark
Chuck Yadmark Veteran Member • Posts: 4,382
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

I'm not sure what you think is wrong there.  The subject matter and composition involves things with VERY different distances from the camera.  You can't expect to get the whole frame in focus.

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OP Cheaptoad Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Chuck Yadmark wrote:

I'm not sure what you think is wrong there. The subject matter and composition involves things with VERY different distances from the camera. You can't expect to get the whole frame in focus.

I guess it's more with the ones I didn't post.

So, they aren't terrible?

jshen808
jshen808 Senior Member • Posts: 7,508
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Cheaptoad wrote:

http://www.dpchallenge.com/forum.php?action=read&FORUM_THREAD_ID=1362053

I just posted a few pics there. I hope that's OK

Steve

..Nice pictures with your D3400 camera..

..by the way, which lens(es) did you use to take these pictures(?)..

..Cheers..

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Regards, John..
..down with naysayers!
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OP Cheaptoad Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Thanx for the compliments John. Means a lot considering my first day back.

I just used the 2 lenses that came with the camera

*Nikon AF-P Nikkor 18-55 3.5 -5.6 VR (90 % of what I did)

*Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300 DX 1:4.5-6.3

Steve

jshen808 wrote:

Cheaptoad wrote:

http://www.dpchallenge.com/forum.php?action=read&FORUM_THREAD_ID=1362053

I just posted a few pics there. I hope that's OK

Steve

..Nice pictures with your D3400 camera..

..by the way, which lens(es) did you use to take these pictures(?)..

..Cheers..

jshen808
jshen808 Senior Member • Posts: 7,508
Re: Just bought a Nikon D3400 - what settings should I begin with?

Cheaptoad wrote:

Jonsi wrote:

Cheaptoad wrote:

I'm just starting out after many years. Someone suggested to start use (A)uto and someone else suggested (P)rogram.

FYI... since no one has told you...

(A) is not auto... It is aperture-priority mode.

You need to set your own aperture for the rest to be automatic. That could have screwed you up.

The green "auto" is the "auto" setting.

I see that now. Most of the photos I just took are not as sharp as I would have liked. Not enough Depth of Field. Plus I used the camera's auto focus all day. I think I have to stop doing that.

..The camera's lens, can work similar to the human eyes..

..try this experiment..

..using one of your hand, hold the index finger in front of your face..

..now with both eyes, focus on the tip of your index finger..

..with the index finger in 'focus', what do you notice what happens to the background(?)..

..the answer is, the background becomes 'blurred'..

**********

..after looking through the pictures you have posted on another site..

..had noticed the images were taken using various apertures, ranging from f/3.5 to f/9..

..for 'greater' depth of field, try experimenting taking pictures using f/11 to f/16..

..which means you may need to take pictures using Aperture Priority mode or Manual mode..

**********

..another way to take pictures with a 'greater' depth of field..

..this is not a joke okay..

..is to maybe consider using m4/3 or 1" or 1/2.3" sensor cameras to take pictures, as these sensor cameras will produce images with a 'greater' depth of field..

..can even use a smart phone camera as well..

***********

..cameras are just photographic 'tools'..

..each has their advantages, as well as disadvantages..

..just use the camera that will fit your 'needs'..

..Cheers..

-- hide signature --

Regards, John..
..down with naysayers!
[YI M1 camera, Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens, firmware 3.0]

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