If we go straight into this at the very top of the Nikon D3400 setup menu, you have got the RESET THE SETUP OPTIONS which will reset all the options in this setup menu. It is an option if you need to change everything in it. The one further down below that is FORMAT MEMORY CARD. You should format the memory card when you first put it into the camera. It is also worth reformatting it occasionally, particularly after you have downloaded a lot of pictures. It essentially resets the card and formats the card so that it is appropriate for this camera. The thing to remember is that when you format the card you delete everything, so please make sure that you have taken off and removed everything that you want and put it onto a different hard disk or a computer somewhere.
The one below that on the D3400 setup menu is date stamp which allows you to put a little date stamp at the bottom of each of your pictures. It is an option which I do not take advantage of, but should you wish to that is what it is for. Then you have got TIME ZONE AND DATE, which you should have put in when you switched on the camera initially or when you set it up. This gives you the option to change the time zone and date and if you change time zone also you get the option to change that when you are in SNAPBRIDGE. When you connect to a mobile device or a tablet you get the option to synchronize the two so that is another way of setting the time and date. Below that is LANGUAGE. Again you will have dealt with this when you switch the camera on for the first time but you can change the language here should you wish to.
MONITOR BRIGHTNESS can be very useful if you know that you are going somewhere that is very dark and you do not want the brightness of the screen to either distract you or others, say for example you might be going to the theater and then you can turn the monitor brightness down. Likewise if you are going somewhere that you know will be very bright and you think that the screen needs to be brighter, so that you can see what is on it then you can turn it up. It is a useful option for those circumstances but in most cases the brightness left at zero is perfectly satisfactory.
The INFO DISPLAY FORMAT in the D3400 setup menu is about how the information, in terms of the shutter speed and the aperture etc, is displayed on the back of the camera. Basically there are six options. You can either have what is called a classic display, where the shutter speed and the aperture or shown in terms of numbers, or you can have it as a graphic display where they are shown as the dials turning around. It is entirely up to you and makes no difference – the same information is available to you in both circumstances so there is no issue really in far as that is concerned. Below that is the AUTO INFO DISPLAY and if it is switched on it means that when you press the shutter halfway down, the information will display on the back screen.
Below the auto info display option in the D3400 setup menu is the AUTO-OFF TIMER. The camera will automatically switch itself off in order to save battery power. That can be quite frustrating sometimes and this option gives you the choice of how long the camera will wait in certain settings before it switches itself off. There are four options here: short, normal, long and custom. I would recommend that you take a look at custom and the reason for that is that it allows you to set the times that are preferential to you for some of the specific options here. For the playback menus I have it on five minutes, the image review which is the image showing up on the back of the screen once you have taken it, is four seconds. Liveview I have for five minutes and the stand by timer – when the camera isn’t doing anything in particular but is just switched on, is down to one minute because I do not want it draining any more battery than that if I have accidentally left it doing nothing. Those are the options that I use.
Below that is the SELF TIMER. The button on the back of the camera at the bottom rights the shutter release button and that allows you to go in from single shutter release to continuous and then into some of the self timer options and the default self timer is a 10-second option. Here, in the D3400 setup menu, you can change that default and you can change it to 2-seconds, 5-seconds or up to 20-seconds. That is entirely down to you but there is one other option here which is really also very good because it gives you the option to choose the number of shots that are taken. The default is 1 but you can shoot up to 9 and that is really very useful, as I said earlier, when you are doing this if you want to take a group shot and be in it then you can set it to 10-seconds or 5-seconds and then you can shoot a number of pictures rather than just a single shot. This option in the D3400 setup menu is very useful to know and very handy to access when you are trying to do those sorts of pictures.
The one below self timer on the D3400 setup menu is REMOTE ON DURATION and this refers to the ML-L3 infrared shutter release button, the remote button that you can buy. It does not come with this camera. You would have to buy it. It is an infrared connection to the camera and it will set off the shutter release. Again this refers to how long the camera can sit there on that setting without switching itself off. The minimum is one minute the maximum is 15 minutes you can not switch it off. So I just leave it on the minimum. Below that is the option to LOCK THE MIRROR UP FOR CLEANING. This refers to cleaning the sensor. Do not go near this – you are far more likely to do more damage to your sensor by trying to clean it yourself than the damage that the dirt or the fleck of dust on the sensor will be doing to your camera or your photography. If you have dirt on your sensor then take it to a shop and get it done professionally. However what I would say is that you should not have dirt on your sensor! When you change the lens on the front of your camera, which is the only time the sensor has access to the air and to dirt, you should always have your camera facing down so that it is less likely that dirt and dust falls into it and you should cover that hole as quickly as possible either with the camera cap – which comes with a camera – or with another lens. The one below that on the D3400 setup menu is a very useful option if you have a speck of dust on your sensor, because what this does is it allows you to identify that fleck of dust and then the camera itself will delete it from your pictures. Choose this option and then you photograph something that is white. Photograph it on infinity in – other words so that everything is out of focus except that fleck of dust. As a consequence of that being in focus, the camera will identify that as dirt on the sensor and will delete it from every picture henceforth. It is a very useful way if you’ve just got a little bit of dust on your sensor to remove that from all your pictures. I go back to the basic premise – do not get dust on your sensor! Be very careful and if you do then get it cleaned professionally.
OK well the one below that on the D3400 setup menu is IMAGE COMMENT and that allows you to add a comment to your picture. In other words a caption. I switch that off. This is not a great screen for adding a comment, it is an alphanumeric keyboard and you navigate by using the multi-selector so it is quite slow and I do not see the point of doing that. There may be occasions when you need it – I can not think of one off the top of my head. Below that is the option to ADD COPYRIGHT INFORMATION. This is useful and it is useful for two reasons. The first reason is if you start using this camera to put stuff on to social media, then it is useful to have copyright information attached to your pictures so that you can lay claim to them once things are out on social media and on the internet. They get sliced and diced and moved around all over the place, and it may be that on occasion you do not want a picture used by specific people and you need to show them that it is yours in order to get it taken down. If you add copyright information you are more likely to be able to prove that it is your picture and so I would recommend you adding that for that reason. I would also recommend you adding it for a different reason and that is that by putting your name on to the back of this camera here like this, you identify the camera as yours. In my experience thieves often do not bother going to copyright information at least first off and so if there is any discussion about whose camera it is then going to copyright information will show that it is yours. It is useful. It may not be necessary very often but it is worth having there just in case. Below that is the beep. It will drive you bonkers eventually and I recommend that you switch it off and you can do that here.
The one below that on the D3400 setup menu is FLICKER REDUCTION. This is quite interesting. I leave it on AUTO, but you have two other choices – 50 Hertz and 60 Hertz. This refers to the flicker of electrical current. This might not sound very important but it can be, particularly when you are shooting video. In the United States the flicker of fluorescent light or the banding of TV is at 60 Hertz and in Europe it is at 50 Hertz. The naked eye does not see any of this, but the camera will pick this up and perhaps you have seen films or old video from from previous times where somebody is talking and in the background you see a TV screen and there is a black band going down it. That is because the flicker reduction was not identical to the Hertz that were going on on the back screen. So if you are in the States then it should be on 60 Hertz. If you are in Europe it should be on 50 Hertz and that way the camera will synchronize with that flicker and when you are shooting video you will not see it. I leave it on auto because it is perfectly good for 50 or 60 it does not seem to make a great deal of difference. I have shot video in Europe on auto and that is fine but if you need to specify those, this is the area where you do it and that is the reason why you do it – because the electrical current rate the flicker rate is different in the States and in Europe. So it is worth just bearing that in mind.
The next one down on the D3400 setup menu is the BUTTONS and I like these. The buttons refer to the function button on the front and the AE / FL lock button on the back. The first option allows you to assign the function button. It gives you 4 choices. You can assign it to work with image quality and size, ISO sensitivity, white balance, or active d-lighting. I have it assigned to ISO and the reason is it enables me to change the ISO setting very quickly – particularly in video. Now the reason it is good for video is that by having it assigned to this function button I can change the ISO while I am actually shooting video – while I am actually recording and that makes it a very useful option. Now of course you should not do that really but sometimes you need to and so that allows you to do it whilst you are actually shooting video. Going back to the AE/FL lock button, this gives you the option to lock either the auto exposure or the auto focus. I have this set locking the autofocus and the reason I have that is because it is incredibly useful. Once you have used this camera over a period of time you will see that whilst having the shutter release button as the focus button can be useful initially, it can also be quite distracting. The reason is that if you want to take a picture then you have to focus first. The camera will not let you take the picture until you focused and that can slow down the whole process. If you use the Ae/FL button at the back to back focus – in other words you take the focus function away from the shutter release button – then you can do the two individually that is really useful and I suggest that you explore that once you have become familiar with the camera. I have this on a FL lock which is half and half it means that I use the shutter release button to focus that then I use the Ae/FL button at the back to lock that focus. It is very useful if you are taking lots of pictures of the same thing or you want to move the subject, who is focused in the middle of the frame, to one side of the frame or the other and not to refocus the camera when you are pressing the shutter release button. It takes a little bit of getting used to but once you have started to use it, once you are comfortable with it you will never go back. So it is a very useful button and function button to know about. These are the most important setting on the Nikon D3400 setup menu.