If you look around all of the options on the Nikon D3400 mode dial then apart from M (for manual), all the other mode options on the camera will set the exposure. In other words the camera will decide what the best exposure is for the picture you are trying to take. So you can see that it is quite important that you select the right mode but also that you understand what the mode is trying to do, Stillmode so that when you find yourself in a circumstance where you want to take a picture a certain style or in a certain way, you can select the correct mode. We are going to go through all of them and I am going to give you a brief outline of what they do and what parameters are, and the things that you can change within those parameters and modes, and ultimately how you can take the best pictures possible with this camera.
So lets have a look at the first one on the Nikon D3400 mode dial – NIGHT PORTRAITURE. Now night portraiture is a mode which allows you to take a portrait at night. This is not as straightforward as it seems. First of all, it engages the flash to shoot what is called slow sync, custom Built home and that opens the aperture and slows down the shutter speed, which allows the camera to get in as much of the light in the background of the picture as possible. Then, just before the shutter closes on the camera, the flash will go off to illuminate the subject in the foreground. That gives you a quite balanced picture where you have the subject well illuminated in the foreground but with the contextual background visible too. If you just shot with the flash then you would have the subject slightly overexposed in the foreground and just a black background. So by shooting it with night portrait it means that you get the background and some context in which the subject is standing and so it gives some meaning to the picture.
As with all of the semi-automatic modes – which are the ones that go up to M, A, S and P – essentially the ones that go up to the green auto mode, most of the presets are set and there is very little wiggle room. But when you are looking at each of them – particularly if you are looking on the back of the camera – there are certain things that you can change. It is worth knowing what you can change in each of the settings because you may want to change them just to slightly change the style of the picture that you are taking. So on the back of the camera you press the i button. It gives you the options that you can change when you are in each setting. So, for example, in NIGHT PORTRAIT we can change the quality and compression rate of the picture, the focus (autofocus or manual), flash compensation and exposure compensation. The final option open to you here is the ISO. That is set on auto and there is a very good reason for that when you are in night portraiture. The camera will set the aperture to be as wide as possible to get as much light into the sensor as possible, and it will also set the shutter speed to be at least 1/30th of a second, because any slower than that means there is likely to be movement blur when you take the picture. So that means that out of the 3 variables, ISO, shutter speed and aperture, you have basically fixed or minimized the options for two of them. So the ISO is the only variable that can move around with any great flexibility. In most cases the ISO probably will not go above 1000 or 1600. You will get an element of grain and noise in that shot, but it is a night portrait and to some extent that could and should be expected. So it is best to leave the ISO on auto in most cases. You can set it, but it does reduce the options for the Nikon D3400 and in this instance I think you should leave the camera to do what it does best which is to get the best exposure for your picture.
The mode just above the night portraiture on the Nikon D3400 mode dial is represented by a flower and is called CLOSE-UP MODE. It is a kind of macro mode which you can shoot even with the kit lens and it opens the aperture very wide which means that the subject in focus is very sharp but the background is blurred and that means that the subject stands out even more. The ISO is on auto for this and that is because you have set the aperture very wide, the shutter speed is set accordingly too for handheld photography and so the ISO is the only variable.
The one above close-up mode is the Running Man – the SPORTS MODE – and that prioritizes the shutter speed. It is very important when you are shooting sport or action that you have a fast shutter speed so that you freeze the subject in the frame and that means that you need at least 1/250th and probably 1/500th of a second shutter speed. So the ISO will go up accordingly, depending on the light, whether it is daylight or darker than that, it might go up to a 1000 or 1600 even 3200 and the aperture will be as wide as possible so that it can get as much light in and onto the sensor in that very brief period the shutter is open. The flash will not work and it will be on continuous which means that you will be shooting 5 frames a second, which is a good thing because it means that you are more likely to get a good frame out of any action that happens in front of you.
The one above sport on the Nikon D3400 mode dial is called CHILD MODE and it is ideal for candid photography. It is not a portrait mode but it is a mode which is designed for taking candid shots of people which also have plenty of the background in as well, to give that subject some context. It has quite a narrow aperture so that ensures that there is plenty of background in there. It means also that it slows down the shutter speed to give more depth of field. If it is deemed to be too dark, the flash will pop up. It also makes some of the colors a little more vivid but also focuses on getting the skin tones just right. Skin tones are really important in candid shots. When you look at a picture of person you look at their face or their features and the skin tones need to be just right. If it is not, it is really very noticeable. The colors of the clothes or the background can be slightly different from reality and the eye does not really register that provided the face and the skin look right and that is what this child mode is for – to shoot candid shots and get those skin tones right.