Setting up your camera properly when you get it is very useful because it ensures that you get the best quality pictures and video. This article shows you how to set up your Nikon D3400 DSLR.
The first thing you need to do is to get your battery and to charge it. When you buy the camera you will receive a battery and a battery charger and, although the battery may look like it is fully charged, it is worth just getting it an extra hour or so in the charger to make sure. The reason for that is that by fully charging and then fully draining your battery as you use it, it does extend the life of your battery. Once you’ve charged it, you then place it into the camera which is in the socket here at the bottom. It can only go in one way – it goes in with these contacts at the top and it goes in only one way, so if it doesn’t go in very easily you’re putting it in the wrong way. Then you just close the door.
The next thing you need to do is attach the lens. If you bought the kit lens, which is a great buy, then you will get that in the box with the camera. If you look on the side of the camera here, there is a white dot and if you look on the side of the lens you will see also there is a white dot. So, take off the two caps very carefully, match up the two white dots, gently fitting it into the bayonet socket and then twisting it anti-clockwise until it clicks.
Now, although you get nearly everything you need in the box when you buy the camera, for you to take pictures pretty much straight away, the one thing you don’t get when you get box is a memory card. Of course you need a memory card to store the pictures and the videos that you shoot on the camera. We suggest getting a SanDisk card and the reason for that is that sound discs will guarantee the life of the card. It is important to remember they won’t guarantee what’s on the card but if the card fails SanDisk will replace the card. It is a little extra. The way you put the card into the camera is on the side socket here. You open it up by pulling it slightly forward and you put the card in facing to you. Just push it in until it clicks and what you’ll notice is that when you push it in completely a green light flashes on the back of the camera to say that it’s being done properly. If you need to take the card out then you just press the card and it’s on a spring and it will just bounce out again.
On the other side are two other ports. These are very useful because they are a USB port which allows you to transfer your pictures directly from the camera to a laptop computer and beneath that an HDMI port which allows you to show your pictures on a TV. Neither of these leads are available in the box so if you want to do either of those things you need to buy the leads separately. Once you’ve inserted your memory card the next thing to do is to switch the camera on. But first take off the lens cap and activate the lens. What I mean is that you press the button on the side of the lens and you extend the lens out. You need to do this in order for the camera to work because if you don’t the camera won’t take any pictures.
Once you’ve done that you can switch on the camera. Once you have done that you will see in the back screen that you’ve got various choices to make. First, choose your language and you do that by moving the cross keys left to right and up and down.Then select the language and pressing OK. Ignore the SnapBridge option for now. You choose your date in a similar fashion and you also then choose your time zone in exactly the same way, by using the cross keys on the back. All of these things can be changed later anyway so don’t worry too much if you get them wrong or in fact if you don’t want to worry too much about them now and bypass those options and to return to them afterwards.
The next thing to do is to format your card. The first time you use your card you need to ensure that it’s formatted correctly for this camera. Press the menu button – the menu that you are looking for is the Set Up menu. That is the spanner icon, so you go down here and then the second one down is format memory card. Now there’s always an element of danger when you format memory cards, particularly once you started using the camera. If you format the memory card, you delete everything on it. Even pictures that you think you have protected will be deleted so you need to be very careful when you format cards. However when you’re doing it for the first time you are perfectly at liberty to go to YES and click OK and it will format the memory card and attune it to this camera properly.
Well you can shoot pictures with this camera now, but the best thing to do is to select your image quality and your compression quality before you do so. The first thing to do is to go back into menu. In this instance we’re looking at the Shooting Menu and if you go to down then the first thing you come across is IMAGE QUALITY. Now image quality talks about compression rates not about the file size but the compression rate is important. You can shoot RAW images with this camera but I would recommend initially at least, shooting JPG. The option I would choose would be JPG FINE Because that’s the best compression rate for this camera. Once you have done that, you move one down to IMAGE SIZE and again there’s no point shooting medium of small images with this camera I would say the best thing to do is to shoot large images. The memory card will probably be enough – a 16 or 32 gigabyte memory – to shoot hundreds of pictures so you are not limited by memory space as we once were so there’s no reason not to shoot large and not to shoot fine JPG images. As we are in the Shooting Menu, why don’t we go down one more from IMAGE SIZE to ISO sensitivity. When you switch the camera on for the first time, then the settings are set so that the Auto ISO sensitivity control is on. That means that when you’re in the basic Preset Modes the camera will choose the ISO setting. If you look below the Auto ISO sensitivity control it will set the maximum sensitivity according to what’s chosen there and when you get the camera and you switch it on to the first time the maximum is 25600. I would say that when you’re taking normal pictures you probably don’t want to go above 1600 probably 3,200 at the most. By leaving it as it is, you allow the camera to choose far higher ISOs than you otherwise might wish. So if you go into this setting I would suggest that you make the maximum setting as I say 6400 and I would also switch the ISO sensitivity control OFF because that then means that you have more control over the ISO in the basic settings and also in the manual settings.
After setting the ISO I would stay in the Shooting Menu and move one down again to white balance. It is important. Initially I would put white balance on auto. What white balance does is it sets the white in the picture. If you know anything about colors you know that white is a combination of all colors and so once the camera can set white, it can also set the values for all the other colors. So it is very important and it is also very important if you’re shooting somewhere where the balance of light is not normal, for example if you are shooting in an office where the light may be slightly blue, or if you are shooting at home under artificial light where the natural color of the light might be slightly yellow. Now you are not going to see this with your naked eye because your brain manages to filter that those tones and those colors out, but the camera will see it and it’s important that the camera is initially is on AUTO so that it can set the white balance itself and try to balance all of the different color components that it sees through the lens.
Now you’re in a position to take a picture or shoot a video. You can either do this through the live view screen which enables you to see what is through the lens or you can do this through the more conventional DSLR way which is to look through the viewfinder. The viewfinder can be attuned to your eyesight. So if you look through the viewfinder and although the camera says what you’re looking at is sharp, it doesn’t look sharp to you, you can use the dioptric adjuster which is on the side here to change the focal length of the viewfinder which means that you can look through it and it looks sharp when in fact the camera says it looks sharp. That’s very useful so take some moments just to focus and refocus on a few different things and just check that the viewfinder, when you’re looking through it, looks sharp when the camera says that it is sharp.
One of the things that I change almost straight away is the Auto timer. Cameras have timers on them now in order to help save the battery charge and that means that sometimes they switch themselves off and it can be really annoying. But you can set your own auto timer length by going into the camera and into the Menu Settings. Go into menu and you go into the Setup Menu then by going down on to the next page – there are quite a lot of settings here – you will see AUTO OFF TIMERS as an option. If you select that then you can either select Short, Normal or Long which is a fairly generic term that talks about how long the camera will be on before it switches itself off or how long the back screen will be on before it switches itself off. Or you can go down to CUSTOM and you can select those lengths of time that you prefer. That’s what I do. I go down to CUSTOM and check the ones that I want which are playback and menus, image review which is the length of time the images on the back screen for you just to look at after you’ve taken it. Live view which is the live view screen and the standby timer which is how long the camera is on standby before it switches itself off.
The next thing I’d be looking at here is the monitor brightness. Now the reason for that is that sometimes either in direct sunlight or even when it’s very dark, you might want to change the brightness of the back screen monitor so you can see the picture or the video more clearly. The way to do that is to go into MENU and go down again to Set Up Menu and move down from the Memory Card option which we have seen before, to MONITOR BRIGHTNESS. In order to go in you click on that and then you can move it either up five or down five. Now just to bear in mind that changing the brightness of the monitor does not change the exposure of the picture the two are not related, so you could have a very bright monitor to see the detail of what you are photographing and it won’t affect the photograph itself. But it is a good way of checking detail and making sure that you’ve got the right composition for your picture if the lighting conditions behind the camera aren’t so good.
There are a couple more things to mention before the end of the video. The first one is the beep. When you set up your camera for the first time you will notice that when you start taking pictures, when the camera focuses correctly, it will beep and that is great for the first few times, but after a couple of days that will really start to annoy you. So the thing to do is go into MENU and then coming to Set Up Menu and two pages down at the bottom you will see BEEP and I would suggest you select that and you turn it OFF because it will otherwise drive you mad.
Now the last thing I want to show you is very useful once you have taken your pictures. If you go into Playback Menu, once you have taken a picture and go down to playback display option then you will see that you have options that give you information on the picture once you have it. so you’ve got the options of showing the highlights, the RGB histogram, shooting data and overview. These are really useful bits of information and they’re useful for you to recall and go back to once you’ve taken the picture and you just want to see what settings you have or actually during the live shoot when you can look through the RGB a histogram or the tonal histogram where your picture may be failing or just not working to its optimum. So they are very useful things to have and by allocating and switching those on when you go into Playback Mode and you look at your pictures by pressing the Cross Keys up or down, you will be given these pieces of information with the picture also viewable on the view screen. It is a really useful way of just keeping control and keeping an eye on the various options and settings that you have when you take a picture so for example it will give you as I say the histograms but also the ISO. It will give you the focal length, it will give you all the various autos in terms of white balance or whether the flash was on etc. In the old days when you were shooting with film you would have taken a notebook and written all of this down, but because it’s available on the back screen it makes it a whole lot easier. Those are the basic settings for the Nikon D3400.