Basic Controls: Back Of Camera


Nikon® D3400 Fast Start


Lesson Info

Basic Controls: Back Of Camera

So looking at the back of the camera, you obviously have the large LCD display, which is where we're gonna see our images and our menu system and a lot of other features. Most of the time when you're shooting, you should probably be using the optical viewfinder. That's how you're gonna get the best performance of the camera for standard still photography. Be aware that there's a little dial on the upper right hand side there that is the diopter. And this controls the focusing of the viewfinder. Makes no real difference in your final photograph, but can sure have a big impact when you look through the viewfinder whether what you see is clear to your eyes or not. And so that's just an adjustable diopter for people who have different eyesight. There's a little rubber eyecup that is replaceable. It's potential that if you wear it a lot, you use it with glasses and helmets or things like that it could wear out after a number of years. So that's available, it's usually less than 10 bucks to ...

find those replacements. Looking through the viewfinder, first off, the frame that you are looking at, is 95 percent accurate. It's not a 100 percent accurate. And you're actually getting a little bit more than this frame shows you. So if you line something up on the very edge of the frame, you're gonna get it and then a little bit more in the final photograph. And it does this basically to accommodate the way a lot of people would print photos and there's a lot of photo mats or photo printers that crop in a little bit on the edge of the frame. And this just ensures that whatever you see in the frame, will absolutely be in the final image. Next thing you're gonna see in the viewfinder is the focusing points. And they're gonna be these little brackets and dots. And this is where the camera looks for contrast and brightness in order to focus on a subject. And we're gonna talk more about focusing points in a upcoming section very soon. But that's just where those points are. And you'll noticing them lighting up in red when they are active and the camera is using them to figure out where the best focus place is. Down at the bottom, we're gonna get our LED information line down here. And there's gonna be a lot of things that it may potentially show you. It's either in showing you important information to the exposure or warnings about something that's turned on or turned off in the camera. So as we work our way left to right, there's a circle which indicates that, a green dot that indicates your camera has focused properly and achieved a good focus. We'll talk more about auto exposure lock. There's a button on the back of the camera where you can lock the exposure if you're gonna be moving it from, changing your composition. We talked about our flexible program earlier, when you have your camera in the P mode and have adjusted the exposure with the back dial. You'll then see your shutter speeds, apertures and your light meter. Depending on which mode you're in, of course. If you have your camera in the special effects mode, it will tell you this here. As I said before, this is not how you would normally shoot photos on your camera. But if you are playing around, it's gonna let you know that you're in the playaround mode. After that, we're gonna have a little warning that you've gone in and changed the power of your flash or something called flash exposure compensation. I'll show you some examples of that in a moment here. You'll see a little basic battery level to let you know your batteries are getting low. The exposure compensation, we talked about that just a moment ago, that was the dial on the top of the, the button on the top of the camera. Pressing that with the dial on the back, changing our exposures a little bit brighter or darker. Thing about that is that you wanna keep it set to zero which is in the middle for standard photography and only change it when you absolutely need to, make your images a little brighter or a little darker. We'll see our ISO setting, we'll talk more about that as we get into upcoming sections. That's the sensitivity of the sensor. In the brackets, you will see how many shots you have remaining on that memory card. If you see a K after it, K stands for thousand, and so the example on screen, 2.1K means two thousand one hundred images approximately are left on the camera. And this is approximate and it will change as you shoot photos, it refines that number and figures it out a little bit better as it goes along. When you press halfway down on the shutter release, you're gonna get what looks like an R and a couple of numbers. That is the remaining number of shots that you can get when you are shooting in a burst mode, which is a motor drive continuous shooting, you're gonna shoot a whole bunch of action shots right away. So the example here is that you can shoot four shots in a row and then the camera has to process that information and it's gonna take a little bit longer before it can shoot that fifth shot. It'll do so as quickly as it can, and it may take a second or two for it to get to that fifth shot and so on to the sixth and so forth. And the lightening bolt means that the flash is ready to fire. Finally, there's a little question mark which is a warning sign that is basically asking do you know what you're doing, are you sure about everything? And so for instance, if you're in a mode where the shutter speeds are too slow for hand holding, that question mark would start blinking at you. And remember, anything that blinks is a warning of some sort. Now you can take off that little rubber eyecup and you can put on this eyepiece cap and that can be important if you are not behind the camera when you're shooting photos. If you were to use the self timer mode, light might be entering through that viewfinder and altering your exposure. And so if you need to block the light coming in through the viewfinder, you'll have that, the camera comes with this little eyepiece cap that you can put on it. And so it's not gonna be very often because normally when you're shooting photos, your eye is gonna be up to that viewfinder. When you go into the live view mode, you don't have to worry about it because the mirror comes up and it blocks the light coming in there. And so the main time that anyone would have a problem is when it's on a tripod, if they're using the self timer mode, or they're not standing directly behind the camera. Alright, we're gonna start working our way down the left hand side buttons, starting off with the playback button. So let's talk about some of the different ways of playing back images in the camera. Once you hit the playback button and you're looking at your last image, you can of course hit the garbage can and then it's gonna ask you to hit the garbage can again to confirm that you want to get it deleted. If you wanna view your other images, you're gonna use the multi-selector to go left and right, from previous image to the next image. And then another little quirk on the Nikon system is that if you go up and down, you can look at different information. But if you do it right now on your camera, you're probably not gonna see very much. And that's because you need to dive into the menu system to go ahead and turn on these different options which will allow you to see more information about how it was taken. And so let's go ahead and I'm gonna turn this on so I'm gonna show you the little shortcut here. So, I wanna look at my last image and it's right here and if I go up and down, nothing happens. So I'm gonna fix this problem by going into menu, and I'm gonna navigate left and up to the playback. And I'm gonna come down to the playback display options. And I'm gonna go to the right. And I'm gonna go to the right cuz I wanna see none, and I wanna see the highlights and I wanna see the red, green, blue histogram and I wanna see the shooting data and I'm gonna see the overview. So I go to the right to select it and when I'm done, I'm gonna press OK. Now I'm gonna come back and I'm gonna press play. Here's my image and I'm gonna go up and now I see just the image, if I just wanna see the image and nothing else, none of the clutter. This is showing me the histogram and all sorts of bits of information about my file size, what time of day I took it, what my shutter speed, my aperture and ISO, what lens and a various other settings in the camera. More settings that I had, more settings, and so this is nice cuz it's all optional. If I don't wanna see it, I can just come back here and look at the image and go back and forth to my previous images. But if I said, oh, wait, what did I do on this image here? I can go in and take a look at that specific information. Alright, so also on playback, we have a plus and minus button on the back of the camera. And so we can zoom in on our subjects to see if they're sharp or not. And then we have an i button where we can go in and we can rate our images and we can go in and retouch our images. And so let me do a quick little demo on that. Let me go in and playback an image. And so let me find an image that I wanna work with here, this one here looks decent enough. And so, on this image, let me get it straightened up here with the camera here. So if I wanna go in and take a look to see if this is actually sharp, I'm gonna go over here to where it says plus, and I can zoom on in and I can see that it's nice and sharp. Now you'll notice down here on the right hand corner, I can see a thumbnail, so if I wanna look at another camera in here, I can just move around and this is as, well look how, see how close we can get in there. We can get in super close. And then if I wanna move back, I can move back all the way until I get a full image, which we'll see down here, it's right there. But I can continue going back so I can start seeing thumbnails. And I can see all the images that I've shot with this camera and I can even see it on a calendar. So if you were shooting pictures over several days, like you're on vacation, you could just simply navigate to a different day and that way, you don't have to scroll through every single image to go find a picture that you took at the beginning of your vacation. And so, if you find where you wanna go, you can just keep plugging in, and go in closer and closer. And so, great way for checking sharpness to make sure that you really got your image as sharp as you wanted it there. Now another thing was the i button down here. So when you press the i button, you can go in and you can either do a rating or a retouch. So let me go to the right for rating. And I can choose down here on the bottom left, to rate this one through five stars. And this carries forward in the metadata to other types of photo programs like Photoshop or Lightroom, a variety of programs. And so, this isn't the way that I would expect most people to spend their vacation time out there rating their images out there. But if you knew you took an image and you wanted to remember which one it was that you remember at the time was best, you can come in here and you can set that as a three star image for instance. The other option in here is, we can go into retouch. And if you wanted to go in and we're not gonna play around with this much right now. But you could go in and you could change the effects of this image. So this is all, like what I said before, was Photoshop in the camera. Now you can either shoot an image with the miniature effect or you can shoot a normal image and come back and change it into the miniature effect. And if we do do this on this one, we can change where it's gonna be sharp and where it's gonna be blurry. And I'm gonna hit confirm. And what it's gonna do is it's gonna make a copy of the original image and it never destroys a good image. And so now, let's see if I play this back, let me get some information. So this is picture number eighteen. But it's really a copy of a picture I took earlier. Number three here. But it's a little different in the way that it looks because we did that blurring effect on it. So you can play around with your images a little bit, you can trim them, and make some small adjustments in there after you've taken them. If you wanna do that in the camera, you don't actually need to go into a computer and a software program to make those changes. So it's a nice feature to have, but it's not something most people with a camera spend much time doing. So also in the playback mode is the protect button. You'll notice there's a little key symbol up there by this AEL AFL button that we'll talk about in a moment. And that locks the image and prevents it from being deleted. Now you can still format the memory card which will delete the image. And so it's not total protection of that image from it being destroyed, but it does prevent it from an accidental deletion with the garbage can button on the back of the camera. You can also use the dial on the back of the camera to scoot forward and scoot backward in going through your images and that's sometimes the quickest way to do it. Next down is the menu button and we're gonna be going through the menu in the second half of this class. We talked about the plus and minus button. The minus button actually has three different things that it's doing depending on what mode you are in. Beyond zooming in and out, at least on the minus button, it is a help button so when you get into the menu system, if you want to know more about a particular feature, you can press the help button and it will give you one or two sentences of better description about what that feature is particularly doing. The i button is a really important button on the camera because it is a shortcut into some of the most important functions of the camera. And so we're gonna take a little deeper dive into the information button here. Along the very top, it's gonna give you some bits of information, things that are turned on, turned off, how the battery is doing, we're not gonna go through all of these. They should speak for themselves and they'll make more sense as we go through the rest of the camera. The next is your exposure information. Obviously very important for general photography. And not really much that we're doing to change things, just it's a line of information to look at. The bottom part has two rows where we can go in and start controlling and changing features of the camera. First up on the top left is the quality setting. There's actually two boxes involved here. The box on the left is what's known as the image quality. And this is the basic choice between JPEG images and raw images. So, if you are a serious photographer that wants to get the full information from the sensor on the camera, you wanna be shooting in raw. That way you collect all of the colors and all the tonal information and you can work with it later in some sort of software program, either from Nikon or Adobe or some other company that makes software for it. Chances are that if you do take a raw image, you're gonna wanna tweak the contrast and the colors a little bit just to make it look its very best. If you don't really wanna fuss with that sort of stuff, you just want a finished image that looks pretty darn good and is probably good to go, then you wanna shoot with a JPEG image. And that is either the fine, normal or basic. There's different compression settings on how much they compress that data. And so you'd probably wanna be choosing the large, excuse me, the fine quality JPEG if you wanna shoot in JPEG. Now, there is also raw plus fine quality JPEG so that every time you take one picture, you're actually getting two, you're getting a raw and a JPEG image from the camera. And I don't recommend that unless you have a very specific need for both of those different files because once you have a raw image, you can create a JPEG anytime on your own. And so, for a basic user getting started on this camera, JPEG fine is a fine way to get started. You're gonna get nice, clean easy results. You don't have to fuss with things later on. But if you are a little bit more serious about photography, maybe you're taking a photography class, and you're really starting to work with your images on the computer, that's when you're definitely gonna wanna shoot with raw. The image size, and this is only dealing with the JPEG image, previously we had, I think it was fine, normal and basic, which is a compression size, there's ways of compressing the colors and the tonal information to make a smaller size file. The other part of this is the pixel number, how many pixels are you recording? Now this is a 24 megapixel camera. And I'm gonna guess most people partially bought it for that to shoot all 24 megapixels. And so most of the time, I would imagine most people are gonna be shooting in large, which gives you 6000 x 4000 pixels, or 24 megapixels. Now, when would you ever wanna shoot smaller medium? If you know the final purpose of that image is never gonna need to be larger than that. For instance, let's say you're selling an item on ebay. And you know you need a small picture on the internet. Well, 3000 x 2000 pixels or 6 megapixel image is more than enough for a basic image that you're gonna share on the computer screen. And so if you knew that that was the final output and that was all you needed of it, you could save some file space on your computer, on your memory cards, use up less data and just shoot it as small. Normally though, you're gonna wanna set it on large unless you specifically know that you don't need that. Next up is something called white balance and this controls the color that the camera records because the camera doesn't know what color the lights are that are illuminating your subjects. It may need a little help from you in figuring that out. So let's take a look at the way white balance works. There is a scale that goes from red to blue and it's the Kelvin scale. And sunlight will fall a little bit warmer than 5000 degrees Kelvin on this scale. Cloudy and shade are similar but shade has a big blue reflector so things are a little bit more blue there. The most common lighting situation that is notably different than average is when we have incandescent lights in our homes for instance and maybe where we work. Fluorescent lights can really vary depending on the warmth or coolness of the specific lights. And flash is very very neutral itself and so it's right in between there. And so if you're getting funky colors, you may wanna take a look at the white balance to see if it's doing the right thing or not. There is a way that you can also go in and set it manually. I'll be hones with you, not many people use that system. But it's available. Most people use the auto system. And in general the auto white balance works pretty well. It looks at the colors and it tries to figure out what is a neutral color in this particular image. And so in general, I would recommend setting auto unless there is something that just doesn't look right. If you have a home that has a lot of tungsten lights on it then you're gonna probably wanna change it to the tungsten setting. Next up is active D lighting. And what this does is it only works on JPEG images. So all of you users who are shooting raw, it's not gonna have any impact on your images. It's only in JPEG. And this is where the camera will look at the photo that you've just taken and it will tweak it according to various exposure needs that it thinks that you need. So as a for instance, this image here has shadows that might be a little bit darker than you'd like. And so the active D lighting, one of the most common things that it does, is it lightens up the shadows so that you can see into them. And in many many situations, that's a nice thing to have. And so in this case, we'll look at the off and on. And so it also will sometimes hold back the highlights so the highlights don't get blown out. And that's a nice thing to have on some, but not all photographs. On some photographs, we like having really good contrast and exposure. So, I can't tell you whether you should turn it on or off, it depends a little bit on how you shoot photos. Once again, it only affects JPEGs. I would say that if you shoot a lot of people photos, and you don't wanna fuss with your images later, turn this on. If you're getting a little bit more serious into photography and you wanna have full control then you would wanna turn it off.

Class Description

The Nikon D3400 camera is the perfect DSLR if you're looking to move up from taking pictures on your smartphone. This class will give you an in-depth instruction on how to make this transition easily so that you can capture high quality images. John will guide you through the features, menus, and buttons on your camera, giving you the confidence you need to take pictures like a pro. You’ll learn how to:

  • Use the D3400's AF precise focus system, even during high-speed shooting and low-light situations
  • Link your D3400 to your smartphone using Nikon's new Snapbridge system
  • Create time-lapse videos, ultra-smooth slow motion sequences and more
If you've just purchased this camera, or are thinking about buying it, this in-depth class will help everyone from amateurs to professionals love the new NIkon D3400 camera.


Tuan Hoang

John Greengo is a great instructor. He is indeed an expert. 1) Great voice ( clear tone) 2) Extremely friendly look ( must be a humble person) 3) Is indeed an expert ( know what he's talking about) 4) Have a passion teaching the secrets ( some instructors tend to hold back the information but not John) 5) And many more...


Great course to help an amateur get familiar with this camera. As a first time DSLR owner, and new to photography in general, there are settings and abilities of this camera that I find to be intimidating at times because they are over my head as a newbie. John explained settings and buttons in a way that cleared up some confusion left from reading the camera manual. I highly recommend this class to every owner of a D3400! John is a great instructor and I look forward to watching more videos of his.

Gloria Vázquez

Great class. I'm new to photography and I just got the Nikon D3400. Just to look at the manual made me anxious so I decided to buy this class and I don't regret it. I've learned a lot about the camera and about basic photography. John is an excellent instructor. I'm planning to take his class Fundamentals of Photography next. Thank you!