Camera Operation Overview


Nikon® D3400 Fast Start


Lesson Info

Camera Operation Overview

The final section of this class is camera operations and with the PDF that comes with this class, you'll wanna look on the final two pages because these are recommendations on how I would set the camera up for different types of photography, for instance, portrait or landscape photography and a few others in here. And I give you some little information as well as some guidelines on where I would make those settings and we're gonna go ahead and just do this live right here but that's the print out version of it. Alright, first off, if you're gonna go on a trip, if you're gonna go shoot your friend's wedding, if you're gonna do something important, you wanna make sure you've got a charged battery, you're gonna wanna install that memory card, probably have it formatted so that you got as much space as possible. Make sure you have the right image quality set, JPEG, RAW, probably want the best quality you can get. Make sure that you haven't made any unusual changes in your menu system. If y...

ou're gonna be going on a safari trip to Africa, you wanna make sure your sensor is clean here, it's much easier to deal with at home than it is when you're on abroad traveling. Alright, so the D3400, the key settings, you have your exposure dial right up on top. If you're gonna be setting your shutter speeds and apertures with the dial and/or with the button and the dial on the camera, you'll have your exposure compensation button right there on the top and then getting to the rest of the important controls will be the i button on the back of the camera. So, we have our ISOs, we have our white balance, our focus modes, and our focus area, and then our drive mode. So these are the type of controls that I would expect to be coming back to on a regular basis with this camera. So let's take a look at what those modes look like and how we would set them up for different types of photographic situations. The first one is a super simple mode. And so if you wanted to have this camera in a very simple mode but one that allowed you to get in and manually make some changes every once in a while, I would set the camera to the P mode. Now, there is the A plus mode but the P mode allows you to get in and make some other adjustments. The ISO, not a big fan of auto ISO but for super simple, I can see having it set there. Make sure the exposure compensation is set to zero. White balance at auto will do a good job the vast majority of the time. Focusing AF-A which means it will choose between single or continuous, depending on what it sees happening in the view finder. The auto-area chooses all 11 focusing points, it will focus on whatever is closest to you so you have to be a little bit careful but it's the most simplistic of the modes. And the release mode of single which means you take one picture at a time when you press down on the shutter release. So let's get into something a little more interesting. Landscape photography, this is where you're shooting off in a big, wide angle scene where you want everything in focus. You don't have a lot of movement going on out there. I prefer shooting this in manual so that I can have very specific control. I wanna have the ISO at the lowest possible setting, so 100 in this camera. I usually want a fair bit of depth of field so that might be around f11, 16, something in that range. And I'll often end up with a little bit slower of a shutter speed, it'll depend on the lighting conditions. Another good system would be aperture priority. Using that at f8, f11, f16, something in there, would accomplish much of the same results. White balance, usually it's gonna be fine at auto, you might need to set it to cloudy or sunny. For focusing modes, I prefer AF-S so that the camera focuses on one subject and stops and does that always. In the AF-Area mode, I wanna choose one particular point in which to focus, wherever it is that I think is most important. With the release mode, we have several options. We wanna take just one shot at a time but we could use the self-timer if our camera's on a tripod so that we're not bouncing the camera around with any sort of vibrations touching it. We could also use a remote system so any of those would work quite well for landscape photography. Next up is portrait photography and so here we're gonna have a specific subject we might wanna shoot with shallow depth of fields so our subjects stand out from a background that is blurry behind them. But we also have to be concerned about movement so we want a little faster shutter speed in case they're moving around. Now I prefer to do this in manual so that I get consistent results from shot to shot and my first setting is usually setting my aperture wide open which is why one of the things I like having about a 50 millimeter 1.4 lens is it allows me to open up to a very wide aperture. If you don't have that, you just do the best that you can. From there, a little bit faster shutter speed like 125th of a second will stop most human motion for portraits. And then I'll wanna have the ISO as low as possible but I may need to bump up if I'm under lower light conditions. Auto white balance will be good for most of the time and as long as my subjects aren't moving around too much, I'll use AF-S for single focusing and I wanna be very precise about where I focus, focus on their face to make sure their eyes are in focus. I'll be using a single point of focus and generally, a single shot at a time is gonna be fine for most portraits. Next type of photography is action photography and so here, obviously, we need to have faster shutter speeds and we need to be able to change the focusing system to track that movement. Once again, I like manual so I can be very specifically in control of the shutter speeds and apertures. I want a faster shutter speed, probably 500th of a second or faster. This is where lenses that have a 2.8 aperture or faster will really come into play, can really help out. If you don't have it, you just do the best you can. And in most cases, with action, you're gonna need something higher than ISO so usually you're gonna be at 400 and higher, especially if you're indoors. Auto white balance unless something else is really necessary. An important change here and actually, I see a mistake on my slides, folks. This is supposed to say AF-C, this is my fault. That should say AF-C for continuous focusing. And with the area mode, I would choose the dynamic-area mode. This is where it chooses a point and then looks around to the nearby focusing points for help in doing that. And with the release mode, this continuous mode allows you to shoot a series of photos so that when you press down on the shutter release, it takes a whole series of photos there. And so that's the way I would shoot action. Make sure you get that focus mode on AF-C, continuous focusing to track the action. Alright, let's end this with basic photography. This is where you don't know what your next shot's gonna be. And this is how I leave my camera set up so that I'm ready for whatever may come my way. I like aperture priority where I get to set an aperture. I usually leave it fairly wide open, maybe around f5.6. I'll keep an eye on the shutter speeds and if I don't like where they are, I'll quickly change the apertures. I'll generally leave the ISO at and I'll change it to a higher number if I need faster shutter speeds or as I get into lower light conditions. I'll make sure that my exposure compensation is set on zero unless I'm specifically changing it for something. And I'll set my white balance at auto, change it if necessary. For the focus mode, I think AF-S is a good general mode to have it in most of the time as is choosing a single focus point so that you can be very specific about what you're choosing. And then the release mode just leaving that in single so that you can get one shot at a time. So, if you've made it through, congratulations. I now consider you a D3400 expert. So thanks very much for watching this class. A couple final notes, this was a fast start class. I do have them in many other different cameras and so if you change from one camera to the next, I'm likely to have another class for you available or for somebody else you know that needs a class and a camera we probably have one for you here at Creative Live. We've got them for all the major brands and just about every camera that has interchangeable lenses and so many more classes available. If you are interested in other classes that I teach, the starter kit is a nice, short, three hour class in basic photography. I have a free class in how to choose your first camera. I have a more lengthy series called fundamentals if you really wanna dive into it. And then I have a few specific classes, one on nature and landscape, one on travel photography, and then one you might be particularly interested in is one not just on lenses but on Nikon lenses themselves. So folks, there you go. Get out there, take that camera out, play around, get it set up, get it tweaked, get it adjusted, and shoot some great photos with your camera. Thanks a lot for tuning in.

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!