The Nikon D3400 PICTURE CONTROLS are similar in many ways to the sort of effect you might have if you put a filter on the front of your lens. Filters change the exposure of your picture – sometimes quite subtly – and you are able to manipulate picture controls when you are in the semi-automatic modes, which are M, A, S and P. You can not control them when you are in the automatic modes, though they still do apply. For example, if you look in PORTRAIT MODE, you will see that the picture control is for portrait and if you are in LANDSCAPE MODE, you will see that the picture control is landscape. They are grayed out so you can not change them, but they are there and so it is fair to say that the picture controls are applied throughout all of the mode dial – and so it is worth knowing what they do. Here is a brief recap on what the picture controls do and the sort of effects they will have on your stills and also on your videos.
So the first D3400 Picture control is STANDARD PICTURE CONTROL and this setting applies some sharpening and a small boost, to contrast and saturation. Basically this is the everyday setting for picture control. It is the one that is used in the automatic settings and it is probably the one that you will use most often in M, A, S and P.
The next of the D3400 picture controls is NEUTRAL. The neutral setting applies just a small amount of sharpening with no other modifications and this can be very useful if you intend to work on the picture afterwards in your editing software, because it means that you have the most natural look and you can apply what you want to do to the picture most easily. The VIVID picture control really boosts the contrast and the saturation and also increases the sharpening. Now this is useful if you want to print directly out either from the camera or from your memory card without having to do any post-production work on it, but often it is a little too saturated and the color tones look a little unnatural. It is really not good for portraits because it does not do skin tones very well at all.
Next in the D3400 picture controls is the MONOCHROME option. The Nikon D3400 will change the picture into a monochrome image though, that is not just a black and white. You could also change it into a sepia image or a cyanotype image. I would recommend that if you are going to shoot a picture and turn it into a monochrome image you shoot the picture in color and then you go into the retouch menu in the camera and change it there because then your original will always be there as an original color picture. The PORTRAIT D3400 picture control just gives you a little amount of sharpening which can work to make skin appear little smoother in the photograph, and it also works to make sure that the skin tones are as accurate as possible. The LANDSCAPE option in the D3400 picture controls is very similar in many ways to the vivid picture control but it just gives a little more boost to blues and greens and is ideal, really, for shooting landscapes and natural vistas.
The final option you have in the Nikon D3400 picture controls is FLAT, and that is really designed for video. The reason for that is that it really desaturates the image and the footage. When you are editing video it is a lot easier to put color and saturation into the video post edit than it is to take it out, and so it produces a very low contrast, flat footage so that you can apply whatever you want to apply to your edit and make the video or the film look exactly how you want it to without restraining you and restricting you by having too much saturation or too much color in it.
OK, well those are the Nikon D3400 picture controls and how they can affect your pictures. However you can actually subtly change the picture controls themselves should you wish to. You can only do that in the semi-automatic settings but if you are in M, A, S or P and you go into the MENU SETTING and go to SHOOTING MENU, then below white balance you have the option to SET PICTURE CONTROLS. Now if you choose that then you get a list of all the picture controls that we have just seen and if you press the multi-selector to the right then you can go into the inner workings of each of those picture controls and change them. You can change the SHARPENING, the CLARITY, the CONTRAST, the BRIGHTNESS, the SATURATION and the HUE, and you can do that either by pressing the multi-selector which gives you units of 1 or you can use the rotate dial at the top which gives you units of 1/4, so you can see that you can be actually quite subtle in the way that you change these picture controls. Now they do only work for M, A, S and P because if you go back into the automatic settings then you just get the standard controls, that have not been edited by you but it is worth knowing because it can just subtly change the picture so that it looks exactly how you want it to be.
OK, now lets take a look at the Nikon D3400 EFFECTS. You could say with the picture controls that to some degree you were mimicking the sort of thing you could do with analog photography either with clever printing effects or with the filters – that you could place on the front of the lenses. But with the effects in here, these are purely digital and they are quite impressive. One of the usual things I think about them is that you can actually set them up before you take the picture or in many cases shoot the video and that means that you can see it through the back screen and decide if it is right for you before you press the button or press record. Now that is really impressive, but you can also do most of the effects after you have taken the still picture by going into the RETOUCH MENU and going down and having a look for them in there. There are a couple of changes when you are in video setting.
The first of the Nikon D3400 Effects is NIGHT VISION MODE and is really for use in very low light and so it is shot in black and white which enables a camera to push the ISO up to its upper limit. The image itself is quite grainy but you would expect that in low-light and I do not really recommend using this effect unless you really have to. The VIVID option in D3400 Effects really punches up the saturation and the contrast and so can really give you a very bright and punchy still image or video. POP will also increase the overall saturation of the image, though that tends to work more with pastels rather than the brighter colors. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION will take a picture and make it look like an illustration. It sharpens the outlines and simplifies the coloring for a kind of comic or poster effect. TOY CAMERA EFFECT in the Nikon D3400 gives the impression of a picture that has been taken with an old-style camera with a plastic lens. There is some vignetting around the outside and you can change the color tone to either slightly blue or slightly yellow.
MINIATURE EFFECT modifies a photograph by blurring the edges, thus making the subject in the middle stand out more. In fact if something is taken from an angle of say 45 degrees or so and taken from a distance it can give the impression that the subject is a toy or a model in a diorama. In video it has a really clever effect of making a time-lapse video, again with the miniature effect of blurring around the outside, but it speeds up the process of shooting the video which gives you a time lapse effect. It does not record sound at this point and so it will be silent.
In SILHOUETTE MODE in the Nikon D3400 effects, the camera sets the exposure for the brighter part of the image so that it can silhouette the subject against the brighter background. Use the HIGH KEY SETTING when you are shooting a light subject against a light background – the camera applies some exposure compensation to slightly overexpose and add some brightness to the image. Use the LOW KEY SETTING when photographing dark subjects on a dark background. This mode also punches up the highlights just a little bit to get better definition between the shadows and the highlights. SELECTIVE COLOR in the D3400 effects is a really useful way of making a very punchy image. Essentially, what it allows you to do is choose up to three colors to keep in the image whilst making the rest of the image black and white. Again you can do this either as you take a picture or shoot the video or you can do it afterwards for stills only in the retouch menu. It is pretty easy to do.
The picture controls themselves as I say work throughout all the modes on the mode dial but you can change them in M, A, S and P and I have shown you how to do that and when you are looking at the effect then remember that you can either apply them before you take a picture or in many cases after and when you shoot video you can apply most of them to video, and the ones that do not instantly translate from stills to video can give you some really interesting effects too so they are well worth looking at. They may not be your everyday mainstream picture requirements, they may not be the things that you go to straightaway all the time, but they are there and I think that they can really pack a punch with your stills and your video.