Nikon D3500 Review

Even though it has been on the market for over three years, the Nikon D3500 is still our top selection for the best DSLR camera for beginners. It even holds its own against some of the most formidable competitors for the title of best DSLR camera overall.

Why so? Although this is somewhat because of the absence of fresh competitors, as most camera manufacturers have already discontinued production of new DSLRs, it is also because the D3500 masters the fundamentals in a manner that very few other cameras have been able to accomplish.

To begin, it possesses all three significant benefits that DSLRs have over their mirrorless counterparts: excellent battery life, handling, and a reasonable price.

The latter is partly because the D3500 utilizes an optical viewfinder instead of the electronic viewfinders (EVFs) found in mirrorless competitors. In part, its vast array of native lenses is no longer sufficiently fresh to warrant high price tags. Because of this, the Nikon D3500 is considered one of the most excellent low-cost cameras that money can buy.

See: Best Lenses for Nikon D3500 | Best Gimbal for Nikon D3500 | Best Memory Cards for Nikon D3500 | Best Flash for Nikon D3500 | Best Video Lenses for Nikon D3500 | Nikon D3500 Bundles Deals | Nikon D3500 Black Friday Deals

Although the D3500’s age works to its advantage in terms of pricing, it does mean that it is missing several functions that are common in more recent cameras. The first disadvantage is that it does not support 4K video capture, which is currently the industry standard for most new cameras. However, if you are OK with the 1080p resolution of the camera (or if you are not very interested in the video), this should not be a significant issue for you.

Nikon D3500 Build Quality

Although not many changes were made to the Nikon D3500’s specifications compared to those of the D3400, the camera’s design went through some revisions, and the aesthetics of the current model are more closely aligned with those of the Nikon D5600.

The most noticeable difference when picking up the D3500 is that the grip has been beefed up to provide a more robust feel. The more oversized grip makes the camera easier to hold securely and improves the camera’s overall balance, which is especially helpful when working with longer and heavier lenses.

The wider handgrip on the D3500 has not resulted in the camera being heavier than the D3400. Instead, Nikon has shaved off 30 grams of the D3500’s weight, bringing it to 415 grams with the battery fitted. The D3500 now measures 124 mm in height, 97 mm in width, and 69.5 mm in depth after Nikon trimmed the camera’s depth by 6 mm.

Nikon D3500 Autofocus

The autofocus mechanism found in the D3500 is identical to the one found in the D3400 (and the D3300, for that matter).

The autofocus system is the same 11-point Multi-CAM 1000 AF system that covers a large viewfinder area in a diamond configuration. Additionally, this system features a couple more AF points than Canon’s closest competitor, the EOS Rebel T7 (known as the EOS 2000D outside the US).

When coupled with the kit lens AF-P 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and given that your subject is not located on the outside edges of the frame, the autofocus mechanism will perform an excellent job of locking onto stationary subjects.

Focusing will inevitably become somewhat slower in low light. We would use the central AF point more in these conditions, taking advantage of its enhanced cross-type sensitivity. Focusing is quiet and, in good morning, friendly and brisk; however, it will inevitably slow down.

There is also an AF assist lamp that can help out when the light levels are deficient, although this feature can be turned off if you want because it can be distracting in certain conditions. Finally, if you choose to use one of the inner 10 AF points, you will notice that the camera will be able to lock on much more quickly than if you used any other AF points.

Because there aren’t as many focusing points as there may be, the camera often has trouble keeping up with subjects as they move across the frame. In this area, a few additional autofocus points would be helpful, as the currently available 11 points are dispersed a bit too wide, which might cause the camera to lose focus on your subject if they aren’t very prominent in the picture.

Unlike their mirrorless equivalents, entry-level DSLRs often have narrower and less comprehensive focusing coverage than their mirrorless counterparts, which tends to have broader autofocus coverage. Although features like Eye AF and Animal Eye AF are available on some mirrorless cameras, such capabilities are more commonly found on models priced in the middle to upper ranges of the market.

Nikon D3500 Performance

The Nikon D3500 is not a good camera for individuals who want to capture a lot of action because it only has a burst shooting speed of 5 frames per second (fps). It is faster than the slow three frames per second of the EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D. However, similar mirrorless cameras, like the Fujifilm X-T30, can shoot faster if speed is a primary concern. However, it should be enough for most shooting circumstances, except for sports and other activities involving fast-moving action, even those involving racing dogs.

In our tests, the metering on the D3500 functioned quite well, providing constant exposures for most scenes and avoiding overexposing the primarily dark subjects.

Suppose you do find that you need to dial in compensation. You can do that quickly and easily thanks to the dedicated exposure compensation button on the camera’s top plate. This button works in conjunction with the rear command dial.

As with the D3400, we discovered that the D3500’s Auto White Balance is just as competent, with only several instances in which it failed us during our study. In addition, it handled mixed lighting exceptionally well and performed very well under artificial lighting, with only a tiny bit of warmth being lost in some photos we took. It also performed very well under artificial illumination.

Nikon D3500 Image Quality

The excellent 24.2-megapixel sensor that the Nikon D3500 has is another one of its strengths. It is possible to record photos that are extremely rich in detail since no optical low-pass filter is placed in front of the sensor. The results can rival cameras costing more than twice as much.

However, to get the most out of this sensor, you need to consider purchasing a lens that is not the 18-55mm VR lens that comes with the camera. However, you do not need to invest a fortune to do so: When paired with the D3500, Nikon’s AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G (opens in new tab) is an outstanding choice for a lens, and it won’t cost you more than £200 / $200.

Images may be slightly soft at the edges if you only shoot with the 18-55mm VR lens. However, this isn’t exclusive to Nikon’s bundled lens; comparable optics from competing brands deliver quality that’s on par with what you’d get with the bundled lens from Nikon.

The dynamic range performance is also quite good; it is possible to significantly underexpose images (around 3-3.5 EV stops) and still recover detail in the shadows without the image becoming degraded by noise (fuzziness).

Nikon D3500 Specs

Body typeCompact SLR
Max resolution6000 x 4000
Other resolutions4496 x 3000, 2992 x 2000
Image ratio w h3:2
Effective pixels24 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors25 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorExpeed 4
ISOAuto, 100-25600
White balance presets12
Custom white balanceYes
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Normal, Basic
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View.
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Number of focus points11
Lens mountNikon F
Focal length multiplier1.5×
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3″
Screen dots921,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live ViewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentamirror)
Viewfinder coverage95%
Viewfinder magnification0.85× (0.57× 35mm equiv.)
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Aperture priorityYes
Shutter priorityYes
Manual exposure modeYes
Subject/scene modesYes
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
Flash Range7.00 m (at ISO 100)
External flashYes (via hot shoe or wireless)
Flash modesAuto, Auto slow sync, Auto slow sync with red-eye reduction, Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill-flash, Off, Rear-curtain sync, Rear-curtain with slow sync, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction with slow sync, Slow sync
Continuous drive5.0 fps
Self-timerYes (2, 5, 10, 20 secs (1-9 exposures))
Metering modesMultiCenter-weighted spot AF-area
Exposure compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
WB BracketingNo
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps), 640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)
FormatMPEG-4, H.264
Modes1920 x 1080 @ 60p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 50p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 25p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 24p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1280 x 720 @ 60p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1280 x 720 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
USB chargingNo
HDMIYes (mini-HDMI)
Microphone portNo
Headphone portNo
Wireless notesSnapBridge (Bluetooth only)
Remote controlYes (via smartphone)
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionEN-EL14a lithium-ion battery and charger
Battery Life (CIPA)1550
Weight (inc. batteries)365 g (0.80 lb / 12.87 oz)
Dimensions124 x 97 x 70 mm (4.88 x 3.82 x 2.76″)
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo

Final Verdict

The Nikon D3500 is not a perfect camera by any stretch of the imagination, which is to be anticipated at this price point. However, it is still an excellent choice for beginning photographers who favor DSLRs’ more conventional capabilities over mirrorless cameras.

Unfortunately, there is no support for 4K video capture or touchscreen functionality. Additionally, it appears that some cost-cutting measures have been taken, as some of the external controls that were available on the D3400 have been removed from this model. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

Putting these concerns aside, the Nikon D3500 is an excellent choice for a beginner interested in taking their first steps into photography. Although the results produced by the 24.2MP sensor are amazing, you must invest in additional lenses to fully realize its potential. Fortunately, Nikon’s DX system offers a vast selection of lenses that can be customized to meet the requirements of virtually any shooting style or budget.

Nikon D3500 FAQs

Is Nikon D3500 worth buying?

Yes, the Nikon D3500 is an excellent choice for novice photographers and those in the market for an entry-level DSLR camera.

Is the Nikon D3500 outdated?

The Nikon D3500 was introduced in 2018, and even though it might not have the most recent features, it is still a reliable camera for its price range.

What are the disadvantages of the Nikon D3500?

The Nikon D3500 cannot record videos in 4K resolution, it does not have a touchscreen, and it does not have a restricted number of autofocus points.

Is the Nikon D3500 rainproof?

Because the Nikon D3500 has no weather-sealing mechanism, it is not advised to be used in wet or otherwise humid environments.

Is D3500 touch screen?

The Nikon D3500 does not come equipped with a touchscreen, unfortunately.

Is the Nikon D3500 a beginner camera?

To answer your question, the Nikon D3500 is an entry-level DSLR camera made with novices in mind.

What is the lowest price of the Nikon D3500?

A brand-new Nikon D3500 can start as low as USD 400 for the body only or as high as USD 500 for a kit that includes at least one lens, but these prices are just estimates and can change depending on the location and the merchant.

What is the Nikon D3500 best used for?

The Nikon D3500 is a versatile camera that can photograph various subjects, such as landscapes, portraits, and vacation photography, among other things.

Does Nikon D3500 have autofocus?

The Nikon D3500 does come with autofocus capabilities.

Does Nikon D3500 have WIFI?

No, the Nikon D3500 does not have built-in WiFi connectivity, but it is possible to connect it to a smartphone using the SnapBridge software that Nikon provides.

Is Nikon D3500 better than the iPhone camera?

Even though Apple has made significant strides in improving the quality of the camera on the iPhone in recent years, the Nikon D3500 continues to provide superior picture quality, particularly in low-light situations and when using more sophisticated photography techniques.

Is Nikon D3500 good for food photography?

Using the Nikon D3500 for culinary photography is possible if you have the right lenses and adjust the parameters accordingly.

How long does the Nikon D3500 battery last?

The battery found in the Nikon D3500 can take up to 1,550 pictures on a single charge.

Is Nikon D3500 good for low-light photography?

Although it is possible for the Nikon D3500 to achieve a satisfactory level of performance in low-light settings, the camera does not have the same low-light capabilities as more advanced DSLRs or mirrorless cameras.

Is Nikon D3500 good for wildlife?

The Nikon D3500 can photograph untamed animals with suitable optics and exposure settings.

Can I do professional photography with Nikon D3500?

Even though it does not have all of the more sophisticated features found on higher-end cameras, the Nikon D3500 can still be used for professional photography in certain situations.

What is the best image quality on Nikon D3500?

The Nikon D3500 can produce images with the highest resolution of 24.2 megapixels.

Can you connect the phone to Nikon D3500?

Using the SnapBridge software, the Nikon D3500 can be connected to a smartphone, a confirmed feature.

Does Nikon D3500 have zoom?

The Nikon D3500 does not have a telescopic lens integrated into the camera’s frame, as that is impossible.

How old is the D3500?

In 2018, Nikon unveiled the D3500 model of their DSLR camera.

Is the Nikon D3500 good for portraits?

When paired with the right lenses and exposure settings, the Nikon D3500 can be used for headshot photography.

Is Nikon D3400 same as D3500?

The Nikon D3500 is an updated version of the Nikon D3400, and it features some enhancements to the battery life and Bluetooth compatibility.

Is Nikon D3500 heavy?

The base of the Nikon D3500 is a lightweight camera, carrying only about 365 grams when combined with the camera’s battery and memory card.

Is the Nikon D3500 mirror or mirrorless?

The Nikon D3500 is a single-lens reflex camera that utilizes an internal reflector to redirect light onto the sensor within the camera’s body.

Is Nikon D3500 full frame?

The Nikon D3500 is not a full-frame camera but a compact sensor camera with an APS-C size.

Is Canon or Nikon better for night photography?

There are some excellent choices for night photography available from both Canon and Nikon, but the individual models available from each company have different advantages and disadvantages. In the end, it is determined by the particular brand of camera and optics that are utilized.

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