Nikon D3500 review

The Nikon D3500 isn’t just one of the best entry-level DSLRs you can buy, it’s also one of the cheapest – it’s an evergreen classic

The Nikon D3500The updated version of the Evergreen was introduced at the end 2018 NikonD3400, the starter DSLR that we love. Although it’s simple-looking, the camera has a fixed rear view and does not support 4K video. It also features all the manual controls beginners need for great photography and excellent image quality. This ensures the best quality images. D3500 a place in our list of the best cameras for beginners and best student cameras.

The D3500 isn’t just Nikon’s cheapest and simplest DSLR, it’s also its lightest, weighing just 415g, body only, and that’s with the battery and a memory card. It will usually come with a lightweight 18-55mm AF-P kit lens which has a retracting mechanism to make it more portable when it’s not switched on. It’s not quite as small as a mirrorless camera, but the battery life alone makes a good case for the classic DSLR design, and the D3500But it is small, light and fast enough that you can use it as a travel camera.

This camera has been designed to be easy for beginners. It features simplified controls, a Guide Mode and simple instructions. But it’s also compatible with a wide range of F-mount NikonLenses, starting at Nikonit can also be used as a third-party camera. It is well designed to appeal to both beginners and experts. So is this one of the best cheap cameras you can get? You bet.


Camera type: DSLR
Lens mount: 
 24.2MP APS-C CMOS 4, 23.5 x 15.6mm
Full frame: No
In-body image  stabilization (IBIS): No
Image processor EXPEED 4
These are the AF points 11-point AF, 1 cross-type
ISO Range: 100 to 25,600
Max image size: 6,000 x 4,000px
Metering zones: 420 pixel RGB sensor
Video: 1920 x 1080 at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
Viewfinder: Optical pentamirror, 95% coverage
Memory card SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS I
LCD: 3.00 inches fixed, 921K dots
Max burst: 5fps
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Size: 124 x 97 x 69.5mm (body only)
Weight: 415g (body only, with battery and memory card)

The interior features include: D3500It has an APS-C 24.2-megapixel sensor. It might be a beginner-level camera, but that’s as high as most APS-C cameras go, even today. The camera also records 5fps of continuous video, which is an extraordinary speed considering most competitors in the same price range can only record 3fps. While mirrorless cameras generally can shoot faster, they are also more expensive.

NikonAlthough it does not include in-body stabilization with its DSLR cameras however, many do. NikonLenses, such as the AF-18-55mm lens, are included with this camera. Nikon’s VR (Vibration Reduction) system. We believe that the higher-end kit with non-VR lenses is more affordable than ours.


You don’t get 4K video capability with this camera, but it can shoot full HD 1920 x 1080 video at up to 60/50fps. You don’t get Wi-Fi, either, but built-in Bluetooth does let you transfer images to your smart device and, in this latest model, fire the shutter remotely using your smartphone. You won’t be able to use the camera to record video. Live view autofocus can be a bit slow. The fixed rear screen also is a problem.

Nikon says it’s upgraded its sensor and EXPEED image processing system over the previous D3400  to give improved speed, detail and colours. It’s also uprated the battery life, quoting a pretty amazing 1,550 shots on a single charge – that’s four or five times more shots than you’d expect to get from a mirrorless camera. It is important to note that if you are out shooting all day, your average mirrorless camera will eventually die. D3500You could continue on into the night.

The D3500 does shoot raw files, as you’d expect, but these are 12-bit only, rather than the 14-bit raw files captured by models further up the Nikon range. Do you see the difference? It is unlikely that you will notice the difference, since even 12-bit raws have a wider range of colours and tones than standard JPEGs. This camera was designed for academic users.

• Nikon D3500Vs. D5600



If you’re comparing the D3500Its body will look a lot bigger than mirrorless options and it is quite heavy. It does provide a great grip for the camera. The rear button layout has been redesigned to make it easier to use. D3500 easy to handle without accidentally pressing buttons you didn’t mean to.Advertisement

The rear screen is not touch-sensitive, so you’re reliant on the physical buttons and dials (no great hardship, it has to be said). You will have to make some concessions in order to get the fixed screen. It is excellent quality with bright and clear colours. Information displays are particularly good. They show you graphic representations of shutter speed, aperture, ISO setting and other information. This helps to understand exposure settings and their interactions.


You can clearly see that the main mode dial is labeled and feels solid. Right alongside is the camera’s single control dial, which also has a really good feel. It’s unmarked, and its function changes according to the mode you’re in.

DSLRs need a thicker body to accommodate the mirror mechanism, and by the time you’ve added on the 18-55mm AF-P kit lens, the D3500The lens is both long and wide. It does have a retracting mechanism that makes a significant difference. Only problem is that the retracting mechanism on the lens needs to be extended before you are able to start taking photos. 


If not, D3500’s handling is really good. The power switch is around the shutter release button where it’s easy to flick with your index finger when you want to switch the camera on and off, and both the main mode dial and control dial are within easy reach of your right thumb.

The viewfinder might only be a cheaper ‘pentamirror’ design rather than the pentaprism found in more expensive DSLRs, but its bright and clear, you can see right into the corners of the frame without shifting your eye and there’s no colour fringing at the edges. Advertisement

The D3500’s viewfinder doesn’t offer all the information and colour/exposure information of an electronic viewfinder on a mirrorless camera, but its natural, lag-free ‘naked-eye’ look is quite refreshing after a digital display. It’s wrong to say optical viewfinders are inferior to the electronic type, they’re just different. This is one of the central arguments in the DSLR vs mirrorless camera debate.



The D3500It feels extremely responsive. The autofocus beep is a bit loud, but the AF-P lens’s autofocus is so swift and quiet that you need some audio feedback to let you know it’s focused.

In viewfinder shooting, the 11 AF points are clustered towards the middle of the frame, but if your subject is near the edge it’s easy enough to focus and then reframe before shooting. You can let the camera choose the focus point automatically or select it yourself; either way it’s very fast, and very positive.

Live view mode allows you to select any focus point from anywhere on your screen. The camera does not have touch controls so you can only use the buttons on the back to adjust the AF point. It is quite slow. Although the live view autofocus is slow, it responds unexpectedly to mirrorless standards. 

Nikondoes not use phase-detection autofocus for its DSLRs. Instead, it uses slower contrast-based focus. It is at the very least. should be slow. However, it is possible to get there. NikonIt has created a method to help you make your life easier. D3500’s live view AF feel almost as responsive as a mirrorless camera’s, and we think it’s down to the AF-P autofocus technology in its kit lens. Advertisement

Tests in the lab have shown that D3500’s image quality is very much on a par with its rivals. While there may be slight differences in the resolution, noise, and dynamic range of the images, they are more apparent in lab testing than when shooting in reality. The practice shows that the D3500Sharp, vivid, well-exposed images are possible with the 18-55mm AF/P lens. This lens is very affordable and performs well. The lens has consistent sharpness throughout the focal range, right up to the edge of the frame. There is some colour fringing and distortion in its raw files, but if you enable the in-camera lens corrections you won’t see this in its JPEG images – and most photo-editors now apply in-built lens correction profiles to raw files.Advertisement


The entry-level interchangeable lens market is pretty crowded, and the chances are that you’re not just looking at DSLRs but mirrorless cameras too. We found three cameras with viewfinders that are comparable to our budget. D3500’s launch. The Canon EOS Rebel T7/2000D is the NikonThe closest competitor in price is the Sony A68, which is still on sale now. It’s also available at this time. But it’s certainly not our favorite camera. While the Sony A68 offered a more interesting, powerful and affordable alternative to the Sony SLT-equipped cameras at that time (it’s now gone). We also included the Fujifilm X-T100 as an underrated mirrorless DSLR-style camera that was little more expensive, and has now been replaced by the X-T200 – a great camera, but in a higher price bracket now.


The following are some things to consider if you have decided that you want a DSLR. Nikon D3500However, there is strong competition from the Canon line. The cheapest of all is the Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D, but it’s hard to find now. It was made down to a price and it showed – we didn’t like it much at all. EOS Rebel T7/2000D comes closer to this. Nikon D3500This is an excellent alternative for Canon fans who are looking for the best specifications. However, the battery life is worse, its burst mode is slower, and there’s no retracting lens option – in fact getting a good kit lens with IS (image stabilization) pushes the price higher still. 

The Nikon D3500 does have its limitations, obviously, because of its price and its intended audience, but we think it’s easily the best DSLR for beginners right now – and because mirrorless cameras with viewfinders tend to cost more, we’d say it’s the best camera for beginners all round. You can’t go wrong with it, except NikonWe predict that five years after the company pulls out its most affordable DSLR, they’ll still be saying the exact same thing.

NikonHe did a fantastic job on the D3500It has been updated continuously since its launch. The camera has been made from modest, but powerful technology and is now affordable enough for beginner users. Although you may be able find an interchangeable lens camera cheaper than this one at any given time, we believe you will have trouble finding one as great.

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