The Nikon D3500 is already more than three years old, yet it remains the ideal DSLR for novices wishing to embrace creative, manual photography with a classic setup. The D3500 now delivers excellent value in addition to a solid core of exceptional image quality, straightforward menus, and a long battery life. Mirrorless competitors should also be examined, especially if you want a touchscreen or 4K video. However, Nikon’s entry-level DSLR continues to raise the bar for the format by providing handling and value that mirrorless cameras fail to match.
While the D3500’s age helps it in terms of affordability, it also mean it lacks several new features. The first is the lack of 4K video capture, which is now standard on most new cameras, but if you’re OK with 1080p resolution (or aren’t interested in video at all), this shouldn’t be a problem.
Perhaps more restricting are the lack of an adjustable screen and touchscreen capabilities, which means that users coming from smartphones will need to acclimate to the D3500. If a touchscreen is a must-have feature for you, try the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D or a mirrorless camera like the Fujifilm X-T200.
However, neither of those cameras can compete with the D3500’s 1,550-shot battery life, and it compensates for the absence of a touchscreen with a useful ‘Guide’ mode for newbies, which walks you through the process of generating effects like a blurred backdrop. This is an excellent approach for beginner shooters to learn about manual settings and gain confidence and understanding.
How about picture quality? The D3500’s 24.2MP sensor provides great images, but you’ll need to spend in some extra lenses to fully exploit its capabilities.
Fortunately, Nikon’s DX system provides a wide selection of lenses to fit nearly any shooting style and budget. We’d recommend getting the D3500 with the ‘VR’ version of its kit lens, the AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR, because it adds useful vibration reduction for relatively little more money.
More AF points would have been great, but the 11-point AF system is enough for regular shooting and can handle some moving situations as well.
If you need a smaller camera for travel, mirrorless options like the Fujifilm X-T200 or Canon EOS M50 Mark II are worth investigating. However, as an entry-level camera that will teach you the fundamentals of creative photography, the Nikon D3500 remains an excellent choice.
Nikon D3500 features
The D3500 has the same effective pixel count as the previous Nikon D3400, but it has a newer sensor, and a deeper look at the specs reveals that the overall count on the D3500’s sensor is 24.78MP, compared to 24.72MP on the D3400.
The D3500’s APS-C sensor (typical for an entry-level DSLR and significantly bigger than the sensors used in most compact cameras) also eliminates the need for an optical low-pass filter, which helps enhance image quality.
The ISO sensitivity range of the D3500 is likewise rather broad, although it does not outperform that of the D3400.
- 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- Nikon F lens mount
- 3.0-inch fixed display with 921,000 dots
- 5fps burst shooting
- 11-point autofocus AF
- Full HD 1080p video
- Bluetooth connectivity
- 1 550 shots per charge
- 415g in weight (with battery and card)
Given that practically all mirrorless cameras (and even smartphones) provide 4K video, the D3500’s Full HD recording is a tad disappointing. But it’s not all bad news: the D3500 can shoot at 60/50p, as well as 30/25p and 24p, and there are lower-resolution recording choices.
Because there is no microphone port, you must rely on the D3500’s built-in monaural mics. If you want to shoot video on a regular basis, you should go elsewhere, but for those who simply need to catch the occasional clip or two, it’s a perfectly fine setup.
Nikon has also retained the same 3-inch LCD as the D3400, with a low 921,000-dot resolution. The screen is fixed and flush with the body; if you prefer a DSLR with a vari-angle display, check higher up the line at the Nikon D5600 or the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D. It’s also a little surprising to find no touchscreen capabilities, which would be ideal for an entry-level DSLR given that touchscreens have become second nature for everyone who has a smartphone.
An optical viewfinder complements the back display. This is likely the most visible difference between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. Many comparably priced mirrorless cameras depend only on the back screen for image capture. Others will have electronic viewfinders (EVF) with relatively low resolutions (at this price point).
EVFs obviously have their advantages, especially because you can view the exposure ‘live,’ which means no unpleasant shocks when you press the shutter. Modern EVFs are also rather good at what they do. However, many photographers prefer the cleaner, lag-free image provided by an optical viewfinder, thus there is no “optimal” option for everyone.
The D3500’s optical viewfinder has a coverage of 95 percent, which is normal for an entry-level DSLR, so you may need to be careful while framing some photographs to avoid undesirable components creeping into the frame’s boundaries.
There is no Wi-Fi connectivity, like with the Nikon D3400, but there is Bluetooth, so photographs may be sent via Nikon’s SnapBridge function. An always-on Bluetooth Low Energy connection is established between the camera and your smart device, and you may configure SnapBridge to transmit photographs automatically as you shoot, or afterwards, to send certain images.
When seeking to acquire a D3500, it’s worth paying special attention to the lens because there are two variants available. There are two lenses available: the AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G and the AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR. The VR mark is important since it represents Nikon’s image stabilization mechanism (known as Vibration Reduction).
- Price: Rs. 53,000
The price difference between the two lenses is minor, therefore we recommend spending a few dollars or pounds extra for the VR version, which allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds while still achieving clear images