If you’re seeking to take your first steps in to the world of creative, manual photography, then your Nikon D3500 continues to be the best DSLR you can purchase at this time. It has intuitive menus, a excellent battery life and great image quality. It’s worth taking into consideration mirrorless alternatives too, however the D3500 combines all the traditional features of DSLRs, including great handling and value.
Excellent image quality
Remarkable 1,550-shot battery life
Handy Guide mode
Compact for a DSLR
Easy to use
No 4K video
No touchscreen control
Bluetooth, but no Wi-Fi
It could now be over 2 yrs old, however the Nikon D3500 continues to be our number 1 pick for the title of best beginner DSLR camera. Why? It combines most of the key strengths of DSLRs, including great handling and an incredible battery life, right into a small, affordable package.
The D3500’s age also counts in its favor with regards to price. It’s available these days for not nearly as expensive its original price tag, which makes it a fantastic choice for beginners who want to take a intensify from point-and-shoot photography.
How about Black Friday 2020?
With the Nikon D3500 now over 2 yrs old, can we be prepared to see some discounts through the sales events that are just around the corner? It’s certainly possible. Black Friday and Cyber Monday start on November 27 and this past year we saw a 25% discount on the Nikon D3500 using its 18-55mm VR kit lens. There have been further offers on multi-lens bundles, too, so that it is possibly worth waiting until then to see if we visit a repeat.
Of course, the D3500 isn’t perfect, as you’d expect as of this price. The primary drawbacks are the insufficient 4K video capture, some cost-cutting with the external controls, and the lack of touchscreen functionality. If you want the latter, it’s worth taking into consideration alternatives just like the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D, or a mirrorless camera just like the Fujifilm X-T200.
(Image credit: Future)
Still, neither of these cameras come near the D3500’s 1,550-shot battery life, and it can compensate for having less a touchscreen with a helpful ‘Guide’ mode for beginners, which goes through the process of fabricating effects such as a blurred background. It’s a good way for inexperienced shooters to comprehend manual settings and begin building their confidence and knowledge.
The D3500’s 24.2MP sensor produces impressive results, although you will want to purchase some additional lenses to essentially see its potential.
Fortunately, Nikon’s DX system includes a huge selection of lenses to match almost every shooting style and budget. Still, we’d recommend purchasing the D3500 with the ‘VR’ version of its kit lens -the AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR – as this brings helpful vibration reduction for hardly any extra cost.
Even more AF points could have been nice, however the 11-point AF system works fine for general shooting, and does the work for a few moving subjects too.
If you’re buying a smaller camera for travel shooting, then mirrorless alternatives just like the Fujifilm X-T200 or Canon EOS M50 are worth taking into consideration. But as an inexpensive, beginner-friendly camera that’ll educate you on the nuts and bolts of imaginative photography, then your Nikon D3500 remains an outstanding choice.
Nikon D3500 review: features
New sensor, but effective resolution stays the same
No touchscreen or 4K video
The D3500 retains the same effective 24.2MP pixel count as the old D3400, but that is a more recent sensor, and closer inspection of the specs implies that the total depend on the D3500’s sensor stands at 24.78MP, in comparison to 24.72MP on the D3400.
The APS-C sized sensor (typical for an entry-level DSLR, and far bigger than the sensors found in most compact cameras) in the D3500 also eliminates an optical low-pass filter to greatly help improve image quality.
The D3500’s ISO sensitivity selection of 100-25,600 can be pretty wide, but doesn’t improve on the D3400’s range.
Nikon D3500 specs
Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS
Lens mount: Nikon F
Screen: 3.0-inch fixed display, 921,000 dots
Burst shooting: 5fps
Autofocus: 11-point AF
Video: Full HD 1080p
Battery life: 1,550 shots
Weight: 415g (with battery and card)
Considering that most mirrorless cameras (and even smartphones) offer 4K video, it’s somewhat disappointing to only see Full HD capture on the D3500. It isn’t all bad news though, as the D3500 can shoot at a smooth 60/50p, along with 30/25p and 24p, while there are lower-resolution recording options aswell.
There is also no microphone port, so you will have to count on the D3500’s built-in monaural microphones. If you are seeking to shoot video regularly, you will most probably want to look elsewhere.
Nikon in addition has opted to transport over the same 3.0-inch display, with a modest 921,000-dot resolution, from the D3400. The screen is fixed, and sits flush with your body – if you wish a DSLR with a vari-angle display then you will have to look further up the number to the Nikon D5600 or at the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D. It is also slightly disappointing to see no touchscreen functionality, an attribute that could really lend itself to a entry-level DSLR, with touchscreens having become second nature for anybody utilizing a smartphone.
Complementing the trunk display can be an optical viewfinder. That is perhaps the most clear feature that that distinguishes DSLRs from mirrorless cameras, with many similarly priced mirrorless cameras either relying solely on the trunk screen for shooting, while some will feature electronic viewfinders (EVF) with pretty modest resolutions (as of this price point).
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EVFs certainly have their advantages, especially since you can plainly see the exposure ‘live’, meaning you do not get any nasty surprises when you fire the shutter, although some photographers choose the cleaner, lag-free view proposed by an optical viewfinder. The optical viewfinder on the D3500 offers a coverage of 95%, which is typical for an entry-level DSLR, so you might need to be somewhat careful when framing some shots in order to avoid undesirable components creeping in to the edges of the frame.
As on the D3400 there is no Wi-Fi connectivity, nevertheless, you do get Bluetooth, so it is possible to transfer images via Nikon’s SnapBridge feature. Here, an always-on Bluetooth Low Energy connection is manufactured between the camera as well as your smart device, and you could configure SnapBridge in order that images are automatically transferred as you shoot, or later, in order to select particular images to transfer.
Which 18-55mm kit lens in the event you buy with the D3500?
While you can purchase the Nikon D3500 as a standalone camera without lens, most of the people looking as of this beginner camera will tend to get the 18-55mm lens that’s bundled with the camera for a couple more dollars or pounds.
Also known as a ‘kit’ lens as these lenses can be purchased within the kit with the camera, the focal selection of 18-55mm offers a decent standard zoom range to really get your started. This covers from wide-angle landscapes to moderate telephoto that’s more fitted to portraits.
It’s worth paying close focus on the lens though if you are thinking of buying a D3500 as there’s two versions available. There’s 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 designation is what you would like to focus on as this denotes Nikon’s image stabilization system (referred to as Vibration Reduction).
The difference in expense between your two lenses is negligible, so our advice is to splash out a few dollars or pounds more for the VR version of the lens, as this will let you shoot at slower shutter speeds but still achieve sharp shots.