Nikon D3500 Review 2021: Features, Pros, and Cons

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Launched towards the end of 2018, the Nikon D3500 is the latest entry-level DSLR model of the Nikon brand. This model is the updated version of the past model of the Nikon Series D3400 which was a long-time favorite in the market.

Nikon D3500 has a very catchy price tag in addition to its lightweight. These features are very much looked upon by photographers while deciding if any camera model is worth a shot.

The Nikon D3500 model specially targets beginner level photographers. The model contains basic and simple control buttons with a built-in Guide mode to help beginners learn the basics.

The D3500 model has plentiful specifications to please both beginners as well as enthusiasts.

The Nikon D3500 model generally comes with a light-weight 18-55mm AF-P kit lens having a retracting mechanism. This makes the model more portable when in switched-off condition. The Nikon’s latest D3500 model is a 24.2 megapixels camera with APS-C sized CMOS imaging sensor and EXPEED 4 imaging processor.

Nikon D3500 is obviously not a mirrorless camera, but it is a tough competition to all the mirrorless rivals in the market. Let’s take a look at the review below.

nikon d3500 review


Features To Look Out For Nikon D3500

1. Image Sensor

The Nikon D3500 model offers 24 MP high-resolution. The model contains a 15.6 x 23.5 mm DX-format CMOS sensor. The aspect ratio of the imaging sensor is 1.5:1. The model provides a format factor also referred to as a crop factor of 1.52x.

The D3500 model does not contain a sensor cleaner.

2. White Balance

The Nikon D3500 model does not have Kelvin Setting. It rather uses the color settings provided in the menus from other settings.

The white balance options available in the D3500 model are auto white balance, incandescent, fluorescent (7 varieties), direct sunlight, flash, cloudy, shade, and preset manual. It does not provide a preset manual with fine-tuning white balancing mode.

3. Image Sizes

The Nikon D3500 model does not allow crop modes.

The native image size allowed by the Nikon D3500 model for large images is 6000 x 4000 pixels, for medium images is 4496 X 3000 pixels, and for small images is 2992 x 2000 pixels.

4. ISO

The ISO of the Nikon D3500 model ranges in between ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The model provides an Auto ISO option.

The model does not allow push or pull Hi or Lo- modes. D3500 only provides a basic and simple ISO range of 100-25600.

5. Autofocus

The Nikon D3500 model offers an 11-point AF feature. The model contains a Nikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor module with a TTL-phase detection technique.

The model has a detection range of about -1 to 19EV at ISO 100 and 20 degrees Celsius.

The D3500 model also provides an AF-assisted light rated feature to enable efficient capturing from a distance of 0.5-3m.

6. Viewfinder

The latest Nikon D3500 model offers a lightweight pentamirror viewfinder with a coverage area of about 95%. For a 28mm standard lens with a DX-format sensor, the model provides a magnification of about 0.48x. The aperture of the lens is electronically controlled.

The model provides an 18mm high eyepoint along with a camera diopter ranging in between -1.7 to 0.5 diopters. This camera diopter enables you to optimize your model’s viewfinder’s sharpness in conjunction with your eyesight.

This Nikon model offers a Type B BriteView Clear Matte Mark VII screen. This matte mark screen is an interchangeable focusing screen with a Type B BriteView focusing screen.

7. Still Formats

Nikon D3500 supports a JPG and/or compressed RAW (12-bit NEF) file format. It allows capturing images with both sRGB and Adobe RGB color formats.

8. Audio

The model does not contain a mic-in socket. Nikon D3500 offers a mono in-built microphone. It allows recording the audio, only when the video is getting recorded.

9. Video

The Nikon D3500 model allows capturing the videos with a frame size of about 1920 x 1080 pixels at multiple frame rates of 59.94, 50, 29.97, or 23.97 fps and frame size of 1280 x 720 pixels at a frame rate of 59.94 or 50 fps.

The model supports the .MOV movie file formatting feature with H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video coding video and linear PCM audio technology.

For a normal quality video, the maximum capturing duration equals 29.59 minutes whereas for a high-quality video this maximum time reduces to 20 minutes.

10. Frame Rates

The D3500 model provides a maximum frame rate of 5fps during manual focus at 1/250 seconds or faster. It offers a slower shutter speed. Whenever the autofocus is expected to focus a frame, it slows down the shutter speed.

11. Shutter

The shutter of the Nikon D3500 model is a vertical metal focal-plane. It offers a speed ranging between 1/4000 sec to 30 sec.

The self-timer enabled by the model provides a 2-sec delay, 5-sec delay, 10-sec delay, and 20-sec delay. It also offers 1 to 9 exposure modes.

12. Flash

The Nikon D3500 model provides a 1/200 sec sync speed. The flash offered by the model is i-TTL and CLS compatible.

The model contains an in-built flash with GN 22’/7m (26’/8m in manual mode) at ISO 100.

The external flash has a dedicated 512 ISO hot-shoe with a safety lock feature and sync and data contact feature.
The model offers a flash-ready indicator that lights up when either the built-in flash or optional flash is completely charged.

The available flash modes in D3500 are auto, auto with red-eye reduction, auto slow sync, auto slow sync with red-eye reduction, fill-flash, red-eye reduction, slow sync, slow sync with red-eye reduction, rear-curtain with slow sync, rear-curtain sync, and off.

The model also offers an external AS-15 sync terminal adapter.

13. Live-View

Nikon D3500 offers three open while in the Live View mode: Single-Servo AF (AF-S), full-time Servo AF (AF-F), and Manual Focus (MF).

It also provides Face-time autofocus, wide-area autofocus, normal-area autofocus, and subject-tracking autofocus modes while capturing images.

The D3500 model is capable of automatic focusing when subjected to face-time AF or subject-tracking AF mode. It also allows selecting Contrast-defect AF mode which allows you to focus anywhere in the frame.

14. LCD

The Nikon D3500 model offers an LCD screen of diagonal length 3 inches. It enables a 170 degrees view angle and does not support swiveling. The LCD screen of D3500 has a super-dense 921000 dots which is equal to a 640 x 480 VGA screen.

15. Light Meter

The Nikon D3500 model provides a 3D Color Matrix Meter II with 420 RGB pixels.

The meter ranges between LV 0-20 with the spot meter range of LV 2-20.

It provides a center-weighted metering method where 75% weight is given to the 8 mm circle in the center of the frame. The model also supports spot metering where a 3.5 mm circle is centered on the selected focus point.

The D3500 model supports TTL exposure metering.

16. Interface And Bluetooth

The Nikon D3500 offers a high-speed USB along with a micro USB-connector. It is often recommended to connect the built-in USB port. The model uses a Type HDMI connector to produce an HDMI output.

The communication protocol offered by the D3500 model is Bluetooth Specification Version 4.1. The line of sight range estimated for this communication is 10 m without any interference. The signal strength and the presence of obstacles plays a major role in the communication range from place to place.

17. Dimensions And Weight

The dimensions of the Nikon D3500 model are 124 x 97 x 69.5mm.

The weight of the D3500 model is 415g with battery and memory card included. This does not include the body cap. The camera body alone is almost 365g.

18. Operating Environment

The optimum operating temperature for the Nikon D3500 model is between 0 to 40 degrees Celsius. The model requires a humidity of less than 85% to function efficiently.

19. Power Source

The Nikon D3500 model contains an EN-EL14a rechargeable Li-ion battery. It also provides an EH-5c/EH-5b AC adaptor and requires an EP-5A power connector.


What’s Good About Nikon D3500?

1. Image Quality

Similar to its predecessor Nikon D3400, The Nikon D3500 model also offers an “APS-C” DX sized CMOS imaging sensor. This sensor does not include the Anti-Aliasing (AA) filter and uses an EXPEED 4 imaging sensor.

Due to the removal of the AA filter, the camera is enabled to capture fine detailing better than it would capture with the AA filter. This is because the presence of the AA filter in the camera softens the images.

The absence of this filter in the D3500 model is a significant noticeable strength in this lineup of camera models.

On the other side, the exclusion of the Anti-Aliasing filter in the Nikon D3500 model can result in creating more moires while capturing specific subjects. The image quality of the pictures captured by the Nikon D3500 model is on-par and is pretty impressive for its entry-level price point.

The outputs produced by the Nikon D3500 model have very good exposure, are sharp, and exhibit amazing color rendering properties which makes the images very vibrant.

There are chances of slight differences in resolution, noise, and dynamic range offered by the model but these are limited to lab tests. In real mode shooting these differences are not noticeable.

2. Video Quality

The Nikon D3500 delivers excellent image quality. At the time of videography, these same images are translated to sharp videos providing accurate colors.

This model can shoot 1080 pixels of Full HD video with a continuous shooting frame rate of up to 60 fps. The maximum duration time for this quality of videos is limited to 20 minutes.

On the other hand, this model also allows shooting longer video clips with the maximum recording duration being 29 minutes 59 seconds. To increase the time duration, one major requirement is to drop down the frame rate of 1080 pixels Full HD video to a continuous shooting rate of 30 fps.

3. Low Light Performance

The native ISO range offered by the Nikon D3500 model ranges in between ISo 100 to ISO 25600. The overall performance of the camera when subjected to scenes with low-light is quite appreciable.

At an ISO 3200 or ISO 6400, the D3500 model is capable of producing usable images. These images just require a small amount of image processing and a mild amount of post-production
noise reduction.

Majority of the cameras belonging to this class face some struggle at producing good quality images at ISO 3200. This camera provides surprisingly good results even at this ISO range and hence is considered to have a good low-light performance.

4. Autofocus Performance

The Nikon D3500 model offers an 11-point AF feature. This autofocusing system features a 3D and Dynamic tracking property. Only the center point out of these 11-point autofocusing systems exhibit cross-type compatibility.

You would generally observe the 3D tracking feature in higher-end level professional cameras. The fact that Nikon has introduced this feature in this camera model is considered to be an entry-level model which is quite a big surprise.

The 3D tracking feature of the Nikon D3500 model is capable of melding the model’s AF points together. This enables bouncing between the points as per the requirement resulting in more precise subject tracking.

Enabling the optical viewfinder of the model exhibits an overall good focusing performance.

5. Battery Performance

The Nikon D3500 model has a good overall battery performance considering its class of camera models. Considering the compact size and camera’s price-point, the performance is excellent.

The model features one of the best-rated batteries that is EL-EN14a Li-ion rechargeable battery. This allows capturing 1550 shots per charge. This is an increase of almost 30% concerning its predecessors which offered 1200 short battery life.

The increase has improved the battery performance of the Nikon D3500 model.

6. Display And Viewfinder

The Nikon D3500 model features an eye-level pentamirror single-lens reflex viewfinder that provides a coverage area of 95% vertically and horizontally. It also supports a large magnification of 0.85x.

No doubt, this is not the best that Nikon camera models offer but concerning its price point, the specifications of the viewfinder it provides are quite notable. The D3500 model contains a 3 inch wide-angle TFT-LCD. The LCD provides a resolution of about 921000 dots which allows the model to give tough competition to all the other rival models present in this class of cameras.

The viewfinder provides excellent viewing angles and the display is bright enough to capture outdoor subjects when subjected to bright sunlight conditions.

7. User Interface

The Nikon D3500 model has sufficient controls to help customize. The model features a set of well-organized traditional Nikon menus.
The menu provides the photographer useful categorization which results in a great navigation experience for the user.

8. Physical Layout And Ergonomics

Although the Nikon D3500 model is not expensive, it is constructed based on design principles similar to Nikon’s higher-end models like the D5000 series. The most acknowledged feature it has inherited is the deep grip that makes holding the camera quite comfortable and sturdy. The majority of the control buttons are placed towards the right-hand side of the camera surrounding the grip. This makes the camera more useful and easy to handle.

The placement of the buttons enables you to change the core functions without altering the grip. This strategic design of the Nikon D3500 model enables the camera to provide an excellent one-handed operation to the user.

Apart from the price point of the D3500 model, the model surely offers tough competition to its rivals as it provides plentiful control buttons and adequate manual controls as well. You would generally notice that camera models with this price tag often lack the necessary controls which this camera is capable of providing.

Concerning size, the Nikon D3500 model is the lightest and smallest DSLR Nikon model created to date. It offers a reduction of 30g from its predecessor models.

Overall, the controls and ergonomics provided by the Nikon D3500 camera model allow this camera to compete with the cameras twice its price in the market.

9. Niche Features/Extras

The Nikon D3500 model majorly targets beginner-level photographers. For anyone who wishes to learn photography from scratch and take their photography skills to another level, this camera model provides a GUIDE mode.

The GUIDE mode breaks advanced operations into smaller operations. This helps the user learn the appropriate setting required while shooting different types of images.

It is among the strategic decisions made to ensure that the people foreign to digital photography can have a good experience. Overall, these additions are quite helpful, useful, and well-suited for the targeted audience.

The Nikon D3500 camera model is capable of sharing images wirelessly through the Nikon’s Snapbridge app due to the presence of in-built Bluetooth communication in the model. It also allows you to use your smartphone as wireless remote control.

One of the important features that this camera model has inherited from its predecessor is the continuous shooting rate of 5ps. This burst rate is considered a bonus for this class of camera.

The Nikon D3500 model features a flicker reduction technique. This allows the model to capture the images at the same intervals as LED or fluorescent lights. This avoids the dramatic shifts in the exposure that is caused by the flickering of light when subjected to certain photography scenarios.


Improvements Needed In Nikon D3500

1) Video Capabilities

The Nikon D3500 model does not feature a dedicated video mode nor does it have a dedicated menu to list the video functionalities.If one wishes to search for the video recording options or change the settings, one has to go through the incredibly cumbersome task of finding these options in the submenu.

The lack of proper video mode settings may limit the use of this model only to photographers and not videographers.This camera model does not provide 4K video capability.

If the video capabilities of the Nikon D3500 model are improved it would be in the run to be declared a wholesome all-rounder camera exhibiting compatible modes both for photography and videography.

2) Autofocus Performance

The autofocus performance of the Nikon D3500 camera model has both pros and cons. Where it is capable of showcasing some excellent features, it also lacks some specifications that are necessary for the overall good performance of the model.

The D3500 model uses a different Live-View autofocus system for photography and videography.

The rear screen of this model is not touch-sensitive. The absence of touch control makes the focusing a bit slow as one has to move back to the camera to adjust the AF point through control buttons.

The Nikon models do not use an on-sensor phase-detection autofocusing technique, due to which they rely on slower contrast-based autofocus. Unfortunately, the autofocusing system cannot be used virtually.

The Nikon D3500 model needs a fair bit of effort to lock the focus on the more complex subjects. The model has to struggle a lot and hunt sporadically. The model’s lack of consistent focusing leaves the videographers the only option of manual focusing while filming a video.

Improvisations can be made in the autofocus performance of the Nikon D3500 model by enabling a touch-screen mode. This would make the capturing process faster and would reduce human intervention.

3) Ergonomics

On one hand, the Nikon D3500 model features plentiful controls and has a light-weighted structure, whereas on the other hand the build quality of this camera is estimated to be on the low end. Since the body of the D3500 model seems to be made from plastic to lower its price.

Several rival cameras in the market have a similar price-point like the Nikon D3500 model but manage to provide a more premium feel. The Nikon D3500 model may feel like a cheaply constructed camera model to seasoned users, but its user-friendly interface is not a terrible trade-off.

If the Ergonomics of the Nikon D3500 model is improved it would raise the overall ranking of the model in the market. This improvisation would ensure better handling experience to the photographers.

4) Features

One main disadvantage the Nikon D3500 model faces is that it has not inherited the function buttons that were presented in its predecessor models. These function buttons were quite useful as they were assignable to different tasks.

One of the very significant function buttons was FN1. This button allowed the users to alter the default functionalities of the adjustment wheel to change the ISO. The lack of this function button degrades the availability of customizable buttons due to which the majority of the settings can be changed only by accessing the menus.

The Nikon D3500 model does not offer an infrared sensor that would have been quite useful for remote shutter operations. The predecessor models exhibited this feature but the current model lacks it. The camera also cannot use wireless remotes.

The trade-off Nikon has opted for is to enable remote shooting via Snapbridge application with the help of Bluetooth. Instead of wireless remotes, this application allows you to use your smartphone as a remote shutter release. Still, this Bluetooth-enabled technique is not as effective as IR as the Bluetooth connection is unable to operate at distances which could have been easily accessible through IR remotes.

The Nikon D3500 model lacks a microphone input due to which the photographers usually have to opt for an external audio recorder to capture better audio.

The D3500 model does not have an in-built sensor cleaning technology. The lack of this feature makes the user go for manual cleaning every time. This would be quite time-consuming and prove to be one of the cons of this model.

The Nikon D3500 model does not have an in-built electronic level. It also lacks the USB charging. This D3500 model is not capable of shooting RAW files. The Nikon D3500 model does not offer Kelvin white balance settings. These settings are necessary to ensure the custom white balance.

The depth of the field can only be judged when the model is switched into Live View mode which means that this D3500 model lacks a Depth of Field preview button.

The lack of these functionalities results in the model inclining more towards a traditional model because customizing is not that easy.

The price tag and a few altered functionalities of this model have already proved to be a major advantage for this model which enables it to provide tough competition to its rivals in the market. If the improvisations are made in the Nikon D3500 model, it would surely account for an even more amazing experience and improved quality of service.

FAQs on Nikon d3500

Q1. Is Nikon D3500 Good For Beginners?

The Nikon D3500 model launched by Nikon is the greatest and latest entry-level DSLR camera. It has been created mostly to target beginners.

The model is hyper-portable and gives you more specifications for the price than its predecessor models. It is a compact model with plentiful features to guide beginners from scratch.

Overall, it is the best camera for beginners and hobbyist photographers.

Q2. How Old Is Nikon D3500?

The Nikon D3500 model is the successor of the Nikon D3400. The model was introduced in the market in late 2018 and still gives a tough competition to all the other rival cameras of its class.

Q3. Can I Use a Nikon D3500 As A Webcam?

The Nikon D3500 model is capable of being used as a webcam for your computer for real-time image capturing. It can be used as a webcam to support Zoom and Skype meetings.

The only limitation is that the Live View settings should be reset manually, every 30 minutes.

Q4. Is Nikon D3500 Worth Buying?

Nikon tried to steer attention away from the mirrorless camera models by introducing the Nikon D3500 model at a low price. The D3500 model is a trustworthy and affordable product.

It is the best entry-level camera model which also provides you some room to grow and develop your photography skills. This model is worth consideration, especially if you have a tight budget.

Q5. Is Nikon D3500 Waterproof?

The Nikon D3500 model requires caution when subjected to damp conditions due to the unavailability of a weather-proof or water-sealed body.

Q6. Is The Nikon D3500 Touchscreen?

The rear LCD on D3500 is a 3 inch, 921000 dots resolution fixed display that lacks a touchscreen capability.

Q7. How Do I Transfer Images From The Nikon D3500 Model To My Computer?

Stepwise procedure to transfer your Nikon D3500 images to your computer:

  • Use a USB cable and connect your camera with the computer. The USB cable should be provided in the camera box.
    Move the pictures from the camera to the computer.
  • Another option would be to use memory cards. You can simply pop the memory card of the camera and place it in the card reader provided in your computer.

This makes transfer easy as you don’t have to hook the camera to the computer.

Another method would be to buy an Eye-Fi memory card and transfer images wirelessly

Q8. Is Nikon D3500 Good In Low-light?

The Nikon D3500 camera model has an ISO range between ISO 100 to ISO 25600 due to which they are capable of capturing sharp and clear images in low-light areas with a minimum amount of noise in the images.

Nikon d3500 review – Conclusion

Nikon was capable of introducing a refreshed and rejuvenated camera model with the launch of the Nikon D3500 model. This model exhibits classic designs resulting in a fresh, responsive, and appealing experience to the first-time DSLR buyers.

The Nikon D3500 model’s targeted audience is beginner-level photographers. The beginner cameras are not expected to be cutting edge. All that is expected from them is straight-forwardness, affordability, and an amazing capturing experience.

The price point has made this camera model on-par in the market since its launch. The falling prices with time only make it more attractive.

The Nikon D3500 model offers superb technical and artistic image qualities while capturing images. The Nikon D3500 model is the best camera in this class due to its ultra less weight and its instant response due to no kind of delay, be it shutter-delay, wake-up delay, or any other delay.

Even with body size reduction, this camera model offers a pro-level image quality.

The superior image quality is a result of 24.2 effective megapixels, a DX-sized CMOS imaging sensor present in the Nikon D3500 model. The D3500 model contains an effective and powerful EXPEED 4 imaging processor.

The model contains a Guide mode which enables step by step assistance for camera use.

The Nikon D3500 model offers an excellent and comfortable shooting experience by concentrating all the operation buttons towards the right side and enlarging the playback button.

Although Nikon D3500 is a beginner level camera, if the images captured by this model are compared to the images captured by other best APS-C cameras, it would be hard to differentiate between both the images.

Nikon has made a very strategic decision by introducing the Nikon D3500 model. The Nikon D3500 model is an updated design of the existing model. If you can take a great picture with your smartphone, you would be able to capture a nice quality image with Nikon D3500.

Even with all the limitations that this model possesses, it has proved to be the best camera for beginners right now. As the price of mirrorless cameras and viewfinders is high, we can also call the Nikon D3500 camera model the  best camera for beginners all around.

The pictures you take via the D3500 model not only capture the moment, but they also capture the feeling of the moment. Overall, the Nikon D3500 model is said to be a compact, durable and versatile camera model.

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Marco Downs

Marco Downs

Marco Downs is our second founder and he is the creative head of this website. Marco stumbled upon photography only in college when he joined the photography club. His parents could never afford a camera for him as a child and it was in college that he saved up and bought his first camera. He now writes in-depth buyer guides and informational articles to assist the buyers. 
Marco Downs

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