The D3500 is an entry-level DSLR announced in August of 2018. Nikon releases a new D3000-series camera about once every two years, although the last few updates have been criticized for their minimal improvements. Does the D3500 break this trend? It’s actually quite a good camera, but it does have some flaws – not surprising at this price point ($450 at the time of publication). Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know if you’re considering the D3500 for yourself.
Nikon D3500 Specifications
On paper, the Nikon D3500 looks exactly like what you’d expect from an entry-level Nikon DSLR.
To start, the D3500’s 24 megapixel sensor is one of the best aps-c crop sensors on the market. Perhaps it’s even the best, though a number of other Nikon and Sony cameras have essentially the same sensor. If image quality is your bottom line, none of Nikon’s other crop-sensor cameras – including the D5600, D7500, or D500 – beat the D3500, despite their higher prices.
No, the compromises on this camera come elsewhere. The D3500 just doesn’t have many bells and whistles; its LCD monitor doesn’t have a tilt-flip component, and it’s also not a touchscreen. Beyond that, the D3500’s autofocus system, frame rate, and video specifications fall behind those of other cameras today. Lastly, the D3500’s camera body just isn’t as advanced as some pros may prefer. For example, it only has a single command dial and no dedicated AF-On button.
Compared to its predecessors, the D3500 doesn’t add very much, at least on paper. This is not unusual for Nikon these days; they frequently add very few new features to their newest entry-level cameras, especially the D3000 and D5000 lines.
Case in point – compared to the Nikon D3400, the previous version, the D3500 only improves a few specifications: battery life (1550 vs 1200 shots), weight (one ounce / 30 grams less), and extra wireless functionality (now controllable via your smartphone). Those are pretty minimal specifications changes considering that two years passed in the meantime. (Though, as I explain later in this review, one major non-specification change makes the D3500 clearly better than its predecessors.)
Do the similar specs mean that the Nikon D3500 is a bad camera? Far from it. In terms of image quality, you’ll have a hard time finding something cheaper that can give you equally good results. (Frankly, if that’s your goal, buy an older D3000-series camera used.) For travel, landscape, architectural photography, and similar, the D3500 will function akin to higher-end Nikon DSLRs in most ways.
But there are plenty of reasons why it is considered Nikon’s “entry-level” DSLR, as you will soon see.
Here are some of the most important specifications of the Nikon D3500:
- 24 megapixels
- ISO 100 to 25,600
- 11 autofocus points
- 5 frames per second
- -1 to 19 EV autofocus
- 1920 × 1080 video
- 60 fps video frame rate
- 420-pixel RGB metering
- 0 to 20 EV metering
- SnapBridge via Bluetooth
- 1550 shot battery life
- 0.85× viewfinder with 95% coverage
- 12.9 oz / 365 g weight, body only
- 124 × 97 × 70 mm / 4.9 × 3.8 × 2.8 inches
You can see more tech specs on Nikon USA’s D3500 page.
If you’re interested in seeing how the D3500 stacks up against earlier models in this lineup, I’ve compared it to the D3100, D3200, D3300, and D3400 on the “Comparisons” page of this review.
The next page covers build quality and ergonomics of the D3500 – one of the big surprises for me when testing this camera in the field.
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