Summary: Pros and Cons
The Nikon D3500 is a solid camera all around, and – as much as the specifications try to hide it – a solid improvement over its predecessor. The redesigned camera body and grip simply make the D3500 a much more enjoyable camera to use, and that translates directly to better photos.
That said, the main benefit of the D3500 over many other options today is its low price, coupled with an excellent camera sensor. At $450 including a kit lens, it is very hard to match the value you get out of this camera.
No, it doesn’t have the advanced controls or weatherproofing of other cameras today, including several of Nikon’s other DSLRs. It also doesn’t have a top-of-the-line autofocus system – or, frankly, many advanced features at all. In many ways, this is still the Nikon D3200 camera released all the way back in 2012, just in a new package.
But that doesn’t make it a bad camera. The D3500 is capable of amazing photos at an excellent price – and it does it in a camera body that is finally comfortable to hold. I can see the D3500 being ideal for someone’s first “real” camera, or as a backup option for pros who want something lightweight and well-priced.
Here is a quick list of the pros and cons of the Nikon D3500:
- Excellent image quality, among the best in class for a DX crop sensor
- Very good value at just $450 with a kit lens
- Comfortable grip and well-designed body – resulting in a much more enjoyable camera to use than its predecessors
- The autofocus system, despite having just 11 points, is surprisingly fast and accurate
- Few customizable buttons, and removal of Fn button, making it slow for advanced users to set properly
- Not very many bells and whistles like WiFi, Time exposure mode, mirror lockup, and more
- On paper, similar specifications to the Nikon D3400 – and even the earlier D3300 and D3200
So, the Nikon D3500 is a very good camera, particularly if things like image quality, price, and weight are more important to you than having an advanced button layout and menu system. Certainly, most Nikon D3500 users will find the camera more than good enough to capture the photos they need.
In the end, it is hard to beat this camera’s price and image quality – the combo that matters most to many photographers. The $450 price includes the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens (see our review). Although Nikon sells some of their DSLRs body-only, you need to buy the D3500 with a lens if you go through ordinary channels like Amazon, B&H, or Adorama.
You can buy the Nikon D3500 from our partner B&H via the link below. I’ve seen it go to $400 at this link before, at which point it’s obviously an even better value:
No matter where you buy this camera, do not purchase the Nikon D3500 as part of an “accessories bundle” or “deluxe kit” – a bundle that can cost $100 or more compared to the D3500 and lens alone. These bundles are intended, more than anything else, to oversell cheap accessories to a first-time DSLR buyer. Instead, buy any accessories you need separately.
With that, if you have any questions or thoughts about the Nikon D3500, please let us know on the following page!
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Quality
- High ISO Performance
- Size and Weight
Photography Life Overall Rating