The Nikon D3500 is not only one of the best entry-level DSLRs available for purchase but also one of the most affordable.
The Nikon D3500 is the latest version of Nikon’s entry-level DSLR. Released in late 2018, this product is a substantial update to the long-popular entry-level DSLR, the evergreen Nikon D3400. There aren’t many changes and it’s rare to update the old D3400 (or the old D3300) to the new D3500, but this update is enough to keep it on the list of the best entry-level and best student cameras.
Not only is Nikon’s cheapest and easiest DSLR, but the D3500 also weighs only 415 g and has a housing, battery, and memory card. It usually comes with an 18-55mm lightweight AF-P kit lens and has a retractable mechanism for greater portability when not worn. It’s not as small as a mirrorless camera, but it’s lightweight, fast enough, and cheap enough to show that DSLR design is still alive.
Designed specifically for beginners, this camera features simple controls and a built-in guide mode to help new users learn the basics. However, it is also compatible with a wide range of Nikon F-mount lenses from Nikon and other manufacturers, enough to satisfy enthusiasts and beginners. So is this one of the best cheap cameras you can get? You play.
- Camera type: DSLR
- Lens connection: Nikon F
- Sensor: 24.2 MP 23.5 x 15.6 mm 4 APS-C CMOS
- Full format: No.
- Body Image Stabilization (IBIS): No.
- Image processor: EXPEED 4
- AF frame: 11-point AF, 1 cross type
- ISO range: 100-25,600
- Maximum image size: 6,000 x 4,000 pixels
- Measurement range: 420 pixel RGB sensor
- Video: 1920 x 1080, 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p
- Viewfinder: Optical Pentamirror, 95% coverage
- Memory card: SD / SDHC / SDXC UHS I
- LCD: 3.0 inch solid, 921,000 dots
- Maximum burst: 5 fps
- Connectivity: Bluetooth
- Size: 124 x 97 x 69.5 mm (housing only)
- Weight: 415g (housing only, with battery and memory card)
Inside, the D3500 has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C-DX sensor. It may be an entry-level camera, but it’s about the same as most APS-C cameras. It also has a very good burst speed of 5 fps, and most competitors in this price range manage only 3 fps.
Nikon does not use in-body stabilizers for digital SLR cameras, but many Nikon lenses, including the AF-P 18-55mm lens included in this camera, use Nikon’s VR (vibration reduction) system. doing. Cheaper kits for non-VR lenses are on sale, but I think it’s worth the more money.
4K video functionality is not available with this camera, but it can capture 1920×1080 Full HD video at up to 60 / 50fps. There is no WiFi, but you can use the built-in Bluetooth to transfer photos to your smart device. In the latter model, the shutter button is released remotely via the smartphone.
Nikon has updated its sensors and EXPEED vision system to improve speed, detail, and colour. It also extended the battery life by a whopping 1,550 shots on a single charge. This is 4-5 times the shot you would expect from a mirrorless camera.
Not surprisingly, the D3500 records RAW files, but these are only 12-bit, not 14-bit RAW files recorded by the more advanced models of the Nikon series. Do you notice the difference? Probably not. Even 12-bit raw data offers a much wider range of tones and colours than regular JPEGs, and the difference is probably academic to the target audience for this camera.
Comparing the D3500 with a mirrorless alternative, the body looks quite thick and thick. However, this gives you a firm grip on the camera and the redesigned button layout on the back makes it easy to use the D3500 without accidentally pressing unnecessary buttons.
The rear screen isn’t touch-sensitive, so it relies on physical buttons and knobs (no big problem, I have to say). The screen is fixed without the low angle tilt mechanism, but there are some trade-offs in this price range. However, the screen quality is very good, with vivid details and bright, clear colours. The information display is particularly good, displaying the graphic representation of the shutter speed, lens aperture, and ISO settings. This is a great help in explaining the exposure settings and how they interact.
The main mode dial on the top of the camera is clearly labelled for a solid positive feel. Right next to it, there is a camera-specific dial, which is very nice to the touch. It is not checked and the function changes depending on the mode.
DSLRs need a thicker body to house the mirror mechanism, and when you add the 18-55mm AF-P kit lens, the D3500 is as long as it’s wide. However, the pull-in mechanism of the lens makes a difference. The only annoyance is to always remind you to stretch the lens first before you start recording.
If not, the handling of the D3500 is really good. The power button is located around the shutter button and can be easily slid with your index finger to turn the camera on and off. Both the main mode and the control dial are within reach of the thumb of the right hand.
The viewfinder may have a “pentamirror” design that is cheaper than the pentaprism found in expensive DSLR cameras, but it’s bright, clear, allows you to see the corners of the frame without moving your line of sight, and is coloured. There are no boundaries around the edge. The information display is limited to the basic records and status information at the bottom, but it is large, clear, and easy to view.
The D3500’s viewfinder doesn’t provide all the information and colour/exposure information of a mirrorless camera’s electronic viewfinder, but its natural, lag-free appearance after the digital display is very fresh. It is a mistake to say that sights are inferior to electronic ones, only different.
I feel that the D3500 is very responsive. The autofocus beep is a bit loud, but the AF-P lens’s autofocus is so fast and quiet that you need voice feedback to know it’s in focus.
When shooting with the viewfinder, 11 AF points are grouped toward the centre of the frame, but if the subject is close to the edge, it is easy to focus and then reframe before shooting. You can let the camera choose the focus point automatically, or you can choose it yourself. Either way, it’s very quick and very positive.
In live view mode, you can select the focus point anywhere on the screen. If you don’t have touch controls, you’ll have to use the four-way buttons on the back of the camera to move the AF point, which is a bit slower. However, live view autofocus is surprisingly fast. Nikon does not use phase detection autofocus on DSLR sensors but instead relies on slow contrast-based autofocus.
Or at least it should be slow. But at some point, Nikon came up with a way to make the D3500’s Live View AF almost as responsive as a mirrorless camera. This is believed to be due to autofocus AF technology. Switch to one of Nikon’s AF-S lenses and you’ll see that the AF-P system provides speed.
Our laboratory tests show that the image quality of the D3500 is comparable to that of our competitors. There are some differences in resolution, noise, and dynamic range, but more laboratory tests than actual recordings. In fact, the D3500 provides sharp, vibrant, highly exposed images. The 18-55mm AF-P lens works very well as an inexpensive kit lens with constant sharpness over the entire focal length range and to the edges. RAW files have some colour streaks and distortions that disappear in JPEG images when in-camera lens correction is enabled.
It may be an entry-level camera, but creating images with the best ASP-C camera images can make it very difficult to know which camera was used.
The entry-level interchangeable lens market is quite crowded, and maybe consider mirrorless cameras as well as DSLRs. However, your choice is much more limited, especially if you need a viewfinder camera in this price range. So, we’ve put together three competing cameras that not only meet this basic requirement but also do something else: the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / Die 2000D is the closest competing product to Nikon in terms of price, The Sony A68 is an interesting and powerful alternative to one of the latest Sony SLT cameras still available today. The Fujifilm X-T100 was also listed as a slightly more expensive, yet more compact and stylish underrated mirrorless DSLR camera.
Sony’s DSLR-style SLT lineup may be declining, but the A68 is still on sale and at a competitive price. We are at the forefront of resolution testing and have reached low-end full-frame cameras in terms of performance resolution. Second place is the Nikon D3500, followed by the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D and the Fujifilm X-T100.
The Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D and Fujifilm X-T100 are number one here, while the Nikon D3500 and Sony A68 are louder across the ISO range. This is familiar with the experimental results of Nikon DSLR cameras with sensors without anti-aliasing filters. In the actual recording, the difference is not so obvious.
The Fujifilm X-T100 easily won the lab test in the dynamic range, with the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D in second place and the Nikon D3500 and Sony A68 in second place.
The Nikon D3500 is one of the most popular DSLR cameras for photography students and anyone looking for a cheap way to take full-fledged photography. Fans may brush their teeth to a relatively small list of changes from the previously introduced D3400, but that’s not important. Nikon has redesigned and revived one of its classic designs, maintaining a fresh, responsive, and attractive design for first-time DSLR buyers. It looks as good today as it did at launch, and falling prices only make it more attractive. Entry-level cameras don’t have to be state-of-the-art. It should be simple, affordable and very good. And that’s what the D3500 offers.
If your DSLR is definitely what you want, the Nikon D3500 faces fierce competition within the Canon range. The Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D is cheap, but not worth it and the results aren’t as good as the Nikon. The EOS Rebel T7 / 2000D is close to the Nikon D3500 in terms of specifications, but it works well in lab tests, but it’s a bit more expensive, has poor battery life, has slow burst mode, and doesn’t have a retractable lens option. In fact, a good lens kit with IS (Image Stabilizer) will further increase the price.
The Nikon D3500 is clearly limited in terms of price and audience, but for now, I think it’s the best DSLR for beginners. Finder mirrorless cameras tend to be costly, so I think they are the best.
Nikon did a great job here. It updates existing successful designs very effectively and provides beginners with an easy, responsive, and user-friendly way to get started with DSLR photography.