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Review Nikon D3500: 2021’s Best Budget Digital Camera for Beginners?8 min read

Wanderlust Pulse
Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500

$498.92
7.8

Portability

8.7/10

Casual Use

8.5/10

Video quality

6.5/10

Design

7.5/10

Pros

  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Helpful guide mode for beginners
  • Long-lasting battery for traveling
  • Affordable price for beginners
  • Relatively good image quality

Cons

  • No 4K video
  • No touchscreen or tilting screen.
  • No headphone jack available

The Nikon D3500 is an upgrade from the D3400 with a long-lasting battery, lightweight body, and the ability to shoot remotely via Bluetooth. Although this entry-level DSLR does not have advanced features like WIFI connectivity and mirrorless cameras, it is perfect for a brand new photographer. 

The Nikon D3500 features a guide mode to teach you the basics of photography without making it too complicated. With an ideal location in mind, a tripod, and the D3500 in your hands, you can quickly capture a unique photo anywhere. For beginners looking to take better quality photos than smartphones, this is the camera to buy. 

The D3500 is a budget-friendly camera to get started with photography for only $500 (+- 350 euro). It doesn’t have advanced features like digital zoom, which removes the distractions to help you focus on learning the basics first. 

Unique Features of the Nikon D3500

For those who aren’t advanced in photography or don’t have the budget to spend on the latest Nikon camera, the D3500 is the right choice. The D3500 is much lighter with well-positioned buttons to make everything easy to reach, including the flash button and Live View Switch. With a slightly larger grip than the D3400, it is more comfortable to hold. 

The hyper-portability of the Nikon D3500 makes it stand out, but that is not the only feature that makes it ideal for beginners. The menu systems are easy to understand with a guide mode to learn how to take good pictures. 

The Nikon D3500 features a 24.2megapixel CMOS sensor with dimensions of 23.5 x 15.6 mm to collect more light per pixel for good quality pictures even in low-light conditions. This image sensor is 15 times larger than what you get on a regular smartphone for more detailed photos. The 11 point autofocus is dated compared to current Nikon models, but it is responsive enough to acquire focus in different lighting conditions. 

Nikon D3500 Battery

It is essential to review this DSLR camera’s battery life if you take pictures all day. The Nikon D3500 has a longer-lasting battery compared to the Nikon D3400 model that came before it. It has an EN-EL14a rechargeable li-on battery with a rating of 1550 shots for every charge. It captures 350 more shots on a single battery charge compared to the Nikon D3400. 

For photographers starting in landscape and city photography, you can take over 1000 shots without recharging the camera. The battery life is impressive and can last for days at a time when using the optical viewfinder. 

Compatible Nikon D3500 Lenses

The Nikon D3500 is available with the 18-55mm VR Lens Kit for $500 (+- 350 euro) or the two lens kit for $600. If you go for the two-lens kit, you get the AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55MM VR Lens and the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm lens with a versatile telephoto zoom for capturing detail in nature and landscape photography.

To securely attach these lenses to the Nikon D3500, you need to find out the type of mount on your digital camera. The D3500 has the Nikon F-mount with AF contacts, which is interchangeable and allows you to choose from a wider selection of lenses.

Nikon D3500 Video Quality

The Nikon D3500 can capture and record 1080p video at up to 60 frames per second. The full HD quality has a resolution of 1920×1080 and can shoot at 60, 50, 30, 25, and 24 frames per second. 

The Nikon D3500 does not record in 4K, which is disappointing considering many modern cameras have this feature. If you want a dependable camera to experiment with video photography, the D3500 fits perfectly. You can record for up to 29 minutes when shooting at standard quality and up to 20 minutes at the highest quality. 

Nikon D3500 VS Nikon D5600

The Nikon D5600 is an upper-entry level DSLR camera released in 2016. Although the Nikon D3500 was launched two years later, it doesn’t have the advanced features that make the D5600 stand out. The D3500 is a great value camera for beginners learning landscape and street photography, while the D5600 is ideal for professional and intermediate-level photographers. 

An advantage of buying the D3500 is capturing 1550 shots per single battery charge compared to the 970 shots you get with the Nikon D5600. For $250 less, you get a longer-lasting battery too for taking pictures the whole day. 

The Nikon D3500 features a smaller 3-inch screen than the D5600 with 3.2 inches of a touchscreen display. The Nikon D5600 allows for more flexibility with a tilt-swivel screen. With this movable screen and the touchscreen, you can interact with your camera like your smartphone. 

When it comes to connectivity, the D5600 is superior. It has a built-in WI-FI that allows fast sharing of photos, unlike the Nikon D3500 that relies on Bluetooth and USB connectivity. The Nikon D5600 is also equipped with NFC technology to activate the Camera WI-FI by touching your smartphone to the camera. 

The Nikon D3500 and D5600 were released two years apart, but they still have useful features for taking a good quality photo. They both have an eye-level viewfinder to better frame your photos and built-in Bluetooth connectivity. The D5600 is better suited for professionals than the Nikon D3500 that beginners can use to learn landscape photography.

SpecNikon D3500Nikon D5600
Release dateAugust 2018November 2016
Battery life1550 shots per charge970 shots per charge
Video ResolutionFull HD 1920 x 1080 video resolutionFull HD 1920 x 1080 video resolution
ConnectivityBluetoothWIFI and Bluetooth
Frames per second5fps continuous shooting5fps continuous shooting
Weight365g465g
TouchscreenNoYes

Travel Photography with the Nikon D3500

If you need a compact and portable budget camera to travel with, take the Nikon D3500. With solid construction and discrete build, you will find traveling with this camera effortless. You can quickly pull it out during the perfect moment without too much fuss. 

The autofocus feature is perfect for on-the-go photography to pull off eye-catching photos. The long-lasting battery life also makes it suitable for capturing videos on vacation or touring cities. With photo-editing software like Lightroom, you can adjust exposure and play with the light for better quality photos.

Nikon D3500

City Photography

If you love taking photos of buildings and beautiful street corners, you can quickly learn city photography with the budget Nikon D3500. The built-in viewfinder lets you stabilize your camera to avoid getting shaky images. With face detection focusing, you can deal with the adjustments while the D3500 handles the focus.

The D3500 kit is portable for shooting in the city, reducing the equipment you have to carry. The loud shutter sound may attract some unwanted attention on the street if you want to take pictures quietly.

The large image sensor also makes street photography much simpler. It ensures you can capture a good quality image even in low light compared to smaller sensors. The Nikon D3500 also provides a depth of field with a blurry background feature when you need it.

Landscape Photography

To better capture a spectacular skyline or beautiful countryside, you need a tripod, a quality lens, and the Nikon D3500. Most photographers will prefer to use the wide-angle lens to capture a larger area of the scene you want to shoot.

There are also simple apps to help you improve your landscape photography with the Nikon D3500. The high resolution of the D3500 is great for landscape photography because it captures more detail for larger print outs. 

Best Nikon D3500 Lenses to travel with

Knowing the type of photography you want to focus on will help narrow down the best lens for your Nikon D3500. Whether it is a prime or zoom lens, an additional lens can help control the accuracy while taking photos for better quality images. Getting a good quality lens is worth the investment because it will still be compatible with your next digital camera. 

City Photography: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G lens

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G lens with autofocus is perfect for street photography with the Nikon D3500. It is lightweight and affordable to add to your lens collection to capture good quality images. This lens works well even in low-light conditions or when you need to blur backgrounds. Overall, it is a great lens for general photography and taking street pictures. The dimensions of this lens are ideal for landscape shooting. 

Video Photography: AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED

The AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED telephoto lens is excellent for taking photos and videos, especially when shooting from a distance. This lens has a quiet autofocus to reduce camera noise during video recording. It features Nikon’s vibration reduction technology that provides blur-free handheld shooting. It performs great in low-light situations, and you will get steady videos even with unsteady hands. 

In Summary

The D3500 is one of the best budget DSLR cameras in the market today. You can take decent shots and record videos in full HD at 1080p. The D3500 handles portraits and still photography very well to produce good quality images. 

With the 24-megapixel sensor, you will love the excellent quality images you shoot. In conclusion, the Nikon D3500 is an affordable and simple-to-use digital camera for amateurs and leisure photography. Seasoned photographers might have difficulty adapting to the lack of 4K video quality than beginners.  

Pros

  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Helpful guide mode for beginners
  • Long-lasting battery for traveling 
  • Affordable price for beginners
  • Relatively good image quality

Cons

  • No 4K video
  • No touchscreen or tilting screen.
  • No headphone jack available
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