How expensive is a Nikon D3500

In the test: Nikon D3500

Admittedly, the preamble is meant with a bit of a wink. But it is correct: The D3500 is smaller and lighter than some mirrorless system cameras. To be fair, however, it has to be said that, unlike the larger system cameras, it is not splash-proof and has a smaller viewfinder that only covers 95% of the field of view. Otherwise it lies very well in the hand. And that is the main innovation compared to the predecessor D3400: Nikon has adapted the housing design to the D5500 / D5600: It is a little flatter and the handle is almost perfectly shaped for small and medium-sized hands. At 415 grams, the D3500 weighs another 30 grams less than the D3400. The arrangement of the controls on the back is also similar to that of the D5500 / 5600: The monitor (3.0 inches, 921,000 points) has been moved to the left and the controls previously positioned there to the right. In contrast to the D5000 series, the display is permanently mounted and does not allow touch operation.

The Nikon D3500 with a long battery life

What else is new? Not much. Although the battery has remained the same (EN-EL14a), the camera takes 1550 instead of 1200 pictures with one charge according to the CIPA standard - an excellent value in this price range. Everything else is already known from the D3400. Features like the integrated raw converter and double exposures are positive. For beginners there is the well-known guide mode, which helps in choosing the right settings in simple language. Ten effect filters are also accessible directly via the mode dial. We missed sensor cleaning and Wi-Fi. Instead, the D3500 supports Bluetooth 4.1: The SnapBridge app makes it possible to transfer almost two megapixel copies of the captured images to a smart device with Android or iOS. Remote control is also possible via SnapBridge, but without a preview on the smart device and not in the live view of the camera. The Bluetooth connection extends up to 10 m.

It is typical for an entry-level SLR that the viewfinder autofocus is arranged very centrally and has only eleven measuring fields, including a cross sensor. In addition to the 95% viewfinder, this is the decisive disadvantage compared to mirrorless system cameras, which also cover a significantly larger area in the lower price segment. It looks better in live view - the contrast autofocus used here covers the entire image and, in combination with AF-P lenses, such as the 18-55 mm Kitzoom, focuses pleasantly quickly. The video recording also benefits from this, whereby the focus shift with tracking autofocus does not take place entirely without pumps, especially indoors. The D3500 records films with full HD resolution at 60 frames / s in decent quality - the sharper 4K is still an exception in this price range. Unfortunately, the D3500 lacks a microphone jack in order to improve the sound quality compared to the internal microphone. If the equipment is too meager for you, you should consider purchasing the next higher Nikon SLR. The D5600 is already available for a surcharge of 150 euros. It is superior to the D3500 in many ways: larger rotating and swiveling monitor with touchscreen, AF with 39 measuring fields, interval recordings, time-lapse videos, microphone jack and Wi-Fi - to name the most important. Only the battery life is shorter (820 instead of 1550 pictures per charge).


The speed and image quality of the Nikon D3500

With viewfinder autofocus and the kit lens AF-P 3.5-5.6 / 18-55 mm VR, we determined a shutter-release delay of just under 0.3 s on the D3500 - this is very good and slightly faster than on the D3400. In series picture mode, the camera achieves almost 5 pictures per second and 100 JPEGs or 30 raws in a row. This means that the D3500 is pleasantly fast for an entry-level SLR.
The 24-megapixel sensor without a low-pass filter ensures decent image quality. Unsurprisingly, the D3500 got the same score in the JPEG laboratory test as its predecessor, namely 81%. The differences in detail are equal: The D3500 has a slightly higher resolution in some, but not all ISO levels, the D3400 the slightly better exposure range. The image noise is almost identical. Maximum resolution efficiencies of 88 to 89 percent at ISO 200 and ISO 400 are very good. At ISO 3200, the resolution drops to just 72 percent and the noise increases significantly.

Exposure optimization

The Nikon D3500 is a small, light and solid entry-level SLR and therefore recommended for everyone who does not want to spend more than 550 euros with a lens. The D5600, which is available with a lens for just under 700 euros, offers significantly more.


Here you can download the table with all the results from our test (Nikon D3400, Nikon D3500, Nikon D5600).

Laboratory measurements: Anders Uschold

This test was published in our issue of fotoMAGAZIN 12/2018. You can order single issues here.