The Nikon D3500 is a simple APS-C DSLR camera. It offers great image quality and feels decently comfortable to use. Depending on the settings you use, it should also have sufficient battery life for long shooting sessions. Unfortunately, its autofocus system isn't particularly effective in still photography or video, and it isn't capable of shooting in 4k. It also doesn't feel particularly sturdy, and its fixed screen makes it difficult to record content from unusual angles or when the camera is facing you.
The Nikon D3500 is decent for travel photography. Images are sharp and relatively low in graininess even at relatively high ISO levels, and its wide shutter speed range should suit both long-exposure photography as well as still images of moving subjects. That said, its autofocus system struggles to maintain focus on faces and moving objects, and its slightly bulky design can make it a challenge to carry around for extended periods.
The Nikon D3500 is decent for landscape photography. You should be able to take images in dark locations by bumping up camera ISO without having to worry too much about visual noise. It's also decently comfortable to use, and while its screen can't be rotated or pivoted, it is fairly sharp and reasonably bright, allowing you to see it under direct sunlight. However, while its kit lens lets in a good amount of light, it exhibits noticeable light falloff, making the corners of images darker than its center. It's also bulkier than comparable point-and-shoots that can be stored in a pocket or a bag. It doesn't feel especially sturdy either, with a plastic construction that isn't rated as being weather-sealed, though we don't currently test for that.
The Nikon D3500 is passable for sport and wildlife photography. Its maximum continuous shooting speed is quite slow, which can make it difficult to capture clear, distinct images of fast-moving subjects. Its autofocus system can also struggle with tracking and maintaining focus on moving objects and faces. Fortunately, depending on your usage patterns, you should be able to use the camera for extended periods without running out of battery, and images should be fairly free of noise even at high ISO levels.
The Nikon D3500 is a bad option for vlogging. Its screen is fixed, so you can't see yourself when the camera is held in a selfie position. It's also somewhat bulky, which can make it a challenge to carry around for long recording sessions. It also can't record 4k video and has an autofocus system that delivers terrible face-tracking performance in FHD. That said, its video stabilization capability is good overall.
The Nikon D3500 is a poor choice for studio video. It can't record in 4k, and videos recorded in FHD are slightly noisy and could be sharper. Its autofocus system also does a bad job of maintaining focus on moving objects and faces. It's lacking in inputs and outputs, with no microphone or headphone jacks. Thankfully, its menu system is easy to understand.
The Nikon D3500 isn't designed for action video. It's too big to be mounted on a helmet or chest rig and isn't rated as being weather-sealed, though we don't currently test for this. It also can't record in 4k and isn't capable of recording at high frame rates in FHD for generating smooth slow-motion video. That said, it does do a great job of reducing camera shake in handheld footage.
Update 01/13/2022: In keeping with our current test methodology, we've retested shooting speed to get a rounded-up value for shooting speed.
Update 01/13/2022: This camera does include a manual focus assistance feature to help when using manual focus. Pressing the magnify button in Live View zooms in on the image to help you ensure your subject is in focus. We've corrected the 'Manual Focus Assistance' field to show 'Yes'.
Update 05/25/2021: Reevaluated 'FHD Rolling Shutter' test. The score has been changed.
The Nikon D3500 is only available in one color variant: 'Black', and you can see its label here. We tested it in conjunction with the Nikkor AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens, though other F-mount lenses can be purchased with it, like the AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens. It can also be purchased without a lens at all. However, we haven't tested its performance in any other configuration.
Let us know if you come across a different variant of this camera in the discussions so that we can update our review.