We just started testing cameras, and our test bench v0.7 is rather simplistic, so we decided to launch without text in the test boxes. If you have any suggestions on what to improve, let us know here. As we gather your suggestions, we plan on making more frequent changes to our methodology and we'll be able to add text to the reviews in the near future.

Nikon D3500 Camera Review

Tested using Methodology v0.7
Reviewed Feb 18, 2021 at 09:43 am
Nikon D3500 Picture
7.0
Travel Photography
7.2
Landscape Photography
6.1
Sport & Wildlife Photography
3.6
Vlogging
3.5
Studio Video
3.1
Action Video
Body Type
DSLR
Mirrorless
No
Sensor Size
APS-C
Tested Lens
Nikkor AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR

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.

Our Verdict

7.0 Travel Photography

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.

Pros
  • Impressive image quality.
  • Very good battery performance.
Cons
  • Poor autofocus performance in photography and FHD video.
  • Plasticky, bulky construction.
7.2 Landscape Photography

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.

Pros
  • Impressive image quality.
Cons
  • Plasticky, bulky construction.
6.1 Sport & Wildlife Photography

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.

Pros
  • Impressive image quality.
  • Very good battery performance.
  • Wide shutter speed range.
Cons
  • Poor autofocus performance in photography and FHD video.
  • Plasticky, bulky construction.
  • Slow maximum shooting speed.
3.6 Vlogging

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.

Pros
  • Impressive video stabilization performance.
Cons
  • Poor autofocus performance in photography and FHD video.
  • Plasticky, bulky construction.
  • Fixed screen.
3.5 Studio Video

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.

Pros
  • Very good battery performance.
Cons
  • Poor autofocus performance in photography and FHD video.
  • Limited selection of inputs and outputs.
3.1 Action Video

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.

Pros
  • Impressive video stabilization performance.
Cons
  • Plasticky, bulky construction.
  • Incapable of recording at high frame rates in FHD.
  • 7.0 Travel Photography
  • 7.2 Landscape Photography
  • 6.1 Sport & Wildlife Photography
  • 3.6 Vlogging
  • 3.5 Studio Video
  • 3.1 Action Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
5.8
Design
Portability
Height 3.9" (9.9 cm)
Width 4.8" (12.3 cm)
Depth 3.0" (7.5 cm)
Volume
55.7 in³ (913.3 cm³)
Weight
0.93 lbs (0.42 kg)
Weight With Lens
1.35 lbs (0.61 kg)
6.5
Design
Build Quality

  • Body is made of plastic
  • Buttons provide okay physical feedback
  • Flash mechanism feels reasonably solid
  • Collapsible lens needs to be retracted before storing the camera
  • Input/output compartment is covered by a rubber flap
  • Screen doesn't tilt or articulate, so you can't see it when the camera is pointed at you

Design
Body
Water Resistance
No
Rugged
No
Hot Shoe
Yes
Customizable Button
No
Command Dial
1
Tripod Mount
Yes
Lens Mount
F Mount
Built-In Flash
Yes
Design
In The Box

  • Nikon D3500 mirrorless camera
  • Nikkor AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens
  • Lens cover
  • Lens cap
  • 1x Nikon EN-EL14a battery
  • Shoulder strap
  • Sensor cap
  • Battery charger
  • User manual

7.0
Design
Ergonomics & Comfort
Hand Grip: Small Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Medium Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Large Hand
Yes
Hand Grip: Extra-Large Hand
Yes

  • Rubber eyecup around the viewfinder feels relatively comfortable
  • Hand grip should accommodate a wide variety of hand sizes, without fingers getting pinched between the body and lens
  • Textured handgrip provides a secure hold
  • Can't adjust ISO without looking at the screen due to the lack of a dedicated control input
  • Screen interface isn't touch-sensitive and is fixed in place

8.5
Design
Menu System
Guide Mode
Yes
App Name
Nikon SnapBridge

  • Menu is easy to use due to the camera's limited feature set and can be navigated via physical controls
  • Video recording options are merged with still shooting functions due to the lack of dedicated recording mode
  • Very few menu customization options

Design
Viewfinder
Type
Optical
Advertised Coverage
95 %
Advertised Resolution
N/A
Advertised Magnification
0.85
3.2
Design
Screen
Screen Articulation Type
No Articulation (Fixed Screen)
Screen Max Brightness
470 cd/m²
Advertised Resolution
0.921 million dots
Size
3.0" (7.6 cm)
Touchscreen
No
Design
Sensor
Sensor Type
CMOS
Advertised Effective Pixels
24.2 MP
Processor
EXPEED 4
Extended ISO Minimum
N/A
ISO Minimum
100
ISO Maximum
25600
Tested Firmware
1.0
7.9
Design
Battery
Battery Type
Nikon EN-EL14a
USB Charging
No
Use When Charging
No
Advertised Battery Life In Photo
1550 photos
Tested Battery Life In Video
120 min
6.6
Design
Lens
Lens Type
Interchangeable
Maximum Aperture
3.5 - 5.6
Max Aperture (Full Frame Equivalent)
f/5.4
Minimum Focal Length
18 mm
Maximum Focal Length
55 mm
Max Focal Length (Full Frame Equivalent)
84 mm
Luminance
75.6 %
Light Falloff
52.3 %
Photo
Photo
Photo Features
JPEG File Format
Yes
RAW File Format
NEF
Shutter
Electronic and Mechanical
Minimum Shutter Speed
30 s
Maximum Shutter Speed
1/4000 s
Silent Shooting
Yes
HDR
No
Focus Peaking
No
Zebra Pattern
No
Histogram
No
Time Lapse
No
4.1
Photo
Shooting Speed
Low Speed Continuous
N/A
High Speed Continuous
4.3 fps
Silent Shooting Continuous
N/A
Raw Buffer Size
21 RAW Photos
JPEG Buffer Size
10000 JPG Photos
Buffer Empty Time
7 s
5.1
Photo
Autofocus
Advertised Coverage
N/A
Advertised Focus Points
11
Manual Focus Assistance
No
Face Detection Distance
120" (305 cm)
Eye Detection
No
Face Tracking Success Rate
40.4 %
Object Tracking Success Rate
60.7 %
8.0
Photo
Image Stabilization
In Body Image Stabilization
No
Minimum Shutter Speed Achieved
1/10 s
8.3
Photo
Image Quality
Dynamic Range At ISO 100
9.16 f-stops
Color Accuracy (dE2000)
7.95
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 800
35 db
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 800
1.521 pixels
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 1600
33.54 db
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 1600
1.515 pixels
JPEG SNR 18% At ISO 3200
31.9 db
JPEG Sharpness At ISO 3200
1.883 pixels

ISO Setting Sample Photo
ISO 100 Photo
ISO 200 Photo
ISO 400 Photo
ISO 800 Photo
ISO 1600 Photo
ISO 3200 Photo
ISO 6400 Photo
ISO 12800 Photo
ISO 25600 Photo

6.8
Photo
Luminance Noise
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 100 39.28 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 200 37.35 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 400 35.44 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 800 32.83 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 1600 29.75 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 3200 26.44 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 6400 23.61 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 12800 20.26 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 25600 15.97 db
RAW SNR 18% At ISO 51200 N/A
Sample Gallery
Sample Gallery
The Skate Park

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

Sample Gallery
The Polish Church

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

Sample Gallery
The Studio

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

Sample Gallery
The Stairway

Format Link
JPEG Photo
RAW Photo

General Video
General Video
Video Feature
Full HD Video
Yes
4k Video
No
6k Video
No
Clean HDMI Output
No
Advertised Max Chroma Sampling Over HDMI
Not Advertised
Advertised Max Bit Depth Over HDMI
N/A
Log Picture Profile
No
Recording Light
No
General Video
Audio
Audio Test Sample
Audio Recording
Mono
Microphone Level Display
Yes
General Video
Video Exposure Assistant
Zebra Line
No
Histogram
No
Waveform
No
General Video
Recording Format And Compression
MP4 H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
MP4 H.265 / HEVC
No
MOV H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
Yes
MOV H.265 / HEVC
No
AVCHD H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
All-I Compression
No
4k Video
0
4k Video
4k Frame Rate
240 fps In 4k
No
120 fps In 4k
No
60 fps In 4k
No
30 fps In 4k
No
24 fps In 4k
No
Crop At Max Available fps
N/A
0
4k Video
4k Video Autofocus Performance
Eye Detection In 4k
N/A
Face Detection In 4k
N/A
Face Tracking In 4k
0
Object Tracking In 4k
0
N/A
4k Video
4k Video Stabilization
In Body Video Image Stabilization In 4k
N/A
Walking Test In 4k
N/A
Running Test In 4k
N/A
Crop
N/A
0
4k Video
4k Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In 4k
N/A
Bitrate Minimum In 4k
N/A
Chroma Sampling In 4k
No
Bit Depth In 4k
N/A
Record Time Limit 0 min
Overheat Recording Interruption
No
0
4k Video
4k Video Quality
Low Light Capability In 4k
0
Test Scene Extract In 4k
0
4k Rolling Shutter
N/A
Full HD Video
8.5
Full HD Video
FHD Frame Rate
240 fps In FHD
No
120 fps In FHD
No
60 fps In FHD
Yes
30 fps In FHD
Yes
24 fps In FHD
Yes
Crop At Max Available fps
1 x
3.4
Full HD Video
FHD Video Autofocus Performance
Eye Detection In FHD
No
Face Detection In FHD
Yes
Face Tracking In FHD
0.7
Object Tracking In FHD
5.7
8.3
Full HD Video
FHD Video Stabilization
In Body Video Image Stabilization In FHD
No
Walking Test In FHD
5.84 pixels/frames
Running Test In FHD
12.26 pixels/frames
Crop
1
6.9
Full HD Video
FHD Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In FHD
35 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In FHD
10 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In FHD
4:2:0
Bit Depth In FHD
8
Record Time Limit 20 min
6.6
Full HD Video
FHD Video Quality
Low Light Capability In FHD
6.0
Test Scene Extract In FHD
5.8
FHD Rolling Shutter
0.38 degrees
Storage And Connectivity
Storage And Connectivity
Storage
Card 1 Slot
SD Card UHS-I
Card 2 Slot
No 2nd Card Slot
4.8
Storage And Connectivity
Input / Outputs
USB
Micro USB
HDMI
Mini (Type C)
Headphones
No
Microphone
No Microphone input
Wi-Fi
No
Bluetooth
Yes

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

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.

Price trend (United States Last Year)
Retailers' prices Amazon.com BestBuy.com B&H
Black W/18-55mm Lens
SEE PRICE
SEE PRICE
SEE PRICE
Black (Body Only)
SEE PRICE
Unavailable
Unavailable
Deals

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider
EARLY ACCESS

Gain early access to all tests results for new products

Early Access UI
PRICES LISTED

Prices will now be listed directly in reviews and tables

product prices UI
MORE VOTES

Have 5 votes per product category to choose which product we’ll review next

Additional votes UI
UNLIMITED ACCESS

Gain unlimited access to detailed test results in tools and results (no blurred results)

test table UI

Create Post

Create Deal