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Nikon D3500 Review - Performance

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Nikon D3500 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.


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Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs (0.4s live view)
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.2secs (0.6s live view)
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.25secs (0.7s live view)
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
5fps (15 shots)


Focus and shutter response is very quick, when using the optical viewfinder. Live view focus and shutter response is slow, but thankfully not as slow as the entry level Canon EOS 2000D and EOS 4000D. 


Nikon D3500 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - You can use the D-Lighting setting to improve the dynamic range captured by the camera. There is no automatic (or non-automatic) HDR / High Dynamic Range shooting mode available. So if you need to get more out of an image, beyond what you can get from a JPEG image, then you'll need to shoot raw or you could manually adjust the exposure as you shoot. Exposure is reliable and colour is good, particularly in sunny conditions. 


Nikon D3500 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Macro performance is good, with the lens able to focus on subjects quite close to the camera. You don't need any special "Bokeh" modes here, as the camera is capable of doing this even with the kit lens. The kit lens performs fairly well, giving sharp images, although image quality does start to drop off towards the corners and sides of photos. Vignette control is built in to the camera (on by default), as well as distortion control (off by default), so you shouldn't have any problems with this, with this lens. The lens is also resistant to flare. Focus was generally reliable, however, care needs to be taken with portrait shots to ensure the focus point is correct. Photos come out of the camera looking good, although you can get much more pleasing results by using the raw images, and applying a few tweaks. You can edit raw images in-camera making this quick and easy to do, without having to use your computer.


Nikon D3500 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is well controlled from ISO100 up to ISO1600, with good results. Noise is quite "speckled" at ISO3200, but not too bad. At ISO6400 these red green and blue spots become more noticeable. Noise has a more negative effect on detail at ISO12800 but results may still be usable. ISO25600 is best avoided. An additional ISO range beyond ISO25600 is available in the Night Vision scene mode, which is black and white only. There are noise reduction options of on or off. The noise reduction can't be adjusted beyond this. 

Noise compared to the competition...

The closest competitors are the Canon EOS 2000D (24mp), Pentax K-S2 (20mp), and mirrorless cameras such as the Sony Alpha A6000 (24mp), and Fujifilm X-T100 (24mp). 

The Canon EOS 2000D with slightly smaller APS-C sensor gives slightly worse noise performance at the higher ISO speeds (around ISO6400/12800) compared to the Nikon D3500. The D3500 gives better results than the K-S2. The D3500 gives more detailed results than the Sony Alpha A6000, which has quite aggressive (strong) noise reduction at ISO6400/ISO12800. The Fujifilm X-T100 gives the best noise results of all of these cameras. 


Nikon D3500 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten lighting, with a warm result. The tungsten preset gives much more accurate results. The camera performs well under mixed lighting with a warm result, which many will find pleasing. AWB gives excellent results under fluorescent lighting, with little or no need for the fluorescent presets, as these tend to give a strong colour cast. Like the D3400 before it, the camera does not feature the same "Warm" and "White" options for auto white balance as Nikon's more expensive cameras. 


Nikon D3500 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are numerous colour options (including flat), and these can be customised with a number of different settings, including settings for sharpening, clarity, contrast, brightness, saturation, and hue. The effects setting on the mode dial gives you the following shooting modes: Night vision, Super vivid, Pop, Photo illustration, Toy camera, Miniature, Selective colour, Silhouette, High key, and Low key. There is no built-in automatic panoramic shooting mode. 


Video - You can record FullHD video at a frame rate up to 60fps, with options for 50, 30, 25 and 24fps. You can leave the microphone on auto or set this manually. Image stabilisation from the lens helps keep video more stable, but isn't as effective as some other cameras in-body image stabilisation. Manual settings are available. The full ISO range is available from ISO100 up to ISO25600.


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Photographs taken using the Nikon D3500

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