Nikon D3500 Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing Nikon D3500 JPEG image quality to its predecessor, the D3400, as well as against several competing entry-level interchangeable lens cameras at similar price points: the Canon T6, Canon EOS M100, Fuji X-T100 and Sony A5100. (Some may think the Canon 24-megapixel T6i would be a closer match to the D3500 than the 18-megapixel T6, however the T6i is currently selling for $150 more than the D3500 while the T6 is the same price. We have however included the 24-megapixel Canon M100, as it's only about $50 more than the D3500 at the time of writing.)

NOTE: These images are from best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Nikon D3500, Nikon D3400, Canon T6, Canon M100, Fuji X-T100 and Sony A5100 -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Nikon D3500 to any camera we've ever tested!

Nikon D3500 vs Nikon D3400 at Base ISO

Nikon D3500 at ISO 100
Nikon D3400 at ISO 100

Above we compare the D3500 to its predecessor, the D3400, which uses a similar sensor and processor. As you can see, image quality here at base ISO is very similar as expected, although there appear to be some minor tweaks to color, contrast and noise reduction, with the D3500 showing more of the thread pattern but lower contrast in our tricky red-leaf swatch. Both cameras generate very sharp, detailed images but with visible sharpening haloes and aliasing artifacts.

Nikon D3500 vs Canon T6 at Base ISO

Nikon D3500 at ISO 100
Canon T6 at ISO 100

Here at base ISO, the Nikon D3500's 6-megapixel resolution advantage is apparent compared to the 18-megapixel Canon T6, with the Nikon resolving noticeably more fine detail than the Canon. The Nikon also forgoes an optical low-pass filter which produces sharper images from its sensor (though with the risk more aliasing artifacts), despite both cameras applying generous amounts of sharpening. Colors are also a bit warmer and more vibrant from the Nikon, though the Canon's color is generally more accurate.

Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS M100 at Base ISO

Nikon D3500 at ISO 100
Canon EOS M100 at ISO 100

While both cameras here feature 24-megapixel APS-C sensors, the Nikon D3500's sensor lacks an optical low-pass filter, unlike the EOS M100 which includes one. This, along with different approaches to default sharpening, allows the D3500 to produce crisper fine detail than the M100 here in this base ISO comparison. Colors are warmer and more vibrant from the Nikon, though the Canon's are technically more accurate overall.

Nikon D3500 vs Fujifilm X-T100 at Base ISO

Nikon D3500 at ISO 100
Fujifilm X-T100 at ISO 200

Here we compare the D3500 to Fuji's entry-level EVF mirrorless, the 24-megapixel X-T100. As you can see, both cameras produce very sharp, detailed images at base ISO with noticeable sharpening haloes, however noise is more visible from the X-T100 in brighter, flatter areas such as in the lighter label backgrounds. And as you can see, colors rendering is quite different, with the X-T100 producing brighter colors (especially reds) that are more accurate overall.

Nikon D3500 vs Sony A5100 at Base ISO

Nikon D3500 at ISO 100
Sony A5100 at ISO 100

At identical resolutions, these two cameras turn in fairly similar performances here at base ISO too, but the D3500 produces a brighter, sharper image. The A5100 does much better with our tricky red-leaf swatch, though, rendering more detail with less noise, and its sharpening algorithm doesn't generate obvious haloes like the D3500. Colors are warmer and a little more pleasing overall from the Nikon.

Nikon D3500 vs Nikon D3400 at ISO 1600

Nikon D3500 at ISO 1600
Nikon D3400 at ISO 1600

Again, the D3500 produces image quality very similar to the D3400 here at 1600, with just minor differences in color, contrast and noise.

Nikon D3500 vs Canon T6 at ISO 1600

Nikon D3500 at ISO 1600
Canon T6 at ISO 1600

The Nikon D3500 produces a crisper, more vibrant image with lower noise levels and better detail than the Canon T6 here at ISO 1600. Both struggle to render fine, low-contrast detail in our tricky red-leaf swatch, but the Nikon manages to do a bit better there as well.

Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS M100 at ISO 1600

Nikon D3500 at ISO 1600
Canon EOS M100 at ISO 1600

While the Nikon struggles more with the red-leaf fabric at ISO 1600, its shadow noise is more pleasing and finely-grained compared to the Canon's. Fine detail in the mosaic crop is slightly more natural-looking from the Nikon as well.

Nikon D3500 vs Fujifilm X-T100 at ISO 1600

Nikon D3500 at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-T100 at ISO 1600

Here at ISO 1600, the D3500 produces much stronger luminance noise in flatter shadow and midtone areas while X-T100 image is much smoother in those areas but with more obvious chroma noise. Both cameras continue to produce noticeable sharpening haloes along high-contrast edges. The X-T100 does better with fine detail in our mosaic crop but it also shows more noise in lighter, flat areas. Both start to struggle with our tricky red-leaf swatch, but the Fuji holds onto more of the leaf pattern.

Nikon D3500 vs Sony A5100 at ISO 1600

Nikon D3500 at ISO 1600
Sony A5100 at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the Sony produces a cleaner image, but heavy-handed noise reduction takes its toll in our mosaic crop, softening and smearing fine detail much more than the Nikon. The Sony continues to do much better with our red-leaf swatch, but the Nikon produces a better image overall, with brighter colors, sharper detail and fewer noise reduction artifacts.

Nikon D3500 vs Nikon D3400 at ISO 3200

Nikon D3500 at ISO 3200
Nikon D3400 at ISO 3200

Yet again, very similar image quality from the two siblings, but the D3500 does appear to show slightly higher noise levels here at ISO 3200.

Nikon D3500 vs Canon T6 at ISO 3200

Nikon D3500 at ISO 3200
Canon T6 at ISO 3200

The Nikon D3500 easily out-performs the Canon T6 here at ISO 3200, with a crisper image, more detail and lower noise. Colors are also more vibrant and pleasing from the Nikon.

Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS M100 at ISO 3200

Nikon D3500 at ISO 3200
Canon EOS M100 at ISO 3200

Fine detail in the mosaic crop looks better and edges are crisper from the Nikon, but the D3500 shows slightly higher luminance noise, though the noise pattern has a tighter "grain" structure. The red and pink fabric swatches cause trouble for both cameras. The Canon shows some semblance of the red-leaf pattern, while the Nikon manages to show more subtle, noisy detail, but overall, both camera have a tough time here.

Nikon D3500 vs Fujifilm X-T100 at ISO 3200

Nikon D3500 at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X-T100 at ISO 3200

The Fuji continues to hold onto more detail here at ISO 3200 than the Nikon, with less noise in flatter midtones and shadows, but more noise in light areas. The Nikon's noise grain is however more film like with fewer noise reduction artifacts.

Nikon D3500 vs Sony A5100 at ISO 3200

Nikon D3500 at ISO 3200
Sony A5100 at ISO 3200

An easy win for the D3500 here at ISO 3200, with a sharper, more vibrant and detailed image than the A5100's soft, dull and smudged rendering. The Sony appears to do better in the red-leaf swatch, but much of the detail is heavily distorted and false.

Nikon D3500 vs. Nikon D3400, Canon T6, Canon EOS M100, Fujifilm X-T100, Sony A5100

Nikon
D3500
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
D3400
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
T6
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Canon
EOS M100
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
X-T100
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sony
A5100
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it too. Here, we can see the D3500 performs nearly identical to its predecessor. The two Nikons also lead the pack in terms of contrast, though the X-T100 comes out ahead in detail and sharpness especially as ISO climbs, though with higher noise levels. Unsurprisingly, the 18-megapixel Canon T6 trails in detail, contrast and noise. The M100 does better, but is still not up to the level of the Nikons or Fuji. The Sony A5100 does well at base ISO, however it shows the most false colors and degrades more at higher ISOs than the leaders in this group.

 

Nikon D3500 Print Quality Analysis

Very good 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 100; a nice 13 x 19 at ISO 1600; a good 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800.

ISO 100 prints shine at 30 x 40 inches or larger, constrained only by the 24-megapixel resolution at your intended viewing distance. Here at base ISO the images have nice color depth and good fine detail. And more than this, the prints have a nice three dimensionality, especially remarkable given the price of this camera, that's hard to quantify or measure.

ISO 200 also delivers nice 30 x 40 inch printed images, with no apparent sign to speak of that the ISO has climbed a step. Rich color and nice detail still abound at this size.

ISO 400 produces a very nice 24 x 36 inch print. There is only a minor loss of fine detail in the heavily textured areas of our test target, but still a very good print. You can certainly also use 30 x 40 inch prints at this ISO for wall display purposes and less critical applications.

ISO 800 yields a 16 x 20 inch print that is quite good for this sensitivity and price point in combination. There is now a definite and noticeable loss of contrast detail in the tricky red-leaf fabric swatch of our test target, and some minor loss of fine detail apparent in a few additional areas, but still a good print overall. For your most critical printing purposes, a reduction to 13 x 19 inches is advised here.

ISO 1600 delivers a 13 x 19 inch print similar to the 16 x 20 at ISO 800, with a slight loss in fine detail in just a few areas of our Still Life test target. But noise is still well-controlled at this print size, with no sign of glaring artifacts from noise reduction, and full color representation is very much still on display.

ISO 3200 begins to show its teeth for all but some full-frame sensors and larger, but the APS-C D3500 handles it well and still delivers a solid 11 x 14 inch print. There is a mild trace of noise apparent in some flatter areas of our target, but certainly nothing major, and the noise that is visible has a nice film-grain-like appearance. Full colors are also still on display at this size.

ISO 6400 turns in an 8 x 10 inch print that just passes our good seal of approval. As with the 11 x 14 at ISO 3200, there is mild fiilm-grain-like noise apparent in a few areas, such as in the shadows behind the test target bottles, and there is no contrast detail remaining in our target red-leaf swatch, but otherwise still good fine detail and full colors at this size.

ISO 12,800 is capable of printing a good 5 x 7 inch print, and considering how high this ISO is, that is a solid feat for a camera at this price indeed. Noise is well-controlled and there is still full color on display, whereas many entry-level cameras turn in muted or burnt colors at this ISO and above.

ISO 25,600 prints are good at 4 x 6 inches, which is all you can hope for from an APS-C camera at the time of this writing. Some cameras are not able to produce even a usable 4 x 6 at their highest "available" ISO, and we therefore like to commend cameras that can!

The popular Nikon D3500 turns in a solid performance in the print quality department. And when you factor in the price, you're in rare territory, as there really aren't many other cameras well below $500 at the time of the writing of this analysis that can compare to the D3500 for overall image and print quality. For the price, the camera is more or less in a league of its own. Well done, once again, to Nikon.

 



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