Nikon D3500 Performance


Timing and Performance

Pretty good overall performance for its class.

Startup/Play to Record

Power on
to first shot

~0.4 second

Time it takes for camera to turn on and take a shot.

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.3 second

Time until first shot is captured.

The Nikon D3500's startup time was quite good, and switching from Play to Record and taking a shot was also quite fast.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF (Center AF point)

0.211 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture. (All AF timing measured with Nikkor AF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens unless otherwise noted.)

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF Flash enabled

0.268 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, Auto Flash enabled.

Manual focus

0.109 second

For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "pre-focused."

Pre-focused

0.080 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Pre-focused
Live View

0.262 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Nikon D3500's full autofocus shutter lag when shooting the same target multiple times was a touch faster than average for a consumer DSLR. The D3500 required about 0.211 second for full AF using the center focus point in AF-S mode. Enabling the flash raised full AF shutter lag only slightly to 0.268 second, reflecting the added delay caused by the pre-flash metering.

Manual focus shutter lag was faster than AF lag as expected, at 0.109 second. When prefocused, shutter lag dropped to 0.080 second which is about average for a consumer DSLR.

The Nikon's prefocused shutter lag in Live View mode was a bit slow at 0.262 second, taking longer than full AF lag with the optical viewfinder. (Note that we no longer routinely test full AF shutter lag in Live View mode for DSLRs, as it is usually very lens dependent.)

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance.

Cycle Time (shot-to-shot)

Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.45 second

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames (we no longer test for buffer depths in single-shot mode).

Single Shot mode
RAW + L/F JPEG

0.51 second

Time per shot, averaged over a few frames (we no longer test for buffer depths in single-shot mode).

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG

0.20 second
(5.1 fps);
100 frames total;
1.1 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 100 shot set limit.

Continuous mode
RAW

0.20 second
(5.1 fps);
13 frames total;
2.3 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 13 frame buffer, then slows to an average of 3.5 fps when buffer is full.

Continuous mode
RAW + L/F
JPEG

0.20 second
(5.1 fps);
6 frames total;
4.0 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 6 frame buffer, then slows to an average of 1.7 fps when buffer is full.

Flash recycling

1.2 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a 64GB Lexar Pro 2000x UHS-II SDXC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Shot-to-shot cycle times were very fast at about half a second for JPEG or RAW+JPEG frames. (We no longer test just RAW file cycle time in single-shot mode, as it's usually somewhere in between JPEG and RAW+JPEG.)

Continuous mode speed was good for its class at about 5.1 frames per second no matter the file type, slightly exceeding Nikon's 5 fps spec. The D3500 does not offer a slower Continuous L mode.

Buffer depth in continuous mode was excellent when shooting just JPEGs at 100 Large/Fine JPEG frames, though with RAW files buffer depths were limited to 13 RAW frames or 6 RAW+L/F JPEG frames in our tests.

Buffer clearing was very quick with our fast card, ranging from only 1.1 seconds after 100 JPEGs to 4.0 seconds after a max-length burst of RAW+JPEG files.

The D3500's built-in flash took an average of only 1.2 seconds to recharge after full-power shots, which is very fast.

Bottom line, the Nikon D3500's performance is generally quite good for its class and very similar to its predecessor's. Startup time is quite fast, while AF speeds and shutter lag are good. Single-shot cycle times are very good, and burst performance is good for an entry-level DSLR, with a very generous JPEG buffer depth. Buffer depths with RAW files are limited compared to JPEGs, but that's not uncommon for the class.

Battery

Battery Life
Outstanding battery life for a compact DSLR.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Optical Viewfinder,
(CIPA standard)
1,550
Live View LCD,
(CIPA standard)
Unknown

The Nikon D3500 uses a custom rechargeable EN-EL14a lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a dedicated charger. Battery life when using the optical viewfinder is outstanding for a consumer DSLR, though Nikon does not specify battery life for Live View mode, which will certainly be a lot lower. As is usually the case, though, we still recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings, or when using Live View a lot.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 



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