Nikon D3500 First Shots: Nikon’s $500 entry-level DSLR arrives at our testing lab


posted Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 10:37 AM EDT

Click here to see our Nikon D3500 First Shots


Most avid camera fans and enthusiasts might think (and perhaps rightfully so) that it's all mirrorless, mirrorless, mirrorless these days, but DSLRs are still big sellers to lots of photographers, especially to beginners who are just learning the ropes. DSLRs, such as the new Nikon D3500, offer all the basics to help you learn the ins and outs of photography, and with a high-res, 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, one can capture some excellent photos! 

Announced not long after Nikon's much-hyped Z7 / Z6 mirrorless models, the new Nikon D3500, as the naming suggests, succeeds the earlier, popular Nikon D3400. Not a lot has changed between these two models, however the D3500 offers an undated body design similar to that of the D5500/D5600 making it super-compact and lightweight (yet still with a super-comfy handgrip).

Inside, the sensor remains practically the same as the predecessor, keeping a 24MP resolution, though Nikon makes a note to say that it's an "updated" sensor compared to the D3400. Nevertheless, the D3500 sports the same 100-25,600 ISO range and EXPEED 4 image processor. We loved the image quality from the D3400, so we expect similar performance from this latest model... 

Speaking of which, that's precisely what our First Shots lab samples images aim to tell us. As usual, we have standardized sample photos shot across the camera's full ISO range, with JPEGs at both default and the lowest possible noise reduction settings. Plus, we have RAW files available for download, letting you examine and tweak files for your own comparison and analysis. If you want a handy tool for quick side-by-side image comparisons between this D3500 camera and any other camera we've tested, head on over to our Comparometer.

To get you started, here's are a few comparisons between the Nikon D3500 and its predecessor, as well as one of its major competitors, the Canon T7i. Though priced higher than the D3500, the T7i is currently the most entry-level Canon DSLR we've tested that also uses a 24MP sensor.

Nikon D3500 vs. Nikon D3400 

ISO 100: Nikon D3500 (left) vs. Nikon D3400 (right)
ISO 3200: Nikon D3500 (left) vs. Nikon D3400 (right)


Nikon D3500 vs. Canon T7i

ISO 100: Nikon D3500 (left) vs. Canon T7i (right)
ISO 3200: Nikon D3500 (left) vs. Canon T7i (right)

Stay tuned for much more to come on the Nikon D3500!

Nikon D3500 Lab Samples