Nikon D3500 vs. Nikon D5600

Camera & Photo

Nikon created DSLR for NASA and its optics and imaging sensors have been used on space shuttles since 1991.

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Is the Nikon D3500 or the Nikon D5600 best? 

Taking quality photography starts with a top-tier camera. Whether you’re an experienced photographer or a novice, Nikon is a reliable camera brand with an outstanding reputation. The company produces digital single-lens reflect (DSLR) cameras that always receive positive feedback.

The Nikon D3500 was announced almost two years after the Nikon D5600. Both cameras are DSLR and the latest versions of entry-level DX image sensor cameras. Although the D3500 was released later, the two technologies have similar capabilities. The main difference between these two devices is that the D5600 is considered an upper entry-level camera, while the D3500 is just entry-level.

What are DSLR cameras?

DSLR cameras are digital cameras for both professional and amateur photographers. These cameras have optical viewfinders that process mirrored reflections of light, rather than direct light. The beauty of this type of camera is that it can attach different lenses to get the perfect shot.

Many professionals prefer DSLR cameras because they operate in dim conditions, have autofocus features and have long battery life. The only downside to DSLR is that you can’t view your photos until they have been uploaded and are in the editing process.

D3500 and D5600 technical similarities

Although the D3500 and D5600 have their differences, there are similarities to be aware of. They share the dimensions, have 24.2MP APS-C image sensors and can shoot at a range of five shots per second. They have a maximum video resolution of 1920 x 1080/60 FPS and an ISO (brightness) range of 100 to 25,600.  Both cameras are outfitted with a “hot shoe,” which is a mounting point for attaching other camera accessories.

Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500

The D3500 is a DSLR camera that can be used to the full extent of its digital abilities or simply as a point-and-shoot device. This camera starts at $599.95 on Amazon. It can be paired with a 12-month subscription to Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, a carrying bag and an additional lens for an increased price. 

Nikon D3500 pros

The versatility of the D3500 as a professional and entry-level tool is its greatest perk. It has a configurable auto mode and guide mode to assist less-experienced photographers. The device is lightweight with a polycarbonate shell that can operate between 32 and 104 degree temperatures (Fahrenheit). It performs exceptionally well in low light conditions and has a built-in flash capability that can reach targets up to 22 feet away.

Nikon offers a free app called “SnapBridge” that can sync with your camera via Bluetooth. Every photo you take can be sent directly to your smartphone or tablet.

Nikon D3500 cons

Although it boasts of its autofocus capabilities, the camera can struggle with autofocusing on moving targets. The interface is satisfactory, but not as convenient as other Nikon cameras — it has a basic 3-inch screen that can’t be rotated or tilted. The system has no specific ISO button, limiting brightness control in your shots.

The D3500 is limited to Bluetooth capabilities, not Wi-Fi. While the SnapBridge app only requires Bluetooth to function, it is inconvenient that the D3500 can’t connect to any device that is out of range.

Nikon D5600

Nikon D5600

The D5600 is the perfect camera for a more skilled photographer but has an easy interface that can be used at any skill level. This device starts at $475 on Amazon, but the lens must be purchased separately. There is a bundle set that includes the camera, tripod, case, lens and memory card also on Amazon for $888. 

NikonD5600 pros

This camera is mostly prized for its high-resolution swiveling touch display. Photo settings can be altered and sent to the SnapBridge app with a simple swipe of your fingers.

Built for fast action, the D5600 has 39 autofocus points that can lock onto targets and shoot at five frames per second. With this capability, the camera can catch any moment, from a couple slow dancing to an athlete in action. It also has an impressive battery life despite its digital LCD screen, and it can take up to 970 shots before needing a charge. The EXPEED image processor and expanded ISO sensitivity takes clear photographs at dawn, dusk and any time in between. The built-in flash can capture targets up to 39 feet away and is operable in temperatures between 32 and 104 degrees. 

Nikon D5600 cons

The main D5600 criticisms revolve around its video feature. The aperture, the part of the camera that light passes through, can’t be changed while taking video, meaning you can’t control the brightness while recording. The autofocus feature, although it works great for images, is not reliable in video mode.

This camera is very pricey compared to previous versions in its lineup and the D3500.

Where they both fall short

While these two DSLRs are fantastic cameras with outstanding capabilities, it is unrealistic to expect any single device to be perfect. Both the D3500 and D5600 are deficient in a few categories.

  • Neither design is weather-sealed and splash-proof and they do not have a tilting viewfinder, though the latter is a rare feature in cameras.
  • Their optics do not have built-in optical image stabilization to correct motion blurs. They also can’t take panoramic shots.
  • The video camera functions do not record slow-motion video.
  • The audio components do not include an audio jack for connecting a headset.
  • They are missing some extra features found in other cameras, including GPS, dual memory card slots and a USB type-C port.

Should you get the Nikon D3500 or Nikon D5600?

With its superior capabilities, interface and Wi-Fi connectivity, the D5600 is a better camera than the D3500. You will be paying extra money for the improved features, but it is well worth it if you want a camera that can capture any moment at any time of day. If you’re worried about your own skill level, remember that both cameras can be used by novice photographers. They both have easy-to-learn interfaces with auto modes that can make anyone feel like a professional.


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Gwen Swanson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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