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Nikon D3500 vs D5600

In: 
Published: 07/10/2021

If you are looking for a traditional DSLR camera and you are new to photography, there is no more significant way to start than to check out Nikon's D series DSLR offerings. 

The Nikon D3500 and the D5600 include standard features and are both equipped with an APS-C sensor. The two DSLR cameras are aimed at hobbyists and those who are aspiring to make photography a profession, as the two help you deliver creativity and flexibility. 

Nikon D3500 vs D5600 General Overview

Before deciding on which camera to get for your photography journey, it is vital to check out the essential key features of the Nikon D3500 and the Nikon D5600. 

Understanding the benefits and the drawbacks of these two DSLR cameras can help you make a better purchasing decision, and it can help ensure that you got the right DSLR camera for the job. 

Nikon camera hanging on a tree

Nikon D3500

The Nikon D3500 has three of the biggest advantages that a DSLR camera has to offer, it has an amazing battery life, it gives incredible handling, and it has a great, solid build. 

The camera has an optical viewfinder that lets you accurately capture subjects. It also comes with a massive range of lenses that allows you to shoot images no matter what the condition is. 

Since the Nikon D3500 was launched in August 2018, it lacks some modern features:

  • It lacks the 4K video capture, which is now one of the standards of modern DSLR cameras. The D3500 can only go as high as a 1080p resolution.
  • More limiting is the lack of touchscreen and articulating screen functionality, which means it will take a bit of getting used to if you are coming from a DSLR camera that has touchscreen functionality.

On the other hand, the camera has an impressive battery life that can last up to 1,550 shots before you need to recharge it. It compensates for the lack of articulating screen and touchscreen features. It is also equipped with a "Guide" feature which will demonstrate the creation of effects. 

The "Guide" feature allows inexperienced photographers to understand the camera's manual settings, and it can help you build your knowledge. 

As for the image quality, the camera has a 24.2MP sensor that produces great results. You can also pair it up with incredible lenses to see its potential. Nikon's DX system has a wide range of lenses that fits almost every shooting style. Professional photographers often pair up the D3500 camera with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 as it has vibration reduction and high specs. 

The 11-point autofocus system of the camera works really well for general shooting, and it can be used for subjects that constantly move. 

Nikon D5600

The Nikon D5600 camera is the latest one in Nikon's D5 series. It replaced the D5500, and it has better technology than its predecessor. 

Instead of ushering in several changes, Nikon has chosen to do a more modest update for the D5600, with the most notable new feature being the SnapBridge technology. It facilitates the easy and automatic transfer of images from your camera straight to your smart device. 

As far as the camera's features go, the specs for the Nikon D5600 are pretty much the same as that of the D5500.

  • The resolution is identical, as it has a 24.2MP resolution.
  • It also has an APS-C-sized CMOS sensor that allows for a more detailed result from the data that you've recorded because it shuns the optical low pass filter. 
  • The DSLR camera also uses the EXPEED 4 image processor, and it has a sensitivity range of ISO100. This means that it is comfortable to shoot with no matter what the lighting condition is. 
  • The optical viewfinder provides coverage of 95% of the camera's frame. This means that for some shots, you may need to double-check the compositions on the rear display first to make sure that nothing has crept into the edges of the frame. 

As for the display, it has a 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen display. It also has a 1,037,000-dot resolution, even though its operation has been improved. It also offers the frame-advance bar that is featured in the other D5 DSLR cameras as it speeds up the toggling through photos. It also has a crop function that can be used during playback. 

Another feature that the camera has that makes it different from its predecessor is Nikon's timelapse movie function. It is featured on models that are higher up the brand's range. It also allows for time-lapse movies to be captured and put together in-camera, with an exposure smoothing function that evens out the variations in lighting as the sequence is captured. 

Nikon D3500 vs D5600

From its weight, battery life, memory card, the Nikon D3500 and the Nikon D5600 have similarities, and yet they also have their differences which stand them apart. The vital aspects to review can be seen below. 

Similarities

Sensor and Processor

Both the D3500 and the D5600 are equipped with the APS-C Nikon DX-format sensor. It has a 24.2 million pixel resolution that ensures high-quality images. 

Both of the DSLR cameras have a 24.78-megapixel resolution. It also has a 23.5 x 15.6mm sensor, and a high-functioning processor called EXPEED 4. The combination of sensors and processors that each camera has can produce amazing results that have accurate and rich detail. 

Both cameras also offer light sensitivity settings, ISO100 for clear and crisp pictures. Also, both DSLR cameras omit a low pass filter to ensure a more detailed picture. 

Nikon lens cap

Video

Both the cameras are equipped with Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels. Although these cameras are made for still photography, when switched to Live View mode, they can shoot Full HD quality video clips with a maximum duration of 30 minutes. 

While some may be disappointed that they don't have a 4K video feature offered, it is important to remember that these are entry-level cameras and are aimed at beginners. 

A 1920 x 1080 pixel video that has a high-definition quality is enough for starters. When shooting videos, users can have access to ISO100 light sensitivity settings. 

Both DSLR cameras have continuous autofocus deployed when it is in Live View mode. This is to keep up with subjects that move around. 

The time-lapse video capture is also available. Videographers can also use the camera's built-in microphone for better audio. 

Frames Per Second

The D3500 and D5600 have a maximum capture speed of 5 frames per second. Although it is the standard capture speed for general photography, it can't be used for sports or action photography. 

With that being said, the two DSLR cameras are ideal for casual shooting situations. The cameras will face more of a challenge when shooting Raw files, especially in bursts. If you are looking for an entry-level camera for still photography, you can get either of the DSLRs. 

Image Quality

The image quality of the two cameras is the same. Each of them features a 24.2MP image sensor, and it also has the EXPEED 4 image processor. 

Even though it is not the latest in technology, it is still a powerful combination. It delivers clear, accurate, and rich colors and amazing dynamic range. 

Each of the camera's sensors dispenses with its built-in anti-aliasing filter. It is used to blur any fine details that could lead to distortions on images, especially when the sensor is in lower resolution.

Since the cameras are equipped with 24MP, the AA filter is no longer needed, and the cameras achieve sharper photo quality without the filter. Each camera can capture images in greater detail.  

The DSLR cameras perform really well even in dimly-lit conditions. The photos are sharp, and the colors are accurate. The minimal pixel can be bumped to ISO 3200, which is great for 8 x 10-inch images. 

The ISO 6400 can be used for small sizes too, and it looks clear when you post it on social media sites. 

What makes the cameras different when it comes to image quality is flash photography. The built-in flash in D5600 can illuminate subjects that are up to 39 feet away, which is impressively far. However, the built-in flash of the D3500 can only reach subjects that are 22 feet away. 

Differences

Autofocus System

The D3500 is equipped with the multi-CAM 100 autofocus sensor with TTL phase detection. It also has an 11 focus point with one cross-type sensor. This means that the camera's autofocus system can keep subjects sharp even if it is moving. 

You can lock the focus by pressing the camera's shutter release button halfway. You can also press the AE-L/AF-L button. As for its autofocus modes, you can get a choice of single-point autofocus, dynamic area autofocus, auto-area autofocus, or 3D tracking. It uses all 11 points. 

As for the D5600, it is equipped with the multi-CAM 4800DX autofocus sensor with TTL phase detection. It has 39 focus points, which is noticeably higher than that of the D3500. 

Out of the 39 focus points of the camera, 9 of them are cross types, and it is more respectable considering its entry-level status. Even when it is coupled with a kit lens, this camera performs really well as it quickly locks on to subjects and delivers defined results, especially in daylight conditions. 

The D5600's autofocus system is a bit slower. However, it is not unexpected, and it can be improved by changing the lens with a larger aperture. 

Viewfinder

The Nikon D3500 has an eye-level pentamirror reflex viewfinder that offers 0.85 times the magnification and up to 95% frame coverage. It also has a 3-inch LCD screen with 921K resolution. 

Meanwhile, the Nikon D5600 offers 0.82 times the magnification with a 3-2-inch tilting touch screen and an LCD screen that has 1037K resolution. 

Both of the cameras have a 95% frame coverage through their respective optical viewfinder. However, on the D5600, the LCD screen is larger and has a better resolution than the D3500. 

Although bigger is not always better, a larger screen has benefits, especially if you are using it as an aid to check the camera's manual focus. The D5600 can be used even in very bright lighting conditions, and its screen can be rotated and flipped as desired. 

Meanwhile, the D3500 has a fixed screen, which eliminates flexibility. Nevertheless, the LCD monitor of the camera provides 100% frame coverage and a 170-degree viewing angle. 

While the D3500 camera does not have a tilting screen, it has a touch screen. It also has a proper layout of its buttons, so you won't accidentally activate any features that you don't want. 

Nikon DSLR

Build and Design

The D3500 has a polycarbonate construction, and it can operate in temperatures between 0°C and 40°C. Meanwhile, the D5600 has a carbon fiber composite construction, and it can operate in the same temperatures as that of the D3500. 

Both of the cameras have the classic DSLR look, although it is bulkier than the mirrorless cameras. The button placement is uncluttered and spacious. 

As for its dimensions, the D3500 has a measurement of 124 x 97 x 69.5mm, which is a bit smaller compared to the D5600 that has a dimension of 124 x 97 x 70mm. 

The D5600 is a bit heavier than the D3500, as it weighs 465g with the memory card and battery inserted. The D3500 weighs 415g with the battery and the memory card inside. 

The Nikon D5600 has a solid polycarbonate construction that is strong yet lightweight. It has a well-proportioned handgrip that means it fits comfortably in the palm. It also has a well-proportioned button layout, making it easy to operate. 

However, attaching the D5600 to longer lenses may cause imbalance, and the front side may feel heavy. Luckily, when attached with the right lens, it is portable. The camera can be easily stored and brought anywhere. 

Both cameras do not have an image stabilization system, so you will have to use a tripod to fix any distortion on the images. 

Battery Life

The D3500 camera is equipped with a lithium-ion EN-EL14a battery that can last up to 1550 shots per charge. Meanwhile, the D5600 is equipped with the same battery. However, it can only last up to 820 shots per charge.  

Despite utilizing the same battery cell, there is a discrepancy in the performance of each camera because the D3500 produces double the number of shots compared to a fully charged D5600. The D3500 can squeeze 30% more battery life than its predecessor, the D3400. 

The battery life of the Nikon D3500 gives it an edge. A fully charged camera can give 1,550 images, which is impressive for an entry-level DSLR camera. That is four times the amount that you would get from other types of cameras. 

Major Distinguishing Factor

The Nikon D3500 does not have a Wi-Fi feature. However, it does have the Bluetooth feature that is powered by SnapBridge, so you can share images with devices and other cameras. 

A crucial part of an entry-level camera is its ease of use, and for a beginner DSLR, its "Guide" feature provides an alternative to the main menu system. 

Although the camera does not have a Wi-Fi feature and instead it has Bluetooth, it still allows you to do a cable-free transfer, and you can send images to a smartphone. You can also utilize a handset as a remote for your shutter. 

As for the D5600, you can get both Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth features. However, it does not have a GPS feature, which its predecessor, the D5300, had. 

When to Use Nikon D3500

The Nikon D3500 is ideal for beginner and photography enthusiasts. It has all of the features that you need to practice photography, and its menu and buttons are not complicated, so it is easy to operate and use. 

The "Guide" mode of the camera makes it great for those who are still learning what photography style they want to pursue. It can be used for still photography like landscape, street, portrait, and photography. 

When to Use Nikon D5600

The Nikon D5600 is ideal for travelers because it is lightweight, easy to operate and store, and it has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity that makes it easy to transfer files to devices. 

The camera's buttons are laid out nicely, so you don't accidentally click on features that you don't need. It can also be used for nature, landscape, portrait, and street photography. 

Final Verdict

Whichever of the two Nikon DSLR cameras you choose, you won't go wrong. When it comes to choosing between the Nikon D3500 and the Nikon D5600, you can check out the features to know which ones matter to you most. 

For example, if you need a DSLR camera that lasts for hours a day, you can go for the D3500. If you are looking for a camera with creative versatility and flexibility, you can go for the D5600. 

The big difference between the two cameras is the touch screen because the D5600 has a tilting screen while the D3500 doesn't. The D5600 also has a larger screen and higher resolution. 

As for the autofocus feature, the D5600 has more points that you can play with, making it swifter and more accurate in focusing on subjects. Ultimately, if you are looking for a DSLR camera, your choice will come down to one that can better help you hone your skills. 

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