Are you an enthusiastic photographer looking to break into the world of DSLR cameras? Then you probably already know that the D3500 and D5600 are two of the best entry-level DSLR Nikon cameras that money can buy!
But besides the 200 dollars difference between these two, which is the more suitable pick? What does one have that the other doesn’t? Read on and check out our detailed comparison between the two cameras, and find out which one best suits your needs.
But, before we dig deeper into each camera’s features, let’s take a look at the specifications of the Nikon D5600 vs D3500.
Shots per second
AF points (phase)
100 – 25,600
100 – 25,600
Max video resolution
1920 x 1080/60 fps
1920 x 1080/60 fps
3-inch, 640 x 480, fixed
3.2-inch, 720 x 480 rotating touchscreen
95% coverage, 0.85 x magnification
95% coverage, 0.82 x magnification
Built-in flash rating
Type C mini-pin HDMI, USB
Type C mini-pin HDMI, USB
External mic input
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC
4.9 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches
4.9 x 3.9 x 2.8 inches
Both cameras are pretty similar in terms of design, having even the same size, as most traditional DSLR cameras. The two of them provide a solid grip, making it easy for you to use them for operations done with only one hand as well. There’s a slight difference in weight, as the Nikon D5600 camera is a bit heavier than the D3500. Also, the body of the D3500 is polycarbonate, while the body of the D5600 is made of carbon fiber.
However, the real difference is in terms of the LCD screen. The Nikon D3500 has a classic screen of 3 inches, which provides a resolution of 640 x 480. The D5600, on the other hand, offers a better upgrade, having a screen of 3.2- inches and a 720 x 480 resolution. Additionally, the screen swings and rotates, which is a huge advantage if you’re looking for flexibility when taking pictures, especially when photographing in tight spaces.
The LCD screen of the Nikon D5600 also provides a touch screen, which is always a useful feature, because with the help of a touch screen you can check your pictures easier and change settings faster.
As for the viewfinder both Nikon D5600 and D3500 have the pentamirror optical viewfinder of the same size, ensuring 95% coverage when it comes to frames. The magnification is a bit different though, meaning it is 0,85x for the D3500 and 0,82x for the D5600.
Also, the image stabilization is done via lenses, for both the D3500 and Nikon D5600. Neither of the cameras comes with weather sealing, sadly. The weather sealing is especially useful for outdoor shooting, mostly in light rain and snow.
The Nikon D3500 and D5600 offer very similar control designs, meaning that each digital camera has a camera recording button right behind the shutter release button and a flip button just right on the control panel. Moreover, they also have a quick menu on the right side of the LCD screen, which enables you to easily access all useful settings, whether it’s ISO or image quality.
Due to a smaller screen, the D3500 provides room for more buttons on its back. The Nikon D3500 has one extra button, which shows you continuous shooting release modes with a self-timer.
But what makes the D3500 shine, is the fact that it provides a Guide Mode, a feature that comes in handy for amateur photographers or beginners in the world of DSLRs. Basically, the Guide Mode assists you in everything, from set-up to retouching photos, by giving you basic or even advanced directions, whether you’re trying portrait photography or street photography.
Another must-have feature is the variety of options when talking about retouching images, from automatic and quick retouch to D-Lightning. The D3500 also offers extensive creative effects, including image overlay, monochrome, miniature effect, and color outline. You can either apply the effects after you’ve taken the picture or during shootings.
As noticed already, the two cameras have essentially the same core features, each equipped with a 24.2MP photosensor and Nikon’s Expeed 4 photo processor. Due to these, both cameras manage to capture rich and vibrant colors with sharp accuracy and a wide dynamic range, whether they’re shooting in the dark or in a lot of light. Their sensors no longer have the anti-aliasing filter, for blurring fine details, as adding the 24MP meant it wasn’t necessary anymore. Consequently, each camera delivers excellent image quality, having the ability to take higher detail pictures than older models in the same range.
When it comes to shooting in places with less light, both the D3500 and the 5600 provide sharp image quality, accurate colors, and almost no pixel noise, at least up to an ISO of 3200. If you’re going beyond that, at the ISO of 6400, there’s only a slight difference, especially for small-sized photos. However, when it comes to flash photography in low light, the flash of the D5600, which is built-in, provides an illumination range of up to 12 meters. In contrast, the D3500’s flash can only offer a range of maximum 7 meters only.
Interested in shooting video on a DSLR camera? Well, the Nikon D3500 and D5600, are ideal for beginners in the field of videography. With a resolution of a maximum of 1080p, these entry-level cameras offer excellent performance for anyone looking to shoot videos.
There are, however, some downsides regarding video quality. For example, when it comes to maintaining focus, neither of them have phase detection autofocus on the photosensor. They also provide only a few settings for video quality. In case you need to adjust the depth of the field, for instance, they don’t allow you to adapt the aperture.
When choosing between a D5600 and a D3500 for video shooting, you will have to keep in mind that the D5600 is better in that field, due to its great audio features. With stereo microphone, which is built-in and also adjustable, and a microphone port offering the possibility of attaching an external microphone thanks to the 3.5 mm audio input, this camera allows you to record any sound, keeping excellent audio accuracy.
The two cameras do indeed have different autofocus systems, but the D5600 is a bit better. Why? First, it has more AF points, 39 to be more exact, while the D3500 only features 11 AF points on the same sensor. Moreover, the D5600 camera features 9 cross-type AF points among its 39 focus points.
Basically, if you’re shooting portraits or landscapes, there’s really no noticeable difference. However, where the Nikon D5600 really stands out, is in action shooting. Whether you want to capture wildlife or sports performances, this is the ideal camera for action photos.
Now, a bit about their speed: both of them have the standard speed of most entry-level DSLRs, meaning that each camera can shoot JPEG images at a frame rate of up to 5 frames per second, which is especially useful in continuous shooting. So, there’s no clear winner here.
Both the D3500 and the D5600 come with Bluetooth capabilities so that you can transfer pictures easily to your own phone or even laptop, whether it’s an Android or an iOS device. For that operation, there’s Nikon’s free SnapBridge app, which allows you to transfer 2MP pictures in real-time.
However, when we’re talking about higher resolution photos, the speed of transfer is not that great, as it might take some time. A good thing though is the fact that the app can run smoothly while you’re shooting or doing anything else. For the Nikon D3500, you are basically able to use your phone as a remote through the SnapBridge app. The only downside is that you can’t preview the image on your phone screen.
On the other hand, besides the Bluetooth option, the Nikon D5600 also comes with Wi-Fi capabilities, making it a bit better, as you can see beforehand any image you want, activate the shutter, and even adjust the focus point. However, you can’t adjust shutter speed, ISO, or settings as such. But you do have the possibility of using NFC, since the D5600 comes equipped with that option, ensuring a smooth pairing between the camera and your Android device with just a simple tap.
The two cameras are both equipped with the same EN-EL 14 cell, but despite what you may think, they actually perform quite differently. Basically, compared to the D5600, the D3500 manages to squeeze almost twice the shots out of a fully charged battery.
When talking about battery life, the Nikon D3500 is definitely the winner. It can get you 1550 images when fully charged, which is quite impressive for any DSLR camera and even better than a mirrorless camera at the same price.
Going a bit further, we should make at least a short mention of the Nikon D7500. Because there are a lot of people who find themselves at a loss when having to decide between these three Nikon DSLR cameras.
We’ve already established a clear comparison between the D3500 and the D5600, but what does the D7500 have that the other two don’t?
Being a bit pricier than the other cameras, the D7500 comes as a step-up for advanced DSLR photography. With a better processor, more focus points, and an ISO with a higher range, the Nikon D7500 is suitable especially for shooting nature, from wildlife to sunsets.
However, if you’re a beginner in the field, I definitely recommend you to start with a camera such as the D3500 or the D5600, as they provide more guidelines and they’re more intuitive. As tempting as a D7500 may be, especially if your budget is up to it, you should first adapt to DSLR photography before you invest in something more advanced.
So, which is the right fit for you? Well, before getting deeper into that, you should keep in mind that you can’t go wrong with either of them. Having almost the same core elements, they both deliver excellent performances in terms of entry-level DSLR cameras.
However, if you’re looking for the most affordable option, the D3500 is definitely your go-to, as its current price is roughly 200 dollars cheaper. And we all know that when you’re just starting out a hobby, you most likely won’t be ready to be fully committed to how much it can cost you.
Besides the price, which is the main advantage, the D3500 also provides guidelines, making it very easy to use it. At any time you can access that guide and clarify any questions you may have or get help in taking the best portraits, landscapes, or beautiful still lifes.
On the other hand, the deciding factor lies in what type of photography you want to shoot. If you’re a fan of action shooting and dynamic images, you should consider paying the 200 dollar difference as the D5600 will clearly get you better results in that regard. From sports photography to immortalizing wildlife, the 39 autofocus points and the 9 cross-type AF points of the Nikon D5600 will help you capture sharp movement, as they can track almost all fast-moving subjects.
Moreover, the flexible and rotating rear screen which offers an articulating touch screen will clearly come in handy, especially if you need to shoot fast and from weird different angles.
To sum it up, the Nikon D5600 provides a lot of nice-to-have features overall, so if the budget is not a priority, it is definitely worth the money.
Regardless of your budget or preferences, if you’re a beginner in DSLR cameras, both the D3500 and Nikon D5600 will make that first step easier for you, helping you learn while delivering great results in terms of image quality.