DSLRs are hard to justify in a time where mirrorless systems are getting more powerful and yes, much cheaper. Just weeks after the announcement of their revolutionary Nikon Z-series of full-frame mirrorless cameras, the company has unveiled the next in line to its incredibly handy D3000-series entry-level DSLR.
Apart from the same 24-megapixel sensor found on its predecessor the D3400, the D3500 is markedly different in many other ways. Within, a new Expeed 4 processor allows for a higher maximum ISO of 25,600, with up to 5 fps in continuous shooting.
On the outside, the D3500 is even more compact than the lithe D3400, utilising the body shell seen on the D5600 which is 6mm thinner. It is also 365g, slightly down from the 395g from its predecessor.
As an entry-level DSLR, it’s pretty bare-bones in many regards. Its rudimentary 11-point autofocus system seems a little paltry, but supports Nikon’s 3D tracking system which should theoretically lead to performance gains in dynamic situations. The LCD display is fixed, unlike the pivoting one found on the D5600. There’s also no more infrared receiver on board, which means users have to rely on the smartphone application for remote shooting.
The controls have been revamped from its predecessor to help with ergonomics. All buttons to the left of the display have been moved to the right, a confusing move since there’s no articulating screen to account for. This means the cluttered button layout has gotten tighter, and the rather useful and customisable Fn button has been unfortunately removed. This does, however, help with the one-handed operation, a great improvement from Nikon’s usual two-handed button layout.
In terms of battery life, the D3500 has received quite a bump, with a 30% increase at a CIPA rating of 1,550 shots. It’s the smaller battery model, EN-EL14a, but would reliably last for days. Like on other DSLR bodies, the D3500 is charged via external charger, but does not support direct charging.
Smartphone compatibility, which would be an interest to beginners, is basic, to say the least. Without Wi-Fi, Snapbridge is only able to transfer 2-megapixel photos and to act as a remote release for the shutter.
As with all its beginner models, the D3500 has a Guide Mode to help induct new photographers to the trade. Functionality is divided into basic and advanced operations, giving users the ability to adjust settings with ‘scenes’ without having to fiddle with uncomely dials.
Nikon’s latest upgrade to its beginner model has mainly been external and incremental. With its smaller size, lighter build and longer battery life, new users would be more inclined to bring it on adventures. But the best part: it sells even cheaper than its predecessor.
The camera will retail at USD 499 (SGD 685) as a kit with the collapsible AF-P 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 VR Lens, and at USD 849 (SGD 1,165) with an additional AF-P 70-300 F4.5-6.3 telephoto zoom. In 2016, the equivalent D3400 kits retailed at USD 649 and USD 999 respectively.
Local pricing and availability in Singapore have yet to be announced. Prices in SGD are calculated at exchange rates at the time of publishing, and do not reflect official local prices.