Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500: Which one should you buy?

Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500 image

The Nikon D5600 and Nikon D3500 are some of Nikon’s most popular budget ‘D’ series. But which of this should make it your next camera purchase? This insightful comparison of the Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500 will help you find the answer to that question. 

Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500 Results Summary

Nikon D5600Nikon D3500
Picture Quality 9.59
Video Recording98
Features/Specs8.57.5
AF Performance98
Ease of Use8.58
MSRP$599.95
(body only)
$496.95
(body only)
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Here’s the thing;

This comparison of the Nikon D3500 vs D5600 is a lot like our recent review of the Nikon D5600 vs D5300. While the D5600 and D3500 have almost two years between them, the differences are far less than we’d expected. So, let’s get this started like we always do!

Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500 Comparison Chart

We can go on and on about all of the big and little specifications difference of the Nikon D5600 vs D3500. But having a chart with all the features compared side-by-side offers a better view.

In light of the above, we’ve compiled the chart below as the first part of this review to compare the Nikon D3500 vs Nikon D5600;

Nikon D5600Nikon D3500
Features/SpecsNikon D5600 vs D3500 Comparison Reviewd3500 VS d5600 Comparison Review
Released 20162018
Image Sensor24MP – APS-C CMOS Sensor24MP – APS-C CMOS Sensor
Image resolution6000 x 40006000 x 4000
ProcessorEXPEED 4EXPEED 4
AutofocusNikon Multi-CAM 4800DX autofocus sensor with 39 focus pointsNikon Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor with 11 focus points
Video resolution1920 x 1080 (Full HD), 60pNo 4K capability1920 x 1080 (Full HD), 60pNo 4K capability
Max FPS5fps5fps
ISO rangeISO 100 – BaseIS0 12,800 – MaxISO 100 – BaseIS0 12,800 – Max
Optical viewfinderYes, 0.55x magnification, 95% coverageYes, 0.56x magnification, 95% coverage
TouchscreenYesNo
ConnectivityBluetooth, SnapBridge, Wi-Fi, NFC, HDMIBluetooth, SnapBridge, HDMI
GPSNoNo
Environmental SealingNo No
Battery life970 shots per charge1550 shots per charge
Size/Weight124 x 97 x 70 mm, 465 g124 x 97 x 69.5mm, 365g

Build, Body, and Design

These cameras pack power and punch into a small size!

Funny thing is their dimensions around are almost the same. So, here’s a key highlight from our comparison of the body, build, and design of the Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500; 

  • Nikon D3500 sports a polycarbonate build, measures 124 x 97 x 69.5 mm, and weighs 365g. 
  • Nikon D5600 sports a carbon fiber composite build, measures 124 x 97 x 70 mm, and weighs 465g. 

More portable than most

There’s some good news;

Both the D3500 and D5600 look cool and classy and are just a few lbs bulkier than their mirrorless competitors. As regards look, this is an above-average pass mark for a DSLR. While the D3500 is obviously the more portable model, the D5600 is still compact enough for daily use.  

LCD Screens are present but different

Both of these cameras have LCD screens.

The screen on the D5600 is a 3.2” touchscreen display. Interestingly, this screen is slightly larger than the 3.0” non-touch display on the D3500. The display on the D5600 is also far more flexible. You can easily turn that screen forward for selfie shots or use it for vlogging. 

Optical viewfinder for framing and focusing

There is an optical viewfinder on both of these models.

Both models offer the standard 95% viewfinder coverage. The magnification is where there’s a slight difference. Here, the D5600 has 0.56x magnification compared to the D5600’s slightly smaller 0.55x. 

No weather sealing on the D3500 and D5600

Additionally, both cameras miss out on environmental sealing. 

What this means is that you’ll need to take extra caution if you’ll be using either camera in the presence of dust particles or water splash. This also generally applies to the usage of either camera under harsh environmental conditions. 

Build/Design WINNER: Nikon D5600

Nikon D3500 vs D5600 Features Comparison

This is the part I love most about comparisons. And here’s why;

I very much agree that features and specifications don’t solely determine camera performance. But most people will also agree that these details offer the most reliable indicators of performance expectations. 

So how do the Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500 fare in this case?

Autofocus on both cameras are different

It’s true that you need a good AF system for sharper shots. So, how does the Nikon D3500 vs D5600 autofocus compare?

  • D5600: Multi-CAM 4800DX autofocus sensor with 39 focus points
  • D3500: Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus sensor with eleven focus points

You get the D3500 is the Multi-CAM 1000 AF sensor with eleven focus points arranged in a diamond style fashion. While this seems far less inferior to the D5600’s AF sensor with 39 focus points, the D3500 still shot sharp images, even with the subject on the move. 

On the other hand, the D5600’s AF system performed better than the D3500’s entry-level AF system. Aside from being a little slower under low-light conditions (as expected), the D5600’s AF system is very quick and responsive. 

EXPEED 4 image processor on both cameras

As it turns out, both cameras are equipped with EXPEED 4.

Although EXPEED 4 image processor was expected to ship with the D3500, Nikon kept the EXPEED 4 on the D3500, probably to maintain a distinction between the D3500 as an entry-level DSLRs and its high-end, more expensive DSLRs, like the D7500, for instance. The EXPEED 4 might be inferior to the EXPEED 5, but the former is well-loved for its faithful color reproduction, nice operational speed, and low noise. Simply put, there’s no difference between the two cameras in this regard. 

Other features of the D5600 and D3500

Both cameras have a burst mode of 5fps and can record videos at a maximum of 1080 x 1920. They have the same shutter speed of 1/4000s, the same ISO range of 100 – 25,600, and the same APS-C sensor. 

Additionally, both cameras miss out on 4k UHD recording capability, as well as a built-in image stabilization feature. As you can see, the D5600 and D3500 have a whole lot in common!

Features/Specs WINNER: Nikon D5600; by an inch!

Nikon D5600 vs D3500 Sensor Comparison

Think about it, what’s a camera without a decent sensor?

If the image quality will be anywhere near excellent, your camera sensor should also be top-notch. Here’s how the two cameras compare;

  • Same APS-C sensor
  • Same sensor size and resolution 
  • No anti-aliasing filter on both cameras

The removal of anti-aliasing filters on the D3500 and D5600 has apparent benefits. Image sharpness and detail are vastly improved as a result, but moire is also a possibility due to this.

While DxoMark Sensor test tests for color depth, dynamic range, and low-light sensitivity assigned an overall score of 84/100 for the Nikon D5600, there was no record of such test for the Nikon D3500. 

As such, while the sensors appear all too similar on paper, we couldn’t get a lab test to evaluate actual performance. However, either camera’s practical use showed little to nothing to differentiate both camera sensors as far as image quality is concerned.

Sensor Comparison WINNER: Tie

Connectivity options

In my experience, most buyers prioritize connectivity.

I’m going to assume you do, as well. And that is why I’ll briefly discuss how data transfer and accessory control work on Nikon D5600 or D3500.

  • You have SnapBridge and Bluetooth capability on both cameras. 
  • There’s also an HDMI output if you’ll like to watch your pictures and videos on an external screen. 
  • Both the D5600 and D3500 also have UHS card support for storage. This supports data writing/reading at ultrafast speeds. 

In case you might be asking yourself what the differences are in this case; 

The D3500 misses out on NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity options. The D5600, on the other hand, has both of these features for wireless connection and connectivity with compatible devices. Lastly, both cameras do not have built-in GPS capability. 

Lenses’ availability

By now, you’re probably thinking about what lenses you can buy for your camera; D5600 or the D3500, whatever the case may be.

Again, both cameras share the same similarity here.

The Nikon F lens mount is what is available on the D3500 and D5600. That lens mount can fit about 309 native lenses currently available for it. 

There’s good news!

Of those 309 lenses available for the Nikon F lens mount, 106 of these lenses have image stabilization features. What this means is that your photography will benefit from the optical stabilization feature of these lenses since both the D5600 and D3500 camera bodies do not have a built-in image stabilization feature.  

Battery life comparison

We’re not about to complete a Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500 comparison without mentioning a thing or two about their batteries.

Both cameras ship with the reliable EN-EL14 EN EL14A Lithium-ion battery. 

But that doesn’t tell us the entire story, does it? Here’s the real deal;

On the D5600, you can get a cool 970 shots (CIPA) on a single battery charge. However, the D3500, with its incredible 1550 shots per charge, offers you 580 more frames on the same single charge.

Battery Life WINNER: Nikon D3500, hands down!

Price comparison

The D5600 is supposed to be an upper entry-level DSLR. However, it costs roughly the same price as the entry-level Nikon D3500.

But this classification does not mean one is superior to the other. Both of these cameras have their strengths and weakness and will appeal to slightly different photographers and emotions. 

Upon release, the D5600 retailed for around $699. 99.  

The budget D3500, on the other hand, has an MSRP in the range of ‎US$499.95 to US$599.95. Today, you can get the D3500 for around $496.95 and the D5600 for about $599.99 (bodies only). Roughly a hundred bucks separate the two. 

Either one you buy for around this price is a bargain. Best of all, you can even get more value with D3500 or Nikon D5600 camera bundle deals. Those deals often include other accessories you may need at heavily discounted prices. 

Price Comparison WINNER: Nikon D3500

Which camera should you buy?

Chase Jarvis, a famous American photographer, is credited with the saying;

“The best camera is the one in your hand.”

In this case, it’s understandable that you’re trying to decide whether it’s the D5600 or the newer D3500 that should be in your hand. 

Here are some things you might want to consider;

Why choose the D3500 over D5600?

You might want to consider the Nikon D3500 as it has some advantages over the D5600 in some aspects that include;

  • Slightly larger viewfinder magnification for a larger viewfinder. 
  • Better battery life, since it guarantees about 580 frames more on a single charge.
  • A whopping 100g lighter, if you’re down for the camera that’s more compact and portable out of these two. 

Why choose the D5600 over D3500?

Otherwise, you’ll find the Nikon D5600 to be better for its many advantages over the Nikon D3500 that includes;

  • A fully articulated LCD screen for more flexible shooting positions (if you’re a vlogger or would be shooting lots of selfies, this matters!)
  • The touch-sensitive screen that helps make camera control a lot easier on the D5600. Also has 12% higher resolution than the D3500’s 
  • Twenty-eight more focus points on the Multi-CAM 4800DX autofocus sensor.
  • Timelapse recording capability for creative shooting and a microphone port for higher-quality audio recording.
  • More extended flash coverage on the D5600, at 12m, compared to the Nikon D3500 built-in flash with 7m range.
  • More connectivity options on the D5600 with Wi-Fi and NFC connection.
  • AE Bracketing on the Nikon D5600 is more helpful for HDR and when you’re shooting under challenging lighting conditions. 

Conclusion

It is what it is!

At the end of the day, the final decision lies with you. Both of these cameras are great in their different ways. Whichever you chose, you’ll most likely be in for a thrilling shooting experience. However, on which of these will be most suited to your photography needs, it’s a matter of priorities. 

  • Is the lightweight build of the D3500 or its larger Viewfinder enough to sway you? 
  • Or do you find the LCD screen flexibility and better autofocus on the D5600 a little more appealing?

A lot of people will just tell you;

Buy the Nikon D5600 instead of the D3500 if your budget can accommodate the little extra cost. While that makes sense to an extent, you’re always the best person to decide what matters most to you. 

Once done, you can easily decide which of this you find to be the better option for you. 

Whichever side you choose on this Nikon D5600 vs Nikon D3500 comparison, I’m very hopeful you’ll find it suitable enough to meet or even exceed your needs for the time being!

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