Nikon D3500 vs D5600 – Which One Is Better & Why?

The Nikon D3500 vs D5600 comparison reveals two excellent entry-level DSLR cameras with distinct advantages. While the D3500 offers simplicity and affordability, the D5600 provides advanced features for enthusiasts. This comprehensive guide explores their specifications, strengths, and use cases to help you decide which camera best suits your photography needs and skill level.

Why Do I Recommend Nikon D3500

  • Affordability: The D3500 is typically more budget-friendly, making it an excellent choice for beginners or those on a tight budget.
  • Simplicity: Its user interface and controls are straightforward, ideal for newcomers to DSLR photography.
  • Lightweight Design: At just 365g, it’s one of the lightest DSLRs available, perfect for travel or everyday carry.
  • Exceptional Battery Life: With up to 1550 shots per charge, you can shoot all day without worrying about running out of power.
  • Image Quality: Despite its entry-level status, the D3500 delivers excellent image quality with its 24.2 MP sensor.
  • Guide Mode: This feature provides on-screen guidance for beginners, helping them learn photography basics.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Easy image transfer to smartphones for quick sharing on social media.
  • Compatibility: Works with a wide range of Nikon F-mount lenses, allowing for future upgrades and versatility.
  • Continuous Shooting: 5 fps burst mode is suitable for capturing action and moving subjects.
  • Full HD Video: While not 4K, the 1080p at 60 fps video is more than adequate for most casual videographers.

Side by Side Comparison Of Nikon D3500 vs D5600

FeatureNikon D3500Nikon D5600
Sensor24.2 MP APS-C CMOS24.2 MP APS-C CMOS
Image ProcessorEXPEED 4EXPEED 4
ISO Range100-25600100-25600
Autofocus Points1139
Continuous Shooting5 fps5 fps
Video Resolution1080p at 60 fps1080p at 60 fps
Screen3.0″ fixed LCD (921k dots)3.2″ fully articulating touchscreen (1.037m dots)
ConnectivityBluetoothWi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Battery Life1550 shots970 shots
Dimensions124 x 97 x 70 mm124 x 97 x 70 mm
Weather SealingNoNo
Built-in FlashYesYes
External Flash Hot ShoeYesYes
Microphone PortNoYes
PriceCheck Nikon D3500 PriceCheck Nikon D5600 Price

What can both do?

  • Capture High-Quality Images: Both cameras feature a 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor, delivering excellent image quality and detail.
  • Shoot in Various Modes: From fully automatic to manual, both cameras offer a range of shooting modes to suit different skill levels.
  • Record Full HD Video: Both can shoot 1080p video at up to 60 fps, suitable for most casual video needs.
  • Use Interchangeable Lenses: As DSLRs, both are compatible with Nikon’s extensive range of F-mount lenses.
  • Shoot in Low Light: With an ISO range of 100-25600, both cameras perform well in various lighting conditions.
  • Capture Fast Action: Both offer 5 fps continuous shooting, allowing you to capture sequences of moving subjects.
  • Transfer Images Wirelessly: While the D3500 uses Bluetooth and the D5600 adds Wi-Fi and NFC, both allow for wireless image transfer.
  • Use External Flashes: Both cameras have a hot shoe for attaching external flash units.
  • Shoot in RAW Format: For those who prefer post-processing, both cameras can shoot in RAW format.
  • Use Live View: Both cameras offer live view functionality for composing shots using the LCD screen.

Similarities Between Nikon D3500 vs D5600

  • Image Sensor: Both feature a high-quality 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor.
  • Image Processor: Both use Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image processor for fast performance.
  • ISO Range: Identical ISO range of 100-25600 for versatile low-light shooting.
  • Continuous Shooting: Both offer 5 fps burst mode for action photography.
  • Video Capabilities: Full HD 1080p video recording at up to 60 fps.
  • Built-in Flash: Both cameras include a pop-up flash for additional lighting.
  • External Flash Support: Hot shoe available for attaching external flash units.
  • Lens Compatibility: Both work with Nikon’s extensive range of F-mount lenses.
  • RAW Shooting: Ability to capture images in RAW format for advanced editing.
  • Scene Modes: Various pre-set scene modes to help beginners achieve optimal results in different situations.

Design and Handling:

The Nikon D3500 and D5600 share similar dimensions, but the D3500 has a slight edge in terms of weight. At 365g, it’s noticeably lighter than the 465g D5600. This difference might seem small, but it can be significant during long shooting sessions or when traveling. The D3500’s lighter weight makes it an excellent choice for those who prioritize portability.

However, the D5600 compensates for its additional weight with a more advanced control layout and a fully articulating touchscreen. This screen is particularly useful for shooting at awkward angles, self-portraits, or vlogging. The touchscreen interface also makes navigating menus and reviewing images more intuitive, especially for users accustomed to smartphones.

Both cameras feature a comfortable grip that allows for secure handling, even with larger lenses attached. The button layout on both is logically arranged, but the D5600 offers more direct access to advanced settings, which can be beneficial as you grow more comfortable with manual controls.

Image Quality:

When it comes to image quality, both the D3500 and D5600 are on par with each other. They share the same 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor, which means they can produce equally detailed and vibrant images. The ISO range of 100-25600 on both cameras allows for flexibility in various lighting conditions, from bright sunlight to low-light environments.

Where you might notice a difference is in the autofocus system. The D5600’s 39-point autofocus system provides more coverage and potentially faster, more accurate focusing compared to the D3500’s 11-point system. This can be particularly advantageous when photographing moving subjects or in challenging lighting conditions.

Video Performance:

Both cameras offer Full HD 1080p video recording at up to 60 fps, which is suitable for most casual video needs. However, the D5600 has a slight edge in this department due to its articulating screen and touchscreen capabilities, which make it easier to frame and focus during video recording.

Additionally, the D5600 features a microphone port, allowing you to connect an external microphone for improved audio quality. This feature is absent on the D3500, which may be a deciding factor if you plan to use your camera for vlogging or more serious video work.


In today’s connected world, the ability to quickly share photos is increasingly important. Both cameras offer some form of wireless connectivity, but the D5600 has a clear advantage here. While the D3500 only offers Bluetooth connectivity for image transfer and remote control, the D5600 includes Wi-Fi and NFC in addition to Bluetooth. This makes it easier and faster to transfer images to your smartphone or tablet, and provides more options for remote control of the camera.

Battery Life:

One area where the D3500 significantly outperforms the D5600 is battery life. The D3500 can capture up to 1550 shots on a single charge, compared to the D5600’s 970 shots. This extended battery life can be a crucial factor for those who plan on shooting for extended periods without access to charging facilities.

Learning Curve and Growth Potential:

The D3500 is designed with beginners in mind. Its Guide Mode is an excellent feature that provides on-screen assistance to help new users understand different shooting modes and camera settings. This can be invaluable for those just starting their photography journey.

On the other hand, the D5600, while still user-friendly, offers more advanced features that you can grow into as your skills develop. Its more sophisticated autofocus system, articulating touchscreen, and additional physical controls provide more room for experimentation and control over your images.

Price Consideration:

Price is often a significant factor when choosing a camera, especially for beginners. The Nikon D3500 is typically priced lower than the D5600, making it a more accessible option for those on a tight budget or unsure about their long-term commitment to photography. However, the D5600’s additional features may justify its higher price for some users, especially if they align with your specific needs or future ambitions in photography.

Lens Considerations:

Both cameras use Nikon’s F-mount, giving you access to a vast array of lenses. This is a significant advantage of the Nikon system, as it allows you to expand your kit as your skills and interests develop. Whether you’re interested in wide-angle landscapes, macro photography, or telephoto wildlife shots, there’s a Nikon lens available for both these cameras.

When starting out, the kit lenses that come with these cameras (usually an 18-55mm zoom) are versatile enough for most situations. As you progress, you might want to consider additional lenses. The choice between the D3500 and D5600 shouldn’t significantly impact your lens decisions, as both are compatible with the same range of lenses.

Long-Term Value:

When considering the long-term value of your purchase, think about how your photography interests might evolve. If you’re primarily interested in casual photography and don’t see yourself delving deeply into manual controls or advanced techniques, the D3500 might provide all you need for years to come.

However, if you have ambitions to explore photography more seriously, or if you’re interested in videography, the D5600’s additional features might prove valuable in the long run. Its more advanced autofocus system, articulating touchscreen, and microphone port provide room for growth that you might appreciate as your skills develop.

FAQ about the Canon M50 vs M200 

How does the grip ergonomics of the Nikon D3500 compare to the D5600 for photographers with small hands?

The Nikon D3500’s smaller, lighter body may be more comfortable for those with small hands. However, the D5600’s deeper grip can provide better stability. Try holding both cameras to determine which feels more secure and comfortable for your hand size.

Can the Nikon D3500’s Guide Mode be customized to focus on specific photography techniques?

The Guide Mode on the D3500 cannot be customized. It offers pre-set guidance for various shooting scenarios and basic techniques. For more advanced or specific techniques, consider using the camera’s manual mode and referencing external learning resources.

How does the durability of the D5600’s articulating screen compare to the fixed screen of the D3500 in dusty environments?

The D5600’s articulating screen, while more versatile, has more moving parts that could potentially collect dust. The D3500’s fixed screen is generally more resistant to dust ingress. However, both screens are well-built, and with proper care, durability shouldn’t be a significant issue in moderately dusty environments.

Is there a noticeable difference in start-up time between the Nikon D3500 and D5600?

Both cameras have quick start-up times, typically under a second. The D3500 might have a slight edge due to its simpler design, but the difference is negligible in real-world use. Both cameras will be ready to shoot almost instantly when turned on.

How do the viewfinder experiences differ between the Nikon D3500 and D5600 for eyeglass wearers?

Both cameras offer diopter adjustment to accommodate eyeglass wearers. The D5600 has a slightly larger viewfinder (0.82x vs 0.85x magnification), which may provide a marginally better experience. However, most eyeglass wearers will find both comfortable with proper adjustment.

Can the Bluetooth connectivity of the D3500 be used to geotag photos in real-time like the D5600’s Wi-Fi?

The D3500’s Bluetooth connectivity doesn’t support real-time geotagging. It can transfer images to a smartphone, where location data can be added afterward. The D5600’s Wi-Fi allows for real-time geotagging when connected to a smartphone with GPS.

How does the performance of the pop-up flash differ between the Nikon D3500 and D5600 in terms of color rendering?

Both cameras use similar pop-up flash units, resulting in comparable color rendering. Any differences would be minimal and likely imperceptible in most situations. For best results with either camera, consider using external flash units for more control over lighting.

Is there a difference in the texture or finish of the camera bodies between the D3500 and D5600 that affects grip in humid conditions?

Both cameras have a textured plastic body, but the D5600 has a slightly more pronounced texture. In humid conditions, this might provide a marginally better grip. However, the difference is subtle, and both cameras should perform adequately in humid environments.

How do the D3500 and D5600 compare in terms of power management options and customizable auto-off timers?

The D5600 offers more granular control over power management settings, including customizable auto-off timers. The D3500 has more basic power-saving options. However, given the D3500’s superior battery life, this difference may not significantly impact most users.

Can the higher resolution touchscreen of the D5600 be leveraged for more precise manual focusing compared to the D3500’s fixed screen?

Yes, the D5600’s higher resolution touchscreen (1,037k dots vs 921k dots) can provide a slightly clearer view for manual focusing, especially when combined with the touch-to-focus feature and screen articulation. This can be particularly useful for precise focusing in live view mode.