Nikon D3500 Review

October 29, 2018 | Mark Goldstein |

Nikon D3500 Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 24 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 9Mb.

The Nikon D3500 produced images of excellent quality during the review period. The settings of ISO 100 through ISO 400 are as good as indistinguishable from each other. The slightest hint of noise starts to creep in at ISO 800 but the images are still very clean at that setting. ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 show progressively more noise, but both are eminently usable, even for very large prints. By ISO 6400 and 12800 the JPEGs are already full of chroma noise but the raw files only show some finely grained luminance noise that allows even the fastest ISO 25600 setting to produce printable results.

The out-of-camera JPEGs are a little soft at the default settings, but switch to raw image capture, and you'll see just how much detail the 24 megapixel sensor can record. The night photograph was excellent, while red-eye was not a common occurrence with the useful built-in flash. Active D-Lighting helps to salvage some extra detail in the shadow and highlights areas of high-contrast images, while the range of Picture Controls and Effects provide some in-camera creativity.

Noise

The ISO sensitivity settings on the Nikon D3500 range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The following 100% crops show the noise levels for each setting for both JPG and RAW formats.

JPG

RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg

File Quality

The file quality settings available on the Nikon D3500 are Basic, Normal and Fine for JPEGs, with Raw capture also at your disposal. The following crops demonstrate the differences in quality and the file sizes.

Fine (12.1Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (6.38Mb) (100% Crop)

quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

Basic (2.37Mb) (100% Crop)

RAW (20.5Mb) (100% Crop)

quality_basic.jpg quality_raw.jpg

Flash

The flash settings on the Nikon D3500 are Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Fill-flash, Auto slow sync, Auto slow sync with red-eye correction, and Rear curtain with slow sync. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64
Flash Off - Telephoto (82.5mm)
ISO 64
Flash On - Telephoto (82.5mm)
ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused any noticeable red-eye.

Flash On

flash_on.jpg

Red-eye Reduction

flash_redeye.jpg

Night

The Nikon D3500 lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography.

There is also an optional long-exposure noise reduction function that can be activated to filter out any hot pixels that may appear when extremely slow shutter speeds are used. Do note that this works by way of dark frame subtraction, which effectively doubles the exposure time.

The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 30 seconds, aperture of f/11 at ISO 100.

Night

night1.jpg

Active D-Lighting

Active D-Lighting increases the detail in the shadow and highlight areas of very high-contrast images.

Off

On

dro_off.jpg dro_on.jpg

Picture Controls

Nikon’s Picture Controls are preset combinations of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. The available choices are Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape and Flat. The following examples demonstrate the differences between these options.

Standard

Neutral

picture_controls_01.jpg picture_controls_02.jpg

Vivid

Monochrome

picture_controls_03.jpg picture_controls_04.jpg

Portrait

Landscape

picture_controls_05.jpg picture_controls_06.jpg

Flat

picture_controls_07.jpg

Effects

The Nikon D3500 has an Effects shooting mode that provides 10 different creative filters which can be applied to both still images and movies.

Night Vision

Super Vivid

effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg

Pop

Photo Illustration

effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg

Toy Camera

Miniature Effect

effects_06.jpg effects_07.jpg

Selective Color

Silhouette

effects_08.jpg effects_09.jpg

High Key

Low Key

effects_10.jpg effects_11.jpg