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Nikon D3500 vs D5600 Comparison

Storage & Battery

Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500 product image

Nikon D5600

Nikon D5600 camera image
Nikon D3500
Nikon D5600
Refers to the year this camera was officially made available for sale.
Announcement Date
Refers to the date the manufacturer publicly announced the upcoming release and general specs of this camera.
August 30, 2018
November 10, 2016
Camera Type
Camera Size
Camera Weight

Nikon D3500 vs D5600 Overview

Any Nikon D3500 vs D5600 comparison should start by saying this… both are affordable DX-format entry-level DSLRs. They also look and feel very similar. However, there are a few key differences.

Nikon D5600
An excellent entry-level Nikon DSLR with fantastic photography specs, built-in time-lapse, and low-light performance!

The Nikon D3500 is a lightweight entry-level DSLR camera. It offers good image quality and battery life at an affordable price.

Like all Nikon’s D3XXX cameras, it has a Guide mode that helps you transition from your mobile phone camera or compact camera.

It’s a menu-driven set of pointers that explains how to use the camera’s main functions. It helps you learn as you go along.

The Nikon D5600 doesn’t have a Guide mode. However, it combines the same sensor with even greater functionality. This shows in its number of focus points, video performance, Wi-Fi connection, and the larger, vari-angle LCD touch screen.

It’s a little more expensive than the Nikon D3500. But the extra features might be worth the money.

Nikon D3500 vs Nikon D5600 Comparison image

Body and Handling

The two cameras have identical dimensions. And they are very similar in terms of looks and ergonomics.

The Nikon D3500 is very light at 12.9 oz (365 g). But the Nikon D5600 is not much heavier at 14.7 oz (415 g).

Needless to say, both are portable options. This makes them ideal everyday, beginner street photography options.

Top view of Nikon D3500 camera

Nikon D5600 vs D3500 Optics

The Nikon D3500 and D5600 are almost identical. They have the same image sensor, autofocus (AF) systems, and range of Nikon F-mount lenses.

The optical performance of both these cameras should be similar. They have exactly the same 23.8 MP sensor and Expeed 4 image processing engine.

However, the Nikon D5600 is capable of Touch AF. And it has 28 more AF points than the Nikon D3500 (39 vs 11). That makes capturing fast-moving subjects a bit easier.

The Nikon D5600’s touch screen and autofocus system are its greatest advantages. It also offers auto exposure bracketing.

DXOMARK hasn’t rated the D3500. But here are the DxO scores for the D5600 compared with Nikon’s top mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z9 (in brackets):

  • DxO Overall Score: 84 (98)
  • DxO Color Depth: 24.1 (26.3)
  • DxO Dynamic Range: 14.0 stops (14.8 stops)
  • DxO Low Light ISO: 1306 (2451)

These figures show that the Nikon D3500 and Nikon D5600 offer good color depth and a wide dynamic range. But their low-light performance and image quality are well below the excellent image quality of the Nikon Z9.

It’s important to remember that these are only entry-level cameras. So there are quite a few things they don’t do very well—if at all:

  • No in-body image stabilization. So you’ll have to buy lenses with Vibration Reduction (VR) to avoid motion blur due to camera shake.
  • Only 5 fps continuous shooting. So they aren’t the ideal cameras for wildlife or sports photography!

Finally, both cameras have an optical viewfinder. But their pentamirror viewfinders are not as bright as pentaprisms. So this makes low-light photography harder.

The higher the number of megapixels, the more detail the cameras sensor can capture.
24 MP
24.2 MP
Image Resolution
Image resolution is measured in pixels and megapixels, width by height. The higher the number, the higher its resolution.
6000 x 4000 px
6000 x 4000 px
Sensor Type
The camera sensor captures light and records the image. Sensors vary in physical size, the number of pixels, and quality.
Sensor Size
The sensor size contributes to the overall quality as well as the dynamic and tonal range a camera can capture. As a rule of thumb, the more surface there is to read the light, the more information it will capture.
15.6 x 23.5 mm
15.6 x 23.5 mm
Sensor Format
Refers to the most commonly used sensor sizes.
Frame Rate
The number of sequential frames per second the camera can write to the memory card when shooting in burst or continuous mode.
5 fps
5 fps
Lens Mount
The lens mount will tell you what type of lens range you can fit onto the camera body. Often the same camera company will have different lens ranges for different cameras.
Nikon F
Nikon F DX
Image Processor
The image processor in the camera converts the information collected on the sensor for digital storage on the memory card.
Expeed 4
Expeed 4
Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio refers to the proportional difference between width and height. The most popular aspect ratios are 3:2 and 4:3.
Minimum ISO (Native)
Refers to the lowest native (or 'base') ISO setting. Lower ISO are less sensitive to light but make a cleaner image.
Maximum ISO (Native)
Refers to the highest native (or 'base') ISO setting. Higher ISO is necessary for low-light situations or night photography, but higher ISOs often introduce grain or noise.
Minimum ISO (Expanded)
Expanded (or extended) ISO is a digitally enhanced feature available on some cameras. It allows you to push beyond the native ISO range if necessary.
Maximum ISO (Expanded)
Expanded (or extended) ISO is a digitally enhanced feature available on some cameras. It allows you to push beyond the native ISO range if necessary.
Minimum Shutter Speed
The minimum shutter speed will tell you the longest exposure your camera can take without using an external accessory.
30 s
30 s
Maximum Shutter Speed
The maximum shutter speed tells you the length inside 1 second the camera will capture. These can sometimes be extended with accessories such as extra external batteries.
1/ 4000 s
1/ 4000 s
Autofocus Points
Autofocus points show where the camera is focusing graphically as squares or brackets in Live View or on an electronic viewfinder. These points are also used for light meter readings.
In-body Stabilization
In-body Stabilization means the camera has a certain technology embedded that counteracts camera shake.
Viewfinder Type
The viewfinder type is either electronic or optical. Electronic viewfinders will have a small screen in the viewfinder. Optical viewfinders will use prisms and mirrors to look through the lens.
Optical (pentamirror)
Optical (pentamirror)

Nikon D3500 vs D5600 Video Performance

Both the Nikon D3500 and Nikon D5600 can record 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, and 24p Full HD video (1920 x 1080). And the colors and dynamic range are excellent.

However, the Nikon D3500 only has a mono microphone. But the Nikon D5600 has a built-in stereo microphone and a 3.5 mm external microphone port.

You can also adjust the audio recording sensitivity on the Nikon D5600. And it’s capable of shooting timelapse videos.

On the other hand, there are a few things that neither camera can do when shooting video:

  • Neither can shoot in 4K.
  • Neither has a headphone jack.
  • Neither lets you adjust the depth of field by changing the aperture.
  • Neither offers a high enough frame rate for slow-motion playback.
  • Neither camera has phase detection focus points to help maintain focus on moving subjects.

If you shoot lots of videos, you’re probably better off buying a different camera!

Indicates if this camera is capable of recording video.
Max Video Resolution
The best resolution this camera can capture video in. Modern cameras can capture up to 8K video.
Full HD
Full HD
Max Video Dimensions
Video resolution measured by the greatest number of pixels possible in each frame, width by height. A higher resolution means more detail or clarity in your video.
1920×1080 px
1920 x 1080 px
Max Video Frame Rate
How many frames per second your video will capture. Most cameras have options for multiple frame rates, depending on the resolution you shoot in. For a general video, 24p or 30p is the standard, but more serious filmmakers may need a higher frame rate for creative effect.
60 p
60 p
Time-Lapse Built In
A built in time-lapse mode will allow continuous shooting throughout a prolonged period of time to be compressed into a sped up video.
Video File Format
Different cameras can record in various video file formats. The File format you record in can impact how you edit and use the files.

Nikon D3500 vs D5600 Features and Benefits

The big difference in features between the two is the LCD screen. The Nikon D3500 has a fixed 3″ (7.62 cm) LCD screen with a resolution of 921K dots. The Nikon D5600 has a fully articulating 3.2″ (8.1 cm) touch screen with 1,087K dots.

Using the rear screen at any angle makes the Nikon D5600 much better than the Nikon D3500 for vlogging and shooting at odd angles. The screen’s extra size and resolution are also handy.

The range of the Nikon 5600 built-in flash is much longer (12 m vs 7 m). The NFC connection allows easy pairing with devices like Android phones.

The Nikon D5600 Wi-Fi connection provides a better smartphone remote feature. This means you can preview an image, set the focus point, and press the shutter release button. And you can do it with the D3500 too.

Guide Mode

Illustration of using D3500 Guide mode
Nikon D3500 Guide mode

The outstanding feature of the Nikon D3500 is the Guide mode. It makes it the perfect entry-level DSLR.

You must select “Guide” on the main dial to use the Guide mode. You’ll then see Shoot, View/Delete, Retouch, and Set-up menu options.

You can choose between Easy operation and Advanced operation, depending on your level of knowledge:

  • Easy operation chooses the settings for a certain kind of shot (such as Sleeping Faces). That includes exposure, white balance, focusing, and color modes.
  • Advanced operation offers you a menu of special effects. They include “Soften backgrounds,” “Freeze motion,” and “Capture reds in sunsets.” Once you’ve chosen an option, the following screen explains how to do it. You can make the changes directly in the Guide mode menu system.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that neither camera is weather-sealed. So you need to be a bit careful in poor weather!

Built-in Flash
A built-in flash will often be positioned right above the lens. This will automatically pop up when you activate it.
External Flash
External flashes are often connected through a hot shoe at the top of a camera, or a cable at the side of the camera.
GPS features in a camera will include location metadata to each of your photographs.
Weather Sealing
Weather sealing capabilities will give you more confidence when shooting in unfavourable conditions.
Screen Type
Touch Screen
Touchscreen allows you to change camera settings and access menus with a swipe of your finger, instead of using buttons.
Screen Size
Screen Resolution
Screen dots indicate the resolution of the LCD screen by including each sub pixel.
921,600 dots
1,037,000 dots
Flip Screen
A flip screen (or articulating screen) is a second screen which can flip out from the side or top of the camera. This rotating screen allows you more freedom to take photos at different angles.
Live View
Live View feature allows you to see a continuous live video of what is being seen through your lens.
Bluetooth capabilities allow you wireless control of your camera with other external devices.

Nikon D3500 vs D5600 Storage and Battery

Both cameras have one slot for a UHS-I memory card. And they both use the EN-EL14a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery.

However, the Nikon D3500’s battery is much better than the Nikon D5600 battery life. The Nikon D3500 can shoot 1,550 shots per charge vs 970 with the Nikon D5600 when Bluetooth capabilities are disabled.

Storage and Battery
Storage and Battery
Memory Card
SD / SDHC / SDXC (UHS-I compatible)
Dual Memory Card Slots
Battery Type
Battery Life
Approximately how long this cameras battery will last measured by how many photographs you will be able to take.
1,550 shots
970 shots
USB Charging
Sensor scores tested by DXOMARK
Overall Score
DXOMARK overall sensor score.
Portrait (Color Depth)
As described by DXOMARK 'The Portrait score in our camera sensor reviews defines color depth performance and its unit is a number of bits. A color depth of 22 bits is excellent; differences below 1 bit are barely noticeable.'
24.1 bits
Landscape (Dynamic Range)
As described by DXOMARK 'The Landscape score in our camera sensor tests defines the maximum dynamic range of the camera sensor and its unit is an exposure value (EV). A value of 12 EV is excellent with differences below 0.5 EV usually not noticeable.'
14 EVs
Sports (Low-Light ISO)
Described by DXOMARK as 'The maximal value of ISO sensitivity needed to reach a given value of Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). The greater the value, the better'

Nikon D3500 vs D5600 – Our Verdict

If you want to upgrade from a smartphone to a digital camera and are looking for something cheap and user-friendly, the Nikon D3500 is a great choice. We recently named it our top Nikon camera for beginners.

Nikon D3500
Fantastic photography specs with a variety of auto, semi-auto, and manual modes. The ultimate beginner’s camera!

The Guide mode helps you learn about the various settings involved in DSLR photography. It explains what needs to be done at each stage and why. The battery life is also excellent.

The Nikon D5600 is more expensive. But it has a fully articulating touch screen and is slightly better for portrait photography, action photos, and video clips.

Nikon D5600
An excellent entry-level Nikon DSLR with fantastic photography specs, built-in time-lapse, and low-light performance!

Neither camera has a high enough continuous shooting speed for action shots. They also don’t have built-in image stabilization, and the video capabilities are not as good as those of most mirrorless models.

However, as you can see by our Nikon D3500 vs D5600 comparison, they both provide a great introduction to the world of DSLR cameras. The choice is yours!

What Camera is Better Than the Nikon D5600?

If you’re not already committed to the Nikon ecosystem, you might consider another entry-level camera—the Canon EOS Rebel T7i.

Like the D3500, the T7i has a menu helper called the Feature Assistant. And like the D5600, it has touch screen technology. Although, the vari-angle screen is slightly smaller.

All three cameras are of a similar size and weight. And the sensors are all 24 MP.

On the downside, the Canon camera’s crop factor is 1.6x rather than 1.5x. However, the T7i boasts the following:

  • 45 cross-type focus points
  • Dual Pixel AF (great for video)
  • 6 fps continuous shooting in 14-bit RAW
  • An expanded ISO limit of 51,200

All of these specs comfortably beat the Nikon models.

Finally, the Canon doesn’t have an optical low-pass filter. But that cuts both ways. You’ll lose a little sharpness. But you’ll also be less likely to see moiré patterns.

The Canon EOS Rebel T7i is a bit pricier. But it’s an alternative to consider.

Still not sure which camera is right for you? These related camera comparisons may inspire you:

User Scores
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