Nikon D3500 vs. D5600: Full Comparison and Specs

Nikon is a renowned Japanese optics and imaging company that has consistently produced top-rated DSLR cameras suited for photography enthusiasts and professionals alike. In this expert guide, we‘ll be doing an in-depth comparison of two of Nikon‘s most popular entry-level DSLR options – the D3500 and D5600 camera models.

Released in 2018 and 2016 respectively, both cameras deliver impressive performance and image quality despite their beginner-friendly controls and handling. We‘ll be examining the cameras across various factors like design, specs, features, performance, and more to help you determine which model best fits your needs and budget.

Quick Specs Comparison

Before jumping into the details, here‘s a high-level overview of the basic specs and features of the Nikon D3500 versus the Nikon D5600:

Nikon D3500 vs D5600 Specs Comparison Table

As you can see from the table above, the two cameras share quite a few similarities but also differ across areas like weight, screen type, connectivity options and more. Keep reading as we dive deeper into what sets them apart.

Camera Body and Design

Both the D3500 and D5600 feature compact, lightweight body designs that are easy and comfortable to handle. Some key comparisons in terms of their build:

  • Size: Identical dimensions of 4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 inches
  • Weight: The D3500 is lighter at just 12.9 oz compared to the D5600 at 16.4 oz
  • Construction: The D3500 has a polycarbonate body while the D5600 utilizes higher-end carbon fiber
  • Grip: Both cameras have good grips but the D5600‘s is slightly more pronounced for better handling
  • Weather Sealing: Neither camera has protection so they‘re riskier to use in extreme weather

Aside from the minor weight and material differences, the two cameras offer generally comparable construction quality and portability.

Ergonomics and Buttons Layout

The control buttons on both cameras follow similar placements that will feel natural to most users. The D5600 does have a slightly more advanced rear interface with added shortcuts like the Photo Shooting Menu and Fn button.

Overall, both models strike a nice balance of providing handy shooting controls without appearing cluttered or overwhelming to beginners.


A key differentiator between the D3500 and D5600 is their rear LCD displays:

  • Size: The D5600 has a 3.2-inch display versus 3-inches on the D3500
  • Resolution: Same 921k-dot resolution on both screens
  • Vari-angle: D5600 screen rotates while the D3500 screen is fixed in place
  • Touch capability: Only the D5600 screen supports touch control

The D5600 certainly wins out when it comes to having a more flexible, user-friendly display. The touch controls and articulating design allow you to more easily take shots from challenging positions.

Image Sensor and Quality

One area where the two cameras are evenly matched is their imaging capabilities:

  • ☑️ Same sensor: 24.2MP DX-format CMOS sensor
  • ☑️ No optical low-pass filter: Results in sharper, crisper images
  • ☑️ Native ISO range: Both have a 100-25600 ISO range for good low-light performance
  • ☑️ Image processors: Utilize similar EXPEED 4 processors

With identical sensors and image processors, you can expect practically the same stellar picture quality from both the Nikon D3500 and D5600. Dynamic range is also on par so landscape photos with lots of shadows and highlights will come out looking balanced.

Shooting Performance

Let‘s now examine some performance-related specifications of the two cameras:

Focusing System

  • Autofocus points: The D5600 has a clear advantage with its 39 points versus just 11 points on the D3500. More focus points translate to faster, more precise autofocus.
  • Cross-type sensors: 9 (D5600) vs 1 (D3500). Cross-type points improve focus in both vertical and horizontal directions.
  • Low light focusing: Both cameras focus down to -1 EV but the D5600 will still do better with more AF points.
  • AF-assist illuminator: This handy feature is missing on the D3500 while the D5600 has it to aid focusing in dim settings.

It‘s clear from the above that the D5600 model offers noticeably better autofocus capabilities with its more advanced phase-detection system.


In terms of continuous shooting and shutter lag, the D3500 and D5600 perform on par:

  • ☑️ Burst rate: Up to 5 fps continuous shooting with both cameras
  • ☑️ Shutter lag: Virtually instantaneous shutter response times on both models

So when it comes to capturing action and fast movement, you can expect equally quick operation from either camera.

Video Recording

The D5600 pulls ahead again for video performance:

  • ☑️ Max. resolution: Both cameras shoot 1920 x 1080 Full HD video
  • Frame rates: The D5600 adds 60p (60 fps) for smoother footage and slow-motion
  • External mic: D5600 has a microphone jack for better audio

Casual users may not notice too much of a difference but the D5600 certainly provides an edge for budding videographers.


In terms of wireless features and connectivity options, there are noticeable differences between the entry-level D3500 model and the more advanced D5600 alternative:

  • Bluetooth: Yes on both cameras for instant image transfers
  • Wi-Fi: Only present on the D5600 version
  • NFC: D5600 offers this quick pairing functionality missing from the D3500
  • Remote control: Both support Nikon‘s optional remote accessories

The D5600 is the clear winner when it comes to seamless wireless connectivity. Installing Nikon‘s SnapBridge app allows you to easily send images from camera to phone or tablet. This is a handy feature the D3500 unfortunately lacks.

Power and Battery

Battery performance often separates entry-level and mid-range camera models. In this case:

  • Battery type: Both utilize the same EN-EL14a rechargeable Li-ion batteries
  • Battery life: The D3500 is rated for 1,550 shots per charge vs 820 shots on the D5600
  • USB charging: Only the D5600 supports charging over USB which can be convenient

With close to double the battery duration, the D3500 is designed to support longer shooting days without having to swap out batteries frequently. Fortunately, both units use a common battery type that is affordable and simple to pick up spares of.

Pricing and Value

As you would expect, the newer and slightly more advanced D5600 model does come at a higher price point:

  • Nikon D3500 price: Around $500 for just the camera body
  • Nikon D5600 price: Approximately $600 for only the body

Of course, actual retail pricing for both cameras may vary depending on the region and any bundled accessories or lenses. Many users choose to purchase the cameras with a compact AF-P 18-55mm kit lens which runs about $100 to $150 on top.

Overall, both cameras deliver immense value at very reasonable price points. The D3500 does cost noticeably less though so it may be the more budget-friendly choice for beginners.

Verdict: Which Camera is Better for You?

At the end of the day, is the Nikon D3500 or D5600 the superior option for you? Let‘s summarize some key advantages of each model:

Key Reasons to Choose the Nikon D3500

  • Cheaper price point
  • Lighter body weight
  • Much longer battery life
  • Great value for the price

Key Reasons to Choose the Nikon D5600

  • Larger rear LCD with touch controls
  • More advanced 39-point autofocus system
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • External microphone jack
  • Bit faster frame rate video

For beginners seeking an affordable entry into interchangeable lens cameras, the D3500 makes the most sense budget-wise. Just know that you trade off nice-to-have features like the vari-angle touchscreen display and wireless connectivity.

More advanced users willing to spend a little extra will appreciate the more robust focusing capabilities, video recording enhancements, and seamless wireless image transfers afforded by the D5600.

Ultimately though, you truly can‘t go wrong with either camera. Both produce stunning 24MP images and offer user-friendly handling perfect for aspiring hobbyist photographers.

Recommended Starter Bundle

For just getting into DSLR photography, I recommend this Nikon D3500 bundle from Egifthub that includes the camera body along with some starter accessories like memory cards, bag, and lenses for just $599. It‘s a cost-effective way to get setup with a complete D3500 photography kit.

FAQs About the Nikon D3500 and D5600

Below I‘ve answered some of the most commonly asked questions about the Nikon D3500 versus the D5600 to help clarify remaining uncertainties.

Does the D5600 have a touchscreen?

Yes, the D5600 features a responsive touchscreen rear LCD whereas the D3500 screen does not support touch.

What SD card is recommended for the D3500?

The fastest SD cards you can use with the D3500 are UHS-I cards. Models with write speeds of at least 80-90 MB/s are ideal for supporting burst mode shooting.

Can you take pictures remotely with the D3500?

Yes, the D3500 works with Nikon‘s MC-DC2 remote release cord for remotely triggering the shutter. There is also a compatible infrared remote control for wirelessly controlling the camera.

Does the D5600 record 4K video?

Unfortunately no. The maximum video resolution on the Nikon D5600 remains 1920×1080 Full HD. To get 4K recording, you would need to upgrade to one of Nikon‘s newer releases like the D7500.

What lenses are compatible with Nikon D3500 and D5600?

Being DX-format cameras with an F-mount, the D3500 and D5600 support any NIKKOR DX and FX lenses. There are over 300 compatible lens options from ultra-wide angles to powerful telephotos.

Is the Nikon D3500 still a good camera in 2023?

Definitely! Despite being several years old now, the D3500 remains a very relevant beginner camera choice even in 2023. It may not have all the bells and whistles but still captures gorgeous high-res images.

I hope this guide has helped demystify the differences between the Nikon D3500 and D5600! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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