How to Change the Aspect Ratio of Photos with the Nikon D3500

The Nikon D3500 doesn’t offer the option to choose a different aspect ratio when taking photos, but here’s a partial workaround that works for small numbers of images at a time.

Nikon D3500 Aspect Ratio
Nikon D3500 Aspect Ratio
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Filed Under: DSLRs, How-To Guides

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Some cameras let you set an aspect ratio for shooting photos. Many of the more basic cameras come with a default aspect ratio of 4:3. Many of the more advanced cameras come with a standard aspect ratio of 3:2, which, not coincidentally, is the same aspect ratio as 35mm film.

The Nikon D3500 has a sensor that generates images that are up to 6000×4000 pixels, which is an aspect ratio of 3:2.

But what if you want to change that? What if you want to shoot still images that are 16:9, for instance? That is the aspect ratio we’re accustomed to for HD video (most flatscreen TVs and many computer displays are that aspect ratio).

Well, there’s good and not-so-good news.

First, the not-so-good. There’s no way to adjust the shooting aspect ratio in the D3500. You can change the size, which applies to the pixel measurements, but you can’t actually change the aspect ratio of the images as they’re shot. Regardless of which picture quality and size settings](https://havecamerawilltravel.com/nikon-d3500-picture-quality-size-settings/) you choose, still images are always shot with the D3500 at 3:2 aspect ratio (video is always 16:9).

What you can do, however, is crop the images after the fact in the camera. What you need to do is go to the Retouch Menu and then use the Trim function.

There, you’ll find options to crop the aspect ratio to 4:3, 5:4, 1:1, and 16:9. You access each of these preset templates rotating the options dial at the top right of the back of the camera.

3:2 Aspect Ratio

This is the classic aspect ratio for 35mm film or a 4×6 print. It’s the standard sensor shape of most higher-end cameras (lower-end cameras often have a 4:3 native aspect ratio).

Nikon D3500 Trim 3:2 Aspect Ratio

4:3 Aspect Ratio

This is the aspect ratio of older TVs and computer monitors. It’s squarer than the 3:2.

Nikon D3500 Aspect Ratio Trim 4

5:4 Aspect Ratio

This aspect ratio is less commonly used.

Nikon D3500 Aspect Ratio Trim 5

1:1 Aspect Ratio

Otherwise known as a square, it’s useful for uploading to Instagram, for example.

Nikon D3500 Aspect Ratio Trim 7

16:9 Aspect Ratio

This is the wider, narrower aspect ratio that’s standard with HDTVs and many computer monitors these days. It’s less common for printing.

Nikon D3500 Aspect Ratio Trim 8

Making Adjustments

You can control the position and size of the crop.

To move the crop frame, use the direction buttons around the OK button on the back of the camera.

To resize the crop frame, use the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons. They’re both on the back bottom left of the camera–the magnifying glass symbols with the plus and minus signs. As you resize the crop frame you’ll notice the pixel dimensions at the top right adjust. You’ll also notice that the resizing is a fairly blunt instrument because it adjusts in steps rather than smoothly.

Nikon D3500 Aspect Ratio Trim 9

Limitations

There are limitations. For one, it only applies to JPG files. If you’re shooting with the RAW NEF files, you can apply the trim and it will save a new JPG file alongside the original NEF. The original NEF will remain untouched.

For another, you can only work on a single image at once, so if you’re hoping to do it for a sequence you’ll find it exceedingly tedious.

So it’s not a true replacement for the option to set a shooting aspect ratio, and it doesn’t work well for multiple images. For more fine-tuned control or to apply the crop to multiple images at once you’ll be better off doing it in post with something like Lightroom. But it does come in handy if you want to share a photo with a different aspect ratio directly from the camera.

Things Worth Knowing

Can the Nikon D3500 shoot panoramas? The D3300, a couple of models earlier, had a built-in panorama mode. Nikon has done away with that in the D3400 and D3500. It’s still possible to shoot panoramas with the D3500 by shooting the image sequence and stitching it together using panorama stitching apps. It takes more work and post-processing, but the results are potentially much better. I’ve put together a guide to shooting panoramas with the Nikon D3400 here; the same process works with the D3500.

Nikon D3500 Accessories

Looking for replacements or spares? These are some of the core Nikon D3500 accessories.

Battery & Charger for Nikon D3500

Spare batteries are very handy in your camera bag. Unlike the old mechanical SLRs that didn't need a battery to keep shooting, with the D3500 and other digital cameras, you're high and dry if your battery runs out of juice.

If you're looking for a replacement or spare battery for your D3500, the model number is EN-EL14a. It's a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that's also used by many other Nikon DSLRs (7.2V, 1230mAh). You can also find very good aftermarket versions, like this one from Watson or these from PowerExtra that provide more cost-effective alternatives.

Powerextra 2 x EN-EL14 EN-EL14a Battery & Dual LCD Charger Compatible with...
  • ✔ Battery Specs:Capacity: 1500mAh / Battery Type: Lithium-ion / Voltage: 7.4V / Come with CE...
  • ✔ Standard Compatible with Nikon EN-EL14 EN-EL14a:Ideal Replacement Battery for Nikon Coolpix P7000,...

You can’t charge the battery while it’s in the camera, so you’ll need a separate charger. The camera comes with one. If you’re after a spare or replacement, the model number is MH-24. It's an AC quick charger that plugs directly into the wall socket. Unlike many other cameras, you can't charge the Nikon D3500's battery in the camera. Some of the aftermarket batteries come with a dock charger, which can be a cheaper way to solve the problem.

Memory Cards

There's no official SD card for the D3500, but some cards will work better than others in this camera. And there's no point splurging on a super-fast SD card when the camera can't take advantage of it.

I've put together more detailed SD card recommendations for the Nikon D3500. But if you're just after some quick recommendations, any of these make for a good choice and are reasonably priced:

Camera Strap for the Nikon D3500

You don't have to stock with the original Nikon strap with the D3500--any camera strap will work. But if you want to replace the original (the black one with the gold/yellow Nikon branding), its model number is AN-DC3.

There's also a huge variety of other good alternatives. My personal favorites are the ones by Peak Design, which come in especially handy if you're going back and forth between multiple cameras because they come with a quick-release system. And they're very strong.

Lenses for Nikon D3500

One of the great things about DSLRs--and especially ones that use a long-standing mounting system like Nikon's F-mount--is that there's a huge variety of lenses that you can use with it. So there's no "right" lens to use--it depends on what you're aiming for and how much you want to spend.

But for the D3500, in general, you want to look for lenses that have Nikon's F-mount system and that are designed for DX camera bodies (that's the cropped sensor size of the D3500). And you'll probably want one that has autofocus. These are not hard-and-fast rules, but sticking to those basics will make things easier if you're looking to expand your lens collection.

The D3500 typically comes with a basic 18-55mm zoom lens. There's nothing wrong with it as an entry-level lens. It works just fine, it's inexpensive, and, most importantly, you can still take great photos with it. But it's very much a starter lens. If you're after some recommendations on lenses to get for the D3500 to step beyond the kit lens, here are some ideas. These are sensibly priced, are logical additions to a D3500, and go beyond what the kit lens can do.

Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm ƒ/3.5-6.3G ED VR zoom lens. If you had to choose just one lens to take with your traveling, this is a great choice. It has a very wide zoom range. At 18mm (equivalent to 27mm on a full-frame body), it's great for interiors or landscapes. At 300mm (equivalent to 450mm on a full-frame body), there's plenty of reach for wildlife, sports, or dramatic sunsets. It has vibration reduction, is compact and portable, and is competitively priced. Sigma also makes a good version that's a bit cheaper but great quality. They're both high-quality, extremely versatile, and surprisingly affordable.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens...
  • Maximum magnification of 032x
  • Angle of view from 76 degree to 5 degree 20'. Focal length range: 18 300 millimeter, minimum focus...

Nikon AF-S 50mm ƒ/1.8G lens. It's hard to go past a 50mm prime lens for versatility, fun, and learning the fundamentals of photography. They're fast, which means they're good in low-light as well as give you that nice blurry background while keeping the subject sharp. They're inexpensive. They're often very sharp. And they're small and highly portable. This is the ƒ/1.8 version. Nikon also makes a B&H Photofaster ƒ/1.4 version, but it's about double the price. because the D3500 has a cropped DX sensor, the 50mm lens will become a slight telephoto perspective, equivalent to a 75mm lens on a full-frame camera (i.e., 35mm equivalent). Which makes it all the more useful as a portrait lens, whether you're taking formal portraits or candids of the family. And if you want a more traditional "true" 50mm perspective, you can put the 35mm ƒ/1.8G on the D3500 instead.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
  • Fast, upgraded f/1.8, compact FX format prime lens. The picture angle with 35 millimeter (135) format is...
  • Focal length 50 millimeter, minimum focus distance 1.48 feet (0.45 meter)

Nikon D3500 Body Cap

If you're storing or transporting your D3500 camera body without a lens attached, you'll want to put on a body cap. It goes over the opening where the lens goes and prevents dust and moisture from getting inside and wreaking havoc (and pesky dust bunnies on your photos).

The camera comes with one, but they're easy to misplace. The model number for the replacement part is BF-1B. It's the same cap used for all Nikon F-mount camera bodies. And this is a great opportunity to save a few dollars with an aftermarket version--it's just a piece of plastic, after all. They're often sold paired with a rear lens cap, since you often need both of those things when removing a lens.

Nikon D3500 Rubber Eyecup

If the rubber eyecup has been knocked off the viewfinder when you take out of your camera bag, the replacement part model number is DK-25. There are also slightly cheaper aftermarket versions, such as the ones by Vello or JJC.

2 Pack JJC Eyecup Eyepiece Eye Cup Viewfinder for Nikon D3400 D3500 D3200...
  • Made from soft and durable silicone + high quality ABS
  • Provide cushioning around the camera's eyepiece, and are especially useful to eyeglass wearers

Battery Dummy for Nikon D3500

A battery dummy is used for longer-term power supply to the camera. They're especially useful for things like time lapse photography, astrophotography, or using your D3500 as a webcam.

It's an accessory that fits into your camera's battery compartment. By itself, it doesn't provide any power, but it's attached to a cable that you can then attach to different power sources such as AC power or a larger battery pack.

Nikon's official model is EP-5A. You can also pick up aftermarket versions. Some include only the dummy battery part; others come bundled with AC adapters.

TKDY EH-5 AC Adapter EP-5A DC Coupler Power Supply EN-EL14A Dummy Battery...
  • [COMPATIBLE WITH MODEL:] EP-5A DC coupler (Connector) replace EN-EL14/EN-EL14a Battery, work for Nikon...
  • [STEPS FOR USAGE:] Remove the original battery, Replace with virtual battery, and cover the battery...

FAQs & Tips

I've put together a number of resources related to the Nikon D3500.

Good places to start are with the Nikon D3500 Q&As and recommended SD cards for the Nikon D3500.

Where Can I Find the Nikon D3500 Manual?

You can find the Nikon D3500 manuals here. There are several different versions. The Reference Manual is the most detailed and most complete. The User Manual is basically a quick start guide. There are also versions designed for different parts of the world.

The Reference Manual is available as both a downloadable PDF and as on online HTML version.

Where Can I Find the Nikon D3500 Latest Firmware?

Nikon releases firmware updates on their website.

So far, there haven't been any firmware updates issued for the D3500.

Where to Buy a Nikon D3500 DSLR

The D3500 is an excellent entry-point camera for getting started with DSLR photography.

You can find them at Amazon and B&H Photo.

You can also find them used at major used camera gear sellers such as KEH (which is where I often buy when I'm looking for used gear).

Nikon D3500 FAQs

Is Nikon D3500 full frame?

The Nikon D3500 is in Nikon's DX format series of DSLRs, which means it has an APS-C sensor. These sensors are sized smaller than a full-frame sensor but larger than most smartphone and compact camera sensors.

The Nikon D3500's sensor measures 23.5 mm x 15.6 mm and produces images that are up to 24 megapixels (6000 x 4000 pixels). The sensor has a native ISO sensitivity of ISO 100 to ISO 25,600.

What year was the Nikon D3500 released?

The Nikon D3500 was released in 2018. It replaced the Nikon D3400.

What is the weight of the Nikon D3500?

The camera body itself (i.e., without a lens attached) weighs approximately 12.9 oz. (365 g).

Does the Nikon D3500 have a built-in flash?

Yes, the Nikon D3500 has a built-in flash that uses i-TTL.

Does the Nikon D3500 have wireless connectivity?

Yes, the D3500 has Bluetooth connectivity, although that connectivity is limited to use with Nikon's SnapBridge app.

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