Nikon D3500 Intervalometer: How to Shoot Timelapse with a Nikon D3500

The Nikon D3500 isn’t compatible with standard external intervalometers. So it’s not practical to shoot a long timelapse sequence of photos natively. But there is still a way to shoot timelapse with a D3500 by connecting it to a computer and using a software intervalometer. Here’s how.

Nikon D3500 with qDslrDashboard Interval Timer
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:

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The Nikon D3500 isn’t compatible with standard external shutter releases and intervalometers.

But there is still a way to use an intervalometer to shoot timelapse with a Nikon D3500, even if the method is less than ideal.

Nikon D3500 Compatibility with External Intervalometers

The Nikon D3500 does not have a built-in intervalometer and is not compatible with external hardware intervalometers.

Nikon made the decision with this camera not to include a built-in interval timer, and the D3500 does not have a port for connecting accessories such as intervalometers.

These features were available with some of the D3500’s predecessors, such as the D3400 and D3300. But in an effort to reduce costs and to differentiate it from the other cameras higher in Nikon’s lineup (which are more expensive), the wireless and external accessory functionality has been removed and restricted in the D3500.

I’ve heard rumors of people getting it to work with external intervalometers designed for Sony cameras, but having tried several, I’ve yet to find one that works. (Please let me know if you have found a specific model to work.)

How to Shoot Timelapse with the Nikon D3500

But there is a way to shoot timelapse with a Nikon D3500. It’s not ideal, but it does work.

It’s by adding a software external intervalometer. Specifically, it’s by using the qDslrDashboard app to control the camera.

It’s not an ideal solution, because it requires a physical (USB) connection between the camera and your device. (The D3500’s limited wireless connectivity doesn’t support this kind of thing.)

A USB connection is cumbersome, and it also adds another device that you’ll need to manage power consumption for on location. [1]

qDslrDashboard App

qDslrDashboard is a cross-platform and free app for controlling Nikon, Canon, and Sony cameras. [2] You can download it here.

qDslrDashboard runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. [3]

The trade-off for needing to use a computer host device is that you can get way more functionality than a simple interval timer. That’s because of two reasons:

  • qDslrDashboard also controls the camera’s exposure, so you can adjust that on the fly.
  • LRTimelapse integration into qDslrDashboard.

LRTimelapse is very powerful timelapse compiling and editing software (and the one I’ve long used when shooting timelapse). You can find an overview of the features available here.

NOTE: I have had trouble getting the LRTimelapse integration to work with the Nikon D3500 because qDslrDashboard interprets the camera’s Live View Movie Mode as being active when it’s not. If you’ve had success with it, please let me know. But I’ve been able to get the regular interval timer function to work well (the screenshot at the top of the page is from it connected to my D3500). But LRTimelapse is primarily a post-production tool, and you can still use the standalone app with D3500 images to great effect.

The creator of LRTimelapse has put together a great video overview of shooting timelapse with qDslrDashboard. He’s not using a D3500 here, and the specific external intervalometer he’s using here isn’t compatible with the D3500, but the general technique is still useful.

YouTube video

What Is An Intervalometer & What Does it Do?

An intervalometer is useful for taking timed interval shots. So you can set it to take a series of photos at, say, 1-second intervals, 10-second intervals, one photo at the same time every day, and so on.

The most common uses for an intervalometer are for shooting timelapse and in astrophotography (again, for timelapse, but also for image stacking star trails).

An intervalometer can come in different forms:

  • Built-in to the camera’s features. Some cameras have a basic intervalometer built-in to the camera’s features. So you don’t need some kind of external device or software–it’s all there ready to go.
  • Remote shutter release. These usually look like simplified TV remote controls. They can be wired or wireless. Not all remote shutter releases have intervalometers built-in. The ones that do are sometimes called something like “timer remote.” (Note: These are not compatible with the D3500 because the D3500 lacks the necessary cable port for it to connect to.)
  • Software on a computer or mobile device. Apps like qDslrDashboard add shooting controls that you can run from a computer or your phone (or tablet). The connection can be wireless or wired (on the D3500, there’s no wireless functionality compatible with this).
  • Dedicated Timelapse Intervalometer. There’s also a type of product that adds sophisticated timelapse functionality along with the basic interval timer. The LRTimelapse PRO Timer 3 is a great example. The Alpine Labs Spark is another. These can add functionality for ramping and compatibility with motion control hardware. (Note: These are not compatible with the D3500 because the D3500 lacks the necessary port.)


Is the Nikon D3500 compatible with an intervalometer for shooting timelapse?

The Nikon D3500 does not have a built-in intervalometer and is not compatible with external hardware intervalometers.

Does the Nikon D3500 have a built-in interval timer?

The Nikon D3500 does not have a built-in interval timer for shooting timelapse. (It does have a much more limited self-timer function, but that’s for a different type of shooting.)

  1. I have not personally tried using qDslrDashboard on an Android mobile device to control a D3500, but I’d love to hear from anyone who has experience with this. The Android device will need to support a USB cable connection, and you’ll also need a USB OTG adapter. There is also an iOS version, but its availability is limited at the time of writing.[]
  2. Despite its name, qDslrDashboard also works with many mirrorless cameras.[]
  3. There is also an iOS version distributed under the name ControlMyCamera. At the time of writing, it’s not currently available through the App Store, so installing it requires extra steps to set up an app testing environment. If you’re willing to give it a go, you can find information here. It’s also worth checking whether it has since been restored to the app store since the time of writing–you can find the download page here. iPhones and iPads also tend to be more limited in their USB connectivity, and I haven’t personally tested this combination with a D3500.[]
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David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.