How to Find the Shutter Count of a Nikon D3500

Here are some quick, easy, and free ways to find the shutter count of a Nikon D3500 without installing new software or learning new command-line code.

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If you’re buying a used Nikon D3500–or selling one or just trying to judge whether your camera is getting more likely to fail anytime soon–you might be looking to find your camera’s shutter count.

There are many different ways to find the shutter count–or, more technically, shutter actuations–of your Nikon D3500. My objective here isn’t to provide a laundry list of all of the ways you can do this. And there are plenty of other methods. Instead, I’m focusing on quick, easy, and free methods that don’t require installing new software or navigating code commands. Because I’m betting that you just want a quick answer to how many shutter actuations your D3500 has had and that you don’t particularly want to invest a lot of time or effort to find out. The good news is that you don’t need to.

So here are some quick, easy, and free ways to find the shutter count of your Nikon D3500.

Camera Menu vs. Image EXIF Metadata

First, though, it’s important to know something about where to find the shutter count information. The shutter count isn’t displayed in the Nikon D3500’s menu system. So you can’t just navigate the menu system and find it out in the same way that you can find out, say, the camera’s firmware version. I’m not aware of any particular reason it couldn’t be there–and it would be nice if it was, in a kind of “about this camera” screen–but in practice, you can’t find it there.

Instead, you can find it in the photos taken by the camera. Like other digital cameras, the D3500 embeds the shutter count of that specific photo in each photo the camera takes. More specifically, it’s in the maker notes section of the EXIF metadata. That information is usually hidden–it’s not something we need to know every day, after all–but there’s software that can reveal it. Some of those software apps are paid; some are free. I’m focusing on free options here.

Tips for Making it Work Smoothly

There are some tips to make this go more smoothly. The most important is to use an unedited image taken straight from the camera. What I mean by that is: don’t edit the image first in something like Lightroom and then export a derivative version. If you do that, the shutter count might still be in the metadata, but it also might not–it depends on the settings you’re using and how the editing app handles metadata. So the safest bet is to use an unedited image straight from the camera.

You can use either a JPG or NEF from the Nikon D3500. The safest option is to use a JPG, especially on Windows. You should be able to use these same methods with NEF files too–and it has worked fine for me on Mac–but it’s conceivable that if you’re using an older operating system, it might have trouble decoding some of the newer RAW image file formats. And on Windows, you’ll need to have the necessary codecs installed (they’re integrated automatically into macOS X). So it’s not that you can’t use NEF files to find the shutter count; it’s just that using JPGs is a simpler and more reliable method regardless of the computer system.

It doesn’t matter where the image is on the filesystem. The safest option is to read the file directly from the memory card using a card reader (or the camera connected to the computer via USB). In many cases, it will work just fine with the image copied to your hard drive too. But some of the image ingesting apps that you can use to download images from a memory card to your computer might edit the metadata as part of the process. So the safest option is to do it directly from the memory card, although it’s rarely a dealbreaker if that’s not possible.

Free and Simple Ways to Get a Nikon D3500 Shutter Count

Here are some quick options for finding the D3500 shutter count, depending on which of the major operating systems you’re using.

On Mac: Preview.app

The simplest and quickest option I’ve found to do it with a Mac is to use the Preview app. It’s built-in to the macOS operating system, so if you’re using a Mac, you already have the Preview app–there’s no need to download anything.

Here’s how to use it to find the shutter count of a D3500.

Open the image in the Preview app and load the NEF or JPG image you want to use.

Go to Tools > Inspector or use the keyboard shortcut CMD+I. You’ll get a small General Info popup screen. In the popup, click on the i tab (the icon that is a small dark circle with an “i”).

Nikon D3500 Shutter Count  1

From the next screen, click on the Nikon tab. This is the maker notes section.

Nikon D3500 Shutter Count  2

Down toward the bottom, you’ll see the Shutter Count item. In this example, it’s shot #227 (it’s obviously a very new camera in this case).

On Windows: Online Service

Windows 10 doesn’t read the EXIF maker notes to reveal the shutter count in its built-in apps (e.g., Properties or Windows Photo Viewer). There are some good apps you can install–Irvanview is one of several very good, free options–but if you want to find the shutter count without installing anything, your best bet is to use one of the free online services that can tell you that information.

Basically, you upload a single image using a web browser to the service; it then reads the metadata and then displays the shutter count. Some are better than others; some have maximum file size restrictions, for instance, that limit their usefulness with the D3500’s NEF files.

One simple one that I’ve found to work well with D3500 files is Camera Shutter Count. It’s simple and straightforward, and something I like about this particular one is that there are no file size limits, so you can use even the high-resolution NEF files from a D3500.

Camera Shutter Count Nikon D3500

You can also use this same service with Mac (or Linux, for that matter).

Other Alternatives

There are plenty of apps that can display the shutter count. But these will require installing something on your computer.

ExifTool. If you want to bring a bazooka to a knife fight, you can use ExifTool by Phil Harvey. It’s free, but it’s probably the most powerful EXIF reader, writer, and editor available, and it can do way more than read just the shutter count. But getting ExifTool up and running requires installing the software and, depending on your setup, probably some configuration. And, by itself, it’s better suited to users comfortable with working with command-line tools (e.g., Terminal in Mac or a command prompt in Windows). That’s because it doesn’t have its own user interface. It’s free, and there are packages for Windows, Mac, and UNIX (all will require some setup). There are some graphical user interfaces available that work on top of ExifTool, although some will require you to install services like python as well.

Opanda IExif Viewer. This Windows-only app is a free EXIF viewer. Opanda also offers other paid programs, such as PowerEXIF, that let you edit the EXIF data, but this free viewer will give you the information you’re after. You can find it here.

PhotoMechanic shows the shutter count, or shutter actuations, as the “Frame #” field in the info panel when looking at an individual image. It also makes the shutter actuations data available in its variables. That means that it’s available in some of PhotoMechanic’s very powerful metadata management tools. So you can insert it dynamically into things like filenames or IPTC fields; using shutter count, combined with something else like camera serial number or date, can be a good way to get unique filenames even for images shot in fast burst sequences (i.e., sub-second). So it is possible to find out the shutter count of the D3500 using PhotoMechanic in a two-step process of generating new IPTC metadata fields or file renaming. But PhotoMechanic isn’t inexpensive, and it’s very much overkill just for this purpose. But if you already have PhotoMechanic, showing you the Nikon D3500 shutter count is just one of the many things it can do.

What Doesn’t Work

Lightroom. You won’t be able to find the D3500’s shutter count in Lightroom even if you switch over to the EXIF metadata tab. That’s not something specific to the D3500–it’s because Adobe doesn’t parse the maker notes section that the shutter count is in.

Things Worth Knowing

Why Find Shutter Activations, Anyway?

Finding the number of shutter activations of a Nikon D3500 is not something that most users will need often. But it’s something that’s useful to know in some circumstances.

An example is when buying or selling used cameras. Shutter count is a bit like a car’s mileage–it can give you a pretty good sense of how much a camera has been used (although it won’t tell you how well it has been looked after). In other words, it’s an indicator of possible wear and tear. So a camera with a low shutter count will often command a higher resale value than one in otherwise the same overall condition with a high shutter count.

Pros and studios can also find shutter counts useful in their planning on when to budget for new gear. High shutter counts suggest a replacement might be needed sooner rather than later.

And repair shops can use it to narrow down whether a fault is expected from typical wear and tear from the amount of use, or whether it’s related to a manufacturing defect.

RAW + JPG

When shooting RAW+JPG, the shutter only goes once when creating each version. So the RAW version and the JPG version will both have the same shutter count.

How Many Shutter Activations Should I Expect?

Some manufacturers, like Canon, often publish their shutter life expectancies for their cameras. To my knowledge, Nikon doesn’t officially publish that information for their cameras. I’ve seen some mentions online that the Nikon D3500 is rated for 200,000 shutter activations. That sounds like a plausible number to me, but I haven’t been able to trace back the source of that to anything official from Nikon. Oleg Kikin used to maintain a camera shutter life expectancy database based on crowd-sourced information, but it hasn’t been updated in a while now and doesn’t include newer models like the D3500.

As a rule of thumb, you can probably count on 50,000 to 150,000 shutter actuations for most digital DSLRs. But that’s by no means set in stone. Some shooters get many, many more shots out of their cameras than that.

Where to Find Used Camera Gear

There are many places to find used camera gear. Some come with more risk than others.

KEH. My first stop for used gear--both buying and selling--is KEH. I've bought and sold quite a bit of gear on there. They have a huge selection, which increases the odds of finding exactly what you're after. And I've found the condition grading ratings to be accurate, the service very good, and they offer a 180-day warranty on most of their gear.

B&H Photo. My first stop for new gear is usually B&H Photo. But they also carry a large selection of used gear. It also comes in handy if you want to trade in some of your gear for new gear. Their used gear comes with a 30-day return warranty. You can find their current used gear listings here.

Adorama also keeps a large selection of used gear on hand. It's backed by a 30-day return policy. You can find their current used gear inventory here.

Ebay. There's an enormous amount of stuff on eBay, and you can find some great deals. But you do have to be more careful about what you're buying and who from. The seller might not be a good judge of the gear or its condition (or, often, even whether it's in proper working order). It's definitely worth a look, but use caution before buying. A handy feature I often use is to submit specific questions to the seller beforehand. eBay, of course, isn't the only online marketplace of its type, but it is by far the best known.

Craigslist / Classified ads. Some good deals to be had, for sure, but as with any private individual sales, there's not much recourse if there's a problem with the gear or the transaction. But one positive element is that because most of these types of transactions are local, you often have a chance to personally inspect the gear--and, ideally, try it--before handing over the cash. There's also a good opportunity for negotiating a deal.

Facebook MarketPlace. If you have a Facebook account, Facebook MarketPlace can be a good source of used equipment (and a bunch of other stuff). It comes with similar drawbacks to traditional classified ads or Craigslist, although it's often much less anonymous.

Photography Forums. You can sometimes find good deals on online photography forums, but the offerings tend to be slim. Buying through one of these has some of the same drawbacks as any person-to-person private transaction, although the forum participants tend to be more self-selecting (they're probably photographers), and you may even have come to know them virtually through their post history.

Gear Rental Services. Just as rental car companies have a constant turnover of used cars, you can also buy used rental gear from camera rental companies. I've bought some lenses this way, and the results have been mixed. There are some good deals, but some of the gear was more well-loved than I would have preferred (but I should have guessed). Due to the nature of the business, a lot of the gear offered for sale tends to be a generation or two back in terms of models. You can find the used gear from LensProtoGo on a separate site called Lens Authority. You can find the used gear portal of BorrowLenses.com here.

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.

by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »

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