Nikon D3500 Questions & Answers

The answers to some common questions I've gotten from readers about the Nikon D3500 DSLR camera.

Here are the answers to various questions that have come up regarding the Nikon D3500 DSLR.

I’ve tried to include some succinct answers below. In several cases, I’ve linked to more detailed explanations and how-to guides. It’s designed as a rolling Q&A page, so by all means ask questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to expand it.

Can Nikon D3500 Record Video?

Yes. The Nikon D3500 can record video up to 1080p. That’s sometimes referred to as Full HD and has a resolution of 1920×1080. It can also shoot at 720p (1280×720).

For framerate, in 1080p it can shoot at 60, 50, 30, 25, and 24 frames per second (fps). In 720p, it can shoot at 60 or 50 fps.1

If you’ve used the Nikon D3400 before, you’ll notice that the video shooting options are practically identical. And Nikon refers to video as “movies,” which is what you’ll find used in all the menu settings and features.

How to Record Video with the Nikon D3500

Starting video recording on the Nikon D3500 isn’t as intuitive as it could be, and it’s slightly different to how it worked on the D3400. The main difference is that the Lv (Live View) button that was on the back of the D3400 has been replaced with a Lv lever on the D3500.

And that’s important, because to start video recording, you first have to turn on the Live View display.

So, first, choose the recording mode you want to use from the top dial. The simplest is to start with P.

Then pull the Lv lever towards the back of the camera to enable the back screen’s live view.

Another thing to know is that there’s a dedicate video shutter button. Some cameras have a separate video shooting mode on the shooting mode dial. The D3500 doesn’t have that. Instead, it uses a separate recording start/stop button (that is, you don’t use the normal shutter). It’s the small button with the red dot on top of the camera, right next to the main shutter.

If you’re using a compatible autofocus lens, you can still use autofocus while recording. For that, use the regular main shutter button (not the one with the red dot–that’s only for starting and stopping the recording).

What Video Bitrate Does the Nikon D3500 Record At?

This table shows the bitrates the D3500 based on my tests. These are all in Mbps (Mb/s).

The D3500 uses variable bitrate encoding, which tries to match the compression to the detail in the scene. So you can get some variation either way depending on the scene you’re shooting. And these bitrates are for the overall bitrate, including both the video and audio streams.

Resolution/FPS Normal Quality High Quality
1080p60 23 38
1080p50 23 38
1080p30 12 23
1080p25 12 23
1080p24 12 23
720p60 12 23
720p50 12 23

What Kind of Video Files Does the D3500 Save?

The video files from the Nikon D3500 are saved as QuickTime MPEG-4 files. The files use the .MOV file extension.

It uses AVC encoding for the video stream and PCM for the audio.

What are the Video Recording Options on the Nikon D3500?

The D3500’s emphasis is on still photos, and its options for shooting video are quite limited.

You can find the video settings on the main menu under the Camera icon tab. Scroll down to the end to Movie Settings, and then press right.

Aside from the the resolution and framerate, the other options you can set are:

  • Movie Quality. You can choose between Normal and High Quality. These refer to the bitrates, which is related to how much compression is applied to the video. Normal applies more compression, which results in smaller file sizes but also lower quality. High Quality applies less aggressive compression, which leads to, well, higher quality, but also results in larger file sizes.
  • Microphone. You have a choice of Auto Sensitivity, Manual Sensitivity, and Microphone Off.
  • Wind Noise Reduction. You can choose On or Off. It applies a low-cut filter to try to reduce the whooshing of wind that you’ll get if you’re moving quickly. It’s an imperfect filter that might affect other sounds you want to keep, so it’s always a good idea to test the results first.
  • Manual Movie Settings. You can choose between On or Off. If you have the shooting dial set to M, it’s possible to exercise some control over the shutter speed and ISO sensitivity.

What is the Maximum Recording Time for Video on the Nikon D3500

The Nikon D3500 has a maximum recording time of 29 minutes and 59 seconds, but that’s not available in all the resolution/framerate/quality combinations. Whatever shooting mode you’re using, the maximum file size is 4GB.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the maximum video lengths on the D3500 by the resolution/framerate/quality combinations.

Movie Quality Setting Resolution/FPS Max length mins
High Quality 1080p60 10
1080p50 10
1080p30 20
1080p25 20
1080p24 20
720p60 20
720p50 20
Normal 1080p60 20
1080p50 20
1080p30 29 min 59 sec
1080p25 29 min 59 sec
1080p24 29 min 59 sec
720p60 29 min 59 sec
720p50 29 min 59 sec

Does the Nikon D3500 Have a Built-in Microphone?

Yes. The Nikon D3500’s built-in microphone is on the front panel. It’s the three holes immediately below the “D3500” badge on the front.

Does the Nikon D3500 Have HDMI Out?

Yes. It uses an HC-E1 HDMI cable with a type C connector.

You can choose the output resolution by going to Setup Menu (wrench/spanner icon) > HDMI > Output Resolution. The options are: Auto, 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576p, and 480p.

If the device you’re connecting to has HDMI-CEC, you can set the option to use Device Control.

Does the Nikon D3500 Shoot RAW?

The Nikon D3500 can shoot RAW image files. They are saved in Nikon’s propriety .NEF RAW format. And they’re compressed RAW.

You can enable RAW by going to Shooting Menu (camera icon) > Image Quality. There you can choose to shoot RAW-only, RAW + JPG (ie. it saves both types simultaneously), or a few different quality settings of JPG-only.

The RAW files give you more flexibility in processing and potentially offer significantly higher image quality, especially if you’re editing. The catch is that they need to be processed in something like Lightroom or an alternative before they can be shared.

When you’re shooting RAW on the D3500, you have available a maximum shooting rate of 5 frames per second continuous shooting for up to 24 RAW files.

Is the Nikon D3500 Weather-Sealed or Waterproof?

The Nikon D3500 is not weather-sealed or waterproof or otherwise ruggedized. So you’ll want to exercise caution in damp conditions. It’s not until you step up to Nikon’s D7### series that you can find weather-sealed models.

You can find dedicated underwater dive housings for the D3500, but as usual with dive housings, they’re expensive and will wind up costing far more than your camera.

A much more affordable option is a waterproof soft case from DiCAPac. They’re designed for damp conditions and shallow water. I’ve had good results from them, but there’s always some risk when taking a camera like the D3500 near the water.

Can You Control the Nikon D3500 Via WiFi?

The Nikon D3500 doesn’t have WiFi, but it does have Bluetooth. So you can connect to the camera to do some operations, but you don’t have the full range of power that a WiFi connection affords. For instance, you can’t control the camera’s operation wirelessly.

To connect to the D3500 via Bluetooth, use Nikon’s SnapBridge app. It uses low-energy Bluetooth, which means that images can be transferred to your phone without killing battery life too much.

What is the ISO Range of the Nikon D3500?

The Nikon D3500 has an ISO range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. You can set the ISO manually or use the built-in Auto ISO feature. I have a detailed guide on the D3500’s ISO features separately.

What Aspect Ratios Does the Nikon D3500 Have?

The Nikon D3500 shoots photos with a native aspect ratio of 3:2. You can’t change the aspect ratio while shooting, but you can edit the files afterwards in the camera (or on your computer or phone).

For video, it’s a fixed 16:9 aspect ratio for both the 1080p and 720p resolutions.

What Battery Does the Nikon D3500 Use?

The model number of the battery for the Nikon D3500 is EN-EL14a.

You can get Nikon-branded replacements or use aftermarket versions from other manufacturers. I have detailed post on Nikon D3500 batteries here.

Which Memory Cards are Best for the Nikon D3500?

The D3500 is not especially demanding of the memory card. It takes SDXC and SDHC cards, and you can use cards from 16GB up through 512GB.

I have posted some detailed recommendations on memory cards for the D3500 here.

Can You Imprint Time and Date Stamp on Photos in the Nikon D3500?

Yes. I’ve put together a guide on date stamping with the D3500 here.

How Do You Turn on Live View on the Nikon D3500? Where is the Lv button on the Nikon D3500?

The D3400 had a button on the back, but that button has gone on the D3500. In its place is a small lever at the base of the shooting mode dial on the top of the camera. You can find more details here.

Can the Nikon D3500 Shoot Time lapse?

The Nikon D3500 doesn’t have any time lapse features built-in. Nor does it have a port for connecting accessories such as intervalometers. So the usual selection of intervalometers for Nikon cameras won’t work.

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.

But I can confirm that you can shoot time lapse with a Nikon D3500 using the qDslrDashboard app to control the camera. The catch is that it’s limited to a physical USB connection to a computer because the D3500 doesn’t have wifi capabilities. So it’s a rather limited solution, but it does work.


  1. Video framerates are sometimes rounded up, especially for NTSC standards, as in this case. As a technical matter, the “60” setting records at 59.94 fps. The “30” records at 29.97 fps. And the “24” records at 23.976 fps.

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 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.

Popular Lenses for the Nikon D3500

Popular Accessories for the Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500 Batteries & Chargers

View Comments

    • Yes, many newer Nikon lenses will work, but much older models won’t. In general, you want want with the traditional Nikon F-mount (but not the very new Z-mount). With the F-mount lenses, if you want AutoFocus, stuck to ones that have AF-S, G, VR, or DX in the model name. You can use much older lenses, such as AF-D or AIS, but those won’t offer autofocus and won’t be able to control the aperture from the camera.

  • Hello
    My wife wants to use her D3500 as a webcam for shooting online tutorials. We are finding it impossible to figure out how to get the Mac to recognize the camera. We have gone through the applications menu to image capture, checked that the usb ports are working, and played with the settings on her camera. Any help would be great. PS. she is running OS Catalina 10.15.4
    Thank you in advance.

    • You can use the HDMI-out port in combination with an HDMI-to-USB converter. The converter takes the video signal from the camera and turns it into a USB signal that computer can work with in video editing and viewing apps such as Quicktime or Final Cut Pro or iMovie. There are several on the market; the two I'm familiar with are ones from Elgato and Magewell.

      I don't know of any way to do it without the converter just over USB.

  • Another work around for the lack of a compatable intervolometer is using SnapBridge with Auto Clicker (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.truedevelopersstudio.automatictap.autoclicker&hl=en_US)

    Once you have everything adjusted on your camera, start Auto Clicker and then the SnapBridge connection. I find it works best if you set the to interval about 2 seconds longer than your exposure time to give the camera time to process and reset after each shot. You can have it run continuously or you can have it do a set number of shots.

    • Thanks for the tip! That’s an interesting use for the auto clicker. Not being an Android user, I’ve never used it. Will it keep clicking in the background, or does your phone have to be only used with SnapBridge in focus for the duration of the capture (which would make it harder for a long capture)?

      • You need to have SnapBridge up the whole time unfortunately as it is just simulating you tapping the screen. I use an old android phone that no longer has service, only a Bluetooth connection to my camera.

    • There should be no problem. While I haven't done it specifically with the Nikon D3500 (yet--you've given me the idea to test some options soon and write them up), I have done it with several other Nikon bodies, and I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work with the Nikon D3500. But you don't do it with the USB port. Instead, you use what's called a dummy battery that goes in the battery compartment, and that is then connected to a power source. The power source doesn't have to be AC, but here's an AC power kit version.

      • Thanks for the info. I have located the unit you mention on Amazon. I probably will purchase it in the near future. I am looking for ways to use my D3500 as a webcam for Zoom meetings. Digicam will connect with the camera, but not to Zoom.

        • That's not something I've tried, but will try to experiment in the coming week to see if I can get anything to work.

  • I have had the Nikon cool pix p5000 for some time and I just upgraded to the Nikon cool pix d3500 I have to say I love them both and I love Nikon and will be a Nikon customer for life.

    • Yes, they're nice cameras. Glad you're enjoying it. Do let me know if there are any D3500 topics you'd find helpful for me to post on here.

  • I own Nikon d3400. Can I use an old Vivitar series 1 - 35-85 lens on this camera without damaging the camera? I realize it would be a total manual operation. Thanks!

    • I don't have that lens but so long as it's the F-mount version I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. That said, Nikon support might be able to give you a more authoritative answer.

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