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.
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.
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).
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|
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.
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:
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|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes. I’ve put together a guide on date stamping with the D3500 here.
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.
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.
I've put together a number of resources related to the Nikon D3500.