Nikon D3200 Vs. D3500: Which Entry-Level DSLR Is Fit For You?

Nikon’s entry-level DSLR cameras, the D3200 and D3500, are both great options for beginner photographers looking to upgrade from a point-and-shoot. But with an almost identical megapixel count, sensor size, and features, it can be tough to decide which model is the better fit for your needs and budget.

In this in-depth comparison, we’ll break down the key specs and features of the Nikon D3200 and D3500 to help you determine the right entry-level DSLR for your goals.

A Brief Comparison Table

FeatureNikon D3200Nikon D3500
Release Year20122018
Sensor Resolution24.2 MP24.2 MP
ISO Range100-6400 (expandable to 12800)100-25600
ViewfinderOptical pentamirrorOptical pentamirror
Continuous Shooting4 fps5 fps
Video Resolution1080p @ 30fps1080p @ 60fps
Autofocus Points11 points11 points
Articulating ScreenNoNo
Battery Life540 shots1250 shots

Nikon D3200 Overview

Released in 2012, the Nikon D3200 has been a long-time favorite for beginner photographers thanks to its compact size, user-friendly controls, and high 24.2MP image quality. It was Nikon’s first entry-level DSLR to offer 1080p HD video recording, making it a versatile pick for both still photos and video clips.

The D3200 contains an APS-C CMOS sensor with a DX crop factor of 1.5x. This allows you to get a little more “reach” from all your lenses compared to full-frame cameras. The ISO range of 100-6400 is solid for this price point, allowing you to shoot in low light conditions.

Nikon D3200
Nikon D3200

There are 11 autofocus points with one cross-type sensor, which is fairly basic but gets the job done for common scenarios like portraits, landscapes, and casual action shots. The camera shoots at 4 frames per second in burst mode.

Handling is streamlined with a compact, lightweight body, intuitive button layout, and 3” rear LCD screen. While the screen is not touch enabled, the interface is great for beginners. More advanced photographers may desire more physical controls as they grow into the camera.

One downside is that Full HD 1080p video is limited to 30fps, so action videos can look a bit choppy. There is also no external mic input, so you’ll have to rely on the built-in mono mic for audio.

But overall, the D3200 is a great value pick with exceptional image quality for its class thanks to the high resolution 24MP sensor.

Nikon D3200 Key Specs:

  • 24.2MP DX-format CMOS sensor
  • EXPEED 3 image processor
  • ISO 100-6400 (expands to 12800)
  • 11 AF points (1 cross-type)
  • 1080p Full HD video at 30fps
  • 4 fps continuous shooting
  • 3” fixed 921k-dot LCD screen
  • Weight: 505g

Also Read: Is Canon EOS Rebel T7i Better Than EOS Rebel T8i?

Nikon D3500 Overview

The D3500, released in 2018, is Nikon’s current entry-level DSLR option. It improves upon the D3200 in a few key ways while retaining many of the same core features.

The 24.2MP APS-C sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor deliver stunning image quality and low noise, even at high ISOs. By keeping the resolution, the D3500 maintains sharp, highly detailed photos while allowing for small, fast RAW and JPEG buffer sizes.

Low light performance sees a nice bump up to a native ISO range of 100-25600, allowing you to shoot in more challenging lighting. Autofocus also improves to 11 AF points with one cross-type sensor, helping keep subjects sharp in dim conditions.

Battery life sees a huge improvement over the D3200, providing up to 1550 shots per charge. You can now shoot all day without worrying about packing extra batteries.

The D3500 has an integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) module for quick image transfers to your mobile device. Nikon’s SnapBridge app utilizes the constant BLE connection for wireless remote shooting and easy photo sharing.

For video, Full HD 1080p is now offered at smooth 60fps. Video autofocus has also improved, allowing for continual AF tracking of subjects while recording.

Nikon D3500
Nikon D3500

The biggest downsides of the D3500 are the fixed 3” LCD without touch capabilities, and no external mic input for elevated audio quality. But these limitations are understandable given the entry-level price point.

Nikon D3500 Key Specs:

  • 24.2MP DX-format sensor
  • EXPEED 4 image processor
  • ISO 100-25600 (expands to 51200)
  • Bluetooth and SnapBridge wireless
  • 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • 5 fps continuous shooting
  • 1550 shot battery life
  • Weight: 415g body only

Nikon D3200 Vs. D3500: Key Differences

Now that we’ve compared the specs and features of each beginner-friendly DSLR model, let’s directly compare some of the most important factors to consider:

  • Image Quality

With the same 24MP resolution and APS-C sensors, both cameras deliver superb image quality with tons of detail and sharpness. Low light performance goes to the D3500 thanks to the expanded native ISO range up to 25600.

  • Features

The D3500 adds Bluetooth/SnapBridge connectivity, longer battery life, and 60fps full HD video. But the D3200 has slightly faster flash sync and shutter speeds. Both have fixed non-touchscreen LCDs and optical viewfinders.

  • Shooting Performance

The D3500 shoots at a faster 5fps continuous burst rate Vs. 4fps on the D3200. Its improved autofocus tracking also helps when shooting moving subjects. The D3200 has a slight advantage for flash photography with its 1/200s flash sync speed.

  • Price

The D3200 remains available at an entry-level price point, generally cheaper than the newer D3500. But its successor does add helpful features and upgrades to justify the slightly higher cost.

  • Weight

The D3500 shaves off nearly 100g compared to the already compact D3200 body. This makes it an ideal travel companion, especially when paired with smaller prime lenses.

  • Compatibility

Both cameras are compatible with all Nikon F-mount lenses, allowing you to reuse existing glass or rent specialized lenses. But the D3500 can’t autofocus with older screw-drive lenses.

Also Read: Differences Between Sony a7c And a7 IV.

Which Is Better For You?

So which entry-level Nikon DSLR reigns supreme? Here are some final recommendations:

Nikon D3200

  • Best value pick
  • Excellent image quality
  • Simple interface for beginners
  • Good choice for flash photography

Nikon D3500

  • Longer battery life
  • Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity
  • Improved autofocus and burst rate
  • Better high ISO performance

The D3500 makes the most sense if you don’t mind paying a little extra for the newer features and minor performance bumps. But you can’t go wrong with the D3200 either if you want to save money. It remains a very capable entry-level camera.

Consider what types of photography you enjoy most. The D3200 may suit your needs just fine, letting you invest leftover budget into lenses and accessories. But the D3500 is ideal if you often shoot in low light and need the extra endurance.

Weigh your options carefully and think about which model aligns best with your skills, interests, and budget as a beginner photographer. Also watch the video!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is the Nikon D3200 a professional?

No, the Nikon D3200 is considered an entry-level camera. While it captures excellent quality 24MP images and video, it lacks the sophisticated autofocus, build quality, viewfinder, performance, and controls of a professional DSLR. But it’s a great pick for photography beginners.

Is Nikon D3500 outdated?

No, as of 2023 the D3500 remains Nikon’s newest and most current entry-level DSLR camera. It uses a modern 24MP sensor and EXPEED image processor.
While not their flagship, it contains updated tech like Bluetooth connectivity absent on higher-end DSLRs. The D3500 is still sold new today and is a great beginner camera.

Is Nikon D3200 entry-level?

Yes, the D3200 is firmly positioned as an entry-level DSLR in Nikon’s lineup. It was designed specifically for beginner photographers with its intuitive interface, compact lightweight body, and straightforward manual controls. Despite its age, the D3200 remains a very capable starter camera.

Is the Nikon D3500 a beginner camera?

Yes, the D3500 is Nikon’s current entry-level DSLR catered towards photography beginners. While suitable for some enthusiasts, it lacks more advanced features found in mid-range and pro bodies. But it produces amazing image quality in an easy-to-use package that will help beginners hone their skills.

Also Read: Is Sony A9 II Better Than A1?


The Nikon D3200 and D3500 both represent excellent values for someone looking to buy their first DSLR. With crisp details and accurate colors from their APS-C sensors, these cameras can grow with you as you learn more about photography.

Carefully compare their specs and features against your needs and budget to choose the right model. But whichever you pick, you can feel confident capturing beautiful photos and videos as you progress on your creative journey with Nikon’s entry-level DSLR lineup.

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