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The 4-year-old Nikon D3500 is still better than it has any right to be

Nikon D3500
(Image credit: Nikon)

The Nikon D3500 is now four years old, yet it's still a camera that I find myself frequently recommending to people. 

While DSLRs feel increasingly old school in a world ever more dominated by mirrorless cameras, this actually works in the Nikon D3500 (opens in new tab)'s favor; while a five-year-old mirrorless camera will be truly creaky by contemporary standards, the thing with DSLRs is that the technology is so mature that it will never age the same way. 

Indeed, like a fine wine – or, perhaps, a surprisingly fine bottle of cheap wine – the Nikon D3500 is aging like a fine wine. Which is why whenever I'm asked what is the best camera for beginners (opens in new tab), or the best camera for students (opens in new tab), this one is right up there on the list.

Its 24.2MP image sensor isn't as sophisticated as today's cutting-edge tech, but it still packs more than enough resolution for almost everybody. Indeed, the 2022 flagship Olympus OM-1 (opens in new tab) camera is only 20.4MP – and the best Fujifilm cameras (opens in new tab) max out at 26.1MP in the APS-C range, so the D3500 can still hold its own in the pixel stakes.

Its 5 frames per second burst shooting may not keep up with Olympic athletes, but it's more than enough for anyone cutting their teeth on shooting action. And while it lacks 4K capture, its 1080p 60p video is crisp enough to give would-be vloggers and videographers a great place to start. 

The autofocus is still very responsive and robust for still photography, and in live view mode it does a good job of keeping up with the action when filming video too. 

In all, the Nikon D3500 really punches above its weight even four years after its release. A great place to start for newcomers or students, it has enough horsepower for expert users to squeeze superb shots out of it as well. 

Read more: 

Best Nikon cameras
(opens in new tab)Best Nikon lenses
(opens in new tab)Best DSLRs (opens in new tab)

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.