9 votes

Frustrated with my Nikon D3500 and looking for advice on upgrading

Got it last summer and been having and absolute blast with it, got a macro tube and a bigger 55-300 lens to play with. But time and time again I keep running into annoying little limitations.

This model doesn't have a shutter release input thing, so remote shutter is locked behind a falling apart android app>bluetooth connection. There's a tonne of small little things like this that I wish I looked into before making the purchase

Essentially - right now I'm thinking that I want to upgrade the actual dslr before investing any more into lenses, but I'm a bit too out of touch to know what the good models to go for 2nd hand or whatever.

Are there any tildoes out there that have some experience with older but capable bodies?

20 comments

  1. [3]
    Akir
    Link
    It's very difficult to recommend anything without knowing how invested you are in photography. For the most part, if you are not making money off your photography, I would recommend not upgrading....

    It's very difficult to recommend anything without knowing how invested you are in photography.

    For the most part, if you are not making money off your photography, I would recommend not upgrading. Of all the equipment you can buy, the body is the least important. Remember the most important part of your photography is the photo, not the ease of use for the camera.

    If you must change, it's a question of how much you have invested in the Nikon ecosystem. If you buy another brand of camera body, you may or may not be able to use the lenses and a handful of accessories you bought for your Nikon body. The good news is that lenses keep their value for a long time so you can resell them for a good portion of what you bought them for. If you aren't too invested, I might look into shooting Pentax or Sony (frankly almost entirely because they both use IBIS, but also because of good reputation).

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      In general I agree with this statement, but I do think there can be legitimate reasons to upgrade a camera body. For example, I'm currently in the Canon world, and I have several nice lenses. I've...

      For the most part, if you are not making money off your photography, I would recommend not upgrading.

      In general I agree with this statement, but I do think there can be legitimate reasons to upgrade a camera body. For example, I'm currently in the Canon world, and I have several nice lenses. I've been finding that I want to do more astrophotography. My 7D (original version) has mediocre low light performance. I rented a 5D MkIII a year ago and did some astrophotography stuff with it, and the low light performance was excellent. I'm seriously considering upgrading both for the improved noise performance and to move to full frame (I'd probably go with the Rα). I think that's a legitimate reason to upgrade a body. Even if nobody ever sees my photographs other than me, I'd like to make better ones, and the noise limitation is a function of the sensor in the body.

      2 votes
      1. PetitPrince
        Link Parent
        I agree with you analysis. "Upgrading when you're feeling too limited with your current gear" is perfectly valid reason.

        I agree with you analysis. "Upgrading when you're feeling too limited with your current gear" is perfectly valid reason.

        2 votes
  2. [3]
    vakieh
    Link
    Start here and come back in 1-1000 years after you have fallen down the rabbit hole and come back: https://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/reviews.htm For decades now I have used his reviews and...

    Start here and come back in 1-1000 years after you have fallen down the rabbit hole and come back:

    https://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/reviews.htm

    For decades now I have used his reviews and recommendations and found they are spot on every single time.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      PetitPrince
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Please note that Ken Rockwell is a controversial character in the photography circles I frequent (my old uni photoclub and a bit of /r/photography). He often have abrasive style and opinion that...

      Please note that Ken Rockwell is a controversial character in the photography circles I frequent (my old uni photoclub and a bit of /r/photography). He often have abrasive style and opinion that are not shared amongst other photographer.

      I personally don't like the format of his review and much prefer those of DPReview and Photozone. But the better reviewers are my friends and my own judgment in photo store and/or when renting equipment.

      1 vote
      1. vakieh
        Link Parent
        His 'how to shoot' isn't great, but for equipment I've never heard an argument against that I agreed with.

        His 'how to shoot' isn't great, but for equipment I've never heard an argument against that I agreed with.

        1 vote
  3. jcrabapple
    Link
    I use a Sony a6000 and love it. If you're going to go with older Sony mirrorless camera I suggest the a6500. They're going for about $800 used. https://g.co/kgs/eA2UYx

    I use a Sony a6000 and love it. If you're going to go with older Sony mirrorless camera I suggest the a6500. They're going for about $800 used.

    https://g.co/kgs/eA2UYx

    4 votes
  4. [3]
    whbboyd
    Link
    I don't have specific recommendations, but as general advice: for almost any product, I've found it better to buy older and higher-end than newer and more basic. For instance, the D7100 is roughly...

    I don't have specific recommendations, but as general advice: for almost any product, I've found it better to buy older and higher-end than newer and more basic. For instance, the D7100 is roughly the same price used as your D3500, and at a quick glance, meets or exceeds the D3500's feature set at every point; It supports the use of a corded remote shutter, and will probably be physically sturdier as well.

    (My own DSLR is a well-used Canon Rebel T2i, for essentially this reason: it was the newest of Canon's prosumer line or better that fit my budget of roughly $200.)

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      ruspaceni
      Link Parent
      I did get this 2nd hand, body + 18-55mm lens for around 280 (saved up for a nintendo switch but shortages). I usually do try to get older flagships as most of the time they're better bang for your...

      I did get this 2nd hand, body + 18-55mm lens for around 280 (saved up for a nintendo switch but shortages).

      I usually do try to get older flagships as most of the time they're better bang for your buck, and i thought this was an older series but I guess I just picked a bad model. It's the version that's supposedly more compact and cheaper at the expense of dedicated buttons for some settings and whatnot.

      When the camera exchange opens back up I'll keep my eye open for something well-used again, especially since I've had my interest piqued by infrared photography and would never be able to justify killing something brand new. Although if I was going to do that, i'd probably want to get a specific body that's easy to DIY, or one that's predone.

      1 vote
      1. PetitPrince
        Link Parent
        I found the little template at the bottom of each Wikipedia's article about each DSLR model (for instance: Nikon's DLSR) exceedingly informative at this very task. This will give you the...

        was an older series but I guess I just picked a bad mode

        I found the little template at the bottom of each Wikipedia's article about each DSLR model (for instance: Nikon's DLSR) exceedingly informative at this very task. This will give you the generation (when) and tier (how expensive) any given model is.

        2 votes
  5. [6]
    envy
    Link
    Do you have any prime lenses yet?

    Do you have any prime lenses yet?

    2 votes
    1. [5]
      ruspaceni
      Link Parent
      Not yet, but that's what made me wonder about upgrade paths. I've been wanting to get a 55mm prime lens since I've heard people say it's a good way to learn. All i have currently is the 18-55mm...

      Not yet, but that's what made me wonder about upgrade paths. I've been wanting to get a 55mm prime lens since I've heard people say it's a good way to learn.

      All i have currently is the 18-55mm lens it came with, and a bigger 55-300mm VR lens for distance.

      1. [3]
        envy
        Link Parent
        If you get a used 50mm prime off ebay, you should be able to flip it easily for the cost of postage. Also, when your libraries open up, you could look at getting the book "exposure." Look at your...

        If you get a used 50mm prime off ebay, you should be able to flip it easily for the cost of postage.

        Also, when your libraries open up, you could look at getting the book "exposure."

        Look at your 18-55 vs the 50

        Play around with the aperture and focal point for the 18-55 vs the 55 to get a sense as to how unpredictable most zoom lenses are when it comes to sharpness.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          PetitPrince
          Link Parent
          Be wary that some older, super cheap but super good 50mm may only focus manually (so: no autofocus) due to the lack of autofocus motor in the d3500. You should look for AF-S or AF-P lenses (the...

          50mm prime off ebay

          Be wary that some older, super cheap but super good 50mm may only focus manually (so: no autofocus) due to the lack of autofocus motor in the d3500. You should look for AF-S or AF-P lenses (the motor is included in the lens). I have no idea about third party lenses.

          1 vote
          1. ruspaceni
            Link Parent
            Ah thank you for this, definitely something I wouldn't have realised and overlooked!

            Ah thank you for this, definitely something I wouldn't have realised and overlooked!

      2. PetitPrince
        Link Parent
        Note that you can get some of the learning benefit of a prime lens by taking some tape and locking your zoom lens to some fixed focal length (I would lock it 23 or 35mm). This will force you to...

        I've heard people say it's a good way to learn.

        Note that you can get some of the learning benefit of a prime lens by taking some tape and locking your zoom lens to some fixed focal length (I would lock it 23 or 35mm). This will force you to physically move to change your framing, which is a good practice in general to get a sense of the composition of the image (of course in some case it isn't practical, e.g. sports or wild animal).

        However, you will lose the satisfaction of shooting wide open and having a super shallow depth of field, which is half of the fun of prime lenses.

        1 vote
  6. PetitPrince
    Link
    What annoys you the most, what are you looking for in photography, and what is your budget ? Sometime the pain point can be corrected with better gear, but sometime it's just an experience issue.

    annoying little limitations.

    What annoys you the most, what are you looking for in photography, and what is your budget ?

    Sometime the pain point can be corrected with better gear, but sometime it's just an experience issue.

    2 votes
  7. [3]
    callmedante
    Link
    I'm following this thread because I've wanted to own a DSLR camera for years, but I have no experience with them and don't know where to start. I wouldn't mind getting something second-hand as...

    I'm following this thread because I've wanted to own a DSLR camera for years, but I have no experience with them and don't know where to start. I wouldn't mind getting something second-hand as well, especially if it's at a significant cost savings.

    Anywho, I'm sorry I don't have any answers for you, but I look forward to learning from other Tilders.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      PetitPrince
      Link Parent
      Second hand is definitely the way to go. There's no shortage of people willing (for good or bad reasons) to upgrade to the latest model for only marginal improvement, and leaving perfectly...

      Second hand is definitely the way to go. There's no shortage of people willing (for good or bad reasons) to upgrade to the latest model for only marginal improvement, and leaving perfectly serviceable equipment.

      Also, set your expectation right regarding what you will get out of photography and a higher end camera.

      TL;DR: In my opinion, if you're just taking picture as a memento or to record sunsets and kids, smartphone are fine. DSLRs and the like give you better ergonomics and specialty equipment that cannot be replicated by a smartphone. I like Fuji ergonomics. I like cooking.

      First: nowadays "taking pretty pictures" can be achieved by even midrange smartphone. Second: you will not see the difference between a DSLR/EVIL and a smartphone picture on your smartphone screen. You may see the difference on a laptop screen. You will probably (but it's not guaranteed) see the difference in high resolution and big-ish format prints.

      What you can get out of a camera is the pleasure of the process itself. I like to compare photography to cooking. Having a "proper" camera is like having a good set of utensils (knife, pans, chopping board), whereas taking picture with a smartphone is like a pre-cooked/prepared dinner (not that it's necessarily bad: it still feeds you and can still be quite tasty !). And of course you can have specialty equipment that you cannot find on pre-prepared stuff (for photography that would be extreme wide angle, telephoto ("300x zoom"), macro, IR, photography, and for the cooking that would be deep frying, bakery, fermentation...)

      With a dedicated camera you have a more control over the process of photography itself (the fundamental settings; think of it like cutting the ingredient and applying heat yourself); which means you can screw up more easily, but in the other hand also have a finer control over how the final picture will look like (whereas with a microwave dinner you set the timer to what's on the box and that's it).

      A dedicated camera will have those settings (aperture, shutter speed, sensitivity/ISO, focal length) front and center. You can set everything without leaving your eye out of the viewfinder.
      For a smartphone you will by definition have to go through menu to change those settings (and of course you lose the tactile feedback of buttons and dials). It's like prepping vegetables with a Swiss knife. Doable, but retracting the peeler for the knife and vice versa all the time is a PITA.

      On that regard, I like Fujifilm's ergonomics because they put (starting from their midrange offering) dedicated dial for those settings with a clear marking for when it is set to automatic. I find it clearer and less error prone than the PSAM mode dial.
      I have no data to support this but I would argue this is a better way to learn how shutter speed, aperture and ISO works. I think a beginner would fare better if I were to give my X-T3 to him/her compared to my dad's D850.

      3 votes
      1. Akir
        Link Parent
        I just came here to agree. IMHO the biggest aspect in modern photography is not necessarily getting the best shot in the camera, but being able to recreate the image in your head with post...

        I just came here to agree.

        IMHO the biggest aspect in modern photography is not necessarily getting the best shot in the camera, but being able to recreate the image in your head with post processing. And if you are shooting with a smartphone you are likely losing out on a lot of the flexibility because so many camera apps only let you shoot JPEG.

        The good thing is that pretty much every modern smartphone at least has the capacity to shoot in RAW, so you do get a lot of control back in post. But realistically the tiny sensors and cheap plastic lenses will still be a major limitation for you to work with, especially if you are trying to capture details.

        1 vote