Canon 5D Mark II vs Nikon D3500
The Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Nikon D3500 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2008 and August 2018. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D Mark II) and an APS-C (D3500) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 21 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Nikon D3500? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D3500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3500 is considerably smaller (31 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark II. Moreover, the D3500 is substantially lighter (57 percent) than the 5D Mark II. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 5D Mark II is splash and dust resistant, while the D3500 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D Mark II) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3500).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|2.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|3.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||151 mm||116 mm||76 mm||890 g||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499|
|6.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|9.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|10.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|11.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|13.||Canon 5D||152 mm||113 mm||75 mm||895 g||400||Y||Aug 2005||3,299|
|14.||Fujifilm X-A7||119 mm||68 mm||41 mm||320 g||440||n||Sep 2019||499|
|15.||Fujifilm X-E3||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||n||Sep 2017||899|
|16.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|17.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 88 percent) than the 5D Mark II, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D Mark II features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D3500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3500 is 58 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D3500 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 21 MP of the 5D Mark II. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 6.41μm for the 5D Mark II). However, it should be noted that the D3500 is much more recent (by 9 years and 11 months) than the 5D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D3500 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 5D Mark II are 28.1 x 18.7 inches or 71.3 x 47.5 cm for good quality, 22.5 x 15 inches or 57.1 x 38 cm for very good quality, and 18.7 x 12.5 inches or 47.5 x 31.7 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 50-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91|
|6.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|9.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|10.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|13.||Canon 5D||Full Frame||12.7||4368||2912||none||22.9||11.1||1368||71|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D3500 provides a faster frame rate than the 5D Mark II. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 5D Mark II and the D3500 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the 5D Mark II offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the D3500 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the 5D Mark II has a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 5D Mark II and Nikon D3500 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||7.0||n||n|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
One feature that is present on the 5D Mark II, but is missing on the D3500 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The 5D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D3500 uses SDXC cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Nikon D3500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 5D Mark II has a microphone port, which is missing on the D3500. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 5D Mark II (unlike the D3500) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The D3500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the 5D Mark II has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 5D Mark II was succeeded by the Canon 5D Mark III. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D3500? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.71x vs 0.57x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2008).
Advantages of the Nikon D3500:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 21MP), which boosts linear resolution by 7%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (124x97mm vs 152x114mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 485g or 57 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1550 versus 850) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (88 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 5D Mark II launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3500 emerges as the winner of the match-up (11 : 9 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 5D Mark II and the Nikon D3500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 5D Mark II or the D3500 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|2.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|3.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|5.||Canon 5D Mark IV||4.5/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499|
|6.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|7.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|9.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|10.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|11.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|12.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|13.||Canon 5D||..||88/100||+ +||o||..||Aug 2005||3,299|
|14.||Fujifilm X-A7||3/5||..||81/100||4/5||3.5/5||Sep 2019||499|
|15.||Fujifilm X-E3||4.5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2017||899|
|16.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|17.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Canon 5D Mark II vs Nikon D3500
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Canon 5D Mark II||Nikon D3500|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2008||August 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 3,499||USD 429|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Nikon D3500|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||21 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5616 x 3744 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.41 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 4||EXPEED 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||79||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.7||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.9||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1815||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Nikon D3500|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||95%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Nikon D3500|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3.9 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||100 000 actuations|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Nikon D3500|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 5D Mark II||Nikon D3500|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||850 shots per charge||1550 shots per charge|
152 x 114 x 75 mm
(6.0 x 4.5 x 3.0 in)
124 x 97 x 70 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||850 g (30.0 oz)||365 g (12.9 oz)|
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