Nikon D3500 vs Panasonic GF3
The Nikon D3500 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2018 and June 2011. The D3500 is a DSLR, while the GF3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D3500) and a Four Thirds (GF3) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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 Nikon D3500 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3500 and the Panasonic GF3 is provided 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.
The GF3 can be obtained in five different colors (black, brown, pink, red, white), while the D3500 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GF3 is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Nikon D3500. Moreover, the GF3 is substantially lighter (36 percent) than the D3500. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the D3500 nor the GF3 are weather-sealed.
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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D3500) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (GF3). Mirrorless cameras, such as the GF3, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||415 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429||amazon.com|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||108 mm||67 mm||32 mm||264 g||300||n||Jun 2011||549||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon M100||108 mm||67 mm||35 mm||302 g||295||n||Aug 2017||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Fujifilm X-A7||119 mm||68 mm||41 mm||320 g||440||n||Sep 2019||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A5||117 mm||68 mm||40 mm||361 g||450||n||Jan 2018||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Fujifilm X-E3||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||n||Sep 2017||899||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|8.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D5500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||470 g||820||n||Jan 2015||899||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||108 mm||67 mm||37 mm||267 g||360||n||Apr 2012||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic G10||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||388 g||380||n||Mar 2010||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic G2||124 mm||84 mm||74 mm||428 g||360||n||Mar 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||113 mm||68 mm||33 mm||310 g||300||n||Nov 2010||549||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 somewhat lower price (by 22 percent) than the GF3, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3500 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GF3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GF3 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D3500 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GF3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the D3500 offers a higher resolution than the GF3 (12MP), but the D3500 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 4.33μm for the GF3). However, the D3500 is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 2 months) than the GF3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. 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 Panasonic GF3 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 are ISO 160 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Panasonic GF3||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.6||10.1||459||50|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||20.5||10.0||573||50|
|14.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|15.||Panasonic G10||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.1||411||52|
|16.||Panasonic G2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||720/30p||21.2||10.3||493||53|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60i||21.2||10.3||506||54|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
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 higher frame rate than the GF3. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Panasonic is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3500 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GF3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3500 and Panasonic GF3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Nikon D3500||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||none||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.2/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon M100||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.1/s||Y||n|
|4.||Fujifilm X-A7||none||n||3.5 / 2760||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A5||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Fujifilm X-E3||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||none||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic G10||202||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic G2||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||2.6/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The GF3 has a touchscreen, while the D3500 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D3500 and the GF3 write their files to SDXC cards. The D3500 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the GF3 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 Nikon D3500 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D3500||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon M100||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Fujifilm X-A7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|6.||Fujifilm X-E3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|7.||Nikon D5600||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|8.||Nikon D3400||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|9.||Nikon D5500||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D3300||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D3200||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic G3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic G10||Y||mono / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic G2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D3500 has a hotshoe, while the GF3 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The D3500 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the GF3 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on ebay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the GF3 was succeeded by the Panasonic GF5. Further information on the features and operation of the D3500 and GF3 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D3500 Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic GF3 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D3500 or the Panasonic GF3 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12MP) with a 44% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1550 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (22 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 2 months of technical progress since the GF3 launch.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More compact: Is smaller (108x67mm vs 124x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 151g or 36 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2011).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3500 is the clear winner of the match-up (16 : 6 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 Nikon D3500 and the Panasonic GF3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3500 or the GF3. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.||Nikon D3500||4/5||..||4/5||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429||amazon.com|
|2.||Panasonic GF3||3/5||82/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||549||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon M100||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||3.5/5||Aug 2017||499||ebay.com|
|4.||Fujifilm X-A7||3/5||..||3.5/5||81/100||4/5||3.5/5||Sep 2019||499||ebay.com|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A5||..||+||4.1/5||..||4/5||3.5/5||Jan 2018||399||ebay.com|
|6.||Fujifilm X-E3||4.5/5||+||4.5/5||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2017||899||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||4/5||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699||amazon.com|
|8.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||4/5||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D5500||5/5||+||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||899||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic GF5||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||499||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic G10||3/5||..||..||70/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2010||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic G2||..||..||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Mar 2010||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GF2||3/5||82/100||..||70/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2010||549||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 6D vs Nikon D3500
- Canon M3 vs Nikon D3500
- Canon M50 Mark II vs Nikon D3500
- Leica M10 vs Panasonic GF3
- Leica X-U Typ 113 vs Panasonic GF3
- Nikon D3500 vs Nikon D80
- Nikon D3500 vs Sony A7 II
- Nikon D3500 vs Sony RX100 VI
- Nikon D800 vs Panasonic GF3
- Nikon Z5 vs Panasonic GF3
- Panasonic GF3 vs Samsung NX30
- Panasonic GF3 vs Sony HX400V
Specifications: Nikon D3500 vs Panasonic GF3
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||Nikon D3500||Panasonic GF3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2018||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 429||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3500||Panasonic GF3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||4.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||5.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||160 - 6,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 4||Venus FHD|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||50|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||459|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3500||Panasonic GF3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3500||Panasonic GF3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3.2 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3500||Panasonic GF3|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3500||Panasonic GF3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||1550 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
124 x 97 x 70 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in)
108 x 67 x 32 mm
(4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||415 g (14.6 oz)||264 g (9.3 oz)|
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