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Nikon D3500 versus Sony RX10 III

The Nikon D3500 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2018 and March 2016. The D3500 is a DSLR, while the RX10 III is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D3500) and an one-inch (RX10 III) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D3500 vs Sony RX10 III

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D3500 and the Sony RX10 III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the D3500 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D3500 vs Sony RX10 III
Compare D3500 versus RX10 III top
Compare D3500 and RX10 III rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX10 III is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Nikon D3500. It is noteworthy in this context that the RX10 III is splash and dust-proof, while the D3500 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX10 III has a lens build in, whereas the D3500 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the D3500 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D3500 gets 1550 shots out of its EN-EL14a battery, while the RX10 III can take 420 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D3500» 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 12.9 oz 1550 n Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
Sony RX10 III« 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.0 in 37.1 oz 420 Y Mar 2016 1,499 i i Sony RX10 III
Canon SX740« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 265 n Jul 2018 399 i i Canon SX740
Canon M100« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.4 in 10.7 oz 295 n Aug 2017 499 i i Canon M100
Canon SX730« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.6 oz 250 n Apr 2017 399- i Canon SX730
Fujifilm X-A5« » 4.6 in 2.7 in 1.6 in 12.7 oz 450 n Jan 2018 399 i i Fujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm XF10« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 9.8 oz 330 n Jul 2018 499 i i Fujifilm XF10
Fujifilm X-E3« » 4.8 in 2.9 in 1.7 in 11.9 oz 350 n Sep 2017 899 i i Fujifilm X-E3
Nikon D3400« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.7 oz 1200 n Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500« » 4.9 in 3.8 in 2.8 in 14.8 oz 820 n Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
Nikon D3300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 15.2 oz 700 n Jan 2014 499- i Nikon D3300
Panasonic ZS70« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 11.4 oz 380 n Apr 2017 449 i i Panasonic ZS70
Sony RX10 IV« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 5.7 in 38.6 oz 400 Y Sep 2017 1,699 i i Sony RX10 IV
Sony RX100 V« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 220 n Oct 2016 999 i i Sony RX100 V
Sony RX10 II« » 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 400 Y Jun 2015 1,299- i Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX10« » 5.1 in 3.5 in 4.0 in 28.7 oz 420 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i Sony RX10

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D3500 vs Sony RX10 III

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3500 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony RX10 III an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX10 III is 68 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D3500 and Sony RX10 III sensor measures

With 24MP, the D3500 offers a higher resolution than the RX10 III (20MP), but the D3500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 2.41μm for the RX10 III) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D3500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 2 years and 5 months) than the RX10 III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further 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.

D3500 versus RX10 III MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Nikon D3500» APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Nikon D3500
Sony RX10 III« 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.112.647270Sony RX10 III
Canon SX740« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p----Canon SX740
Canon M100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278Canon M100
Canon SX730« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p----Canon SX730
Fujifilm X-A5« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/15p----Fujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm XF10« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/15p----Fujifilm XF10
Fujifilm X-E3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----Fujifilm X-E3
Nikon D3400« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.114.0143884Nikon D5500
Nikon D3300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582Nikon D3300
Panasonic ZS70« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p19.110.610636Panasonic ZS70
Sony RX10 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Sony RX10 IV
Sony RX100 V« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.458670Sony RX100 V
Sony RX10 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p23.012.653170Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX10« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.912.647469Sony RX10

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the RX10 III provides a better video resolution than the D3500. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D3500 vs Sony RX10 III

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the RX10 III has an electronic viewfinder (2359k dots), while the D3500 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D3500 and Sony RX10 III along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Nikon D3500»optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3500
Sony RX10 III«2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 14.0 Y Y Sony RX10 III
Canon SX740« »- n 3.0 922 tilting n 3200 10.0 Y Y Canon SX740
Canon M100« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.1 Y n Canon M100
Canon SX730« »- n 3.0 922 tilting n 3200 5.9 Y Y Canon SX730
Fujifilm X-A5« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n Fujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm XF10« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 6.0 Y n Fujifilm XF10
Fujifilm X-E3« »2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 8.0 n n Fujifilm X-E3
Nikon D3400« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5500
Nikon D3300« »optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D3300
Panasonic ZS70« »1166 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 10.0 Y Y Panasonic ZS70
Sony RX10 IV« »2359 Y 3.0 1440 tilting Y 2000 24.0 Y Y Sony RX10 IV
Sony RX100 V« »2359 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 24.0 Y Y Sony RX100 V
Sony RX10 II« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 14.0 Y Y Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX10« »1440 Y 3.0 1229 tilting n 3200 10.0 Y Y Sony RX10

One feature that is present on the RX10 III, 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 reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the RX10 III features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

The D3500 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX10 III uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Nikon D3500»Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3500
Sony RX10 III«YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 III
Canon SX740« »-stereomono--micro2.0YYYCanon SX740
Canon M100« »-stereomono--mini2.0YYYCanon M100
Canon SX730« »-stereomono--micro2.0YYYCanon SX730
Fujifilm X-A5« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y-YFujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm XF10« »-stereomonoY-micro2.0Y-YFujifilm XF10
Fujifilm X-E3« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-YFujifilm X-E3
Nikon D3400« »Ymonomono--mini2.0Y-YNikon D3400
Nikon D5500« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5500
Nikon D3300« »YmonomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D3300
Panasonic ZS70« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic ZS70
Sony RX10 IV« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 IV
Sony RX100 V« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 V
Sony RX10 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« »-stereomono--micro2.0YY-Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX10« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony RX10

Both the D3500 and the RX10 III are recent models that feature in their makers' current product line-up. The RX10 III replaced the earlier Sony RX10 II, while the D3500 followed on from the Nikon D3400.

Review summary: Nikon D3500 vs Sony RX10 III

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D3500 better than the Sony RX10 III or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3500:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20MP) with a 10% 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: Larger sensor generates images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Capable of capturing a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can be used in poorly lit environments and still produce good images.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1550 versus 420) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the RX10 III launch.

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Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the D3500 requires a separate lens.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in March 2016).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the RX10 III emerges as the winner of the match-up (15 : 12 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.

D3500 12:15 RX10 III

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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3500 or the RX10 III. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D3500»--4/5-4.5/5 Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
Sony RX10 III«Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2016 1,499 i i Sony RX10 III
Canon SX740« »Rec-4/5-4/5 Jul 2018 399 i i Canon SX740
Canon M100« »Rec-4/5-3.5/5 Aug 2017 499 i i Canon M100
Canon SX730« »Rec-4/5-4/5 Apr 2017 399- i Canon SX730
Fujifilm X-A5« »Rec-4/54/53.5/5 Jan 2018 399 i i Fujifilm X-A5
Fujifilm XF10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jul 2018 499 i i Fujifilm XF10
Fujifilm X-E3« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2017 899 i i Fujifilm X-E3
Nikon D3400« »Rec76/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
Nikon D5500« »Rec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
Nikon D3300« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499- i Nikon D3300
Panasonic ZS70« »HiRec-4/5-4/5 Apr 2017 449 i i Panasonic ZS70
Sony RX10 IV« »Rec84/1004.5/5-5/5 Sep 2017 1,699 i i Sony RX10 IV
Sony RX100 V« »HiRec83/1004/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 999 i i Sony RX100 V
Sony RX10 II« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2015 1,299- i Sony RX10 II
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony RX10« »Rec80/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i Sony RX10

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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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