Top 5 Used Nikon Cameras for New Photographers

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Travel Photography

Gear Focus

Jan 6, 2020

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If you are a new photographer just getting into the hobby, the staggering number of cameras and options might turn you off before you even get started. That's why we wanted to put together our top 5 used Nikon cameras guide for anyone that is trying to find the right camera. Let Gear Focus answer some of the questions you might have and take some of the guesswork out of finding your first camera. Because there are just so many options to choose from out there, we are going to start with just Nikon cameras for this guide. The following list takes into account price, functionality, features, and drawbacks.

1. Nikon D3500

Number one on our list of the top 5 used Nikon cameras is the Nikon D3500. This is a fantastic camera loaded with features, yet simple enough for nearly anyone to pick up and start using. This camera is priced at an entry/consumer level, but it has the features to quickly get any new photographer up-and-running. The D3500 is a DSLR that combines high image quality with great ergonomics and excellent battery life. The D3500 uses a 24.2MP CMOS sensor and Expeed 4 image processor to create stunning stills. You can also record full HD 1080 videos at 60 frames per second with the Nikon D3500. Overall, the D3500 is an easy to use and easy to operate DSLR camera that is perfect for anyone that is getting into the hobby of photography.

Drawbacks of the D3500

Of course, there are some drawbacks that should get a little attention. First, the D3500 maxes out at 1080 video, so no 4K video. However this isn't a deal breaker especially for a budding stills photographer who may not need video capabilities at all. The D3500 also lacks a touchscreen, which makes it a little less intuitive and user friendly. Again, not a huge problem, but with nearly all cameras including touchscreens these days, it makes the D3500 feel a bit archaic. And speaking of archaic, the camera also lacks built-in Wi-Fi.

Why we ranked the D3500 #1 on our list of the top 5 used Nikon cameras

The great features mentioned above paired with the great price make this an easy choice for beginners. Anyone that has picked up a point-and-shoot camera and found it lacking some of the control or features or quality would benefit from buying a used D3500. In fact, you can buy a used Nikon D3500 for roughly the price you'd pay for a point-and-shoot camera! The D3500 also has a "Guide Mode" available that is particularly helpful for new photographers. The Guide Mode can help them get their bearings and become acquainted with their new camera. Look for a used Nikon D3500 in the $300 range.

2. Nikon D850

#2: Nikon D850 The Nikon D850 is a DSLR with an impressive 45.7MP CMOS sensor. While this camera leans a bit away from the "beginner" category, it can still be a great choice for less experienced shooters. This camera boasts some impressive features, and is hard to pass up for just about any "top Nikon camera" list, let alone a top 5 used Nikon cameras list.

Features of this awesome camera

Aside from the aforementioned 45.7MP sensor, you can also shoot ultra hi-def 4K video up to 30 fps. (Or 1080p video up to 120 fps.) The large sensor works great for photographers looking to get into landscape photography. You can get enough resolution in these images to blow up large prints. The camera also has a solid 153-point autofocus system for quick and accurate autofocusing. You can also shoot up to 7 fps continuous, or up to 9 fps with the added optional battery grip.

Drawbacks of the D850

The main drawback for the D850 on a list such as this is the learning curve. This camera is not necessarily the one grab and head out to start shooting for a first-timer. That isn't to say you shouldn't buy the D850 (it ranks on our list for good reason!) The other drawback for this camera on our list of top 5 used Nikon cameras is the cost. It is absolutely worth the expense in terms of the camera that you get. However, being that this is a beginner Nikon camera list, the higher cost will certainly put some budding photographers off. It is inadvisable for a first-timer to go out and spend thousands of dollars on a camera to find they aren't really into photography. Or spend the money only to discover that it's too complicated and not for them. It can be very frustrating to spend so much money on something and then not know how to use it. If you are the type to get frustrated and give up on something, this camera may not be the wisest choice. It is a little more robust, and therefore slightly more complicated to pick up and start shooting with. Look to pick up a used Nikon D850 for around $2200

3. Nikon D5600

#3: Nikon D5600 The Nikon D5600 is the step up from the D3500 that tops our list of the top 5 used Nikon cameras. It is small, powerful, and great for first-time photographers and beginning photography students.

The main features that put the D5600 on our top 5 used Nikon cameras list

The D5600 boasts a 24.2MP CMOS sensor with an Expeed 4 processor. This is plenty powerful enough for new photographers. It will take sharp pictures, and can be left mainly on the auto-settings. This camera is also very compact, so it takes up minimal room in your camera bag. This means you are more likely to pack it with you on more trips out of the house! The small footprint is unobtrusive and feels almost like a mirrorless camera. Although the camera doesn't offer 4K video resolution, you can shoot full HD 1080p at 60 fps. The D5600 is a camera that offers features putting it slightly between the entry-level D3500 and the more professional D850. And along with that, it is appropriately priced slightly above the D3500. The D5600 was released in January 2017. That's three years ago from the time of this post. This means that there are a good number of used Nikon D5600s floating around out there and these can be bought at reasonably low costs.

Drawbacks of the D5600

Being that this is a step above an entry-level camera, there are some limitations on the external controls. This may not matter to a first-time photographer, but as you use the camera more and more and become comfortable with it, you may start to find yourself looking for just a bit more functionality. The D5600 also only offers 5 fps burst speed (4 fps when shooting 14-bit RAW). The 5 fps isn't too slow, it just isn't all that impressively fast. You can usually find a used Nikon D5600 for less than $500.

4. Nikon D500

#4: Nikon D500 The D500 is the flagship DX-Format DSLR from Nikon. The D500 has a 20.9MP CMOS sensor with and EXPEED 5 image processor. This camera is a nice blend of still and video imaging capabilities, which is one of the reasons it makes our list of top 5 used Nikon cameras. Capable of 4K video up to 30 fps, the camera is great for a shooter looking for a hybrid camera. The D500 can also shoot full HD 1080p up to 60 fps. The D500 also boasts a 153-point multi-CAM 20K autofocus system. This results in fast and accurate autofocusing. There are seven different AF-area modes to choose from for shooting in a variety of situations. The D500 can also shoot 10 fps continuous. The D500 is rounded out with a robust physical design and offers a tilting touchscreen LCD display.

Drawbacks for the Nikon D500

As a higher-end model on our list of the top 5 used Nikon cameras for new photographers, one drawback is the cost. Now, the D500 is not as expensive as our higher-rated D850, but in terms of features that you get, it loses a few points here. Since this is a list for new photographers, the nice video capabilities aren't enough to move this camera up the rankings. The D500 has limited touchscreen control, and it is a tilting touchscreen as opposed to a vari-angle screen. Though the autofocus is generally fast and accurate, the Live View AF can be rather slow.

Why the D500 makes our top 5 used Nikon cameras list

Overall, this is a great camera for the price. It is an awesome hybrid stills and video camera. The D500 may have ranked higher if the list were not geared towards beginner photographers. It also may have ranked higher if it weren't for the cost. This list is for beginner photographers, and even though it is reasonably priced for what you get, the camera might not be best suited to someone that has never picked up a camera before. But it still has great photography features and is less expensive than a lot of high-end cameras. You can usually find a used D500 just north of $1000.

5. Nikon Coolpix A1000

#5: Nikon Coolpix A1000 The Coolpix A1000 narrowly makes our list of the top 5 used Nikon cameras. There are certainly better cameras and better alternatives to the A1000. However, there are just enough features that we feel it deserves a spot on this list.

Why the Nikon Coolpix A1000 made our list of the top 5 used Nikon cameras

These days, there are not many point-and-shoot cameras on the market that can't be outperformed by smartphones. The A1000 won't really be any different in that sense. It has a 16MP CMOS sensor, that offers slightly better resolution than your average cell phone. The feature that sets this camera apart for us is the zoom. The Coolpix A1000 is capable of an astounding 35x optical zoom. Nowadays, with cell phone camera advancements, the market for point-and-shoot cameras has begun to dwindle. If you are a beginner photographer looking for your first camera that isn't a cell phone, the A1000 merits a look. The A1000 is very easy to use and designed intuitively. There are semi-auto and manual modes that will help you get the feel for photography and explore some more advanced settings. If you are looking for a pocket-sized camera with crazy zoom range, the A1000 is not a bad option. This can be a great intro camera for wildlife photographers. The A1000 also benefits from a fast and accurate autofocus. There is also a dedicated button for a "snap-back" feature that allows you to quickly zoom out and find your subject before zooming back in. Very handy with such a powerful zoom.

Drawbacks to the A1000

There are many issues with this point-and-shoot camera. This is a fairly niche camera with some serious limitations. It is about as expensive as a low-end DSLR. The A1000 has a fairly small sensor, and lacks an advanced image processor. In terms of image quality, the A1000 won't be much better than a modern cell phone. Which could be a deal breaker for someone looking for a dedicated camera. A used A1000 also costs roughly as much as the number one camera on our top 5 used Nikon cameras list, which when compared together, it makes so much more sense to buy the D3500. A used Coolpix A1000 will run you around $300.

How We Evaluated the Cameras

The list of the top 5 used Nikon cameras for new photographers was not an easy list to compile. Our goal was to have a variety of cameras ranging from point-and-shoot up to higher-end models that just about anyone could pick up and use. The criteria we focused on was a blend of the average used price of the camera, the functionality, and the features it offered weighted against the drawbacks of each. Of course, a case can be made for nearly any Nikon camera on our list, and we'd love to hear yours! Which used Nikon camera would you recommend to a budding photographer? Let us know in the comments below. Have one of these cameras to sell? Head over to your account and list your gear now for FREE! Pay nothing until your item sells.

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