Little camera, big features

Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500 Render Cropped

Swivel screen magic

Canon EOS Rebel T7i

Canon T7i Render Cropped

The Nikon D3500 makes it on our best digital cameras list this year. It's small in size, yet comfortable to hold. The D3500 lacks a touchscreen and has a fixed LCD, but it's a perfect starter camera for new photographers while still having enough advanced features to please hobbyists and professionals. The images are stunning, and the battery life is out of this world.

$497 at Amazon

Pros

  • Strong battery life
  • Produces excellent images
  • Appropriate for any skill level
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Newer

Cons

  • Fixed LCD
  • No touchscreen

With an articulating screen, Canon's T7i can serve as webcam with your Mac or PC and takes beautiful stills. It's bigger and heavier than Nikon D3500, and battery life is far from impressive, but it does have those famous Canon colors we all love, a deep grip, and hundreds of thoughtfully-designed lenses in Canon's catalog.

$799 at Amazon

Pros

  • Touchscreen LCD swivels
  • Beautiful color rendition
  • Live view AF
  • Good button layout
  • Dual pixel AF

Cons

  • Battery life not great
  • Wi-Fi connectivity is terrible
  • Poor dynamic range
  • Trouble holding focus

The Nikon D3500 shot to the top of best DSLRs for beginners this year. It's newer, lighter, and slimmer than the Canon T7i, but still comfortable in hand. The Canon T7i does best Nikon with a touchscreen and an articulating LCD, but that wasn't enough to sway us. If you already own Canon glass, the T7i is a solid upgrade to an older body and makes for a capable backup camera. For everyone else, set your sights on the affordable Nikon D3500.

What are the major differences and similarities?

Nikon D3500 On Table Outside

The deciding factor in the Nikon D3500 vs Canon EOS T7i battle comes down to lenses, the LCD, and the size. The cameras share many of the same specs, but you'll start to notice the difference between them when you're outside taking pictures. The Nikon D3500 is small and light enough to compete with many of today's class-leading mirrorless cameras, and it takes more than 1,550 shots per battery charge. If you don't mind carrying a second battery and you already have a few Canon lenses in your collection, the pricier T7i may make more sense for you. Let's break it all down.

Nikon D3500 Canon EOS Rebel T7i
Release 2018 2017
Megapixels 24.2 24.2
Sensor APS C APS C
Quiet shutter mode Yes No
Speed 5fps 6fps
Video 1080/60fps 1080/60fps
Weathersealed No No
Battery life 1550 shots 600 shots
LCD Fixed Swivel
Touchscreen No Yes
Viewfinder magnification 0.85x 0.82x
Flash Yes Yes
Wi-Fi No Yes
Bluetooth Yes Yes
Focus points 11 45
Weight 12.9 ounces 26.3 ounces
Dimension 3.82 Γ— 4.88 Γ— 2.74 inches 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 inches

Both the Nikon D3500 and the Canon EOS T7i are boast-worthy entry-level cameras with expansive collections of available accessories and lenses. There are more similarities between these cameras than things that set them apart. However, it's the minor differences that led me to purchase the D3500 over Canon's T7i.

I take wildlife and landscape photos for a living, and I've spent an extraordinary amount of time with the Canon T7i and Nikon's D3500. On paper, the Nikon D3500 is advertised as being able to shoot 1,550 shots per battery charge. In real life, I'm able to click the shutter more than 2,000 times before the battery gives out. With the Canon T7i, you can take only 600 pictures. If you're on vacation or shooting while hiking, that's a big deal, and one of the many reasons I favor the Nikon D3500.

Nikon D3500 LifestyleSource: Nikon

Another plus for the Nikon is quiet shutter mode. Internal volume controls almost completely silence the clicking DSLRs are known to produce. It's not totally silent, but it's so quiet that animals and people around you won't notice you're taking pictures unless you're in their face.

Sizewise, the Nikon D3500 is the clear winner. It has a beefier handgrip than its predecessor and is comfortable to hold for long periods. It also weighs in at half that of the Canon.

Nikon holds focus better in our Nikon D3500 vs Canon T7i battle and tracks moving objects without error, despite not having as many focus points as its rival, Canon. I had zero issues honing in on moving birds or running children and securing the shot every time.

Nikon colors are realistic and the sensor pulls noise and colors out of the shadows without trouble, even if you're not using post-production software. Whether you're photographing in JPEG or RAW, Nikon files are easy to work with and won't leave you wanting more.

Canon Rebel T7 LifestyleSource: @jamessutton_photography on Unsplash

The Canon T7i is no slouch in the spec department. It bests the Nikon in having a rotatable touchscreen. That feature alone makes it the right choice for those live streaming to YouTube or other platforms without a videographer's assistance. The LCD on the back is also touch-friendly, although a bit quirky and not as responsive as newer Canon models.

This camera shoots 6fps, which is one more burst shot than you'll get out of the Nikon. That's how the spec sheet reads anyway. In real-life practice, the Canon has trouble focusing on moving objects, like running children or a bird in flight, so this isn't the camera I'd recommend for wildlife or action photographers.

Canon colors are subjective: some call them oversaturated and others love them. Canon color science hasn't changed much over the years, so like most DSLRs in their lineup, you'll get familiar-looking images. Still, Canon fails when it comes to dynamic range. They've always been behind the competition here, but it's more evident with the T7i. You won't be able to pull fine details out of the shadows in post-production with the T7i. Darker areas of an image appear slightly grainy, making this model not the best for landscape photographers.

If you take family photos, the Canon will please you

I was disappointed with the Canon T7i's Wi-fi, something the D3500 lacks. It fails at connecting so often that it renders the feature virtually useless, which is a shame.

If you take family photos or images solely of people, the Canon will please you. It renders natural-looking skin tones and brings out the finest of details in hair color.

Our pick

Nikon D3500 Render Cropped

Nikon D3500

A good all-around camera

The Nikon D3500 works for wildlife, landscape, and portrait photography. Focus holds well for action work, and quiet shutter mode is a delight. You won't get an articulating touchscreen, but you will get a rock-solid little camera that's fun to use.

A portrait camera

Canon T7i Render Cropped

Canon EOS Rebel T7i

Oh, those Canon colors

Dynamic range and autofocus aren't up to speed, but we love the articulating screen and true to life Canon color science for portraits. It's quite a bit bigger than the Nikon, but if you prefer a beefier body, the Canon won't disappoint.

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