It’s no secret that the Nikon d3500 is a very popular DSLR camera body that has managed to build up an absolutely huge core customer base of photographers who use it as their go to DSLR camera body of choice over the years. With so many photographers using the d3500 as their camera body of choice, we constantly see large numbers of questions being asked from the photography community on the various tips and tricks that people can implement for the best photographs possible.
Although we see questions being asked from the community for a large number of different photography niches, the main one is based around improving the image quality that people can capture for Nikon d3500 night photography. Due to this, we have decided to publish this list of thirteen different tips, tricks, and suggestions that you are able to put to good use with your d3500 to help up your game and ensure that you are getting the best image quality possible.
Although there is no need to implement all of our suggestions into your night photography sessions, we would highly recommend that you try to implement as many of them as possible. A number of our suggestions actually have a compounding effect with each other where you are able to get much better results by using them together than you would ever be able to get by only using one of them at a time. So, without any further ado, lets get into our suggestions to help you with your nighttime photography!
Consider A Free Night Photography Course
Now, we know that this first one is not actually specific to just Nikon d3500 night photography but to all photographers using any type of camera body but we definitely think that this suggestion is able to offer the best improvement. There is no doubt in our mind that the main problem we see from people reaching out for advice on improving their image quality when capturing their photographs at night is due to a lack of understanding of the concepts of nighttime photography.
Thankfully though, our readers are entitled to two months’ worth of Skillshare premium without having to spend a single cent! This allows you to enroll on their highest-rated course for nighttime photography without spending a cent that has an outstanding reputation amongst the community and an absolute ton of glowing reviews. The course is specifically designed for improving the nighttime photography skills of entry-level and intermediate photographs and as the course is just over sixty minutes long, it doesn’t take long to complete at all so it is well worth doing.
Get Yourself A Lens That Is Ideal For Night Photography
The second most common issue that we see people make, especially when it comes to entry level nighttime photographers is that they will be using an unsuitable lens for the task at hand. Although the entry level kit lenses that come with the Nikon d3500 camera are great for a large number of photography niches, the aperture on them is simply not suitable for optimal nighttime image quality. Although we do have a number of suggestions later in the article that you are able to use to help get a better image quality with a kit lens, getting a decent lens that is suitable for night time photography is a solid investment in your camera accessories.
We always recommend the Rokinon 14mm (sometimes branded as the Samyang 14mm depending on your location) as it is one of the best native camera lenses on the market for your Nikon d3500 that offers excellent night photography image quality. The lens is not only suitable for a large number of different night photography sub-niches with the d3500 but it is also a great lens to have for a large number of other general photography niches too making it a great investment in your future.
Invest In A Suitable Tripod
Although a large number of the people who we see reaching out for help on getting better photographs at night are usually using a tripod, we often see a number of people who are still trying to support their camera with their hands. Although this should be fine for a number of night photography sub-niches, a large number of them will need the image stablization provided by a tripod for optimal image quality, especially if you are using a sub-par camera lens with your d3500.
Thankfully, unlike a decent camera lens for night photography, you can pick up a solid little budget friendly tripod for under $100 but in all honesty, if you are planning to stick to photography for a long period of time, you should be investing in something like the Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3. Our regular readers will be aware that we feel the MT055CXPRO3 is one of the best tripods ever made for both photography and videography and it only has an intermediate level price tag while offering professional-level performance.
Consider Getting Some Steel Wool
Depending on the type of night photography that you are trying to get involved in, adding some steel wool usage as seeing in the image above can be a quick and easy way for you to add that extra element to the photograph. Not only can steel wool help to add some much-needed light to help illuminate a landmark or popular feature in the area but it can also add the movement element too adding a layer of excitement to the photograph too.
Depending on what you are wanting to do, steel wool is usually available in multiple colours too allowing you to get create with your night photography. On the flipside of this though, some countries as well as some individual states, territories, and counties do limit the usage of steel wool, particularly around the dry seasons so you should always have a quick Google search prior to using it.
Try Some ND Filters
A decent, cheap ND filter can make an excellent general camera accessory to your collection of Nikon d3500 camera accessories and be used in a large number of different photography niches to help create a number of different effects. The image in the section above showcasing how you are able to use steel wool in your night photography with your d3500 uses an ND filter to allow the photographer to leave their shutter open for longer than usual to capture the light and blend the movement of the steel wool into their photograph.
There are a large number of areas where this can be useful though, first and foremost, in night photography, you are able to use an ND filter to help you capture better star trails as you are able to leave your shutter open for much longer periods than you would be able to otherwise. Outside of the night photography niche, you can also take advantage of ND filters in a number of different ways too. For example, you can use them with pretty much any photo setup that involves moving water to allow you to capture that silky smooth, milky looking water effect by having a longer exposure.
Get Yourself A Remote Trigger
Depending on what you are actually doing with your Nikon d3500 and the night photography sub-niche that you are working in, a decent, cheap remote trigger for the camera can be an excellent accessory to add to your collection. If you are using a super zoom lens while working at its upper zoom capabilities, even just the slightest movement when capturing your photography can end up having an effect on the sharpness of the image quality.
If you use a wireless remote control trigger for your deck, you are able to easily remove this issue and trigger your d3500 remotely with ease. This prevents you from manually having to trigger your camera while mounted on the tripod and prevents those small vibrations that can then in turn cause you issues with your image quality. As these remotes can usually be picked up for less than $10, the are well worth it in our opinion if you are working at the upper zoom ranges of a telephoto lens.
Take Advantage Of The Landscape
If you think outside of the box, you are able to use the landscape in your local area to your advantage to help you capture excellent quality photographs at night with your Nikon d3500. Depending on your location you can usually use things to add the feeling of scale or size to the primary focus of your photograph such as the moon or star trails adding that additional dimension to your photograph.
If you are out in a rural area then hills, mountains, and trees as shown in the image below are an excellent option but if you are in an urban area then you can use tall buildings, bridges, and statues to a similar effect. This can help you capture some commonly photographed areas in your local area with a unique look to them and help your photograph of the area stand out on social media.
Experiment With Manual Focus
We have lost count of the number of people who we see using auto focus for their night photography and this one is not specific to just people who use the Nikon d3500. So many people who are new to photography seem to build up the habit of overly relying on the auto focus system on their lens and although there are some excellent auto focus systems out there, they can be problematic when it comes to night photography due to the poor lighting often causing the auto focus to stay in a continuous tracking look.
Our recommended night photography lens for the Nikon d3500, the Rokinon 14mm is an excellent little manual focus lens with an extremely easy and straight forward manual focus ring that is smooth and responsive. This allows you to easily manually focus your lens, even in poor lighting to offer you the best possible image quality when capturing photographs at night. The manual focus ring on the lens is so responsive that you are even able to make micro adjustments if needed as we know some of our readers are perfectionists.
Play Around With Your Camera Settings
Although there are a number of popular bench mark settings online for the Nikon d3500 for nighttime photography, if you take a look at them, you will realise that they are all slightly different to each other. We usually recommend that our readers just get out during the night and play around with their Nikon d3500 to try and workout the best camera settings for their location, particular settings to pay attention to is the ISO and shutter speed but the customisation on the d3500 lets you get very creative.
Expect to have to slightly tweak your camera settings for different locations too as different lighting will all come into play. This is why the various different benchmark settings that you can find via Google are usually different to each other as the lighting for someone in a rural location is different to an urban location due to the light pollution meaning different camera settings will be optimal.
Optimise Your Aperture
This one is going to depend on the lens that you choose to use with your Nikon d3500 for your night photography. If you are using the standard kit lens then chances are, your aperture options are limited for low light photography and this is why we put such a high priority on trying to get your hands on a suitable lens as fast as possible. If your lens of choose does have an aperture range then play around with it, so many people think that the fastest aperture on their lens will be the best but this is not the case, although the faster end of the spectrum is usually better, you do have to play around with it to workout the best options for your location.
Capture Your Photographs In RAW Format
Due to so many popular photographers on YouTube preaching that you should be capturing your photographs in RAW format rather than JPEG, this one is not a huge issue these days as many people switch to RAW very early on. That said though, just on the off-chance that you are capturing your photographs in JPEG, we would highly recommend that you switch over to RAW.
The compression process on the JPEG image can sacrifice the image quality of your night photography and end up making them look bad while also making it a pain to quickly do any post production with the images too. Go into the settings of your d3500 and switch the image type over the RAW and you will usually have a much better image quality right out of the camera that can offer a surprising improvement in your image quality.
Test Different Levels Of Exposure
This one will need you to get out and about in your local areas and play with different levels of exposure for your night photography sessions. There are a ton of guides and tutorials online already going over this so we wont be covering it here but different types of exposure can have a vast different on the results of the photography that you actually end up capturing.
Plan Your Night Photography Session
Our final tip to improve your Nikon d3500 night photography is to actually plan your session and we really can’t stress this one enough. So many people just grab their camera and head out the door without checking the weather or phase of the moon and end up not being able to capture anything with their camera. Low cloud cover means close to zero visibility so moon photography or star trails will be pretty much rules out so have a quick Google search for your local area and make sure that the conditions are ideal for the type of photography that you are wanting to take part in.