There’s an ar­gu­ment that the

Camera - - ON TRIAL -

D500 is a bet­ter video cam­era than its big brother, but it’s still flawed and nei­ther are as fo­cused as Canon’s EOS-1DX Mark II or EOS 5D Mark IV in this area.

The D500 records 4K video in the UHD res­o­lu­tion of 3840x2260 pix­els at 30, 25 or 24 fps. How­ever, it doesn’t use the full sen­sor area and in­stead crops to 16.2x9.1 mm which avoids the arte­fact is­sues as­so­ci­ated with down-scal­ing, but means there’s a fur­ther in­crease in the ef­fec­tive lens fo­cal length, tak­ing it up to 2.25x (i.e. 1.5x + 0.75x), Great if you’re shoot­ing sports or wildlife, less great for land­scapes or in­te­ri­ors. For the Full HD and HD res­o­lu­tions the crop is 23.5x13.3 mm which, of course, is pretty close to the full ‘APS-C’ frame size.

Cu­ri­ously, com­pared to the D5 which was ini­tially hob­bled with three minute 4K clip lengths, the D500’s has al­ways been the full 29 min­utes and 59 sec­onds that’s al­low­able un­der Euro­pean tax­a­tion laws (re­lat­ing to video cam­eras). New files (up to eight) are au­to­mat­i­cally – and seam­lessly – cre­ated at the 4.0 GB point. Video is recorded in the MOV for­mat us­ing MPEG-4 AVC/H .264 com­pres­sion. Full HD footage can be recorded at 24, 25, 30, 50 or 60 fps (ob­vi­ously the D500 is multi-re­gion) and HD at 50 or 60 fps.

Elec­tronic im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion (i.e. by shift­ing the im­age area on the sen­sor) has also been avail­able on the D500 right from the out­set and this is avail­able for both Full HD and 4K record­ing. It pro­vides three-axis cor­rec­tion (i.e. up/down, left/right and ro­ta­tional) and can be com­bined with the op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion in VRe­quipped Nikkor lenses.

The D500 has built-in stereo mi­cro­phones with ad­justable level and a choice of two fre­quency re­sponse set­tings called ‘Wide Range’ and ‘Vo­cal Range’. There’s also a low-cut fil­ter for re­duc­ing wind noise. Both a stereo au­dio in­put and an out­put are pro­vided – stan­dard 3.5 mm mini­jack ter­mi­nals – the lat­ter en­abling head­phones to be used for mon­i­tor­ing. An un­com­pressed video feed (8-bit, 4:2:2 colour) is avail­able at the cam­era’s HDMI con­nec­tion for record­ing to ex­ter­nal de­vices and, use­fully, it’s also recorded si­mul­ta­ne­ously to a mem­ory card to pro­vide a back-up.

The level of video func­tion­al­ity is very good and all the ex­po­sure con­trol modes can be used, although shut­ter-pri­or­ity auto works like the pro­gram mode (i.e. you can’t man­u­ally ad­just shut­ter speeds). Man­ual ISO con­trol is only avail­able when us­ing the man­ual ex­po­sure mode, but the auto range cov­ers the full span from ISO 100 to ‘Hi 5’ (i.e. ISO 1,640,000).

All the ‘Pic­ture Con­trol’ pre­sets are avail­able with the Flat op­tion specif­i­cally de­signed for video shoot­ing as di­als down the colour sat­u­ra­tion, sharp­ness and con­trast to en­able eas­ier grad­ing in post-pro­duc­tion. Con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus­ing is avail­able when shoot­ing with the op­tions of facede­tec­tion, sub­ject track­ing or nor­mal/wide area modes, and the D500 has a proper touch-fo­cus fa­cil­ity which works par­tic­u­larly well for video.

Like­wise the ‘Power Aper­ture’ func­tion which ac­tu­ally en­ables smooth, step­less ad­just­ment of the lens iris.

There’s a ze­bra pat­tern in­di­ca­tor for blown-out high­light and flicker de­tec­tion, but as with live view pho­tog­ra­phy, the only aid for man­ual fo­cus­ing is a mag­ni­fied im­age rather than the much more ef­fec­tive fo­cus peak­ing dis­play. Time-lapse movies of up to 20 min­utes in length can be cre­ated in ei­ther the 2K or 4K res­o­lu­tions.

The UHD im­age qual­ity is, of course, stun­ning, but the Full HD res­o­lu­tion de­liv­ers ex­cel­lent re­sults too. The pity here is that Nikon just hasn’t taken the D500 quite far enough as a video cam­era, although on bal­ance it’s a pretty ca­pa­ble ma­chine, it’s just not the same knock­out pack­age it is as a stills cam­era. Con­se­quently, there prob­a­bly are bet­ter al­ter­na­tives… but it’s still king of the D-SLRs for pho­tog­ra­phers.

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