NIKON D500: A NEW STANDARD FOR APS- C DSLRS
The Nikon D500 is a DX- format package that claims a flagship performance. Is it the undisputed king of APS- C DSLRS? Let's find out…
SPECIFICATIONS Price: £ 1,730 ( body only) Image sensor: DX- format CMOS ( 23.5x15.7mm) Resolution: 20.9- megapixels Maximum image resolution: 5568x3712 pixels Autofocus: Multi- CAM 20K with TTL phase detect AF points: 153 ( 99 cross- type sensors), ISO range: 100- 51200 ( expandable to 50- 1640000) Shutter speeds: 1/ 8000sec- 30 seconds & Bulb Continuous frame rate: Ten frames- per- second Built- in flash: No LCD monitor: Tilting 3.2in 2,359,000- dot touchscreen Storage: Dual card slot: QXD and SD ( SDHC/ SDXC) Size: 147x115x81mm Weight: 860g ( including battery and card) HE NIKON D500 has been a long time coming. In fact, it’s been over six years since Nikon launched the highly- regarded D300S. A camera, which many proclaim as the brand’s best APS- C offering to date. In the years since, Nikon has launched a surprising number of enthusiast APS- C models, and a range of enthusiast and pro full- frame cameras, but nothing that, for many, filled the void left by the D300S. The D500 has a lot to live up to.
Launched alongside the new flagship professional Nikon D5, the D500 shares several features with its bigger, much more expensive sibling – namely the impressive EXPEED 5 processor, 153- point Multi- CAM 20K autofocus system, and its pixel count too. Aimed at advanced enthusiasts and professionals seeking a fast, light APS- C model and extra pulling power ( thanks to the 1.5x crop factor), the 10fps D500 looks at long last to put Nikon in a position to take on the highly popular Canon EOS 7D Mk II.
Let’s start with the heart of the new camera – its sensor. At 20.9- megapixels, the D500 is a departure from the 24- megapixel image sensors that we’re used to seeing of late from Nikon. It doesn’t look as good on paper, but the D500' s sensor is designed to the same high specification as the D5’ s, and the lower pixel count allows for greater low- light sensitivity – the standard ISO range is 100- 51200, expandable to a staggering ISO rating of 1.6 million! For the D500' s target market, pixel count isn’t everything.
The powerful EXPEED 5 image processor brings with it an impressive 10fps continuous burst – that’s pretty much in line with the previous flagship, the D4S. The D500 features dual card slots; one SD, and one high- speed XQD slot. While XQD cards aren’t as commonplace as SD or CF yet, Nikon now uses the format in all of its high- end performance cameras, and doing so in the D500 will allow you to shoot up to 200 14- bit lossless compressed Raw files in a single burst! The new processor is also fired up to power 4K UHD video too, although this feature is only possible in a 1.5x crop mode – that’s on top of the APS- C crop, and equates to a 2.25x crop over a full- frame DSLR.
Given the D500’ s speed and processing power, it’s obvious that Nikon are hoping to attract sports and wildlife shooters. As well as offer professional users an APS- C option for their second body, with the benefit of extra reach too. Thankfully, autofocus performance is where the D500 really shines. Of the camera’s 153 autofocus points, 99 are cross- type, and their coverage extends all of the way to the edges of the frame when using AF- S lenses with a maximum aperture of f/ 4 or greater. Even when using slower lenses with a maximum aperture of f/ 8, or lens and teleconverter combinations, 15 of the cross- type points are functional. The D500’ s focus points are sensitive down to - 3EV, while the centre point is sensitive down to - 4EV. The autofocus system is lightning fast, and very reliable too – easily identifiable subjects are acquired quickly and accurately, and movement is tracked almost instantly. Where multiple subjects are present the D500 can skip between targets, as expected, but it’s always quick to adjust when corrected. There are a variety of autofocus modes to help you along the way too – from standard single- point to advanced dynamic and 3D tracking that can track a subject moving across the frame. Much like the D5, the D500’ s autofocus tracking can be fine- tuned to suit the activity that you’re shooting. I found that the few missed shots that I captured with the D500 were a result of technique rather than technology.
As expected of any modern digital camera, metering and White Balance is up to par on the D500. A new 180,000- pixel RGB sensor takes care of metering and helps with subject recognition for improved AF tracking. The D500 also features flicker reduction, similar to the Canon EOS 7D Mk II, whereby the camera detects flicker caused by pulsing fluorescent lights and adjusts its shooting pattern to combat uneven lighting. Coupled with the increased low light sensitivity, this is a godsend for indoor sports shooters.
In hand, the D500 feels like one of Nikon’s larger professional full- frame models. It’s reassuringly chunky and weighty, with a large rubber handgrip for good measure. When paired to a fast telezoom, such as the 70- 200mm f/ 2.8, the D500 feels balanced. The viewfinder is bright and clear and offers 100% coverage. The tilting LCD touch screen is a welcome addition too, allowing you to set up quirky angles via Liveview.
The touch- sensitivity facility allows for instant AF- point selection and shooting – in fact, several of the D500’ s control features are aimed at making it quicker and easier for you to get the shot. The most welcome
The D500 feel weighty and sturdy in- hand. It's cut from the same cloth as Nikon's professional full- frame models.