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…

Digital SLR Photography - - Front Page - Test: JOR­DAN BUT TERS

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.

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