The Nikon D500 is the answer to many of the brand’s loyal followers. The new crop sensor flagship follows the heritage of the D200 and D300 “blood line”. Apparently the D5000, the D7000 and its successors weren’t good enough. The D300 was built as well as a normal sized DSLR could be. Nikon D700 and subsequent full frame cameras of smaller size were just as tough. With adverts of the cameras being covered in mud. The D500 comes at a time when more people realize the advantages of a crop sensor. Having a full-frame camera doesn’t mean getting the best pictures. Such advances in technology as the Canon 7D mark II and the mirrorless market prove a desire for premium smaller sensor cameras.

The Nikon D500 has a 20.9 megapixel sensor. It’s not trying to break any boundaries in the image size field. Which is good, because 99% of image consumers wouldn’t discern between a 20 and a 40 megapixel image. There simply isn’t much need for resolutions higher than 20 megapixels unless you want to print 15 foot wide images. So really it’s a camera that would satisfy the printing needs of most photographers, except for an elite few or for pixel-peeping enthusiasts. If zooming in on every picture is your kink, by all means, go with a 36-megapixel sensor camera. What the D500 can deliver is 200 of these images in 20 seconds. Not many cameras can do this. Because of the new Expeed 5 image processor 200 raw images can be captured in the buffer and then be written on the card. No card or camera is fast enough to shoot images straight onto the card, so the reasonable resolution and the fast image processor play a key role. Mind you they are compressed raw files, but nonetheless a great achievement.

To aid those 10 pictures per second the Nikon D500 borrows the auto-focus system from its big brother: the Nikon D5. It has 153 AF points out of which a whopping 99 are cross-type. Those cross-type sensors make all the difference, they’re faster and more accurate. If the AF system is indeed unchanged from the massive tank of a flagship, the D5, then it must be the best on the market. What’s more useful is that the AF system covers a lot more of the frame. Compared to previous APS-C cameras the entire frame is basically covered. And if we’re talking about speed it’s imperative we mention the 1.640.000 maximum ISO that this camera can set to its images. It almost sounds like a joke, but it’s true, it has an ISO range of over 1.5 million. This is the maximum “hi” value of the ISO. This basically means it’s not native to the sensor, that it’s mostly pushed trough the image processor. The maximum native ISO is 51.200, which is still a whopping number. Don’t expect it to beat the Nikon D810 or Canon 5D mark III in image clarity at high ISO though. It’s a well established fact that full-frame sensors produce much less image noise in all conditions. That being said, newer cameras always have better noise rendition. The Expeed 5 seems to do a great job on the the top Nikon cameras.

The images can be stored on 2 cards simultaneously, or continuously. Nikon is shoving the XQD card slot down their consumer’s throats still. It does promise better transfer speeds. But really these kind of limitations to dedicated technology are always a hassle. You might never use a different lens other than Nikon’s, but cards are like consumables, you need many and you swap them out quickly. We can’t really fault them for trying though. It’s their right to implement specific technologies, even though most users might not want it. In terms of user friendly data transfer though, they’ve marked a big plus with us by using Bluetooth technology. The new camera uses SnapBridge, a system of transfering information from your smartphone or device to your camera. This eliminates the need for a GPS, because your phone can geotag your location. You also have Wi-Fi for image transfers, but Bluetooth is really the best technology right now. For connecting to mobile phones, Bluetooth is the less power-hungry protocol.

The 3.2 inch screen is also a huge improvement. It really makes use of the touchscreen technology. From finger-scrolling to pinch to zoom, it’s immensely useful in reviewing images. In live-view picture taking it’s even more amazing with the tap to focus function and tap to set white balance. They’ve taken smartphone picture functions and pushed them into the camera. The white balance setting really proves Nikon have thought outside of the box. They have found the best way to make use of the touch screen. The screen also tilts like in the Nikon D750 and Nikon D5300. I really can’t see why anyone would buy the Nikon D7200 now, because of the lack of all the new features in the Nikon D500.

Looking at the Nikon D500 and its new features, it really pushes the boundaries with new functions. The really surprising thing is that these are well implemented and work as well as you would expect. Some past “ice-breakers” like the Sony a7 and others have introduced new features that performed poorly, or with severe downsides. With all the innovation and the fast performance packed into it, the Nikon D500 sits comfortably at the top range of the crop sensor market.

g5 x
Previous post

Canon PowerShot G5 X is a Compact Beast

Sony RX100 IV
Next post

Sony RX100 IV is a speedy demon of a camera

George Dean

George Dean

George has been working as a professional photographer since 2006 in landscape, event, portrait, product and journalism photography. With a passion for the technology and the craft itself, he is always up to date.