Review: Nikon D500

The Nikon D500 is my my main camera as of 2017. I had actually decided that I didn't really need the D500 but was willing to settle for the D7500 but after the latter was released, I was a little disappointed to discover that the price difference between these two cameras was only marginally and the D7500 lacks some of the features I really like in a semi-pro camera.

I still love my old D300 and still use it as backup camera but the D500 improves upon it in so many ways:

  • 20,7MPixel DX-format sensor
  • 153 point AF module with 99 cross-type points
  • 180.000 pixel RGB sensor for metering and subject recognition
  • 10 fps shooting even without battery grip with a 200 shot buffer (lossless compressed 14-bit RAW)
  • 4K UHD video
  • Tilting touchscreen display
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and Snapbridge support

Action

Action photographers will appreciate being able to shoot 10 frames per second for up to 200 shots before the camera slows down. This is brilliant for shooting fast moving birds or airplanes! Combined with an excellent fast and precise autofocus this camera is the Action camera king of the DX-format!

Low light handling

One of my main complaints with the D300 was its poor low light capabilities. The D500 has an ISO range of 100 - 51.200 but it is expandable to 50 - 1.640.000. The ISO noise is well controlled - you can go for a much higher setting than I had expected and still shoot some nice detailed pictures without too much noise.

Snapbridge

A new feature introduced on the D500 is the Snapbridge. After installing the software on your smartphone you simply connects the Android based smartphone to the D500 by holding close to the side of the camera and the NFC will handle the rest (iPhone users will have to connect manually though). The camera will automatically transfer images to the smartphone where you can view them on the typically larger screen on the phone. The photos are automatically resized before being transferred to the smartphone so they do not take up too much space on your phone - this also allows for a faster wireless transfer.

The Snapbridge software also allows you to take pictures remotely using your smartphone. Mount the camera on a tripod and point it at a birds nest and shoot while you yourself are hiding a little away (but still in wireless range of course).

I must admit I have come to love the Snapbridge feature! I enjoy being able to view the photos on the larger screen of my smartphone and also post directly to Instagram or Facebook while still out in the field .

Display

The display is large and bright and works well in most cases. It is touch sensitive so you can scroll through you photos and zoom in/out just like on a smartphone. In Live View mode you can point at the screen to have the camera focus at that point and take a shot.

However, in bright sunlight the display and Live View is less functional - I had serious troubles shooting video and photos on a bright summer day using the Live View. I have noticed the same problem on almost every camera I have used (also non-Nikon's) so I am not going to hold this against the D500 but only hope that future display technology will help solve this problem.

Battery

Several D500 users have complained about poor battery performance. You should expect the battery to drain more quickly at first when you get a new camera as it is being used to charge up the internal battery. But after several months of use I still notice that the battery is being drained.

The battery have enough capacity for walking around all day shooting hundreds of photos but it seems to be drained over time when the camera is not used. 

The D500 seems to drain the battery even when turned off. I am not a professional photograph - often I am busy with work or other priorities and my camera is left alone for weeks. Then suddenly I notice a rare bird in my backyard and grap my camera to take a few shots only to discover the battery is completely drained and the camera will not turn on. I have never experienced this issue with my older Nikon cameras so I was surprised to experience it with the D500.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Build quality
  • Fast autofocus
  • Very good low light handling / high ISO
  • Lots of settings and customization
  • Optional battery grip available

Cons:

  • Price
  • No built-in GPS (but can transfer GPS coordinates from smartphone using Snapbridge)
  • No built-in flash (but I almost never use a built-in flash anyway)
  • For traveling I prefer to bring something smaller like D3300 due to weight/size/price issues
  • Battery drain

All thing considered I love the D500 and highly recommend it!

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