My Nikon D500 arrived today!
Finally, I get my hands on a true flagship DX body from Nikon. I’ve always had a place in my kit for a DX body, because I appreciate the extra reach when shooting wildlife; especially birds. However, Nikon’s offerings since the D300s haven’t excited me. This camera, however, makes me glad to be a Nikon shooter!
Unboxing the Nikon D500
Here are my quick first impressions after playing with the D500 a bit today.
- Ergonomics: Wonderful. It fits right in my hand and the controls are all within reach of my thumb and forefinger while shooting. The mini “joystick” falls right below my thumb and makes selecting AF points easy. Weird: Nikon moved the “mode” button (to select exposure modes) to the left top dial and put the ISO button on the right side near the video record button.
- Autofocus Performance: Damn near amazing. I put my 200-500mm f/5.6E VR Nikkor on the D500, and I didn’t need to apply any AF fine-tuning. The AF system allows you to select 55 points, but there are a total of 153 points (some are used as “assist” points). I put the D500 into a tough situation, shooting the 200-500VR with TC-14EIII, which makes the lens combo f/8. That means only some of the AF points will work. I was in crummy overcast light, and the D500 managed to lock and track focus quite well once I got the initial acquisition set (this is the tough part about using f/8 lenses). Normally, I wouldn’t even need a teleconverter, but I wanted to push this combo to the limit. What was unusable on the D810 is now a viable option on the D500.
- ISO Performance: I’m still testing, but my images were fine below ISO 3200, and had some noticeable grain at ISO 5000 and up. Of course, most of this grain is easy to fix, and won’t be visible in most web images or normal sized prints. I’ll keep testing this, so stay tuned. More importantly, I didn’t see any major loss of color or contrast at higher ISOs during my field test.
- Frame Rate & Buffer: Amazing. With a Sony “G” XQD card, I shot 67 continuous frames RAW at full 10fps and didn’t notice any slowdown. I only stopped because I got bored shooting that many frames. I’ll do a full test later, but most of us won’t be shooting that many frames. Shutter blackout is practically non-existent, too.
I’ll be putting the Nikon D500 through it’s paces in the coming weeks, but right now, I’m convinced that it is THE go-to Nikon DSLR for wildlife and birding enthusiasts who want a fast camera with the best autofocus system Nikon has to offer. The D500, combined with the 200-500mm f/5.6E zoom Nikkor, may just be the best wildlife combo you can get for under $3500.