For those who love speed, Nikon D500 DSLR should be your choice
The D500 borrows features from the flagship D5 and introduces a level of speed that is ideal for sports and fast-moving subjects.
Nikon calls the D500 their flagship DX-format DSLR (in Nikon parlance, the DXformat is roughly the APS-C size, while their FX-format is the same as a full frame sensor, roughly the size of a 35mm frame of film). The D500 borrows features from the flagship D5 (notably the insane 153 point autofocus system) and introduces a level of speed that is ideal for sports and fast-moving subjects.
Looking around the camera, the layout is typical Nikon though there are a few additions: the tilting touchscreen, 4K video, SnapBridge (with WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth) and a few extra programmable buttons. You can choose between various shutter release modes: single (S), continuous low speed (CL), continuous high speed (CH), mirror up (Mup), quiet (Q) and quiet continuous (Qc).
It can go up to 10 frames per second in full resolution JPEG when supported by the right high-speed SD card. The quiet modes are noticeably quieter — useful when shooting wildlife or in quiet environments – it can go up to 3 frames per second in Qc mode.
Pop open the side door and you’ll see dual card slots. So what’s the purpose of dual card slots? You can set the second card to function as overflow, as a mirror (for extra safety, in case one card corrupts) or save RAW files to one card and JPGs to the other. However, this doesn’t have a CompactFlash (CF) card slot — it has XQD and SDXC. XQD, designed to replace CF, is a newer format that uses a PCI express interface and hence offers much faster transfer speeds.
This is essential if you’re recording 10 frames per second and high bitrate 4k video. Durability is a given, thanks to the magnesium alloy and carbon fiber construction. It’s built to be dust and water resistant so that you can take it on your travels. Nikon has an app called Snap Bridge (Android and iOS) that you can use to connect to a smart device.
The app takes you through the process of connecting to the camera but the experience is not very rewarding. It takes a while to connect to your phone and to transfer images (even if they are reduced resolution). You can’t control settings while remote shooting (though it does have live view on the phone). Plus, it randomly disconnects from the camera and refuses to reconnect until the app and camera are both restarted. Coming to performance, the D500 won’t disappoint — it is almost ridiculously fast.
The 153 point AF (99 are cross type, though all are not selectable) does its job to keep moving subjects in focus. You can be shooting at 10fps and it will re-focus in between shots to keep the moving subject in focus! ISO performance is another area where Nikon has pulled out all the stops. Without getting into the ‘Hi’ ISO modes, you can shoot at ISO 51,200, at night, with only the moon for a light — and still get a usable photograph. In the right hands, this is a serious photography tool. 4k video is also present, though it uses a smaller part of the sensor to record video and focus will struggle under challenging conditions.
But it does have the capability to be used for video professionally — with manual focus and mic inputs. We really couldn’t complain about quality — except that some photographers might find the 21MP resolution limiting. The only hitch is, at the price you buy the D500 body (Rs 1.33L), you can easily get a full frame DSLR from Canon (EOS 6D — Rs 1.2L). For that matter, the 6D kit with the 24-105mm IS lens at Rs 1.62L is significantly cheaper than the D500 kit as well. Bottom line is, if you’re looking for full frame, more megapixels or don’t need the speed, you can look elsewhere. But if speed and performance is what you need, look no further.