Nikon D500 review (who would have thought…)

This Nikon D500 review is by Romanian photographer and Nikon Ambassador Mircea Bezergheanu (Website | Facebook | Vimeo | YouTube). The original review was published here in Romanian (thanks for the translation Marius; click on images for larger view):

Nikon has kept the secret so safe,that the launching of D500 – the mythological D400 – has sent the photographers into a fever of excitement. Its specifications have revealed us a device that leaves you no room for justifications such-the device couldn’t rise to the challenge. I started testing it in parallel with that of D5, but at D500 I pulled more trying to find weaknesses-at some point I got really sad thinking that I have found the Achilles heel-trying to bring it to its limit.

Some of the specifications are found at a rival’s camera,but only a small part,and the Nikon D500’s implementation is sent to the level of  a wet dream…

  • 20,7 Mpix in an APS-C-5568×3712 pixels – here I was expecting 24 Mpix.
  • 153 autofocus points,with 99 cross-type points-the exact system of the Nikon D5,but it covers almost the whole DX frame!!!
  • 10 frames per second, completed with a buffer which is absolutely incredible, 200 frames NEF at 14-bit, thanks to another smart implementation-the XQD card.
  • 180.000 pixels for the RGB sensor that manages the exposure measurement and the facial recognition .
  • Articulated monitor – very useful – with 2,36 millions pixels.
  • 2 slots for the memory card-1 for XQD – excellent for 4k filming and endless shootings in burst mode,and 1 SD slot, with which you will be able to shoot approximately 50 frames in the burst mode, depending on the chosen model.
  • The Viewfinder offers a frame coverage of 100 %.
  • The Iso range is between 100 – 51200 Iso. You will find a more complex test,with all the Iso values,on my blog, written a while ago.
  • Wi-fi and Bluetooth, accompanied by an app for tablets and phones, Snap Bridge, which allows you to upload the frames on the WEB while you take pictures.
  • USB 3.0
  • 4K filming (UHD) 30p/25p/24p, 1080/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p, 720/60p/50p
  • Automatic calibration system for the autofocus errors of the camera lenses – an extremely useful function that some may have missed.
  • 1240 frames on a full battery,but I made it to 2000 frames with a battery, for taking pictures and I exceeded 4000 frames when I shot more time lapse … this is absolutely phenomenal, especially as I had a great initial disappointment when I saw that I can not shoot more than 800-900 frames with a battery. I had used those old batteries, the 01 series, but when I put  batteries in series 20, it was like I had changed the camera!!! Nikon is changing the battery version 01 with version 20, so that the Nikon battery owners can benefit from its real capacity.

Beyond the specifications and beyond the impersonal and sterile testing labs there are the challenges of the field  photographing, where every tool it’s facing the challenges more or less. So let’s see what the Nikon D500  had to show me. There were 2 chapters that I had found absolutely exciting, and that I focused on since the first testings.

The performance of the APS-C sensor on the night photography,at high and very high Iso values:

3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO

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12800 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO

I have shot some frames with very, very long exposure,aproximately 2279 sec in order to stress the sensor out as much as possible, shooting Star trails frames.

Another frames shot at night, at different exposures, at lower iso values.

The second chapter – The performance of the autofocus system,which was not new to me, I had tested it on the Nikon D5. But I didn’t knew now how well it was implemented, nor whether it had been intentionally restricted by the manufacturer…

The testings’ start have been the The Danube Delta Rally, as I had thought that “engine” sports would have challenge my camera quite well. It has been a bad joke though,the camera had been urging me to put it through tough challenges, not to something that have proved to be nothing more than “big kids games”.

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I have brought it to an Air Show … but it hasn’t strained itself that much here either.

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Action, baby, action! The superfast, unpredictable stuff, on short tracks, in harsh lighting, or on the contrary, in fog! I got frustrated and sent it to see some flies.

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… then to see some butterflies …

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… then some birdies …

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next in line being the Common Swift (Apus Apus), possibly the biggest challenge in the BIF category.

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When I realized that it was me who couldn’t cope with its potency, I switched it to bigger animals, so it wouldn’t be able to notice my shaky hand and my helplessness.

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Then, when I thought that he was finally tired,and its battery drained, I had said to myself that I should surprise it with some close up action. The result?….From my point of view, I have taken the picture of the year, a wildlife picture at a macro level, that had succeeded in revealing through all its pixels the astonishing fight for survival of a giant wasp from the species Vespa carbro, that had attacked an ant farm, becoming in a matter of seconds the prey.

I have put the camera down saying to myself – Done, I have taken this year’s PHOTOGRAPH! Thank you Nikon for the D500!!! It’s a review, so I should be less biased, but you just can’t pretend that you’re not impressed, when you are literally jumping for joy!

I have worked at the wildlife category, taking pictures where I have evaluated the sensor’s capacity to reproduce the more settle tones, or the bright white,or the plumage, which is usually seen by the camera as black.

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I am going to post a whole frame of a Great crested grebe, followed by an 100 % crop of that frame, in order to evaluate the level of detail.

The sun was setting, the light was not so giving, but the result had convinced me that I could rely on the tool.

I had shot some more frames in the rain, with a calf.

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So that I could later test the results of the reproduction of the pastel colors.

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As well as the color’s reproduction on the red channel, especially in backlight. The result – irreproachable.

The portrait photography, with a diverse range of skin tones, hard to correctly reproduce in difficult lightning. The tests speak for themselves:

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I went to evaluate the sensor’s behavior to the landscape photography, which sometimes requires the HDR to be as good as possible, in order to reproduce the details from very well lit areas, as well as the shadowy  areas. I am reading on the net the comments of some so-called connoisseurs, who haven’t even touched the camera yet, who say that it’s going to have a bit of a weakness regarding the DR. Ohh, really!

iezer-latorita_010 fundatura-august_628 fundatura-august_416 fundatura-august_318 fundatura-august_590 fundatura-august_401 ceata-fund-mai-083 ceata-fund-mai-089 fundatura-august_384 fundatura-august_463
I was shooting along with an Nikon D810, and the photos had been coming out the same. It is said that some folks are going to test it in the laboratory and they’ll demonstrate that the Nikon D500 is weaker. They’d better say it to my face,’cuz I’ve got my arguments.And the photos.

For well lit landscapes it’s pretty standard, kinda like taking a picture with a smartass phone.

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…okay, I admit it, it’s a little better … this camera has everything I haven’t even dreamed of for a DX!

This DX camera rises to Nikon D4’s iso level, and it’s indisputably better that a lot of full frame cameras on the market! Many have asked me – D750 or D500? It’s hard to tell someone else how to spend his/her money. I choose the D500,because I own a D810, so for the FF part, I’m covered. But, if I had to choose a camera only, I would choose the D500 for the solutions it has to offer, but I’d  be careful in choosing the camera lens. With capable camera lenses you can face any kind of photograph, from events to wild life, This is the artistry, the way you equip it with the optics.

Good luck!

…umm… I forgot this stag-beetle, shot in low light in the forest, with an Iso 3200. I’ll just leave it here, so it doesn’t get lost.


This Nikon D500 review is by Romanian photographer and Nikon Ambassador Mircea Bezergheanu (Website | Facebook | Vimeo | YouTube). The original review was published here in Romanian (thanks for the translation Marius). All photos © Mircea Bezrgheanu.
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