Now isn’t this a pleasant surprise. All the attention and rumours have focused on the previously teased D5 (now unveiled in all its glory – see above), and now up pops the highly anticipated and hoped-for successor to the D300S, the Nikon D500, establishing what the company calls “a new era of DX-format performance.”
The DX-format flagship camera offers pro-level features to deliver “nimble handling, speed and extreme processing power in a compact and lightweight body.”
Like the new D5 (above), the D500 benefits from Nikon’s latest technological innovations, including a totally new, “blazing fast” Multi-CAM 20K 153-point AF system and 4K UHD video capture, and adds a new way to share photos with Nikon SnapBridge (see below).
Because it’s DX format, the camera can be lighter and smaller than its full format siblings, such as the D610, D750, D800, and new D5.
The D500 features an all-new, Nikon developed 20.9-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor that is said to render images with outstanding colours and gorgeous tonality. This sensor is coupled with Nikon’s new EXPEED 5 image processing engine, offering low noise and maximum processing power with a small footprint and superbly balanced body, says the company.
The D500 offers an ISO range of 100-51,200, expandable to 50-1,640,000 equivalent. That last number is not a typo; that’s black cat in a coal bin territory – ISO 1.6 million! That’s taking pictures of things you can’t see.
To keep pace, the camera is fitted with the same AF system as the D5, the Multi-CAM 20K AF sensor module, with a separate dedicated processor for AF function. On the D500’s DX-format sensor, the 153-point AF array fills the frame from side to side, letting users track and lock onto subjects from the extreme edges of the viewfinder. Like the D5, the D500 uses the new 180K RGB Metering system and Advanced Scene Recognition System to help ensure balanced exposures and “fantastic” colour rendition in nearly any shooting situation, Nikon explains.
The D500 features robust build quality, Nikon claims, offering the same amount of rugged weather sealing as the Nikon D810. The durable body is a monocoque structure composed of magnesium alloy for the top and rear, while the front is reinforced with lightweight carbon fibre. The shutter mechanism has been tested for 200K actuations. For further durability, the D500 excludes a pop-up flash, but is compatible with Nikon’s newest radio frequency capable flash, the SB-5000 Speedlight (with optional WR-R10 and WR-A10).
There’s a 3.2-inch, high resolution touchscreen LCD, which lets users interact with photos in playback, control the camera and operate menus. When mounted on a tripod or shooting from creative angles, shooters will appreciate the reinforced tilting LCD screen, similar to the Nikon D750. Additionally, images are rapidly written to either a fast XQD card slot or to the additional SD card slot.
The D500 introduces an innovative way to share photos wirelessly with the new Nikon SnapBridge which allows for a Bluetooth supported connection between camera and compatible smart device, thus making automatic upload of your images possible. Once enabled, the camera stays connected to the smart device and transfers photos, eliminating the need to re-connect devices.
Those looking to share images can also tag images for transfer in camera and can password protect their connection for added security. As an added benefit, the D500’s built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) capability easily connects the camera to a compatible smart device with just a tap, while built-in Wi-Fi capability allows for faster wireless image transfer.
For those looking for an even faster transfer solution, the D500 is also compatible with the optional WT-7A Wireless Transmitter, enabling wired or wireless transmission of files to an FTP server or computer at faster speeds.
Just like the D5, the D500 has the ability to capture 4K UHD video at up to 30p (3840×2160), as well as Full HD (1080p) video at a variety of frame rates. The camera sports a host of pro video features derived from the D810, including uncompressed HDMI output and Picture Controls, but adds even more features. These pro-level creative video features include the ability to create 4K time-lapse movies in-camera and Auto ISO smoothing to provide fluid transitions in exposure during recording, and the capability to record 4K UHD video to the card and output to HDMI simultaneously. When capturing Full HD 1080p content, the camera also has a new 3-axis electronic VR feature that can be activated regardless of the lens being used.
Challenging video exposures are no problem for the D500, as it also adds in Active D-Lighting into Full HD video to balance exposure values within a scene and to help prevent blown-out highlights.
The Nikon D500 will be available in March for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $2,699.95 (body only).
The MB-D17 battery pack will also be available in March, and will add extended battery life and facilitate vertical shooting. Pricing will be announced at a later date.
The WT-7A Wireless Transmitter will be available in March, with price to be determined.