I Shot with a Nikon D500. Here Are My Thoughts

January 10, 2016 - photo frame

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It’s been a large week for Nikon announcements during CES 2016 in Las Vegas, with launches of a Nikon D500, Nikon D5, and new SB-5000 Speedlight. The new D500 is a camera that many people have been watchful a prolonged time for — a inheritor to a Nikon D300/D300s and a loyal flagship for a Nikon DX line of APS-C cameras. The D500 packs in many of a same new, next-generation facilities as a Nikon D5 that was also usually announced, including a shining new autofocus system, EXPEED 5 picture processing, and a whole lot more.

With a Nikon D500 now official, we am intensely vehement to contend we had a payoff of sharpened with a D500 to emanate images for a launch. I’ve had to keep this plan underneath wraps given August, though now that a camera has been announced, we can finally share my thoughts on this new DX flagship DSLR.

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The Backstory

I’m a music photographer. If it rocks, we can fire it. Live song photography, girl lifestyle and band/celebrity portraits are my trade. My images have seemed in publications like Rolling Stone, Q Magazine, and SPIN, and my clients embody brands like iHeartRadio, Red Bull, and Live Nation. Still, for me, as a lifelong Nikon shooter, operative on a debate for a flagship DSLR has been a dream come loyal for me as a photographer. The fact that Nikon has never featured a song photographer before and that we was a initial finished this plan even some-more special for me.

In early Aug of 2015, we perceived an email with a elementary theme line, “Possible assignment offer.” After a non-disclosure agreement and months of formulation later, in early Nov of 2015 we perceived a antecedent that exceeded anything that a gossip indent had hoped for: a long-awaited inheritor to a Nikon D300’s throne.

We had an extraordinary fire over 3 days with a Toronto four-piece Dilly Dally, whose demeanour and torpedo live uncover was ideal for a kind of rope we wanted for this project. Not usually that, though I’m a large fan of their music, and it was good to fire with them right as their entrance album, Sore, was garnering courtesy from a likes of Rolling Stone, VICE, Pitchfork, The Guardian, and more.

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This fire was a large challenge, as we fundamentally had a band’s sound check and rough 50-minute live uncover to fire a infancy of these images. But if it’s one thing song photographers are used to, it’s a bit of a challenge!

Here are my impressions of this new flagship DX DSLR:

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Body and Design

Overall Design Notes

The D500’s altogether pattern builds on a simple tallness of a Nikon D810 and introduces a array of unequivocally good improvements. Shooting with a Nikon D500 for a initial time is kind of like entrance home to learn someone has usually upgraded your TV, renovated a kitchen, and upgraded all a appliances — all is in a same place, it’s usually better. If we fire with a Nikon DSLR, that’s how a D500 camera feels.

There’s no mistaking a D500 is a pro DSLR. From a imperishable build to a pleasing feel of a buttons and unenlightened feel of a hold in your hand, a D500 is all business. The physique facilities dedicated buttons for ISO, picture quality, metering mode, WB, etc, and not a theatre mode in sight.

In general, we cite DSLRs with a form means of a D500 and D810. The integrated straight hold of cameras like a Nikon D5 are nice, though a portability and lighter weight of this smaller pattern are a outrageous advantage for many photographers. After owning a Nikon D2x and Nikon D3, we have shot with these smaller bodies given a Nikon D700, and, for my work, we haven’t looked behind since.

Dual Card Slots for XQD and SDXC

The D500 facilities what is now a best multiple for veteran shooters — a multiple XQD and SD slots, concordant with a latest G-Series and UHS-II standards, respectively. The newest XQD cards concede for speeds adult to 400 MB/s write and 350 MB/s read, over twice as quick as a fastest CF cards (which, as of Jan 2016, time out around 160 MB/s write). The SDXC container lets we use precedence a handful of inexpensive and large-capacity SD cards that each pro photographer we know has knocking around their camera bag.

So, we fundamentally have a best of both worlds — best-in-class speed with XQD and a ubiquity and application of SD. As always, we can set a second label container for backup, overflow, or usually saving JPG copies.

While Nikon’s pierce to XQD from CF competence force an ascent in storage for some pros, a boost in speed is value it. More on this in a Speed territory of a sharpened impressions.

Viewfinder

The Nikon D500 facilities an eye-level pentaprism viewfinder, that offers 100% straight and 100% plane coverage for accurate framing and 1.0x magnification. These competence seem like pardonable specs, what this means is that a viewfinder shows precisely what we constraint in your files, permitting for a many vicious framing.

No Built-In Flash

The D500 does divided with a built-in pop-up peep entirely, a preference we feel pro photographers everywhere support. On my span of Nikon D800s, we keep a built-in flashes taped down with oldster fasten to forestall them from popping adult until we need to use them — that is never. To me, built-in flashes are usually a guilt that can mangle or mangle off.

This change allows for a large pentaprism while still permitting for a unequivocally low-profile hump. we adore it. The large boys like a Nikon D4 and new D5 don’t have a built-in flash, and a D500 doesn’t need one, either.

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Tilting Touch Screen

Though a touch-enabled LCD was introduced with a Nikon D5500, a D500 is a initial time we’ve seen this underline in a veteran Nikon DSLR. If you’ve used a smartphone in a final 5 years, a use of a touchscreen is totally intuitive. During playback, we can splash and widen to wizz in or out of images, and appropriate left or right to navigate by images.

The hold shade creates picture examination intensely fast, generally with a “frame allege bar” feature. This interface allows we to pierce by a array of images instantly, though carrying to appropriate a images. Since a picture wizz and framing stays locked, a support allege bar is ideal for reviewing concentration or sharpness of images shot in continual mode.

With live perspective shooting, Nikon has implemented hold AF/shutter with a new hold arrangement — daub anywhere on a shade to set concentration and take a photo. Tough AF works in film mode as well.

For my shooting, we desired being means to fire beyond with a D500’s lean screen. The lean shade itself is fundamentally a same pattern implemented on a Nikon D750 — it articulates 180º for low-angle or beyond shooting. The lean resource is great; there when we wish it, and totally out of a approach and invisible when we don’t need it.

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Controls — Sub-selector

The D500 adds a sub-selector control pad to a behind of a camera, positioned nearby a AF-ON button. Introduced with a Nikon D4, a sub-selector is a some-more ergonomic submit for selecting AF indicate while shooting. Since a sub-selector is positioned in a same arc of a ride as a behind authority dial and a AF-ON button, it creates for an even some-more liquid sharpened experience.

With live song photography, being means to conflict to a impulse on theatre is pivotal to being means to make a best images, so, personally, we adore to see Nikon pulling for a best user experience, interface, and ergonomics. While it’s a tiny change, though a sub-selector creates Nikon’s famous ergonomics and controls even better.

Connectivity

For me, one of a loyal outlines of a veteran camera is a connectivity it offers, and here a Nikon D500 does not disappoint. Like a D5 and D810, a D500 offers a PC-sync hollow and 10-pin port, that concede a D500 to use a operation of industry-standard accessories. Ports like this competence be a teenager feature, though for they can supplement adult to be a large care when regulating studio rigging and accessories, so it’s good to see that a D500 has these pro options.

Flicker Reduction

A teenager though unequivocally critical new underline of a D500 is flutter rebate when sharpened underneath 50/60 Hz lighting, such as fluorescent lighting. The D500 radically detects a fluctuation of light levels and minimizes this outcome by sharpened during a brightest moments.

This is of sold advantage for anyone who shoots sports or other high-speed photography, where notation changes in lighting bearing can hurt a best frames of a wilful moment.

Image Quality

20.9 Megapixel DX Sensor

The D500 facilities a 20.9 megapixel DX sensor with an fortitude of 5568 × 3712 pixels. Personally, we feel like 20mp is a sweetspot for many photographers and generally a DX format. Coincidence that a newly announced Nikon D5 full-frame flagship also sports a 20.8mp sensor? we don’t cruise so.

At a 20-megapixel range, we get adequate fortitude that retouching mural work is still a breeze, though not so many that record distance requires a server plantation or a supercomputer to process.

Furthermore, pixel firmness is kept modest, so you’re means to have bigger photosites, that translates into reduction sound during a sensor level. This is even some-more loyal for a smaller DX format, and gripping a fortitude during 20mp leverages high fact while still permitting for extraordinary high ISO performance.

I fire with a 36mp Nikon D800, though that’s fundamentally usually given I’m a masochist. Even used to a aloft fortitude of a D800, we was vacant during a fact and pixel-level peculiarity constructed by a D500. Not usually for a DX sensor, though for any DSLR, period.

No Optical Low-Pass Filter

Part of a reason for a illusory picture peculiarity a D500 produces is a outcome of a sensor design. The D500 ditches a visual low-pass filter, that is a good preference for 99% of a photographers who will use this camera.

Low-pass filters request a notation turn of blurring during a sensor turn — a reason for them is to revoke moiré patterns, artifacts that can means fake tone or fake fact during a pixel level. The downside to low-pass filters is that in sequence to revoke moiré patterns in a singular instances they do seem in real-world shooting, they scapegoat a sharpest sum 100% of a time.

By withdrawal out a low-pass filter, a D500 is means to broach intensely frail fact and make a comprehensive many out of a 20mp sensor. This is a same preference that Nikon has finished with a Nikon D810, that we cruise signals a auspicious trend of unequivocally smoothness limit fact and clarity.

RAW Processing

Exposure latitude, prominence recover, and shade fact with RAW files from a D500 are all excellent. Nikon’s final era of cameras have all had glorious embodiment in a RAW files, and a D500 is no exception.

Even during high ISO, where many cameras start to humour with courtesy to a lively of their RAW files, we found a D500 supposing copiousness of headroom. All representation images in this essay were shot and processed from RAW regulating Nikon Capture NX-D software.

I contingency note here that a cameras we used were all pre-production prototypes. And, while we was intensely tender by a picture quality, they were prototypes nonetheless and we contingency highlight that a picture peculiarity of my samples should not be taken as a final peculiarity of a prolongation recover of a D500.

Shooting Performance

Continuous Shooting

The D500 shoots during a flattering blazing 10 FPS and will means this for 200 frames of 14-bit lossless dense RAW regulating XQD cards. Let me repeat that. 200 frames of 14-bit RAW. Or in other words, what we get is fundamentally a fastest continual sharpened accessible on a Nikon DSLR outward of a Nikon D5, and not by much. And for reference, 10 FPS is a same support rate as a prior full-frame flagship, a Nikon D4/D4s. This is insane.

As a song photographer, I’m constantly chasing those small, fleeting, “rockstar” moments — those instances during a tallness of a performance. The 10 FPS continual rate of a D500 is a outrageous bonus to capturing those ideal moments.

Here, a speed of a D500 is another reason because a 20.9mp sensor hits a honeyed spot, permitting a camera to yield a turn of lively and opening that punches distant above a weight and size.

In box we were wondering what 10 FPS sounds like…

Autofocus

If we had to collect usually one underline of a D500 that stands out, we would have to collect a new AF module. Honestly, when we examination a technical specs of a camera, we suspicion there contingency have been a mistake. 153 autofocus points? 99 cross-type sensors? 55 user-selectable points? We’ve never seen an AF complement like this in a DSLR. And it’s awesome.

While a new D5 also facilities this same new 153-point system, a blueprint truly sings on a DX format, charity an amazingly far-reaching widespread of AF points that fill a frame.

In terms of low-light focusing, a D500 facilities 15 AF points that are concordant with f/8 effective limit orifice down to -4 EV. Excuse me while we roar like a fangirl during a One Direction concert.

But specs aside, how does a new 153-point complement work in a genuine world? Shooting with a Nikon D500, when ambient light conditions called for ISO 12800 and above, a AF of a D500 dejected it, even with moving, low contrariety subjects in low lighting (AKA live song photography). When we sketch musicians, they are roughly in consistent suit — rocking behind and forth, relocating adult to a mic mount to sing and afterwards changeable behind to fragment — and this kind of movement mostly happens in unequivocally low lighting. A standard uncover competence need an bearing of ISO 6400 during f/2.8 and 1/500, and in this form of lighting, AF has to perform or we go home though a shot. The Nikon D500’s AF nailed these kinds of hurdles with ease.

I fire roughly exclusively in AF-C, and we found that a D500 new AF procedure and algorithms are as good as anything I’ve ever used and better. Nikon’s AF has always been glorious and one of a reasons we have always used Nikon DSLRs, and a D500 usually improves on this legacy.

High ISO Performance

As a song photographer, we live and die during high ISO. My pursuit starts when a lights go down, and we frequency fire next ISO 3200 for my live song photography. So this matter is not something we make lightly: The high ISO opening of a D500 blew me away.

Not usually does this camera have an strange local operation – ISO 100 to 51200 — though a peculiarity in this operation is usually tremendous. What Nikon has finished is fundamentally finished a DX sensor that shoots in a low like a full-frame sensor. That’s how good a high ISO picture peculiarity is.

And if 51200 isn’t enough, a D500 offers not usually HI-1, HI-2, or 3… though HI-5 for an homogeneous of ISO 1640000. Yes. ISO One-Point-Six-Million. Million.

Overall, a picture peculiarity that a D500 delivers during high ISO is excellent. we cruise it a bad day during a bureau if we have to widen to ISO 12800, though even here a D500 offers superb picture quality, not to discuss 7 (!) some-more stops of headroom. For my work, we could simply fire during ISO 6400 and ISO 12800 all day, a high ISO opening is usually that good.

Having a DX sensor perform like this is flattering amazing. When we started sharpened concerts 10 years ago (yes, I’m going to lift out that card) we used a Nikon D2x. The local ISO operation went to 800, and to even get to ISO 3200 we were during HI-2, a finish of a road… It’s flattering extraordinary to see what a decade of creation and improvements meant in terms of high ISO performance, looking behind to a D2x and afterwards to a new DX flagship, a D500.

Shooting Music Photography with a D500

Shooting unison photography is flattering many like holding your camera and punching it in a face. The sharpened conditions operation from low to dark, a targets are moving, and if you’re propitious we usually get splashed with drifting drink and not a foot to a head. The D500 endured all this abuse and usually laughed.

With a D500, Nikon took all we adore about their DSLRs and finished it better. Ergonomics. Customizability. Image quality. Autofocus. Everything is tip of a line. The D500 is a clarification of a flagship camera.

But don’t take my word for it. Here are a images shot with a Nikon D500 finished for a launch campaign. (And again, we should acknowledgement that these images were all finished with pre-production copies of a D500):

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Location Portrait Photos With a D500 and SB-5000

These images were all photographed with a Nikon D500, new SB-5000 speedlight and WR-10 radio trigger. For modifiers, we used a Profoto 4’ RFI Octabox and 36” Photex Softlighter II on a keylights. Both of these light modifiers worked ideally with a SB-5000, with a pleasing peculiarity of light that we rarely recommend.

I was intensely tender by a energy of a SB-5000 units, that were some-more than able in sharpened in splendid object as good as throttled down to change with any existent ambient lighting.

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In Conclusion

It’s been 9 years given a introduction of a D300 and 7 years given a recover of a D300s. For those photographers who need a opening of a truly veteran DX flagship, estimable of a throne, a wait is over.

I feel like a new Nikon D500 delivers on a speed, performance, and peculiarity that a DX format creatively betrothed us. We have a DX sensor that rivals a picture peculiarity of full-frame cameras for per-pixel acuity and high ISO performance, with an lively and responsiveness that is adult to a many perfectionist detailed tasks. All in a compress and lightweight DSLR system.

In particular, a new 153-point AF complement is class-leading, and we cruise that this, total with a 10 FPS continual sharpened rate, are going to be diversion changers for any photographers who follow wilful moments.

This whole fire was a outrageous group bid usually operative on my tiny partial of a campaign, and I’m so vehement to finally share these images. we started sharpened concerts in hazed dive bars — never did we dream my trail in song photography would lead to operative on a plan like this. It was truly a disturb and an honor.


About a author: Todd Owyoung is a song photographer formed in New York City. He’s accessible for worldwide transport for editorial and blurb assignments. He also runs a website ishootshows.com, a heading website for song photography. You can see some-more of his work on his website. This essay was also published here.

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