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What would you choose...Nikon D500 OR...?

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by giddyypixie, Jan 22, 2021.

  1. giddyypixie

    giddyypixie Member

    Hi all

    I currently have a Nikon D500 with the Nikon 200-500mm, Nikon 300mm f4, Sigma 105mm, Sigma 17-50mm & Nikon 50mm 1.8.

    My main areas of interest for photography are wildlife and macro. I am by no means a professional, but I am passionate about my hobby and if I could sell prints, then that would be a brucey bonus.

    I have been tinkering with the idea of a mirrorless system but there are just so many choices on the market, my head is swimming! My natural choice would be the Nikon Z6ii but reading reviews, it just doesn't seem like it will perform as well as the D500. Sony seems to be the place to go for mirrorless.

    So, this is where you come in! What would your recommendations be and why? Have you made the leap from D500 to mirrorless and been happy with the choice (specific to wildlife photography). I am looking at a budget of +/- £2k.

  2. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    If you are happy with the D500, why do you want to swap?
    If I had your budget I would buy a second D500 body or get a Nikon 17-55 f2.8, buy used and the budget will go even further.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I don’t know anything about Nikon. I’ll likely move my Canon system to mirrorless as the cameras wear out, so few years yet. The current lenses will probably see me out.

    I have a basic Fuji mirrorless system bought mainly for the smaller size/weight.
  4. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    If you want to spend the money now, and bearing in mind your wildlife photography, I might be tempted to trade in the 200-500 zoom for a nice 500mm F4 prime. I've noticed that many of the wildlife images in AP are taken with lenses like this, and you could look for a second hand one from one of the reputable dealers who advertise in AP (if buying a new Nikon, even if you part-exchange the 200-500, your budget probably won't be enough). You would have to research this carefully - will you want to work hand held and want image stabilisation, or use a tripod?

    All the comments below are personal opinions, so feel free to disagree.

    Many of us would be very happy with the equipment you currently have - I cannot think of any reason why I would want to replace the D500 unless I was no longer prepared to carry it, or wanted to move to a large format camera like a Fuji GFX100 with the intention of taking very high resolution images for commercial work (I'm also sure I've read in AP that the D500 is excellent for wildlife work). I would suggest waiting until you are allowed to travel again (next year?), and use the £2,000 to fund travel to places that would inspire you to use the wonderful equipment you already have. Somewhere with wonderful wildlife, for example.

    If you replace the camera body (and the 17-50 too since I believe it is made for APS-C bodies, and the Z6 if a full frame body), be careful in case you have the problem of 'if I replace my kit with something different, but perhaps not better than what I already have, will I take better pictures?' This can become be very expensive and regular affliction.
    giddyypixie and John Farrell like this.
  5. giddyypixie

    giddyypixie Member

    I like the fact that the mirrorless cameras are silent when shooting wildlife, lighter, tracking AF and you can bracket focus for macro.
  6. giddyypixie

    giddyypixie Member

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Overall, yes you are right that the setup I have is great and I am happy with it generally. But.....I am looking to try and lighten the load when I am out walking hence the appeal of a mirrorless system. Also, there are a couple things that have caught my eye on mirrorless cameras like bracketing focus for macro photography.
  7. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    A big telephoto prime or zoom is heavy regardless of whether it is on a mirrorless or DSLR body, so a move to mirrorless in itself will not reduce the weight of the kit greatly. I had a 100-400 for my Fujifilm CSC and sold it as it seemed so out of step with the concept of the camera. To reduce weight significantly the only way would be to go M4/3.
  8. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    A FAST telephoto is. I don't know how the F11 optics of Canon will do in the market place, presumably the 800 F11 is a small fraction of the weight of the 800 F5.6.

    I haven't so far bought a 100-400 for my Fuji as I wasn't duplicating my birding gear. I expect it sits nicely on the X-H1 which, with grip, isn't that much physically smaller than my Canons, although lighter.
  9. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    I’m surprised you think reviews suggest the Nikon Z6ii would be inferior to the D500 for wildlife. My impression was that the Z6ii’s high-ISO performance and shooting rate, which I believe are both considered very important for wildlife, are superior to the D500, and it also offers silent shooting through the viewfinder. And I think its subject tracking is as good as the D500 (although perhaps not as easily accessible through the controls).

    For myself, I like the idea of wildlife photography, although I’ve never got very far with it, but I do a fair bit of macro photography. I expect in future to upgrade from my D800 to the Z7II, which has the advantages of full frame, but if it’s images are cropped back to APS-C size they should closely match the resolution and high-ISO performance of the D500, although not its frame rate. I recognise that dedicated wildlife photographers value high frame rates for obvious reasons, although I’m less clear why they prioritize the better pixel-level high-ISO performance of sensors with a low pixel count over the better potential resolution, and similar high-ISO performance if resampled to a matching resolution, of high-resolution sensors.

    Sony’s cameras are certainly considered to offer better subject tracking than Nikon’s mirrorless to date, but with the drawback of inferior ergonomics, and I’m not sure how well you could use your existing Nikkor lenses on a Sony.
    Another well-regarded choice might be the Nikkor 500mm f/5.6, with much better image quality than the 200-500mm at a similar weight. I have the Sigma 150-500mm, but it’s disappointingly soft at 500mm. This year I bought the Nikkor AF-P 70-300mm, and realized that with the D800’s pixel count, the much heavier 150-500mm can only out-resolve it at impractically small apertures. That makes the Nikkor 500mm f/5.6 seems very tempting, but I’ll wait until the Nikkor Z 200-600mm is released and tested, as I also value the versatility of a zoom.

  10. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Your D500 can track moving subjects and maintain focus. It can’t do silent simply because it has a mirror, it is heavier than a Z6 II by 155g. I am afraid I can't comment on macro.

    I think you will find that the Z6 II is superior to the D500 in some areas and possibly behind in others however, the big plus for sticking with Nikon is that you don't need to replace your Nikon lenses and possibly the Sigma 105 would be OK too. If you can afford to do so, why not try a Z6 II side by side with the D500 before you commit. Ideally hire the Z6II.
  11. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I think some “machine gunners” like the high burst rates, though personally I fail to understand why anyone would wish to have so many identical frames. I stick to my 16 MP Canon 1Div for wildlife because of the x1.3 crop viewfinder view . I was most disappointed to find my 50 Mp 5Ds inferior for birding. Yes it has better resolution but, when you need resolution the most, the “target” is often smaller than the focus point marker. I need to use a converter to compensate which reduces the AF response of the lens. I suspect the users of 1Dx cameras (lower pixel count) for wildlife use longer lenses+converters. The 1 series have bigger batteries and can focus shift big lenses quite quickly compared to 5 series. The advantage mirrorless will have is a “zoomable” viewfinder view. This is what I’ll value the most when the 1Ds gives up.
  12. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    I've never quite understood the need to take so many frames, for a start it's a lot of time to go through all of them on a computer screen, to find none of them quite hit the spot.
  13. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Taking multiple shots of a slow moving subject does seem pointless but taking multiple shots of a bird in flight is virtually essential, depending on the bird, because they change aspect quite rapidly and the best shot may be the one you didn't take because you were more selective. As it happens I never use continuous shutter release each shot is a deliberate press of the button but I can still manage several frames per second.
  14. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That’s the way to do it. Success with birds in flight comes from practice, practice, practice. It’ll take me months to get my eye in again after doing no bird photography for nearly a year now.

    I’ve seen a lot of continuous burst action in hides where the target bird is doing very little! Some people just love rattling the shots off.
  15. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    It’s just occurred to me that if you’re interested in macro, you might value the Z6II’s focus shift setting, which causes the camera to take a series of images with the lens focused a little further out each time, in discreet steps. These images are designed for focus stacking. I’ve never tried it myself; it would be less straightforward with my D800, which lacks that feature, as I believe does your D500, and I don’t have suitable software. But I’ll probably give it a try when I update camera and software. I guess you’ve probably seen the superb macro images it can produce, by escaping the dilemma of whether to settle for a minute depth of field, or a little more depth of field in an image softened by diffraction.

  16. IvorETower

    IvorETower Little Buttercup

    This is what I would have thought.... until you posted some follow-up comments.
    I bought my D500 used about 3 year ago and it is absolutely fantastic as far as I am concerned. However if you want smaller, lighter, noiseless, then surely the Z6 II would be the way to go, with the advantage that your current lenses can be used with the adapter that Nikon make. Only you can determine if the significant cost of an upgrade is worth it, but it does seem that mirrorless is the way to go, and there also appear to he rumours that Nikon's future lies with mirrorless products. So, make the jump now, or wait a little until used Z6 II's are available for a saving against new prices...... or stick with the D500 for a while longer? Where do you see shortcomings with your current set-up, more with the camera than the lens, or vice-versa?
  17. DaveM399

    DaveM399 Well-Known Member

    There is a bit of a myth that mirrorless is lighter. While bodies may be a bit lighter, it's not always the case with lenses. For example, when it comes to lenses, Nikon Z lenses are often heavier that their F mount equivalents (and more expensive).
    Eg, 24mm f/1.8...... Z mount-450g. F mount-355g.
    50 mm f/1.8......Z mount-415g. F mount-190g.
    85 mm f/1.8......Z mount-470g. F mount-350g.
    SqueamishOssifrage likes this.
  18. SqueamishOssifrage

    SqueamishOssifrage Well-Known Member

    Quite! I looked at getting from a FF Sony DSLR to mirrorless to save weight, and to replace my 'normal' gear (the three standard zooms and a 50mm f:1.4) would have cost me €5,000 for a weight saving of about 500 grammes.

    I still have my DSLR. :p
  19. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    To save weight the main option is to downsize from full frame to APS-C or MFT.
  20. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    The D500 is already DX (APS-C) so that option is already taken.
    A very valid point and if using AF-S lenses on a Z6 II with the FTZ mount adaptor there is a 135g penalty in the weight of the adaptor. Thus switching from a D500 to a Z6 II keeping the same lenses saves the grand total of 20g.

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