As far as crop-sensor DSLRs go, Nikon’s new flagship, high-speed model is up there with the best, as Andy Westlake discovers in this Nikon D500 review
Nikon D500 review – Introduction
At a glance:
- 20.9-million-pixel DX sensor
- ISO 50-1,640,000
- 10fps shooting
- 153 AF points
Back in 2007, Nikon unleashed a pair of DSLRs that revitalised its line-up and re-established the company as being at least on a par with its rival Canon. The professional-level D3 was its first full-frame model, with super-fast shooting and an impressive 51-point AF system. Meanwhile, the DX-format D300 was very much a D3-lite, offering many of the flagship’s best features in a smaller body at a fraction of the price. It rapidly won the hearts of a generation of serious enthusiast and semi-professional photographers, spurring Canon to produce a capable competitor in the shape of the EOS 7D.
The D300 underwent a relatively minor refresh with the D300S in 2009, but after that Nikon seemed to abandon the idea, insisting that its D7000-series of enthusiast-focused DSLRs met the needs of the majority of enthusiasts. But this year it relented and, just in time for a summer of European Championship football and the Olympic Games, produced a genuine successor in the shape of the D500. Once again, the D500 comes as part of a pair of new releases alongside the professional D5, and once again it has an astonishing headline specification. Nikon proudly claims that it has an extended top ISO of 1.6 million, alongside a 153-point AF system and 10fps shooting. On paper, it’s the best APS-C DSLR yet seen.
However, the D500 enters a market that’s much more fragmented than when the D300 was born. Rather than just competing against a handful of similarly priced APS-C-format DSLRs, photographers these days can choose from a huge range of alternatives, including some exceptionally capable mirrorless compact system cameras and affordable full-frame options. In general, the market has moved towards smaller, lighter cameras, too. This means that the chunky D500 now looks like a specialist sports and action camera, where the D300 was much more of an all-rounder. But with this in mind, just how good is it?