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A solid upgrade
Price: Nikon D500 (body only) S$2,999
16-80mm VR kit S$3,999
IT has been a while, but Nikon has finally launched a new APS-C DSLR to replace its ageing D300S.
With a 20.9MP sensor, this places the new D500 in the same category as Canon's EOS 7D Mark II, which has a 20.2 APS-C sensor. The D500 also comes in just below Nikon's other 24MP models.
For sports photographers, the D500 has a continuous shooting rate of 10 frames per second, and offers a 153-point Multi-CAM 20K autofocus system. Combined with a low exposure value, the D500 allows for great low light images of still and moving objects.
Design wise, the D500 skips the simplified design layout of the newer mirrorless cameras, and sticks with the multi-button placement across the body of the camera.
The main dial to control shooting modes, image quality and metering is on the left, while the shutter button, along with the ISO settings, are located on the right, just above the LCD screen that displays those settings.
In the rear, the left and right of the tilting touchscreen displays list the menu and playback control buttons, as well as a joypad for onscreen navigation. While this layout may seem complex, the touchscreen menu covers a lot of the same ground, so navigating the many pages of menus is actually a simple task once you get the hang of things.
That said, one of the settings is having the touchscreen trigger the shutter release. While that might work for some folks, those who hang the camera around their necks might find that their clothes can trigger the shutter release if the screen is not shut off.
One extremely useful feature is Nikon's new SnapBridge link between the D500 and Android devices running Android 5 and later, and with Bluetooth 4.0 or later.
Once enabled, all photos taken on the D500 will be automatically transferred to the Android device.
This also enables users to transfer photos from the camera to the phone at a later point, to facilitate the uploading of photos from the camera to a cloud storage service, via the phone's Wi-Fi connection.
This proved to be useful during a recent work trip, when a missing cable and card reader prevented me from transferring images from the camera to a laptop. An iOS version of this feature will be available later this year.
Camera performance is top notch, with quick focusing times in daylight, with bright and colourful shots taken, even under low light indoor conditions. While the D500 manages to keeping continuous focus, there is some difficulty in finding focus in dark, low light conditions.
There were instances where it took several seconds of minor adjustments, before the camera, armed with the 16-80mm lens, could focus on specific objects.
While there is no built-in flash, its absence is not obvious. The camera can obviously perform beyond the physical limitations of a pop up flash, and investing in a flash accessory makes more sense.
The D500 is a solid performer if you're inclined to invest in a professional camera, or feel that it is time to upgrade from the D300S.
Sensor/Processor: 20.9MP DX format CMOS sensor and EXPEED 5 image processor, with Multi-CAM 20K Autofocus sensor with 153/99 AF points
Sensor Size: 23.5 mm x 15.7 mm
ISO Range: 100-51,200 expandable to Lo 1 and Hi 5
Connectivity: SnapBridge Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
Video: 4K UHD, up to 3,840x2,160 at 30 fps
Storage: XQD and SD card