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The New Nikon D500


The Nikon D500: An Amazing Photographic Start to 2016


As Nikon introduced the D500 to the world in conjunction with CES in Las Vegas on January 6th, there was universal response among Nikon DX shooters around the globe –“Finally!” But as all the specifications started to trickle out, it became clear that Nikon had not settled for some D300 update or a replacement for the D7200 – the D500 fits a new niche altogether. It is functionally a professional crop sensor version of the Nikon’s new flagship: the $6500 D5… and that is very good news for underwater imagers of all types!
What makes the D500 awesome?

  • A new 21MP CMOS Sensor: D500 hits the sweet spot – a balance between stunning detail and resolution, fast performance, and superb low light capability. Manufacturers have realized that once you exceed 20MP resolution, more resolution is of diminishing benefit for most photographers, but overall camera performance can make the big difference between getting the shot and missing it.

  • Amazingly Accurate Autofocus: Nikon’s D7200 is an excellent camera with 51 AF Points. By comparison, the D500 has 153 AF Points, 99 of them Cross Points with record setting -4 EV low light capabilities (muck divers rejoice!). They also cover nearly the entire field of view. Nikon adds in phase detection and contrast detection for rapid, accurate acquisition, even with low contrast subjects – like reef sharks or white manta bellies – all identical specs to the D5. It is not an exaggeration to say this is probably the best all-around autofocus of any camera body in production today.

  • Autofocus Your Way: With the D500 you can personalize the behavior of your AF to your liking and your environment. Adjust speed and transition times after “locking on” to focus. Annoyed by that 2” pilot fish that distracts your autofocus while swimming with a whale shark? Adjust your AF lock-on period to ignore small passing objects. Set your focus preferences based on your lens as well – fisheye lenses are rarely used like a 105 macro lens – why not be optimized for both? Even more options than a D5.

  • Speed: 10 frames a second performance with a 200 shot buffer capacity for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like dolphins, sailfish and snorkeling with oceanic white tips. Only a few DSLRs can achieve this. With a fast card installed in your camera, it is realistic that you will never fill the buffer in your camera again – a true first for a Nikon DX camera.

  • 4K UHD Video: The D500 is one of the first DSLRs to shoot 4K video (actually UHD 3840X2160 at 30fps) internally. Clean, uncompressed HDMI out allows 8-Bit 4K UHD external recording. The internal recording can last up to 30 minutes per clip. The camera is perhaps the most video-friendly Nikon yet and offers some interesting options allowing 1080 at 60fps in both DX 16:9 and 1.3 crop 16:9, allowing for greater magnifications. UHD @ 30fps is a smaller crop and should allow for twice life size UHD macro video (a ¾” subject should fill the frame) with a 1:1 macro lens and no wet lens needed!

  • ISO Range: Traditionally, low light performance was not a DX sensor strong point. Full frame low light kings of the camera world last year maxed at ISO 406,000. The D500 can theoretically be pushed to ISO 1,640,000! Most will never use that, but for deep dives, dusk dives, cenotes and cave dives, you can sure use the greater flexibility. The D500 should be an awesome ambient light action camera (the D5 is the only DSLR with higher ISO capability).

  • Auto ISO: This amazing tool was introduced last year and is a tremendous boon when shooting video in variable conditions or shooting stills in rapidly changing ambient lighting – think of a shark feed with sharks coming straight on from the blue and then swimming overhead backlit by sunlight. The D500 premiers a new processor and a 184K pixel RGB sensor to allow super smooth transitions of light sensitivity while your optimal manual settings stay put.

  • Media: It takes a very fast card to keep up with the D500’s capabilities. State-of-the-art XQD and UHS II SD compatibility means access to the fastest cards available. The D500 is the only camera available that has this two card capability.

  • Electronic Vibration Reduction: Multi-directional in-camera stabilization works with or without VR lenses to improve hand held video. Useful for underwater? Possibly, but we will have to see it perform.

  • Big Beautiful Viewfinder: A large professional viewfinder with 1.0X Magnification, extra wide field of view and 100% coverage makes macro work and tracking fast moving fish a breeze. This viewfinder is currently the widest angle of coverage on the market. Paired with one of the many enhanced viewfinders offered by housing manufacturers, this could be the best underwater view available in a housing.
  • Protection from the Elements: Superior weather sealing on the magnesium body means optimal reliability in our marine environment - just like the D5. Open up your underwater housing with confidence; your camera is protected from random water drops.

  • Illuminated Buttons: Last minute changes getting ready for a night dive? Backlit buttons makes confirming settings a snap.

  • Efficiency: The same reliable EN-L15 battery we are used to, but now capable of 1250 photos per charge – Does diving all day without opening your housing sound good?

  • 8MP Frame UHD Time Lapse: A new to Nikon feature that is something long hoped for from still shooters. Now you can shoot a 4K UHD 30P time-lapse movie at whatever manual settings you would choose for stills and pull high quality 8MP photos from any of the 30 frames per second. The action will never get too fast for 30 frames per second!
The list goes on of course... New Auto White Balance personalization, new tilting touch screen LCD with touch focus while filming, one touch white balance on screen, Active D-Lighting (enhancing detail in shadows) now available in 1080p video, improved AF capability with tele-converters and small aperture telephoto lenses, improved shutter dampening and quiet shutter release modes, 1.3x crop mode option for greater reach or tighter framing, NFC connectivity and remote operation via smart phone with apps, and extensive capabilities with SnapBridge functionality for wireless image transfer and remote control.