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 – Verdict
In recent years, photographers looking for a truly high-end APS-C DSLR for sports and action shooting have been more or less limited to Canon’s EOS 7D Mark II. But with the D500, Nikon has returned to this sector in fine style, and its combination of superb autofocus, fast continuous shooting and excellent image quality places it very much at the top of the list.
It’s difficult not to conclude that the D500 is the most accomplished crop-sensor camera yet made. Build and handling are exemplary, aided by some well-judged tweaks to the control layout; I particularly appreciated the repositioned ISO button and the joystick AF point selector. Meanwhile, the viewfinder is excellent, and it’s nice to see a tilting rear screen on a camera of this type, although it’s perhaps less useful here than on a CSC. The addition of 4K video recording will be the icing on the cake for some users, but make no mistake, the D500 shines brightest when it’s used as a conventional DSLR for shooting fast-moving subjects.
Indeed, in all the time I’ve spent working with the D500, I’ve been hugely impressed by its ability to pull any shot out of the bag, acquiring focus quickly and confidently no matter how erratically moving the subject or how dim the light. Its excellent high ISO capability means it will deliver entirely usable image files in extremely low light, too.
The stumbling block is, of course, the price: £1,729 for just the body is more than you’ll pay for some excellent full-frame cameras, including Nikon’s own D750. And it’s £1,000 more than the next DX model down – the highly accomplished D7200. Indeed, many Nikon users eyeing an upgrade will likely be better served by buying a couple of nice Nikkor lenses instead, or upgrading to full frame if they’re looking for improved image quality. For this reason, the D500’s practical appeal is probably limited to those who know for sure that they can make use of its astonishing autofocus system and impressive high ISO image quality, and appreciate the extra effective telephoto reach afforded by the DX sensor. So existing D300 owners who’ve been patiently waiting to upgrade should start saving now.
In summary, for photographers who spend a lot of time shooting sports, action, wildlife and the like, it’s hard to think of a camera that will serve them better.