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Review: Nikon D500

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-05-2017 Vishal Mathur

The D500 (Rs1,92,950) is the DX flagship in Nikon’s line-up of DSLRs. One look at it, and you know it’s well thought out. The chunky and textured grip is perfect. As you would expect from a high-end camera, the button layout is good and everything falls well within the range of your fingers—some preset, with quick access to functions, and some customizable. This camera weighs 860g, the top and rear parts are magnesium alloy, and it’s protected against rain, moisture, dust and dirt.

At the heart of the D500 is the 21-megapixel APS-C (also known as Advanced Photo System type-C; Nikon also calls it the DX format) CMOS sensor, with the EXPEED 5 image processor. This sensor does not have a “low-pass” filter, which means that sharpness and detailing will be better, but there will also be the occasional moiré (rippled) pattern visible in some images. The 17.85 square micrometer pixel area allows significantly more light in certain conditions than a Micro Four Thirds sensor would. One of the many features that the D500 borrows from the more expensive D5 is the 153-point autofocus system: 55 of these can be selected by the user while clicking photos; the rest are reference points that the camera uses to predict focus for moving objects.

Focus speed and accuracy is quick, and this helps tremendously in a wide range of shooting scenarios. It’s also one of the reasons the D500 is extremely versatile, irrespective of the scene, object, subject or landscape you want to capture. You get realistic colours and fantastic levels of detailing across the frame. The noise-reduction algorithms aren’t particularly aggressive, so you get natural-looking and crisp photos. Exposures are accurate, which is a testament to the slick metering mechanism—you won’t really need to tweak this manually.

The D500 has a native ISO range of 100-51,200 and an expanded ISO range (called Lo 1 and Hi 5) of 50-16,38,400. The extended ISO range is more than you would get in most DSLRs, though it is hard to get usable pictures on any ISO mode above 10,00,000 because of the inevitable lack of clarity. However, clarity at the low level of 100 ISO is nothing short of amazing.

With 4K being a buzzword these days, the D500 doesn’t fall short on that bit either, with excellent video quality—it enables 4K videos at 30 fps, offering the flexibility many DSLR users want.

The D500 will remain a critical part of Nikon’s range for at least a few years. The cross-sharing of features from the much more expensive D5 professional DSLR (Rs4,45,950), just lends weight to the D500. It has pretty much everything to keep the enthusiast happy. And since it’ll be shipped with the DX 16-80mm lens, it can be an alternative to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II (Rs1,72,795; with the EF-S15-85mm lens) too.

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