We’ve all pored over the specs for the new Nikon D500 already, weighing up how much we really need a new DSLR versus how tasty those specs look. Rumoured for a March 2016 release, the new D500 announcement definitely had us salivating all over our desks, but we wanted to find out how it would stack up against the previous generation, particularly 2014’s Nikon D610.
The Nikon D500 is positioned to take the crown at the top of Nikon’s APS-C (DX) format SLRs. Its target market is serious enthusiasts and professional photographers craving a smaller, lighter camera that can be versatile and highly portable, but will they be compelled to shell out for Nikon’s newest offering?
Nikon has made few changes to the classic formula with the D500, instead focusing on getting the weight down and improving usability. The D500 is slightly lighter than the D610, but only by 10 grams. Unlike the D610, the D500 has an articulating 8-cm/3.2-in. touchscreen, adding much more versatility to the device. The ISO button has finally been moved to the right side of the camera grip, meaning you can now adjust the ISO with one hand. There’s also been an function 2 button added to the left of the LCD, which can be programmed to do whatever you’d like.
Finally, the tiny joystick from the D4/D5 has made its way to the D500. In my experience this joystick can be a little tricky to maneuver, but at least you now have the option of that or the touchscreen. That mean everyone’s happy, right?
While the D610 was no slouch in this department, the D500 steps up in a lot of areas. With the D500 you’ll get a whopping 153 autofocus points, compared to just 39 on the D610. In terms of ISO, the D500 is ahead of much of the competition with its massive 1,640,000 max. We’re not sure why you’d bring a D500 into a pitch dark vacuum, but if you did, it’d still be able to pick out some details. By comparison, the D610 can handle up to 25,600 ISO.
Nikon D500 also includes Nikon’s brand new “Auto AF Fine Tune” feature, which after achieving focus in live view, automatically adjusts AF Fine Tune settings for the attached lens. This should make fine-tuning your lenses much easier, if it works properly. Speaking of focus, the D500 also has a massive 153 focus points (rated at -3 EV), compared to 39 on the D610. Look at all those AF points!
The D500 is definitely more portable and more versatile in a lot of areas, but suffers one big setback against the D610 – the sensor. The D610 is a full-frame animal, with a full resolution of 24MP. The D500 by comparison has a 21MP – APS-C CMOS sensor. Although what we’ve seen from the D500 looks great, the lack of a full-frame sensor will deter some buyers. Nikon is expected to price it at around US$2000, which is similar to how the D610 was priced upon release two years ago, but it can be picked up for less now.
Both of these Nikons have been marketed for photo work as well as video, the D500 particularly so. The D500 microsite mentions the 30fps 4K UHD video capabilities calling it, ‘suitable for professional productions’.
As high-quality video has become a crucial feature for any DSLR, we’d expect nothing else. The max video resolution for the D610 was 1920 x 1080, not bad at the time but not up to scratch for most video producers today. The lack of a full frame in the D500 will still be an issue here, but the 4K video we’ve seen does look very sharp. Neither model has built in image stabilisation, however.
As mentioned above, there’s one major difference between these two models, and that’s the sensor size. If you’re really craving the full-frame experience then the D500 isn’t the camera for you. However, it does present a quality package besides, with all the modern bells and whistles, plus a few extra ones thrown in for good measure. You’ll get that nifty articulating touchscreen, NFC and built-in wireless, much higher ISO and better video resolution. You won’t get that full frame though – whether you’re willing to make that compromise is up to you.
|Nikon D500||Nikon D610|
|Sensor||21MP – APS-C CMOS Sensor||24MP – Full frame CMOS Sensor|
|ISO||100 – 1640000||100 – 25600|
|Screen||3.2″ (Articulating)||3.2″ (Fixed)|
|Video Resolution||3840 x 2160||1920 x 1080|
|Continuous Shooting||10 fps||6 fps|
|Max Shutter Speed||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Price||$ 1,389.00||$ 959.00|