Nikon D500 Preview: DX sensor, FX performance

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Nikon D500 specification

Featuring a new DX-format APS-C sensor, the D500 offers 20.9Mp resolution, which although a significant increase over the 12.3Mp D300s, sits just behind the 24.2Mp D7200, D7100, D5500, D5300, and D5200 in terms of pixels. ISO sensitivity on the new sensor has increased, though, with a standard ISO 100 – 51,200 that is expandable to ISO 50 – 1,640,000, making it the most sensitive DX-format sensor in the Nikon lineup.  

Benefiting from Nikon’s latest technology developments, the D500 incorporates the same autofocus module, metering system, EXPEED 5 image-processing engine, touchscreen LCD, and 4K video as the D5. Utilizing the new 153-point autofocus module designed for Nikon’s FX-format cameras, together with a smaller DX sensor, means that the D500 offers accurate cross-type autofocus sensors towards the edges of the frame. This, combined with autofocus sensitivity down to –4 EV in the center and –3 EV in the outer field, should result in very good autofocus performance on the D500.

The viewfinder offers 100% frame coverage, too, offering 1.0x magnification when composing your images in the traditional way. The large 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD boasts a massive 2.4m-dot resolution and vari-angle control, using a 3-axis hinge that makes it easier to shoot video or stills from awkward positions.

Continuous burst shooting up to a rapid 10 fps with full AE/AF is possible, too, with the D500 image buffer capable of recording 200 large JPEGs or 79 14-bit lossless compressed RAW images. Files can be written to either the fast XQD card slot first seen on the Nikon D4 professional DSLR, or to the D500’s additional SD card slot, depending on your workflow. For video, the D500 records 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixel) movies up to 30p, as well as Full HD 1080p capture at a variety of frame rates. Some advanced video features have also filtered down from Nikon pro cameras, too, including uncompressed HDMI output, Picture Controls, 4K time-lapse capture, and simultaneous 4K recording to card while outputting to HDMI.

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The new D500 is expected to be available in March 2016 at a cost of £1,730/€2,329, body only, or at £2,480/€3,329, including a 16-80mm lens.