Nikon D500, Early Impressions

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by shuncheung, May 16, 2016.

  1. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    First of all, I have used a D500 for merely a few days (more like 3, 4 days). Therefore my experience with it is still quite limited. The one feature that impresses me most is the new AF module, the Multi-CAM 20000. All of a sudden my "in focus" percentage for birds in flight is really high. By all means it is not perfect, as I am still getting some occasional out-of-focus blur images, but the keeper rate is much higher now, an experience I did not have even with the D3S and D4S. I got great AF with both an f4 AF-S supertele prime and the 200-500mm/f5.6 AF-S VR. The latter is a rather slow zoom and can struggle under dimmer light or back lit situations.
    Nikon has moved around the controls. I really like the fact that the ISO button is now on the right side, next to the shutter release. It is now very easy to use the right index finger to hold down the ISO button and use the thumb and middle finger to rotate the main and sub-command dials, respectively. I use auto-ISO a lot. Therefore, it is now very easy to switch that on and off with the middle finger, or use the thumb to change ISO, all with only the right hand.
    However, I find it a bit strange that the exposure mode (S, P, A, M) button and the metering mode (matrix, spot, center weighted) button are now on the left side. It is going to take some time to get used to the change. Overall I prefer this higher-end control (D300, D700, D800 and D810) from Nikon. Unlike the D7000 series, D600/D610 and D750 where the ISO and QAUL (RAW/Jpeg) controls are on the left side of the back, where it is somewhat easy to accidentally change the ISO or RAW/Jpeg unintentionally.
    For action photography, having 10 fps is definitely a plus. Similar to the Canon 7D Mark II, the D500 is not laud even at 10 fps. I also don't feel that there is excessive vibration as the mirror is bouncing rapidly. I tend to use a high shutter speed for action, like 1/1000 sec or higher. Therefore, mirror vibration is not a major concern.
    As a number of D500 owners have reported, battery consumption seems high. However, in my case I am also using the GP-1 GPS unit a lot just to make sure that it is functioning properly. I am sure that the GPS is contributing to the battery consumption in a major way. Therefore, it is hard for me to tell in this early stage what the net effect from the D500 battery consumption is, but the D500 does seem to go through batteries much faster than the D800, D750, and D7200.
    A few months ago when I played with a pre-production D500 at a Nikon event, I found the true RAW buffer rather shallow. Fortunately, that is not the case with a production D500. If you capture 14-bit RAW, the buffer size is 29 frames. It increases to 37 frames with 12-bit RAW. Obviously the D500 writes faster to an XQD card or UHS-II SD, but even with a 95MB/sec UHS-1 card, the D500 can write about 4 frames per second such that you can easily capture 40+ frames before the D500 slows down. At least to me, that is more than sufficient in most action situations.
    I understand that a number of members here also have the D500. It would be great to hear from their different perspective.
    00dwIV-563034584.jpg
     
  2. sounds excellent, Shun. have you used the touchscreen AF yet? curious about that.
     
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I realized that I forgot to mention the touch screen. My nose unintentionally triggered that feature :). So far I mainly use
    that during image review, scrolling from one image to another and use two fingers to enlarge an image. It is like using an
    iPhone or iPad.

    I know I have just scratched the surface, but the D500 is a major improvement. I still wonder why Nikon skipped the D400
    generation altogether.
     
  4. Very helpful, Shun. Could you clarify what looks like a typo?
    If you capture 14-bit RAW, the buffer size is 29 frames. It increases to 37 frames with 14-bit RAW. (Italics mine.)​
    I think you mean either 12-bit or 14-bit compressed. Just let us know. Thanks.
     
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Hector, thanks for pointing out the typo. The RAW buffer is 29 frames for 14 bit and 37 frames for 12 bit, regardless of whether the RAW is uncompressed, lossless compressed or lossy compressed. I corrected the original post.
    Previously, I would be happy to get 60%, 70% in focus birds in flight images such as the one below. In this case I was using the very affordable 200-500mm/f5.6 zoom. With the D500, it is fairly routine to get over 90% sharp images.
    00dwJW-563037684.jpg
     
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D500 has been hard to find. My local camera store got its initial shipment but then nothing else. When I checked with them over a week ago, they told me that they still had 12 people on the waiting list.

    However, currently B&H had the D500 with the kit lens in stock:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1214162-REG/nikon_1560_d500_dslr_camera_with.html

    The body-only option is back ordered, just like everywhere else in the US. Unfortunately, there is no discount with the combo.
    While I really like the D500 so far, I don't think it makes sense for it to be so much more expensive than the Canon 7D Mark II, which was down to just over $1000 last December during the holiday season. I would expect the D500's price to drop in the second half of 2016, after the temporary shortage is over. My local store blames the shortage to the April Japan earthquake damaging the Sony sensor factory, but I have no confirmation to that explanation.
     
  7. I find it a bit strange that the exposure mode (S, P, A, M) button and the metering mode (matrix, spot, center weighted) button are now on the left side.​
    I don't mind the metering mode being made the "inaccessible" - but the exposure mode is a different story. I already hate the dial on the D7x00 series - but that's at least a one-handed operation; now Nikon made it worse by making it a two-handed one. Really wonder who advises Nikon on these issues and if anyone with decision power actually ever uses the camera. It's not such a big deal with small lenses - but mount, for example, the 200-500 and you will quickly find out how cumbersome it is to press a button with the left hand and turning a dial with the right while holding the lens - yep, with what exactly? So, not only the exposure mode dial placed wrong, so is the AF-mode selector button.
    BTW, Shun, can one program the video recording button to act as the exposure mode button? The D5 manual says one can on the D5, but the D500 is not giving that information.
     
  8. You can program the mode button to act as a toggle so you don't have to hold the button while dialing. In my opinion it is best to support the 200-500 with a monopod or a tripod and this also helps when using the two handed controls. Yes, I understand why you'd want to hand hold it but ...
     
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The menu on the D500 has expanded. There are a number of new options that I haven't gone through yet.
    However, I don't like the idea that you can just keep on pressing the Mode button repeatedly to cycle through the options. That is an invitation to errors and therefore changing the mode unintentionally. However, an accidental switch from A to M or matrix to center weighted is probably not as damaging as unintentionally capturing JPEG basic instead of RAW, although if you don't check your images frequently, an unintentional switch from the A mode to M could result in a number of incorrectly exposed images.
    As I said, I like the new location for the ISO button. However, with that and the (red) video capture button, there is insufficient room on the right side such that they exposure and metering mode buttons have to move. It seems strange to me now, but it is something I can get used to. I understand not everybody feels that way, but I don't mind switching between a D500 and a D750 with fairly different controls.
     
  10. Any comments on AF performance while rolling video? Thanks in advance.
     
  11. I can't find a setting on mine that lets you toggle through the Mode settings just by pressing the Mode button. The "Release button to use dial" setting (f6) allows you to press & release a button and then turn the dial to make the setting. Half press on the shutter clears it.
    The metering pattern can be assigned to a button for one-finger operation--press & hold to switch from your current selection to another one.
    There are a number of custom settings that allow you to change the control operation to more closely match your style of shooting. I've had mine for three weeks and am still evaluating all the possibilities.
     
  12. However, with that and the (red) video capture button, there is insufficient room on the right side such that they exposure and metering mode buttons have to move.​
    That stupid video recording button could go almost everywhere else - no need to occupy prime real estate on the top right of the camera. I don't care much about where the metering button is located, I didn't find anything wrong with it at the back close to the viewfinder. I will have to try the "release button to use dial" - could be a way out of the unnecessary mess that Nikon created by moving things around (again).
    Quite easy actually: when it requires a button push and a command dial turn, then that button needs to be reachable with the right hand. As simple as that.
    I had my cameras set for "Easy Exposure compensation" for a while - and went away from it when I kept inadvertently changing the compensation value by simply turning one of the dials.
    Yes, I understand why you'd want to hand hold it but ...​
    It's a big BUT ... for a lot of what I shoot, a monopod is the most useless piece of equipment I can think of, and a tripod often simply isn't practical.
     
  13. Like Shun I am getting accustomed to the new button locations but that has not really been a big issue for me. The new AF system is noticeably faster. It is immediate with the 600mm E lens and not too far behind using the 200-500mm lens. I received the MB-D17 grip this week and am using an EN-EL18A battery in it. That along with the EN-EL15 internal battery should provide over 3000 shots. The MB-D17 grip also has an additional Fn button next to the vertical shutter release like the D5. I haven't looked into what functions can be programmed on that button yet. The battery grip provides better balance to me, especially using the 200-500mm lens.
    Danny, have you experienced any of the issues mentioned on other sites concerning batteries or Lexar 1000x/2000x SD cards? I have had mine for three weeks as well and have not experienced any negative issues at all. There are apparently some folks who are spending their first few days trying to find problems with the D500. I don't really have an issue with that if that is what they want to do. One site is even asking people to contact them with issues so they can list them. To me this is going to cause some false reports that are in a lot of cases pilot error. One problem shown on the site is that the D500 will sometimes lock up requiring you to remove and re-insert the battery. That issue is not unique to the D500. I have had it to happen to me in the field with more than one body, including the D3S. It has only happened 2 or 3 times and is easily fixed. I have never thought it was something I should report to Nikon.
    Tomorrow I will be at a PGA Pro-Am event and will be using the D500. One of the shots I try to get is the ball coming off of the player's club. I'm anxious to see how the higher frame rate will perform with this shot. It really won't test the new AF system since golfers are standing in one spot during the entire shot.
     
  14. The Wimberley camera plate covers the edge of the battery door on the D500. This means you need to loosen it every time you remove the battery. This is not Nikon's fault, just a matter to be aware of.
    My D-17 battery grip arrived last week. I will be using it with rechargeable AA batteries most of the time. More about the D-17 as soon as I can test it out.
    I have been using a Sony 32 GB XQD card and a Lexar 64 GB XQD card. Both cards are performing as advertised. On my win 7 laptop , bought in 2012, I do not seem to be getting the read speeds that are advertised. This may be due win 7 lacking some needed driver or software. I have read that win 10 resolves this issue. If anyone knows more about this matter and how to solve any win 7 issues, please add a post.
    If you use Nikon software, you have to uninstall Nikon View NX2 and install Nikon View nx-i. The raw processor is NX-D. Why you cannot keep both versions of View active baffles me.
    Joe
     
  15. I have been following this thread with interest. I finally did receive my D500 (body only) but have yet to put it through the paces. I am hoping tomorrow after work I can for for a walk. Like others, the AF is a beast in my bedroom testing. I did not think it possible to focus quicker than my D750 or even my D7200, but it truly does. But I will know more once I take it out. The controls don't bother me. Similar to my D800E. I do wish it had the C1, C2 options as I really do use them for my street walks where things happen quickly. I do find the menu deep with a whole bunch of new stuff. I can see how it will kill the D7200, but I will be comparing it to my D750 which I know very well. I will try and post up a few pictures tomorrow with the EXIF in tact. No RAW for me, just Jpeg fine.
    Thanks a bunch Shun for you analysis this far. It is most helpful and in my very limited time with it.
     
  16. After installing viewnx-i, you can reinstall viewnx2 and use both if you prefer.
     
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I can't find a setting on mine that lets you toggle through the Mode settings just by pressing the Mode button.​
    I checked the manual and the D500 camera last night, and I also couldn't find any custom option to let you toggle through the mode settings. Again, to me, that would have been a somewhat error prone option.
    I did not think it possible to focus quicker than my D750 or even my D7200​
    My hummingbird photography is very demanding on the AF system due to the hummingbirds erratic flight motion. Since I have both the D750 and D7200, their limitation is very apparent to me. Unfortunately, in my area, the flower season that attracts lots of Anna's Hummingbirds was over a month ago such that I am unable to test the D500 in the same manner until maybe next year. However, my limited experience with the D500 tells me that its AF is far superior to that from any Nikon DSLR prior to 2016. I haven't really tried the D5 yet, but I would imagine the D5 can only be even better.
     
  18. Ilkka, I tried that (reinstalling nx2) , but my computer locked up. I will try it again and see what happens.
    Regarding battery life, here are some hints and settings that might help the battery last longer. I will keep experimenting to see what happens.
    If you are shooting RAW, then make sure to turn off as many of the jpg processing steps in-camera as possible. That will all help to prolong your battery life. All of those processes will run automatically even if you are shooting RAW only, to be carried out on the jpg that shows up in your back screen, unless you disable them.
    Here is a list of some of them that are in the Photo Shooting Menu:
    Flicker reduction, Auto distortion control, chromatic aberration correction, vignette control, Active D lighting, long exposure noise reduction, high ISO noise reduction. Set all of them to Off. There might be more of them.
    Setup Menu: Review all of these and maybe some others. Set Off or another setting that will or may reduce battery life: Monitor brightness, Touch Controls, Connect to Smart devices, Send to smart device, Beep,
    Playback menu: Image review, set to Off. If you press the view button to review an image, make sure it is not displayed too long. I cannot locate a setting to manage this length of time.
    Custom Settings Menu: d9, LCD Illumination, set to Off.
    These settings if set to On, also can affect the buffer and make it max out quicker in continuous shooting.
    I do not know if any settings need to be changed on the Movie Setting Menu.
    Joe
     
  19. I tried that (reinstalling nx2) , but my computer locked up.
    It has worked for me; I used ViewNX2 for a while because ViewNX-i would crash on me and simply was not usable. Now the latest versions of ViewNX-i are working well enough and I no longer use ViewNX2. I agree it would be preferable if the two didn't interfere with one another.
    I checked the manual and the D500 camera last night, and I also couldn't find any custom option to let you toggle through the mode settings. Again, to me, that would have been a somewhat error prone option.

    What I meant is custom function f6 "Release button to use dial". "Selecting Yes allows adjustments that are normally made by holding a button and rotating a command dial to be made by rotating the command dial after the button is released. Setting ends when the button is pressed again, the shutter-release button is pressed halfway, or the standby timer expires." A toggle is when one can switch between two modes, e.g. function changing mode, and normal mode, by pressing a button.
    I can't test what buttons f6 applies to, but if one of you owners of the D500 can test if it applies to those controls which have been moved to the lefthand side, I would be interested to know. It could be a solution to Dieter's problem.
     
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I have the D500 with me. Custom Setting f6 is "Release button to use dial." When f6 is set to yes (or on), you don't need to hold down a button while rotating the command dials to change the settings. Instead, you press on the button of your choice once (and let go), and it acts as if that button were held down the entire time; you can then rotate the command dials to keep on changing the setting. When you are done changing settings, press on that button or in fact other buttons, including half pressing the shutter release to exit the "button held down" mode.
    f6 applies to all four buttons on the top left (see the top view of the D500 in my opening post), including exposure mode, metering mode, QUAL, white balance as well as the AF button (below the lens release button).
    Of course a lot of these are personal preferences, but I would rather change settings the old-fashioned way by holding down the appropriate button while rotating the command dials because it is less error prone. However, the f6 option could be useful for those who prefer one-hand operations.
     
  21. Thanks, Shun.
     
  22. Custom Setting C4 is monitor off delay.
    As for the "old fashioned way" of changing settings, I've been using the "Release button to use dial" method on my D300 since 2007 and I think it was on Nikon cameras before that. The real old-fashioned way would be having a dedicated knob for each function. In any case, it's a great feature for those complaining about the location of the mode button.
     
  23. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I suppose I have never paid much attention to that f6 option, perhaps since I don't like it.
    Digital isn't all that new (or recent) any more. E.g. my first DSLR was a D100 from 2002. But one major difference is that back in the film days, you don't change ISO all that often, typically at most once for each new roll you put in the camera, if that often. (It is possible to change ISO in the middle of a roll. You leave a couple of blank frames and then push or pull process part of the roll, but that is extremely unusual. In those days I took two bodies with different film speed or film types.)
    However, with digital, you can potentially change ISO for each frame. In these days I use auto ISO a lot. In particular, from the 2007/2008 D3/D700 on, high-ISO results have much improved. Therefore, I think it makes a lot of sense to put the ISO button at a location that is convenient for frequent ISO changes. Hindsight is 20/20. Now I wonder why Nikon didn't move the ISO button a few years earlier.
     
  24. Funny you should mention ISO. I bought my first digital camera, a D1, in 2000. At the time I went out daily with three F5's, often with different film type in each one. The first day with my D1 I went from shooting surfers in full sun to dancers at an outdoor pavilion long after the sun set I was completely sold on digital. Finished off whatever film was in my cameras and never shot a film frame again.
     
  25. I shot at a PGA event today with the D500 and latest version 80-400mm lens. I had an EN-EL18A battery in the grip set up to be used first. After over 250 shots, a little chimping and GPS usage I had used 15% of that battery. I was also very pleased with the photos. I have shot this event for the last several years and these were by far the best results. Most golfers wear hats which makes it difficult to properly expose their face with the rest of the scene. I used this same 80-400mm lens last year with the D7200 and was not happy with the results as far as their faces. I used matrix metering on the D500 the same as the D7200 last year, but the D500 provided details in the face which did not require any additional PP work, unlike the D7200. The 10 fps also worked great in providing the shot I like, showing the ball just after it leaves the face of the club. I only missed that shot one time today as opposed to more than half of the time last year. I could also wait later in the downswing to begin the sequence, thereby not disturbing the golfer with the shutter noise. The D500 shutter is also quieter in my opinion which also helps. So far I am very pleased with the D500. The few things I might change are very minor.
     
  26. So I finally took it out today and it was different. In spite of the large size of the body, I will be getting a grip for it. I believe it needs it for balance when using the heavier lenses in my case. (Plus I am used to the grips. all of my bodies have them)The body is surprisingly much bigger than the D750. The auto focus and the many settings is something to behold. It is awesome. Like the D750, I was using the group focus setting. So I took a handful of pictures when I went to Panda express today, so nothing to write home about. But here is what my first outing showed me. 1) The auto focus is killer as is the total overall speed. 2) The jpeg colors are nothing to write home about out of the camera. I had it set to its finest setting with vivid colors, max sharpen, slight bump in saturation and slight bump in clarity. Still very natural colors. I suspect I will need to start shooting RAW so I ordered Elements 14 today for the RAW converter. 3) a super pleasant surprise was the amazing ISO Performance. I shot a quick portrait of a lady at Panda with the totally wrong settings. At 12800 ISO it came out pretty dang good. I believe it is pretty close to my D750 and D800E. You can tell that it has noise reduction applied as their is a slight loss in detail, but in RAW i am sure it will be killer. 4) This is a beast. Of all the cameras I own, my favorite is the D7200 because it is the perfect size with a grip, the Jpeg colors out of the box are stunning and full of life, The speed is quick enough with the right lens and the ISO performance is pretty good. But this D500 is a beast. But the whole thing is heavy with that Sigma 30art lens on it. I can imagine how heavy it will get on a 4-5 mile walk. But I really do miss those those custom settings at the turn of a knob. That to me is more important than speed as it allows me three settings. Light, shadows and indoors. So this will take some getting used to for me.
    D750 VS D500 SIZE
    [​IMG]
    -
    ISO 12800 out of the camera. Lens Sigma 30F/1.4 ART. Shot by mistake at F/2.8 and 1/1000th.My out door setting. This is why I need my custom setting knobs. A quick turn to C1 would have put me at 1/320 @ F/1.6 + 3EV center weighted.
    [​IMG]
    The rest of the larger size pictures are here. In truth, none of these would be keepers, but if not for my first shots with the D500
    http://jgredline.blogspot.com/2016/05/nikon-d500-with-sigma-30f14-art-lens.html
     
  27. that ISO 12800 looks like 1600 on a d300.
     
  28. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I continue to experiment with the new AF capabilities in the Multi-CAM 20000 AF module, common between the D5 and D500. Previously, I have almost never used the Auto Area AF mode on other Nikon DSLRs. Today, I tried that for birds in flight and was surprised that for the most part, the camera was able to lock focus on the birds. Even though they have flown from a blue sky in the background (usually easy for AF) to a forest in the background, where a lot of times AF would lock onto the details in the background. Again, while the Auto Area AF mode isn't perfect, I think today it is doing a better job than I could have with other AF modes. Of course I still need to try these options under various shooting conditions.
    Another enhancement is Custom Setting a7, Store by Orientation. A few years ago, Nikon added a feature to the Multi-CAM 3500 such that the camera will remember different AF point selections when the camera is horizontal or vertical. You use this custom setting to choose between the camera remembering just one selected AF point or separate AF points for horizontal and vertical.
    On the D5 and D500, you can not only select the AF point but also set the camera to remember separate AF modes. For example, you can choose so that the camera will use Auto Area AF for horizontal (e.g. for birds in flight, as I was trying earlier) but single-point AF for vertical.
    However, the single servo vs. continuous (AF-S vs. AF-C) mode selection is not part of this option. The camera will only remember one selection among AF-S, AF-C, or M, for both horizontal and vertical.
     

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