Nikon D500 vs D300s vs D5

January 10, 2016

Nikon D500 camera vs D300s and D5

In this article, I’ll compare the Nikon D500 versus its predecessor, the D300s, and I’ll also compare it to its bigger brother, the Nikon D5.  This will give you a deeper view of the differences between old and new, and how well the D500 stacks against the D5 that costs more than three times than the D500.

We’ll start with an introduction to the D500 and move on to the comparison section, where we’ll talk about the differences in-depth.

Nikon D500

The Nikon D500 is the long awaited replacement for the D300s. It has been more than six years since the D300s was announced and Nikon has plenty of time to perfect its replacement. The D5 is a DX-format camera, not a format camera like some people might have thought it would be. This new camera is priced even higher than some of Nikon’s full frame cameras, D750 and D610. Nikon clearly needed to make this camera furnished to convince the enthusiast photographer, not only to spend around $2000 for a camera body but also get it instead of a full frame camera, if it was an option in the first place.

Nikon D500 and D300s side by side (camerasize.com)

Nikon D500 and D300s side by side

The D500 means business and it’s the fastest DX camera Nikon ever built. It can shoot at a tremendous speed of 10 fps and inherits the D5’s 153-point AF system with AF and AE tracking. This makes the D500 a serious camera for professional sports photographers. The buffer will suffice for 79 JPEGS or 71 images in 14-bit uncompressed RAW. Need even better performance? Just snap in an XQD card and shoot in losslessly compressed 14-bit RAW to enjoy a 200 frame buffer!

The camera also employs a brand new 20.4 MP (5,568 x 3,712 pixels, effective resolution) image sensor and Nikon’s latest EXPEED image processor. This sensor was designed to sustain the fast burst, 4K video recording and has an improved NR function. The D500 is also a dream camera for low-light photography due to its sensitive AF points (down to -4EV center frame, others -3EV), mind blowing ISO range (100 – 51,2000, expandable up to ISO 1,630,8400), super sensitive and accurate 180K-pixel RGB light-metering sensor and compatibility with the new radio controller Advanced Wireless Lighting system.

Nikon made sure that video enthusiasts won’t be left behind. It spoiled them with many valuable features, including 4K UHD video recording, 4K time-lapse in camera, Active D-Lighting when shooting full HD videos (preserves details in highlights and shadows), a 3-axis electronic VR (up to full HD, compensates for horizontal, vertical and rotational camera shake), the ability to capture movies in 1.3x crop mode for an extra range, a flicker reduction function, Power Aperture for smooth transitioning, Clean HDMI output and Mic and Headphone jack for improving the video sound and being able to monitor it while recording using headphones. The 3-axis stabilization is a digital stabilization, it’s not a sensor-shift stabilization like for example, the one in the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II.

Among the D500 other highlights are WiFi/NFC/Bluetooth and SnapBridge for simple wireless connectivity and remote image sharing, illuminated buttons, quiet continuous shooting mode (3 fps), 1/8000 sec shutter speed, large and bright pentaprism optical viewfinder, AF micro adjustment, monocoque structured weather sealed magnesium-alloy body, tilting touchscreen display, two function (Fn) buttons and compatibility with the WT-7/A/B/C Wireless Transmitter among its other features.

The D500 is an excellent hybrid camera. It’s aimed for enthusiasts, but can unquestionably serve professionals for some serious work, whether for still or video capturing. It brings the speed and low-light performance any photographer would want and need to get the job done. The DX format is valued by those who need that extra range due to the 1.5x longer focal length when using full frame lenses, and those who prefer carrying a smaller and more lightweight gear. You have a large selection of DX lenses which were specifically designed with that in mind.

I’m pretty sure that some of you have peeped in the direction of some of the new mirrorless cameras. Indeed, many enthusiast photographers have decided that it’s the right move; and indeed, cameras like the Fujifilm X-T1, and Panasonic Lumix GH4 are hard to neglect. That being said, Nikon will assuredly convince foreigners to move to its resort with this new arrival.

D500 vs D300s vs D5

These three cameras are obviously not direct competitors, but it’s interesting to see how the D300s stacks up against its replacer, and how the D500 is compared against it’s bigger brother, the Nikon D5. Let’s take a look.

Nikon D500, D300s and D5 side by side

Nikon D500, D300s and D5 side by side size comparison (via camerasize.com)

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For a more detailed information on the D5, check this video by Nikon Canada.

Conclusion

The Nikon D500 is a very attractive offering, even compared to the D5, which is a much more expensive camera. It has the same AF system, excellent durability, same great 4K video recording option but with 3-axis electronic stabilization. It has a very broad ISO range, although not as high as the D5. Both have the same light metering sensor and Expeed 5 image processor. The D500 has a more flexible display due to its tilting mechanism, whether the D5 is fixed in place.

The D5 has a more advanced and larger viewfinder, as expected from a top-of-the-line FF camera from Nikon. The D5 offers faster burst speed, better memory card configuration, much longer battery life, Built-in Ethernet interface, dedicated AF engine, but lacks the Flicker reduction function for movie recording and the built-in wireless features of the D500.

The D500 will certainly appeal to those who search for a D5-like performance, but in a smaller camera body. It can also serve as an excellent second body for professional photographers, but it is mostly aimed towards the enthusiast photographer and for photographers who cannot afford to get the D5 but don’t want to compromise on performance. The D500 isn’t cheap either, but that it’s one of the best, if not The Best APS-C camera on the market right now.

The D300s is an ancient camera, but it served us well for many years. Many people already moved to the D7100 and D7200. The D500 is, in my opinion, still a very good upgrade option for photographers searching for a camera with even better AF and low-light performance. If you need that extra performance, the D500 might fit your bill. If you have the D300s and didn’t upgrade yet, well, it’s certainly the right time to do so. You can expect tremendous improvement in both the camera performance, handling, and image quality.

 



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