Nikon D500 vs D7200 vs D7100 vs D5500

January 6, 2016

Nikon D500 - is it worth the upgrade

In this article I’ll compare the Nikon D500 which was announced on January 5 2016, versus three other APS-C cameras, the D7100, D7200 and D5500. The D500 is the long-awaited successor to the Nikon D300s, and oh boy photographers have been waiting for this moment to arrive.

Just to remind you, the D300s was announced back then in July 30, 2009. So yes, it’s more than six years after the D300s that Nikon has released the D500.  Before we start out comparison, let’s first take a look at what’s new in the D500.

Nikon D500

First things first, the D500 is an APS-C camera, not a full frame one. It features a 20.9-megapixel DX format CMOS sensor and EXPEED 5 image processor.  That’s a big jump from the D300s 12 megapixels.

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

Nikon D500 and D300s side by side

As you can see from the above image and you can also view the other sides on camerasize.com, the outer shell has gone some substantial changes. The grip has redefined, the edges are more streamlined, there is more grip at the back, the button placement has been changed, the viewfinder compartment is different, the mode button has moves into the left dial and the ISO button moved out to the right side.  Well, it’s not the same body that’s for sure, and we all know that Nikon had plenty of time to redefine the body and perfect it for its glorious release.

The new D500 borrows some of the features of its bigger brother, the D5, including the same 153-point AF system (99 cross-type), same image processor and 1/8000 sec shutter speed.  The Multi-CAM 20K autofocus sensor covers a very wide portion of the frame, providing super fast and accurate subject-tracking performance, even down to -4 EV at the center (other points at -3EV). This means that the D500 AF performance will also work extremely well in low-light.

The Nikon D500 is super fast and can shoot at 10 fps up to to 200 shots (14-bit lossless compressed RAW). At the back you’ll find a 2359K-dots 3.2-inch touch-sensitive 3-axis hinge tilting display, allow easier composition for both stills and videos. Speaking about videos, the D500 can record up to 4K UHD high resolution videos at 30, 25 or 24p.

The D500 is also the first DX camera to take advantage of the new XQD memory card technology for faster read/write transfer speeds.  If anyone of you thought that the DX format is dead, Nikon has just shown us that it’s here to stay, but for how long, nobody knows. The question is whether it is worth it’s a worthy upgrade from the older Nikon full frame cameras or  from the D7xxx range of APS-C cameras?

The camera  also comes with an AF calibrate function, but lacks a pop-up flash.The pop-up flash on many DSLRs worked also as a commander to control other external flashes. With the introduction of the Sb-5000 flash that has radio capability, I think that many photographers wouldn’t mind not having a built-in flash.

It also uses the same EN-EL15 battery as some other Nikon DSLRs use, including the D800, D7100, D7200 and D610. The D500 body is composed of a rugged weather-sealed monocoque structured, magnesium alloy top and rear; same as the D810. It also reinforced with lightweight carbon fiber. Also the shutter is improved and tested for 200K actuations. The D500 has built-in WiFi, NFC and Bluetooth connectivity and can transfer images easily using the SnapBridge image transferring mobile application. Furthermore,  the D500 has an optical viewfinder with the widest-ever 30.8-degree diagonal viewing angle (among APC-Size DSLRs, based on Nikon research).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1aS3p8hRh8

Now for the price. The new Nikon D500 DSLR camera will be available in March 2016 for a a SRP of $1999.95 body-only. You can purchase the 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR lens kit for SRP of $3069.95. If you want to add the MB-D17 battery pack, you’ll need to say goodbye to another $449.95.

Yep, the D500 is expensive, at least for an APS-C camera.  Just for comparison:

  • D500 – $1999.95
  • D800 – ~$2860
  • D7200 – ~$1100
  • D610 – ~$1500
  • D7100 – ~$800
  • D5500 – ~$750

*The prices other than the D500 are rounded prices from amazon.com as of 1/6/2016. Visit amazon.com for updated and accurate prices.

You can clearly see that the D500 is prices like a professional camera, and it is a professional-grade DX camera. I personally quite excited to see the new D500. It kind of reminds me how excited I was when Nikon first introduced the D90 (yep, I am a bit nostalgic here). If you were almost convinces that it’s time  to move to a mirrorless camera, I think that Nikon might make you think twice.  With this superb AF specs, I think that the D500 can be amazing camera even for sports and wildlife photography.

It’s interesting how many people would be ready to pay such a premium price for a DX camera. I know that wildlife photographers would love getting their hands on this one, but does it justify the cost. Is the AF performance is that way better outside the lab test room?

Leaving the price aside, the Nikon D500 looks like an amazing camera that packs superb all-around performance, even in low-light.  So how this long-awaited D300s replacement competes against other of Nikon’s DSLR cameras? Lets take a look!

D500 vs D7200 vs D7100 vs D5500

In this section we’ll take a close look at the differences between the new Nikon D500 and three other Nikon DX cameras: the D7200, D7100 and D5500, which is the most affordable one.

D500, D7200, D7100 and D5500 side by side

D500, D7200, D7100 and D5500 side by side (via camerasize.com)

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Conclusion

It’s a no brainer, the Nikon D500 is certainly the most advanced and with the best features. for a DX cameras it’s quite larger, but it packs many features that enthusiast and professionals are looking for in their next DSLR, whether as a new camera or a backup camera for their Full-frame one. This include among others: blazing-fast AF performance, 4K video recording, advanced light-metering sensor, great weather-sealing and durable shutter, excellent low-light performance, large viewfinder, very fast burst, easy wireless image sharing option and great battery life.

The D500 has all this but adds more great features, including support for XQD, 3-axis electronic VR in Full HD videos and flexible touchscreen display. The D500 comes for a high price though, and I’m sure that it might be too steep for many enthusiast that have been waiting for a D300s replacement for a long time. It certainly looks like an excellent upgrade from either an older full frame or DX camera, if you find its features important for your type of shooting habits or job requirement and IF you can afford it.

If you are on a low budget, the D7200 is an excellent alternative and also much cheaper. Let’s not forget that you can also buy a Nikon Full Frame, the D610, for around $1500. You might be tempted to go full frame than getting the D500, but let’s admit it, the performance is there, and it’s really hard to skip this one. It’s a great camera for sports and wildlife photographers because of the 1.3x crop mode, 4K video recording option, excellent durability, very fast  burst in full resolution, great low-light performance and super-fast AF system.

If the D500 key features fit your needs, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. This camera shouts performance all over the place. It packs Nikon’s latest EXPEED 5 processor and a brand new sensor to give you superb image quality as well.

What’s your opinion, do you agree or have a different opinion? – share your thoughts in the comment section below and thanks for reading.

Buy the Nikon D500 from B&H: Nikon D500 body only | Nikon D500 with Nikkor 16-80mm lens



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