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As the flagship model within Nikon's DX-format DSLR line, the D500 is characterized by its robust physical construction, apt imaging capabilities, and of course, a more compact, sleek form factor than its FX brethren. Revolving around a 20.9MP CMOS sensor and EXPEED 5 image processor, this camera appeals to both still and video shooters with its fast 10 fps continuous shooting rate and 4K UHD video recording abilities. The sensor and processor also combine to avail a native sensitivity range up to ISO 51200, which can be further expanded to ISO 1640000 for working in dark and difficult lighting conditions. Benefitting the fast shooting performance, the D500 is also characterized by its expansive Multi-CAM 20K 153-point AF system, which features 99 cross-type points for fast performance and accurate subject tracking capabilities. While sleek in stature, the D500 is by no means slim on functionality and versatility.
Besides the imaging assets, this advanced DSLR also features an impressive handling design that incorporates a 3.2", 2.36m-dot, tilting LCD touchscreen, which affords a comfortable means for working from high and low angles. An updated version of SnapBridge is also featured, which provides Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC, as well as Bluetooth Low Energy technology for linking your mobile device for wireless image sharing. In addition to the convenience features, the D500 is housed within a durable magnesium alloy chassis that is both dust- and weather-sealed for working in inclement conditions and harsh environments.
20.9MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor and EXPEED 5 Image Processor
The DX-format 20.9MP CMOS sensor is paired with the EXPEED 5 image processor to provide an esteemed mixture of high sensitivity, nuanced image quality, and fast overall performance. At native values, a sensitivity range from ISO 100-51200 permits working in a broad array of lighting conditions, an can be further expanded to ISO 50-1640000 (Lo 1 to Hi 5) to handle the most challenging of situations. The mixture of resolution and sensor size also contributes to clean image quality and smooth color transitions with reduced noise throughout the sensitivity range.
In addition to benefitting image quality, the EXPEED 5 processor also affords a wealth of speed throughout the camera system, including a top continuous shooting rate of 10 fps with full-time autofocus and exposure metering. Up to 200 frames can be recorded in a single burst, even when shooting 14-bit lossless compressed NEF files. Additionally, slower continuous shooting rates are available as well as a Quiet Continuous Mode for shooting 3 fps in noise-sensitivity areas.
4K UHD Video Recording
Capable of recording more than just stills, the D500 supports 4K UHD video recording at 30, 25, and 24 fps frame rates and Full HD/HD recording at up to 60 fps, along with the ability to save movie files to the in-camera memory cards or as an uncompressed file to an optional external recorder via HDMI out. For maintained quality and versatility in how your movies look, three image area options are available:
As with still shooting, the wide range of sensitivities is available for recording in low- and bright-light conditions, ranging from expanded ISO 100-1640000, and sensitivity values are manually adjustable via the dedicated movie-shooting menu. Also, a video-optimized Flat Picture Control mode can be used during recording to flatten the overall contrast curve for more control during post-production and color grading.
Benefitting handheld shooting, an Electronic Vibration Reduction feature can be used during Full HD and HD recording, which minimizes the appearance of camera shake across three axes to control horizontal, vertical, and rotational movements. Additionally, Active D-Lighting can also be employed during Full HD/HD shooting to preserve highlight and shadow detail when working in high-contrast situations.
In regard to handling, a dedicated power aperture button (Pv) makes it possible to achieve smooth, continuous exposure transitions when switching from light to dark areas and Auto ISO can also be used to maintain consistent brightness when working in changing light situations. Audio recording can be handled using the built-in stereo microphone or an optional external mic can be added via the 3.5mm stereo jack for greater control over quality. Regardless if using the in-camera mic or an external mic, audio levels can be adjusted in 20 increments and live monitoring is possible via the headphone jack, which afford 30 different volume levels for playback.
In addition to straight movie recording, time-lapse recording, for up to 9999 consecutive frames shot over the course of up to one week, is also possible with up to 4K UHD/30p output from the camera.
153-Point Multi-CAM 20K Autofocus System
Matching the speed and imaging capabilities is the apt Multi-CAM 20K AF system, which features 153 total phase-detection points, including 99 cross-type sensors for improved subject recognition, and 55 of the points are selectable for greater compositional freedom. Benefitting the use of super telephoto lenses and teleconverters, 15 of the points, including 9 selectable points, are compatible with an effective aperture of f/8 and all 153 points support working with effective apertures of f/5.6 or brighter.
Complementing the abundance of focusing points is a dedicated AF engine, which offers quick response times to benefit tracking fast and randomly moving subjects, even at the top 10 fps shooting rate. The AF engine also contributes to enhanced focusing sensitivity, with all points capable of focusing -3 EV and the center point capable of reading at -4 EV for working in very dark, low-contrast situations.
Furthering the versatility of the focusing system, seven different AF-area modes can be selected to support varying types of subjects matter:
In addition to the range of AF-area modes, an AF lock-on function can also be used to improve subject tracking performance, and can be adjusted by two parameters-quick or delayed blacked shot AF response and erratic or steady subject movement. By configuring these settings, the AF performance can be optimized to handle a wide variety of subject movement types.
Lastly, a unique auto AF fine-tune function can be employed to ensure the best possible focus for each mounted lens. Rather than relying on photographing distance charts, this function lets you achieve precise focus manually in live view, and then have the AF system calibrate itself to the fine-tuned focus position in order to alleviate front- and back-focusing issues.