For those who are interested in cameras, I received a Nikon D500 to accompany my D750s in my photography work. I few people have asked me why I would buy this camera since it has a cropped sensor unlike the amazing full frame sensor of the D750.

Nikon D500 with 85mm F1.8 G at F1.8. Running toward camera…160506_163846_113

Here are by observations of this camera after only using for a few hours:

What the D500 has that the D750 does not:

  1. Focus points that actually go from edge to edge. This is a big deal once you try it out. The D500 inherited its focus system from the flagship D5 and as a result of the cropped sensor, the focus point spread is complete.  If you’re someone who like to have your focus point exactly on what you are focussing on while pressing the shutter, this is wonderful.
  2. Focus speed and tracking. I don’t have a complaint about the D750 in this regard since it’s “good enough” most of the time. That said, the D500 is, from what I can tell, near perfect. I spent a few hours in a play ground with my daughter running, skipping, sliding, etc, and did not get a single image out of focus. This was while using a Nikon 85mm F1.8 @ F1.8 and not really trying that hard.
  3. The LCD. Like the D750, the D500 has a tilting LCD (thank you Nikon). The huge difference with the D500 is that the LCD is a touch screen. In live view, you can select your focus point by touching the screen and even have it trigger the shutter when you select the focus point. This was what I missed most about my experience with Olympus mirrorless camera and now we have it in a real DSLR. Live view shooting is now fast and possibly as fast as the fastest mirrorless cameras out there.  Add to this the fact that you can swipe, pinch, select, and do everything that your smart phone can do. This is a huge usability leap for a camera.
  4. Endless buffer. You can shoot at 10 frames per second for 200 photos. I will never come close to that but I have reached the end of my buffer with the D750 often enough to appreciate this.
  5. More pleasing auto-white balance. The D750 tends toward warm tones that usually need to be corrected in post. The D500 can nail it with no need to change (even in mixed lighting).
  6. Locking diopter. I set my diopter when I turned on the camera and will likely never set it again. On my D750, I reset it every time I shoot since it can be changed by accident.
  7. Weather sealing. Better for shooting in wet weather.
  8. This sounds silly but, the D500 has an eye cup that won’t fall off. As anyone who shoots with D750s knows, you give up having an eye-cup after a few weeks.
  9. Video is another area that I will leave to the video experts.

Nikon D500 with 85mm F1.8 G at F1.8. Skipping of course.160506_163947_119-2

What the D750 has that the D500 does not:

  1. A full frame sensor that is truly great. The high ISO ability and dynamic range of the D750 is remarkable. You can push the files very hard in post-production and they still look great. The D500 has a cropped sensor and the files show some low ISO noise and can’t be pushed as hard in post-production without seeing the effects. The D500 files are perfectly acceptable but not to the high standard of the D750.

What does this mean?

It’s obvious that both the D750 and the D500 have some remarkable strengths. From a portrait, landscape, architecture, and product shot point of view, the D750 is fantastic mainly because it works well and the image quality is top notch. From a usability and speed/accuracy point of view, the D500 is heads above the D750. If you shoot any sports, like to shoot anything that is moving, shoot in bad weather, the D500 is once of the fastest cameras on the market.

As a generalist photographer who shoots commercial, portrait and wedding photography, having both of these cameras is a treat. The D500 will become my event, and main candid camera while the D750s will do everything else. This is not to say the either could not do a good job in any situation, but these are my conclusions based on how I photograph.

Now you can easily predict what every Nikon shooter will be asking. Why can’t we have the sensor of the D750 in a D500-like body? That’s a question for Nikon Marketing and the D5 team.  It’s also a great opportunity for Canon to shine with their upcoming Canon 5D Mark IV.