Nikon D500 review

Nikon's baby D5 is perfect for the action photographer

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  • 10fps burst shooting
  • 200 shot raw file buffer
  • 1,240-shot battery life

The D500's automatic white balance and metering system didn't throw up any unpleasant surprises during my testing. The general-purpose Matrix metering system also put in a solid performance, recommending balanced exposure values in a wide range of situations. It copes especially well with bright subjects, rarely causing the underexposure we might traditionally anticipate; with that in mind it's worth keeping an eye on the histogram view and the brightness of the screen, because it's easy to misinterpret what you're seeing and dial in unnecessary exposure compensation.

Image quality

  • ISO100-51,200, expandable to 50-1,640,000
  • Strong dynamic range
  • Attractive colors

Scrolling through the images we've shot on the Nikon D500 confirms that it does most things well most of the time. The vast majority of images are well exposed, have attractive, accurate colours and are sharp. Video quality is also high.

Examining images in more detail reveals that low light performance is very good within the native sensitivity range. Images taken at the lower sensitivity settings have lots of detail, achieving excellent scores in our resolution tests. This starts to drop off at ISO6400, but the results at ISO12,800 are still very good, with just a hint of chroma noise in raw files viewed at 100% on screen.

This coloured speckling becomes more obvious at ISO25,600, and more so again at ISO51,200 (the highest native value), but it's well within acceptable limits. Beyond this value the expansion settings are there if you need them, but they deliver results that Nikon doesn't consider entirely satisfactory.

Results using the first of these settings, Hi 1 (ISO102,400) are actually pretty good for such a high value, but banding starts to creep into images shot at Hi 2 (ISO204,800), and is visible in the darker areas of images sized to A4.

It's not really worth using the values above these two settings, as there's lots of noise and subjects become increasingly lost in the murk. Don't be deceived by the results you may see taken in good light; in the dark conditions that demand these settings it's a different story, and we struggled to recognise objects shot at Hi 5 (ISO1,640,000).