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D500 Hands on

D500 XQD UHS-II memory focus

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#1 ericbowles

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 09:08 AM

This week I had a chance to attend a Launch Meeting for the D5/D500 at my local dealer.  This was a one hour session with plenty of hands on time with the cameras.  Comments here are just about the D500 although many features are shared with the D5.

 

The D500 will in fact shoot a continuous burst of 200 14 bit lossless compressed RAW photos without ever slowing for a full buffer.  This was in the original communications to a large extent, but not clearly stated with regard to the conditions.  note that this is the size of the maximum burst - not the buffer.  Nikon does not disclose the size of the D500 buffer, but it looks like it is about 55 images - about 1.3 GB.  The big catch is you can only achieve this kind of speed with the fastest XQD cards - the Lexar 2933x or Sony G.  The other Lexar and Sony cards are slower and will fill the buffer well before you reach 200 frames.  The fastest SD cards will also not achieve this kind of speed but for shorter durations are fine.  The Lexar 2000x UHS-II and Sandisk 280 MB/s UHS-II are the best alternatives.  

 

With a buffer that only holds 1.3 GB or 55 images, the buffer will fill in as few as 80 frames depending on the card.  The bigger issue is the speed to clear the buffer, which would be 16-18 seconds for a card that fills the buffer in 8 seconds.  It's not just a single burst where this is a problem.  The buffer limit is more likely a problem with a series of 2-3 second bursts in short succession.

 

There are several important design features to be aware of in the D5 and D500.  There are more parts than normal shared between the D5 and D500.  

 

Both cameras have a new mirror mechanism that not only has a motor to raise the shutter but also a motor to lower the shutter.  This decreases vibration and noise while generating a very high frame rate.  

 

There is a new AF processor separate from the main processor and this achieves faster focus processing as well as reducing power usage.  

 

The viewfinder on the D5 and D500 both are 100% viewfinders with a round eyepiece.  These are bright viewfinders with standard accessories on both cameras.  

 

The AF sensor layout for the D500 is exactly the same as the D5 but the sensor is cropped.  That provides edge to edge AF points on the horizontal axis - much greater coverage than in the past.  The 15 cross sensors at f/8 are vertical and horizontal from the center point.  AF tracking is excellent in my brief testing.  

 

Bracketing allows up to 9 images with a 1 stop difference, or 5 images with a 3 stop difference.  The bracketing button is where the on-camera flash release button used to be.  

 

High ISO performance is outstanding for a DX camera.  I would not expect the camera to match FX, but it will be close.  ISO 12,800 is very usable.  The extreme ISO values are there if needed, but you clearly have noise issues.  I suspect the ISO performance will not be linear and has a step up in noise reduction to help achieve the better performance.

 

The battery is the same as recent cameras but with improved life.  The number of images on a charge is up by 20% using CIPA standards.  Real life use would be much more.  Note that CIPA standards require the use of flash so cameras without a camera powered flash score better.  The D5 has a huge improvement in power performance and battery life.

 

Smartbridge looks like very interesting technology for fast image sharing across devices.  It uses both Bluetooth and Wifi depending on signal strength switching as needed.

 

All in all I did not see anything that was a negative.  The body has a new shape with a little deeper grip.  The weight balances nicely in your hand.  Both cameras are big winners.


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#2 Art

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 10:56 AM

Nice review, Eric, thank you for taking the time and for sharing it.


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#3 james23p

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 12:22 PM

Thanks Eric for sharing I suspect the D500 is going to sell very well bringing back Nikons DX line to prominence.

Jim


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#4 james23p

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 12:23 PM

Plus I think this brings the XQD cards one step closer to some sort of mainstream.

Jim

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Nikon P900 Nikon P330

F100 w MB-15, N80, FM3a, FE2(Black and Silver) and EM.

Nikkor 24-85G ED AF-S VR, 70-300G ED AF-S VR, 28-105 3.5-4.5 AF-D, 50 1.8 AF-D

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MF Nikkor's 50 f2 Ai, 500 f4 ED Ai-P.

 

MF Rokinon 14mm f2.8 ED AE UMC(Ai-P)

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#5 Dennis

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 12:25 PM

Nice review.


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#6 Wheatsack

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 01:40 PM

Very impressive.... Thanks for the review.


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#7 ericbowles

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 02:03 PM

Thanks, everyone.  Glad this was helpful.

 

One more thing.  We tested the camera in backup mode - where the RAW image is written to the XQD card and a backup stored on the SD card.  Even with a fast UHS-II SD card, the maximum burst was just 70 frames.  Having to sequentially write an image to each card means you have twice as much data and much more goes into the buffer.  As a result, the buffer is filled in just 7 seconds even with fast cards.


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#8 Art

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 03:27 PM

Thanks, everyone.  Glad this was helpful.

 

One more thing.  We tested the camera in backup mode - where the RAW image is written to the XQD card and a backup stored on the SD card.  Even with a fast UHS-II SD card, the maximum burst was just 70 frames.  Having to sequentially write an image to each card means you have twice as much data and much more goes into the buffer.  As a result, the buffer is filled in just 7 seconds even with fast cards.

 

With all the modern computing technology, I find it mind boggling this is the best they can do!  Really, they should partner up with a company like Apple and get it done right.  My biggest beef with my D800 is the silly buffer! Fills in no time, then you wait and wait and wait!  The action has long gone by the time is clears.

 

Not very "PRO" friendly for the money they ask.

 

Otherwise, the specs are indeed impressive, but the D500 is a DX format and I am not at all interested in going back to that.  The D5 is lovely to drool over but for $8500.... YIIIKES!  :lol: Need to win a lottery, then... no problem.

 

Even if they jack the price up 10-15% in a month! :)


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#9 photojazz

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 08:00 PM

Thanks for sharing this info with us.


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#10 ericbowles

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Posted 04 March 2016 - 09:27 PM

 

With all the modern computing technology, I find it mind boggling this is the best they can do!  Really, they should partner up with a company like Apple and get it done right.  My biggest beef with my D800 is the silly buffer! Fills in no time, then you wait and wait and wait!  The action has long gone by the time is clears.

 

Not very "PRO" friendly for the money they ask.

 

Otherwise, the specs are indeed impressive, but the D500 is a DX format and I am not at all interested in going back to that.  The D5 is lovely to drool over but for $8500.... YIIIKES!  :lol: Need to win a lottery, then... no problem.

 

Even if they jack the price up 10-15% in a month! :)

 

The D800 has a 1 GB buffer.  The D500 buffer is just 1.3 GB.  The difference is not the buffer but memory card speed.  The D800 uses compact flash, so even with a faster frame rate, you can't write more than 90 MB/s to the buffer.  The D500 is writing 280 MB/s to the buffer by using a fast, second generation XQD card instead of CF.  

 

The C Fast and XQD standards have been around since 2009.  Cards have been in production since 2012.


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#11 photojazz

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Posted 05 March 2016 - 05:13 PM

Thanks.


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#12 Keith M

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Posted 25 March 2016 - 12:56 AM

Thank you. very good review.


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