In our other article, we explored 6 autofocus features that contribute to the D500’s AF performance superiority. The AF system, however, is just one part of the D500’s overall imaging capabilities. In this article, we explore 6 mechanical features and the digital functions that work together in perfect harmony to provide you with images of astoundingly high quality. (Report by Ryosuke Takahashi)
The 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor in the D500 is loaded with the latest technology in its internal circuit structure and A/D conversion mechanism, with further improvements that have resulted in better noise reduction. There is also no optical low-pass filter, making it possible for the camera to reproduce fine details of the scene and subjects.
The standard sensitivity of the D500 is usually in the range of ISO 100 – 51200, but can be expanded to as low as Lo1 (equivalent to ISO 50) or raised as high as Hi 5 (equivalent to ISO 1,640,000). Being able to set an even lower ISO sensitivity makes it easy to take photos at an even wider aperture, even in bright, open settings. In dark settings, taking pictures are also just as easy with the help of the AF sensor that functions even at low light situations of EV -4. When shooting at high ISO sensitivities, the powerful processing capability of the EXPEED 5 image processing engine keeps the noise low and delivers magnificent images every time.
Mirror bounce is kept to a minimum with the use of a mechanism that slows down mirror movement the instant just before the mirror pops up or down. This also ensures stable mirror movement during high speed continuous photography at up to 10 frames per second (fps). This control of the mirror bounce ensures a stable supply of light to the AF sensor, aiding an improvement in AF accuracy.
Installing a 180K-pixel RGB sensor enabled the addition of a flicker reduction function, where the camera automatically reads the frequency and cycle of the flickering of fluorescent lights and then picks the instant when the light is at peak intensity to activate the shutter. This captures the light source at its most stable instance, reducing the uneven lighting that occurs with flicker. This feature is most useful when shooting with high shutter speeds at indoor venues such as in a sport stadium.
The LCD monitor is attached to the body by a 3-axis hinged structure. This design ensures that even when the camera is set on a tripod, it will not obstruct the camera platform. The view that you get is aligned with the lens’ optical axis, which enables you to compose pictures intuitively, even from high/low angles. The LCD monitor is also compatible with Touch AF and Touch Shutter.
The D500 is installed with the 4K UHD video capability for HD 4K TV playback. The combination of an image sensor without a low-pass filter and the NIKKOR lens enables the capture of 4K UHD videos that play back in high definition even on large screens. The improved smooth, seamless exposure control designed specifically for video shoots captivates the scenes with natural lighting effects as if in real life.
The D500 is loaded with many features only found in a professional specification FX-format DSLR such as the D5. In the heart of all these is the efforts given to the upgrading of the AF performance and its centerpiece, the 153 focal point AF. These efforts have resulted in dramatic improvements in basic AF performance compared to its predecessor, the D300S.
The capability to carry out continuous shooting at as fast as 10 fps is due to the newly developed mirror unit as well as the EXPEED 5 image-processing engine that can handle enormous volumes of data at lightning speed. The latter is also a major reason why the brand new noise reduction algorithm operates so effortlessly. The inclusion of a tilted LCD monitor is the result of a revamp of the body design. In fact, the camera design incorporates a unique design philosophy wherein new materials are put together to result in a compact creation.
Naturally, it is essential to familiarize yourself and immerse yourself into every piece of magic loaded onto the D500. The key to picking all the little magic up is to remember how the features link to each other. Knowing the technology can change a user’s approach to shooting an image. You may even find it a breeze to shoot scenes that used to be challenging to handle in the past.
When you have been using the same camera for a long time, your ways and habits of shooting become adjusted to the camera. However, the moment you hold the D500 in your hands, you must remind yourself to forget all the little habits you have picked up with the old camera and let yourself be drawn into the new world of the D500. This is my advice to those of you who want to learn the secrets of the D500.
Born in Aichi in 1960, Takahashi started his freelance career in 1987 after working with an advertising photo studio and a publishing house. Photographing for major magazines, he has travelled to many parts of the world from his bases in Japan and China.