Nikon D500 Review

May 18, 2016 | Amy Davies | |
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Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 20 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 14Mb.

Directly from the camera, JPEG images from the Nikon D500 are great in a wide variety of different shooting conditions, indicating that this is an ideal camera for enthusiast photographers who want to shoot many types of subject.

Colours are vibrant and punchy, without straying too far into unrealistic territory. Detail is also fantastic, with fine detail clear to see throughout the frame when shooting at lower ISOs. Moving up the ISO scale, detail is still extremely well resolved when you reach what would be very high ISOs for other cameras, but are in the middle-range territory for the D500, such as ISO 12,800 - ISO 51, 200. There is some image smoothing to see when you examine closely, but the overall impression of detail at these ISOs is great at A4 or below.

You can work with the raw format files already in Adobe Camera Raw, or you can use Nikon's proprietary software. If you examine corresponding raw format files and compare with the JPEG files, you can see that there's a fair amount of noise reduction being applied to images shot at high ISOs - although the effect is generally quite pleasing, if you need to bring back some detail which has gone missing, you can do this with the raw format files.

Although the Nikon D500 can shoot at a ridiculously high value of over 1 million, images stop being truly useable from around ISO 102,400, even when sharing at small sizes. Still, if getting the image is more important than it being high quality, you may want to venture further into the high ISO territory.

General purpose metering does a good job of producing accurate exposures for the majority of situations, while automatic white balance copes well with artificial lighting. Like with the D5, there is more than one type of automatic white balance - you can switch between Auto1 (Normal), Auto0 (Keep White - Reduce Warm Colours) and Auto2 (Keep Warm Colours). It's worth switching between these to test which you prefer. Sometimes it'll be dependent on your own personal preference to how colours look, while other times it'll depend on the shooting conditions. Leaving it on Auto0 generally results in accurate colours though.

Noise

Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting for both JPEG and RAW files.

JPEG RAW

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

iso50.jpg iso50raw.jpg
   

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

ISO 64 (100% Crop)

iso64.jpg iso64raw.jpg
   

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso80raw.jpg
   

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg
   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg
   

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg
   

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg
   

ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

iso102400.jpg iso102400raw.jpg
   

ISO 204800 (100% Crop)

ISO 204800 (100% Crop)

iso204800.jpg iso204800raw.jpg
   

ISO 409600 (100% Crop)

ISO 409600 (100% Crop)

iso409600.jpg iso409600raw.jpg
   

ISO 819200 (100% Crop)

ISO 819200 (100% Crop)

iso819200.jpg iso819200raw.jpg
   

ISO 1638400 (100% Crop)

ISO 1638400 (100% Crop)

iso1638400.jpg iso1638400raw.jpg

Picture Controls

Nikon's Picture Controls are akin to Canon's Picture Styles in being preset combinations of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. All Picture Controls can be tweaked to your liking, then saved and transferred to other cameras.

Standard

Neutral
PictureStyleStandard.JPG PictureStyleNeutral.JPG
   

Portrait

Vivid
PictureStylePortrait.JPG PictureStyleVivid.JPG
   

Landscape

Monochrome
PictureStyleLandscape.JPG PictureControlMonochrome.JPG
   
Flat  
PictureStyleFlat.JPG