Nikon's Other New 4K DSLR is the $2,000 APS-C D500

Nikon D500 Front with 16-80mm Lens
Nikon announced three different 4K cameras today, with the first two being the D5 and the KeyMission 360.

The third camera up their sleeves is the nearly 21 Megapixel DX/APS-C sensor D500, the new flagship for Nikon's smaller sensor cameras, and a sort of successor to the professional APS-C D300. Featuring similar processing and autofocus as the bigger and much more expensive D5, the D500 fits into a lot more budgets at a price of $2,000 for the body only, and a little under $3,100 with the 16-80mm lens. If you cut the D5 ISOs in half, you'll get the max for the D500 at 50 to 1,640,000.

Nikon D500_back

Unless there are some major typos going on, it seems like the 4K/UHD of the D500 is capable of recording up to 30 minutes, unlike the 3 minutes on the D5. A PDF from Nikon contradicts some information in the detailed specs on the D500 page, so I'm not sure which is accurate, but will go with 30 minutes for now as it's like that the insulated nature of the D5 is creating a lot of heat inside the camera — limiting recording time. There are some other caveats related to the crop at 4K that I go into more detail down below. It's been difficult finding a 4K sample like there was for the D5 — which could mean nothing, but they've certainly put more of a video focus on the more expensive camera. 

Here's the launch video:

Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1aS3p8hRh8

And a preview from Jared Polin:

Specs:

  • 20.9MP DX-Format (APS-C) CMOS Sensor with Max Resolution of 5,568 x 3,712
  • 23.5mm x 15.7mm Sensor
  • EXPEED 5 Image Processor
  • Flat Picture Profile
  • 3.2" 2,539k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • 100% Coverage Optical Viewfinder
  • 3,840x2,160 / 30 fps / 25 fps / 24 fps 
  • 1,920x1,080 / 60 fps / 50 fps / 30 fps / 25 fps / 24 fps 
  • 1,280x720 / 60 fps / 50 fps 
  • High quality available at all frame sizes, normal quality available at all sizes except 3,840 x 2,160
  • Recording Time: 29:59 in 4K/UHD and HD
  • 153-Point AF System, 99 Cross Type
  • HDMI Recording: Uncompressed UHD 4:2:2 8-bit
  • Electronic Vibration Reduction in 1080p
  • Native ISO: 100 to 51200 
  • Expanded ISO: 50 to 1,640,000
  • 10 fps Shooting for Up to 200 Frames
  • In-Camera 4K Time lapse
  • Shutter speed: 30 seconds to 1/8,000 sec
  • Dual card slots: one XQD and one SD 
  • Built-In Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC
  • In-Camera Time Lapse, Up to 9999 Frames
  • 1/8" Headphone, 1/8" Microphone, HDMI C (Mini), Micro-USB, Nikon 10-Pin, USB 3.0
  • Weight: 26.9 oz. (760 g)
  • Availability: March 2016
  • Price: $2,000 Body Only, $3,070 with DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR Lens

More on the video recording, which just like the D5, is capable of recording 4K uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 from the HDMI:

The EXPEED 5 processing power extends beyond still imaging performance to benefit 4K UHD video recording in multiple frame rates of 30/25/24p fps and full HD 1080p of 60/50/30/25/24p fps. During recording, fully manual control over shutter speed and ISO settings is possible along with the ability to utilize Auto ISO adjustment in manual mode with a top sensitivity of ISO 51,200. Zebra stripe highlighting can be applied to aid in controlling overexposure during recording too, along with in-camera Picture Control profiles, custom tone curves, and a flat profile to benefit color-grading applications. Recording to an optional external recorder is possible in order to gain uncompressed, 4:2:2, 8-bit output through the HDMI port, and when recording externally, use of the camera's LCD monitor for simultaneous live view monitoring is possible.

Nikon D500 Top

One thing stood out in that description above — that they talk about the Auto ISO adjustment in manual mode. It's possible that you're unable to change the aperture in Live View. This is a problem that other Nikon cameras have faced, but the higher-end Nikons had workarounds to allow this. We'll see if this camera has the same issue, but I was told it has to do with the way Nikon opens and closes the iris. It needs a more expensive mechanism to be able to move the iris while recording, and we don't yet know how it's implemented on the D500.

The other huge issue with recording 4K on this camera is that it's significantly cropped. While you're shooting with a DX 1.5x crop on the D5, since Nikon is doing a pixel for pixel 4K, you're shooting even more of a crop with this camera at that resolution, basically a 1.3x crop for a camera that already has a 1.5x crop from full-frame:

Nikon D500 4K-UHD Crop

It's unfortunate, but it's one way Nikon can give a cleaner image, as they don't have to worry about artifacts that can come from pixel binning or the power that's needed for scaling. This camera seems like it will be more friendly for 4K shooting, and it's certainly a lot cheaper than the D5, which is more for stills. At least it seems like you can record for much longer with 4K, and you've got a tilting screen that's more convenient for shooting video.

DPReview also talked with Nikon about both the D5 and D500:

Nikon D500 press conference from Matt Granger:

Nikon also introduced a new flash, the SB-5000 Speedlight, and a new wireless transfer system called SnapBridge that works with the D500:

The Nikon D500 will be available in March for $2K body only or a little over $3K with the 16-80mm lens.     

Your Comment

11 Comments

Sounds like the 4K crop is going to be a little bigger than the Panasonic GH4, which should be fine provided you've got the right lenses for this format. ( at least the record time is not 3 minutes like the new D5 )

January 5, 2016 at 7:08PM, Edited January 5, 7:08PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
33432

According to Nikon's website, it is limited to 3 minutes, and the PDF says that the 25:59 limit is recorded to separate files. As much as I want to be a Nikon fan again, this camera just isn't relevant for video next to competition from Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and BlackMagic. I'm sure the photos from it are amazing, but 3 minutes of 8-bit 4K is not enough to be considered a serious video cam.

January 5, 2016 at 7:51PM

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Joel Farabee
Shooter
113

The 3 minute limit is on the D5. The D500 4K record limit is 29:59. Now, it does break that into individual files to deal with the FAT limitations. But still, you should have the full 29:59 once you put all the clips on your timeline.

January 5, 2016 at 8:38PM

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I posted this on a forum a while back to see what others would think to such creation. I'm pretty sure Nikon did not come across it but would be interesting if they did. http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00cfVk

January 5, 2016 at 9:45PM, Edited January 5, 9:59PM

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Michael Melwani
Photographer / Filmmaker
161

So...Nikon is a brand I have never delved in to. I've used Canon and Panasonic. To be honest, I prefer the color science of Canon vastly to Panasonic, but obviously the pricing and features of Panasonic(GH4) are much more realistic for someone who has just finished their first year living completely off of freelancing. Occasionally I have second thoughts on my decision of choosing the GH4 over the A7S due to its Low-light capabilities, or the Blackmagic cameras with their Pro-Res and Raw recording on a budget. So, with all that said, what exactly am I missing by not having tried out Nikon?

January 5, 2016 at 10:47PM, Edited January 5, 10:48PM

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John Haas
Cinematographer
821

Nikon's full frame cameras had the ability shoot video in both Full Frame or DX (aps-c/super35) mode which was a nice feature if you had limited glass or wanted to get tight long shots given the price. Sony added that feature to the A7s/A7r and S-log which I find to be a bonus. I wonder how Nikon would have done had they added their own log vs the simple flat picture profile. Other than that, thats pretty much it.

January 6, 2016 at 1:21AM, Edited January 6, 1:38AM

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Michael Melwani
Photographer / Filmmaker
161

It's all personal preference.
I own A7s, use 5D3 for work, use Nikons for stills and for work and owned Panasonic for video. For video I like the crazy ISO for A7s but prefer Panasonic color right out of the camera. For stills I prefer Nikon over canon. I have friends who swears about their L lenses but Canon glass will never come close to the sharpness of Nikkor lenses trust me I've used them all.
But again lot of Canon like that soft look esp on portraits but all personal preference. You could make sharp image soft but not the other way around.

January 6, 2016 at 11:06AM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1622

8 bit is leaving me scratch my head a bit.

January 6, 2016 at 4:58AM

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A7s is 8bit also.

January 6, 2016 at 2:51PM

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Keith Kim
Photographer
1622

Re: Kevin - I agree. The trouble of 4K at 8-bit color is certainly not future proof. The new Ultra HD Blu-ray specification supports 10-bit color, and the new 4K TVs coming out this year (LGs are already available) are going to be true 10-bit color panels. The future is 10-bit color in every device.

January 6, 2016 at 4:41PM

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Razor
VFX Colorist
491

I guess video/filmmaking sites feel compelled to report on every new camera, but, really, I think we all realize by now that unless Nikon makes a fundamental shift, their cameras are not suited for motion recording. Even if the specs might get better from time to time, these cameras are incredibly un-friendly towards video/film shooters. Not being able to change the aperture is just one of many such workflow/ergonomic head-scratchers. I used to shoot Nikon, most of my glass is Nikon mount, but I haven't shot with a Nikon camera in years. High quality adapters are affordable and plentiful.

January 6, 2016 at 6:10AM, Edited January 6, 6:10AM

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Joseph Moore
Director
291