Nikon has been busy this last year developing some amazing new camera gear. They have totally knocked it out of the park with the release of two new professional cameras, the Nikon D5 and D500. While the D5 is indeed an impressive new camera, the D500 is truly the new DX flagship camera that we’ve all been waiting for.
Nikon is still innovating in the DSLR market and have so far, at least publically, ignored the mirrorless professional market. I am one photographer who really likes shooting with DSLRs because of their excellent speed and top-notch autofocus. Time will tell what Nikon intends to do with the mirrorless world.
In addition to the two new cameras, Nikon also released a new SB-5000 flash and a new sports-action camera called the KeyMission 360. Read below for more details on all these new products.
This DX (small sensor) DSLR is truly a professional camera in a smaller body. Nikon shooters have been waiting many years for a Nikon D300/D300s replacement and we now have our new DX flagship camera that is a small version of the full-frame Nikon D5.
This smaller camera is approximately the same size as a D750 or a D810 and utilizes the same autofocus system as the Nikon D5. This new AF module incorporates 153 autofocus points for almost full coverage of the entire frame. Additionally, quite a few of the sensors (15 to be precise) will operate at f/8 effective maximum aperture.
The native ISO range has been increased to 100 – 51,200. The D500 also uses expanded ISO options of Hi-1, Hi-2, Hi-3, Hi-4, and Hi-5. Hi-5 is an equivalent of ISO 1,640,000!
In the interest of speed and high ISO performance, Nikon has chosen a 20.9 MP CMOS sensor for the D500. I would have liked to have seen more pixels, but 20.9 is perfectly adequate for almost all shooting scenarios we come across. I’ve become used to the 36 MP sensor on my D800, but I also shoot quite extensively with my 24 MP D750 and find its resolution just fine.
Again, working to claim its title as a professional DX camera, the D500 will shoot at 10 frames per second. Nikon claims the camera will sustain 10 FPS for a total of 79 shots in a row while shooting 14-bit compressed RAW using an XQD card. That’s unheard of in a camera this size. Truly amazing. Kudos to Nikon.
The D500 incorporates one of my favorite features of the Nikon D750; the tilting screen. The screen allows me to place the camera in awkward positions while still being able to compose during live view. The D500 monitor adds touch screen capability, a first in the DSLR world.
Nikon has created a new light meter, increasing the resolution of the light sensor to 180,000 pixels. As many of you know, Nikon uses the light meter to work in tandem with the focus system, so this new light meter will be better suited for subject tracking and facial recognition.
Nikon has created an internal automatic AF fine tune utility. Supposedly, it compares a live image on the CMOS sensor with a captured image, then fine tunes the focus for each specific lens.
Further tipping its hat to professional photographers, the D500 utilizes both XQD cards and SD cards. The XQD format is blazingly fast and allows transfer speeds of 400 MB/s write and 350 MB/s read. That’s over twice as fast as the current super-speed CF cards of 160 MB/s.
For the video enthusiasts in the crowd, the D500 can shoot 4K video at 30p. It also shoots 1080p at a variety of frame rates. While shooting video, it has the ability to send 4K video to the memory card and an HDMI simultaneously.
The D500 is set to retail for $1,999.95 and should start shipping March 15, 2016.
The Nikon D5 is a professional FX (full-frame sensor) camera. At a price point of $6,500 USD, it is out of reach for most casual shooters, but does things that no other camera before it has done.
The brand-new autofocus module is shared with the D500 and boasts 153 AF points. 99 of those are cross-type sensors. The center sensor will that operate down to EV -4, which allows full autofocus on moonlit nights.
The native ISO range of the D5 is 100 to 102,400. With an expanded ISO up to Hi-5, the system will take pictures at an ISO equivalent to 3,276,800. Yes, that’s ISO three million. Unbelievable.
The FX (full-frame) sensor comes in at 20.8 MP. This is a modest increase in pixel count from the D4s’ 16.2 MP sensor, but is sufficient for most everything a professional sports or action photographer might need.
The D5 will shoot 12 frames per second with full AF and AE tracking. The frame rate increases to 14 FPS with the mirror locked up. In that scenario, the camera won’t track autofocus or exposure. The camera has a 200-frame buffer when shooting at 12 frames per second. With this performance, you can shoot for almost 17 seconds straight without stopping.
Along with the D500, the D5 offers 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) video at 30/25/24p. It uses dot-by-dot readout, which means it doesn’t use the full frame when recording 4K video, so the crop factor ends up being about 1.5x. When shooting 1080p, the camera does use the full frame.
The great thing about video with this camera is that you are able to use the full range of ISO sensitivities while recording. This will allow ISO ranges from 100 to 3 million. Imaging shooting video in almost complete darkeness!
Nikon created a brand-new 180,000 pixel light meter for the D5 and D500 cameras. Coupled with the EXPEED 5 engine, this camera’s metering performance should be the best in Nikon’s history.
The D5 uses a new touch screen monitor on the back of the camera. This LCD is 3.2 inches diagonal and 2.4 million dots of resolution. Unlike the D500, the screen doesn’t pivot, but the new touch functionality will dramatically improve navigation through pictures.
The camera ships with one of two options for memory cards; either dual CF cards or dual XQD cards. Most professionals will probably opt for the dual XQD cards due to the increased speed they provide over CF cards. Nikon says the card slots are modular, so I’m guessing that you’ll be able to send the camera back to Nikon and swap out one module for the other.
The D5 will retail at $6,500 USD and will be available March 15, 2016.
This new flash packs more power than the SB-910 into a smaller form factor. Also, it adds radio control in addition to the standard infrared light-pulse system of the legacy creative lighting system (CLS).
The cool thing about the new SB-5000 is it will now work with up to six groups while the previous CLS allowed three groups. It allows control up to 18 flashes within those 6 groups, so you’ll have no more excuses for not having enough flash control.
The SB-5000 is backward compatible with the previous CLS control system, allowing it to use three groups in legacy CLS control with three groups in the new radio CLS control.
The operation of the new wireless radio control requires a Nikon D5 or D500 to send the signal with the optional WR-R10 wireless transceiver. Radio control allows the off-camera flashes to be positioned around corners and even outside the room. The previous system was IR light controlled, so all flashes had to be line of sight in order for the system to operate.
Because the flash is smaller and more powerful, Nikon designed an internal cooling system to prevent overheating. Previous flashes like the SB-800, SB-900, and SB-910 would overheat or even shut down after firing multiple flashes in a row. Now, Nikon says the SB-5000 will shoot 120 continuous frames at 5-second intervals without overheating.
The SB-5000 will retail for about $600 and will be available in March of 2016.
This is an action camera built in a similar form factor as a GoPro, but with significant differences. The KeyMission 360 uses two cameras pointed in opposite directions. Each camera has a super-wide-angle lens so that the system captures a full 360 degrees of coverage while recording in 4K. You can edit the video so you have continuous spherical coverage of the action.
The camera is waterproof to 30 meters (100 feet) and shockproof to 2 meters (7 feet). It also has in-camera electronic image stabilization.