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The argument for a pro DX crop camera – Nikon D500

Almost 2 years to the day I used a Canon 7D Mk II at an A-League match and wrote a short blog about the image quality. While the 7D was good in the right conditions it really wasn’t good enough, even at ISO 250. Not long after this blog I sold the 7D.

I just finished using the Nikon D500, Nikon’s new entry in the DX/Crop sensor market. I used several lenses:

So wouldn’t it be great if a crop-sensor body could replace pro-DSLR bodies like the Nikon D5 and Canon 1DX?

The picture shows by comparison the 300mm and the D500 on the left and on the right, my Canon 1DX2 and the Nikon 400mm. With the D500 and the 300mm, that’s equivalent to a 450mm f4 coming in at 1.5kg compared with the Nikon D5/Canon 1DX with the 400mm at 5.3kg. That’s almost four times heavier (if you put in the need for a monopod).  The obvious difference is the 1-stop advantage between f2.8 and f4 – but can that be discounted because the image quality is good enough and the weight and convenience savings are worth any IQ trade-off?

 

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Well, my current conclusion is that like the 7D v 1DX 2 years ago, the D500 is also great in good conditions but side-by-side against the D5 and 1DX class cameras, it’s not a replacement. All of this is only visible at 1:1 or 100%, but commercial and editorial images live and die at this live of inspection. So what are ideal conditions? Basically when you don’t have to crop the DX image at all and keep the ISO at or below 1600.

A quick comment about three new Nikon lenses. The 300, 400 and the 70-200 are simply gorgeous. The 70-200 is the best handling zoom lens I’ve ever used. The smooth and fast zoom ring and the balance of the lens is like driving a race car. Amazing. The Canon equivalent lens is like an old jalopy. Heavy, slow and bulky. The 300mm is a miracle in lens design. Add the 1.4TC converter and you’ve got a 400mm in the palm of your hand.

I need to test these lenses on a D5. More results to come.

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