Nikon D500 Review of Features & Video Specs – Is it worth it?

Update May 2016: The Nikon D500 availability is coming back – a 2nd wave of stock will be hitting the US shelves soon. The D500 should be in-stock on Amazon soon. Pre-orders will be given priority.

Why Nikon releases their latest and greatest video features in crop-sensor (DX) cameras we’ll never know, but they’ve done it again – this time with the Nikon D500.

Nikon D500 ReviewThe Nikon D500 is the brand’s ‘flagship’ DX camera, which means it’s top of the line of their smaller, crop-sensor cameras and is the first Nikon camera to shoot 4K UHD video. (Side note: the Nikon D5 will release on the same day, and also has 4K, but is geared more towards photography than it is video…and is over $6,000).

Crop-sensor cameras like the Nikon D500 give you more reach with the same lenses due to a magnifying effect, but make getting wider shots more difficult depending on the situation. They are also typically lower resolution/quality and don’t offer the same depth of field (bokeh, blurry background) that full-frame cameras have.

Don’t get me wrong – you can get professional results with crop sensor cameras. We started with the then ‘top of the line DX’ D7000 6 years ago and grew a nice little side business doing wedding videos. The D7000 was Nikon’s first DSLR to shoot 1080p at 24fps, and was reasonably priced.

Nikon D500 for Video (Including 4K UHD Video)

Everyone is trying to get into the 4K video race, and while there’s a place for it, it’s a format that is still coming into its own and certainly isn’t mainstream as of today.

There are some tricks you can do with 4K video (e.g. cropping video down to 1080p to give you more options in post production), but for most users 4K will actually probably be more of a burden to work with during editing, uploading, and sharing. At least until bandwidth, processor speed, ram, and hard-drive space get to the point where most people can work on 4K video with ease – but we’re not there yet. Or even close.

The Nikon D500 is able to shoot 4K UHD at 3840 × 2160 30/25/24p and Full HD: 1920 x 1080 60/50/30/25/24p.

We also have not been able to ascertain if the D500 suffers from the same aperture problem that many of Nikon’s cameras have, which limits your ability to control the exposure while filming.

Nikon D500 Video Sample

I know it’s never going to change, but it drives me crazy when DSLR video demonstrations are for $2000 cameras are done with at least a $20,000 production budget and flying on a DSLR stabilized drone that is likely in the neighborhood of $10,000 on its own.
So, take this video for what it’s worth:

Nikon D500 Record Time

The D500 is able to record 4K for up to 30 minutes at a time. The D5 is currently only able to shoot 4K for 3 minutes – which further confirms it’s a camera meant for photography that happens to have video rather than the other way around.

Nikon D500 Tilting Screen

Nikon D500 Tilting ScreenThis is, arguably, the best video feature on the D500. While I don’t often use a camera above my head (e.g. a media scrum) to utilize a downward tilting screen, I’m often shooting at chest level, waist level, or on the ground with a slider – and a tilting screen would be of tremendous value.
Of course, with more moving parts there’s more to worry about breaking – but the way this has been demonstrated on the D500 it looks like a solid feature.

Nikon D500 4k Price

The D500 will debut in March at $1999. The same price (as of writing this) as the Nikon D750 – a full-frame, video-maker powerhouse. It’s going to be a tough sell that a tilting screen and 4K video are worth losing full-frame capability at the same price point.

Nikon D500 Overview – Final Thoughts

The Nikon D500 has some great upgrades like 4K video and a tilting screen, but at nearly $2,000, it’s hard to see this as a better value for film-making than the D750 full-frame camera – especially if you don’t have a specific business need to shoot 4K video. And, if you’ve got clients paying you a lot of money and demanding 4K video, you’re probably not going to be shooting it on a prosumer Nikon DSLR.