1 month and half with D500 and 16-80

Started Jun 29, 2016 | User reviews thread
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Dodi73 Senior Member • Posts: 2,056
1 month and half with D500 and 16-80

Ok - today is basically 1 month and half I have the D500 and so far I've already overcome the first 5000 photos (3700 of which taken within the first two days of intensive use)

With hindsight, I have sadly to admit that probably I wouldn't buy it again, or that I'll get a FX body as soon as possible too. Probably I'd go for a D750, despite of all the issues that came out along the time.

I have to say I moved from D600 to D500 mostly for focus capabilities. D600 really sucked and made me waste a lot of time to recompose in portraiture. Since I also wanted to cover sport events (soccer, rugby mostly), after a long pondering, I decided to go for the D500 because of the (theoretically) better balance between what I needed and what it offered, even compared to the D750.

Notice I had D600 + all Zeiss mf lenses but a 24-70 Tamron. All excellent lenses. Excellent imagery as well. The only problem, I was truly bothered to focus and recompose most of the times because the D600 couldn't keep up with light as soon as it get dimmer.

After the switch, I got a 16-80 Nikon, a 70-200 Tamron and a 150-600 Tamron. Except maybe the 70-200, both the 16-80 and the 150-600 on that camera aren't what I was used to with D600 and 24-70 or Zeiss lenses. Not even close.

I'm not talking about noise, here. I'm talking about image rendition, colors, bokeh, everything. While nicely versatile, the 16-80 is probably the least impressive lens I have ever had. Even D200 + 17-35 ten years ago gave me much more pleasant results than the images I'm getting with this combo, really.

First, there's probably the usual set-focus-right which for sure softens images (something I had never ever to deal with so far since 2005 when I got my D200, then D700, then D600). But then images do not retain the same amount and kind of detail as the D600 (also the D700 was fine) colours have a reddish/yellowish cast which is of course easy to fix but D600 gave me everything just right, especially when paired with Zeiss lenses. While I have to try with good weather and lower iso, and while the "technical quality" of images up to 1600 iso (3200) is really good, definitely this combo doesn't work for me. Definitely portraiture isn't its bread and butter and this has been my main disappointment since as I told even the 10 yrs old D200 rendered images with a much more pleasant look, despite of the lesser detail. They almost looked like painted.

D500, conversely is.... ordinary, unimpressive. Notice this is a "subjective" judgement, YMMV. D600, especially with Zeiss, works like a charm.

However, there are also positive sides and I guess this is why you're reading this.

The very good thing is the ease to get the focus point where you want it, the fastness of focus acquisition and the general accuracy (plus the machine gun ability to shoot 10 fps which is unbelievable until you try it) but also here comes the issue of the (relatively big) focus points so that when critical focus is required, camera might (perfectly) lock the wrong subject (think of eyelashes instead of iris)

Another PRO for D500 or D750 is the ability to shoot FLAT and then recover so so much detail IF you use the Nikon NX-D sw (whose UI however is so few engaging and much badly designed, even compared to - say - Aperture)

Of course also my skills / technique have to improve, yet this was something beyond my expectations. Not shooting at crazy high iso I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong and in the end it's imagery which really matters. Probably I'll keep the D500 but sell the 16-80 and 150-600 and get a brand new D750 instead. I'm also so sad I sold my Zeiss 18/3.5 which is basically useless here.

My final rating is 4- out of 5.

-- hide signature --

All the best from northern Italy, Dino.
I'm on the NIK side of photography.

Nikon D500
21 megapixels • 3.2 screen • APS-C sensor
Announced: Jan 5, 2016
Dodi73's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm F2.8-4E ED VR Nikon D200 Nikon D500 Nikon D600 Nikon D700 Nikon D750
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