Best cameras under $2000
Published Jun 24, 2020 | dpreview staff
20.9MP APS-C CMOS sensor | 153-point AF system | 4K video capture
What we like:
- Excellent Raw image quality
- Class-leading autofocus and subject tracking
- Respectable 4K video quality
- Automated AF calibration
What we don't:
- Crop factor limits lens choices when capturing 4K video
- Mediocre video controls and autofocus
- SnapBridge Wi-Fi system needs improvement
The D500 is Nikon's high-end crop-sensor digital SLR. It features an all-new 20.9MP CMOS sensor, the company's pro-level AF system, 10 fps burst shooting, dual memory card slots.
The D500 is mid-sized, and aside from a new AF-point selector, will feel quite familiar to owners of any recent high-end Nikon DSLR. Its body is impressively lightweight and is sealed against both dust and moisture. Controls are logically placed, and backlighting on several of the buttons is a nice touch. The D500 has a large optical viewfinder as well as a tilting touchscreen display. Along with the D5, it's also the most customizable DSLR we've ever seen.
For those looking for a semi-pro digital SLR, Nikon's D500 is the best on the market
The 153-point phase detect autofocus array in the D500 is inherited from Nikon's professional D5 and is the one to beat when it comes to continuous focus. 99 cross-type sensors ensure focus even in challenging light, as does -3EV low light sensitivity for all points (-4 EV for center). Coverage nearly reaches the edges of the frame, which allows the camera's industry-leading 3D Tracking system to follow subjects almost anywhere in the scene.
The D500 is capable of excellent image quality. JPEGs have pleasing colors, though large-radius sharpening leaves halos along high contrast edges and sacrifices fine detail. At high ISOs the D500 does a good job at balancing noise reduction, detail retention and saturation in its JPEGs. Raw image quality is among the best in terms of both dynamic range and low light noise.
You can capture video at 4K/UHD resolutions on the D500, though the catch is a pretty aggressive 2.25x crop, which means that your 24mm lens becomes equivalent to 54mm. That said, 4K quality is competitive, though less so in low light. Autofocus is best avoided when capturing video, as it's prone to focus hunting and noise that is easily picked up by the built-in microphones.
Overall, the Nikon D500 is one of the best APS-C cameras we've ever tested. From its image quality to AF performance to ergonomics, Nikon has done an exceptional job. Most of its major weak points are related to video, and the rather simplistic SnapBridge system did not impress with slow and inconsistent performance. Battery performance drops unless using Airplane mode and the latest batteries. Despite these caveats, for those looking for a semi-pro APS-C digital SLR capable of standing up to hard usage. Nikon's D500 is probably the best on the market.
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