Nikon D5 and D500 DSLRs Announced

The new Nikon D5 flagship DSLR (image courtesy Nikon USA).
The new Nikon D5 flagship DSLR (image courtesy Nikon USA).

Nikon just announced their newest flagship FX and DX bodies, the D5 and D500, respectively. I’m just looking over the specs now, but here are the highlights.

  • These are fast cameras with just under 21 megapixel resolution. D5 will shoot 12 fps (standard) or 14 fps with the mirror locked up. The D500 will shoot 10fps. If you shoot fast action, this is good news!
  • Both offer a new AF system: Multi-CAM  20k, which offers 153 AF points (don’t ask me how you’ll toggle them), of which 99 are cross-type. You can use 25, 72, or 153-point dynamic AF tracking modes.
  • The D5 offers dual card slots in one of two configurations: Dual CF or dual XQD. The D500 offers an SD card slot and a XQD slot. While XQD cards are faster than CF, they have yet to be adopted for any camera outside of the Nikon D4 line until now.
  • Both cameras offer 4k HD video recordings.
  • The  LCD offers touch-screen capability, and the D500 has a tilting LCD, something I like a lot on my D750.
  • Both cameras offer a base ISO of 100, and the D5 goes to 102,400 in-spec and a ridiculous Hi-5 equivalent of 3,280,000! Both cameras offer a Lo-1 ISO 50 equivalent.
  • Both cameras use existing Nikon batteries (YAY). The D5 uses the EN-EL18a and the D500 uses the EN-EL15 (or the larger battery, with the optional grip).
  • The D500 offers built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support to connect it to smartphones and tablets. The D5 can offer Wi-Fi via an adapter module.
  • Both cameras support both AF-S and older AF Nikkor lenses
  • Both cameras will support the new wireless SB-5000 speedlight via a wireless adapter module.
  • Medium and Small NEF (RAW) recording options (12-bit only)

Estimated Street Prices

Nikon D5 DSLR body only $6499 US Preorder here

Nikon D500 DSLR body only $1999 US Preorder here

Availability is currently unknown

My Thoughts

Bird and wildlife photographers are going to be all over the Nikon D500, as Nikon finally gives Canon some real competition in this area. While the D7200 is competent, the D500 is the fast-action camera many enthusiasts have been clamoring for ever since the D300s was discontinued. Add in the better AF system and high-ISO performance, and the D500 is going to be scarce for a long time. The only really trade-off compared to the D7200 is the slightly lower resolution (20.9 vs 24 megapixels), which is pretty negligible in my opinion.

The D5 is exactly what I figured it would be in terms of pixels and performance. At 20.8 megapixels, the D5 no longer looks quite as underpowered as compared to the rest of the Nikon line. In fact, that’s a real sweet spot for resolution; plenty of pixels for detail and moderate cropping if needed, and the relatively large photosites should deliver outstanding ISO performance and dynamic range.

Based on my experience with previous Nikon flagship DSLRs such as the D3 and D4, the new D5 is going to be an excellent camera for those needed the absolute best low-light capabilities and highest possible frame rates for sports and  indoor situations where flash is unavailable. I also welcome Nikon’s decision to return to the paired dual card slots. The mixed media card slots of the D4 really drove me nuts, as I really missed the dual CF slots from my D3s in the past. You can configure the D5 with either dual CF or XQD slots, and I’ve heard that you can choose to switch the slots out later via an authorized Nikon service center.

The major downside of the D5 is its very high price. Unless you really need the build and 12fps shooting capability, the $6500 price tag is going to be a steep hurdle for all but the most serious shooters. You also have to consider the size and weight of the D5 (as with all Nikon flagships) when packing for a trip.

I still recommend the Nikon D810 as an absolute winner for all-purpose camera for landscape and wildlife photographers, but I’d really love the new AF system in these cameras!


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