With smartphones dominating the photography market, taking up most of the headlines, and eating into the sales of traditional cameras, amateur photographers have split into two groups: the people who want to take snapshots and the people who want to be professionals. Nikon has taken notice and has a strategy to appeal to both of these markets with two new cameras. Announced at CES this year, Nikon’s latest offering have one foot in the present and one in the future. One is aimed at being easy to use and is decidedly aimed at people who are constantly connected. The other is a traditional tour de force of photography prowess that should be on the wishlists of many professionals. Respectively, they’re called the D500 and the D5 – and they may be exactly what Nikon needs to be everything to everyone.
On the surface, both cameras look like what you’d expect from Nikon. They’re black boxes with lenses attached and one (the D5) is slightly bigger than the other. Both have the trademark red stripe. But, looking more closely at their specifications and features, it becomes clear that each camera has its own identity and purpose.
Let’s start with looking at the Nikon D500. It’s a DSLR on a diet, but with impressive performance. With a smaller form factor than traditional DSLR’s, it’s almost cute. It’s got a vibrant touchscreen that tilts, sure, but the most interesting thing about the D500 is the lengths it goes to courting people who can’t stand not uploading a photo right. now. The worst part about having a DSLR, arguably, is that you need to go home, take out a memory chip, upload it into your computer and then share your pictures (probably after some editing). Smartphones gave let us taste sweet, sweet instant gratification and DSLR’s began to feel like relics despite their superior image processing.
Enter Nikon’s SnapBridge system. It uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to transfer images as you take them to connected devices. This will be especially useful for photographers who want to share right away. This feature isn’t exactly revolutionary – DSLR’s have had the ability to upload photos wirelessly before – but that doesn’t mean that the D500 is any less important to Nikon. Nikon promises that the software required for SnapBridge won’t be a total mess – and that’s more than half the battle.
Starting at $1,999.95 precisely, the D500 is a very serious camera. It shoots video in 4k (3840 x 2160 at 30/25/24p) and has a 20.9 megapixel sensor. It has an ISO of 100 to 51,200. The body weighs 760 grams. You can shoot images at 10 frames per second.
If you think that’s impressive, the Nikon D5 will blow you out of the water.
The Nikon D5 is the flagship device. This is the camera Nikon is proudest of and is also where Nikon, once again, pushes the boundaries of what a DSLR is capable of. Announced in November 2015 with few details, but shown off alongside the D500 at CES with all of its tech specs this week, the D5 is another beautiful square with a lens attached. Larger than the D500 and lacking the bells and whistles of Wi-Fi connectivity (but complete with an ethernet port), the D5 is for traditionalists and purists. It’s, admittedly, an iterative update to Nikon’s last flagship the D4S, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with one of the world’s best cameras getting even better.
The D5 has an impressive native ISO of 100 to 102,400 – but it gets better. Its maximum extended ISO can reach 3.28million. Million. Again: million. This makes the D5 a photographer’s dream in low light conditions. This will be the piece of technology that people with lesser cameras see images from and wonder why they can’t get the same shot. Nikon really threw down the gauntlet here and its the most exciting improvement in the D5.
The D5 captures images with a 20.8 megapixel sensor (making it Nikon’s highest resolution full frame camera ever) and also shoots video in 4k (3840 x 2160 at 30/25/24p). It also comes complete with a 153 point autofocus system with a dedicated autofocus processor. It starts at $6,499.95 and is, clearly, not messing around.
This year, photographers got two Nikons: the Nikon they know and love and a Nikon that’s looking into the future. One day, I’m sure we’ll see wireless connectivity in every DSLR, but it’s good to see that Nikon isn’t ready to sacrifice anything in its best offering for another feature. Both of these cameras will, undoubtedly, prove massively popular, but the success of the D500 may be dictate the future of Nikon more than anything else. Nikon is clearly trying to become more innovative and small steps in the familiar mixed with new, innovative products like the KeyMission 360 put the company in a promising position.