Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500

26 June 2017 | Category: Stills

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500


Both the Nikon D5 and the Nikon D500 are found right at the top of Nikon’s full-frame and APS-C (respectively) line-ups. They’re both excellent cameras, but it can be difficult to know which one is the best fit for a particular job. 

Here we take a look at some of the key differences between the two to help you choose which would be best for your next project. 

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500: Sensor
With either of these cameras, you get 20.8-megapixels to play with, but of course, the big difference is that the D5 has a larger, full-frame sensor, while the D500’s is APS-C sized. Many will automatically write off anything with a smaller sensor, but there are some advantages to it.
For a start, the crop factor of having a smaller sensor means your lenses automatically become longer without having to hire or purchase additional glass. That can be super useful for photographing wildlife, action or sport as you can get closer to the action. If however, you need the ultimate in shallow depth of field control, the D5’s larger sensor is the best choice.

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500: Frame rate
Both the cameras have reasonably impressive frame rates, so don’t dismiss the D500 and assume only the D5 will be good for sport photography.
The D5 offers up to 12fps shooting, while the D500 isn’t too far behind with 10fps shooting. If the action you’re shooting isn’t super fast, you might consider going for the smaller camera, while the D5 makes sense if you need to capture split-second moments. 

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500: Screen 
Both of these cameras have touch-sensitive screens, which can be extremely useful when you’re working in Live View, or for flicking through and zooming into images in playback. However, the D500 has another ace up its sleeve as its screen tilts. That makes it handy for shooting from awkward angles and is particularly favoured by videographers.

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500: Handling
The D500 has a standard DSLR shape, while the D5 has an inbuilt additional portrait-format grip. This gives you extra buttons and a joystick which come into their own when shooting portrait format images. This is great news if you’re working in the studio, shooting portraits, or perhaps at an event where you’re switching quickly between landscape and portrait format shooting. On the downside, you’ll pay for this extra flexibility in size and weight - the D500 is nearly half the weight of the D5.

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500: Battery life 
One of the best features of the D5 is its fantastic battery life. You can keep going for nearly 4,000 shots according to the official CIPA rating, and you may even be able to squeeze more out of it in real-world shooting conditions. The D5 is the ideal camera for all-day events such as weddings, where you don’t want to be worrying about swapping out batteries, or worse still, it running out completely. The D500’s battery life is rated at around 1240 shots - so make sure to pack an extra battery for any long shoots. 

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500: AF 
Both of the cameras use the same autofocusing system, which performs excellently in low light. On the D500, you’ll notice that the AF points are spread further across the frame, which saves you from having to focus and recompose quite so often.

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500: Low light 
A staggeringly high ISO count is a feature of both the D500 and the D5. With the D5 you can shoot at over ISO 3,000,000 - but as you might expect the results are far from usable. It’s a similar situation with the D500’s top speed of 1,640,000. However, if we look at more realistic ISO settings, such as either camera’s top native speed, both cameras perform admirably well, with the D5 having the edge with its top native ISO of 102,400 (compared with the D500’s 51,200). If you’re likely to be photographing something in very low light, the D5 makes for the better hire, but, the D500 is still very impressive in all but the lowest of lights.

Nikon D5 vs Nikon D500: Which should I hire?
Deciding which to go for between these two excellent cameras can be tricky, as both are excellent performers which won’t disappoint. Ask yourself if you really need the extra size and weight of the D5 when compared with the D500, and consider the type of photography you’ll be doing.
The D500 is an excellent all-rounder which is much smaller and lighter than the D5, so it could be good to have with you for reportage style photography which requires you to be a little less obvious. The D5 meanwhile is an absolute master of sports and action, as well as being superb for portraits thanks to its larger full-frame sensor.