Recently, I thought about the history of Nikon’s digital photography entries. A central golden point for the company was the release of the Nikon D3, D700, and D300. The Nikon Z9 and Z8 out now made me wonder about the third option. In 2016, I remember reviewing the Nikon D500, which succeeded the D300. Yet Nikon’s current APS-C camera lineup is lacking, to say the least, compared to Canon, Sony, and Fujifilm. It truly makes me wonder where the Nikon variant of the D500 series is right now. And, more importantly, what would it be called?
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The Magic of the Nikon D500
When I reviewed the Nikon D500 in 2016, mirrorless had already settled in. But here’s what I said in our review conclusions:
The Nikon D500 is an incredibly capable camera–and I honestly recommend it for both pros and semi-pros. It offers very good image quality, superb battery life, great ergonomics, high reliability in the autofocus department and a load of other cools things like WiFi. At the moment of publishing this article, it doesn’t include app integration for iOS–but that’s coming soon.
It’s a seriously great camera that I’d recommend to sports, photojournalist and wildlife shooters. They’re bound to make the most of it.
By all means, it was an excellent camera. But this is when Nikon was starting to exhaust all possible resources in the DSLR world. They were too big, and even though it was an excellent camera, it didn’t do much to make people want a DSLR still. That camera, however, was every bit as capable in the hands of professional photographers, semi-professionals, and amateurs.
With all this in mind, the mirrorless Nikon D500 replacement must be that much better.
A Mirrorless D500 Replacement: The Wishlist for Features
Let me start with a very strong statement: Nikon users will either hate me for or praise me. Are you ready? The mirrorless Nikon D500 replacement cannot just be an APS-C version of the Nikon Z8 and Z9. And I’m saying that because, at this point, it’s very late to the party. Fujifilm released the XH2 and XH2s, which photographers love. At the time of writing this article, there is no big Sony release. But then there’s also the Canon EOS R7, perhaps the best APS-C camera a photographer can use.
So then, what can the mirrorless Nikon D500 replacement do? And specifically, what can it do for photographers? Well, here are a bunch of ideas:
- More scene detection modes. Insect, reptile, and possibly an underwater mode.
- Fine-tuning the camera to be able to autofocus on POCs with lots of melanin in their skin in low-light situations.
- Give multiple exposure mode the ability to produce RAW files instead of just JPEGs.
- Give the camera a pop-up flash that acts as both a constant LED light and a flash. It would need to have an actual flash, though, and not something like what you have on your phone.
- Don’t skimp on the top dial at the side of the viewfinder like you did with the Nikon z8
- In-camera editing abilities like what Phase One gave to their cameras
- IP durability rating
- More in-camera creative abilities like painting simulations, in-camera compositing, etc.
Essentially, AI imagery has given photographers even more of a reason to need to create in-camera. But I know that Nikon will most likely not deliver any of this. I truly wish for the mirrorless Nikon D500 successor to be a very innovative camera instead of one that just holds its own with everything else on the market. Photographers didn’t need a camera that didn’t have a shutter; they needed more tools to prepare themselves for the paradigm shift going on right now.
When Will it Come?
I hope that this camera comes this year. But if I had to prioritize the D500 successor with the Nikon Zf, I’d want the Nikon Zf each and every time instead.