I’ve always loved carrying a camera to look for photographs that exist in everyday life. Simply looking for pictures is a terrific way to develop your eye and train the visual part of your brain to see photographs in both ordinary places as well as extraordinary ones. Just having a camera on your shoulder inspires you to look, to see, to capture.
“To anyone serious about photography, the smartphone quickly proved to be a profound compromise.”
When the smartphone was introduced, it seemed like a great solution. It was a decent quality camera that was always with you. But to anyone serious about photography, the smartphone quickly proved to be a profound compromise.Of course, it had its strengths — not the least of which was its ability to instantly connect to the Internet and post images on social media. But the smartphone is hobbled by some pretty severe deficiencies as well. My particular model is limited to a fixed wide-angle lens, little control over aperture and shutter speed, and it’s only able to capture to a heavily compressed JPEG file. If I’m going to be making images that I care about, those are some significant weaknesses—not to mention that my smartphone never fires at the exact moment I press the button.
So, the challenge has always been carrying a pro-quality camera without also carrying the weight and size that often goes with it. It’s always required a choice between light weight, responsive handling, or great image quality. But even if you could have all of those qualities, you still wouldn’t be able to immediately post the pictures to Facebook or Instagram, right?
Now you can.
Instant Social Media Posting
For the last several months my smartphone camera has remained in my pocket and I’ve been carrying around a new camera instead.And it’s made an incredible difference in what I see, what I shoot, and most particularly in the quality of the images I capture. Most amazingly though, it’s a professional camera that also allows me to get any image to social media—within seconds.
The camera is the Nikon D500 and it fills a need for me that up until now has remained elusive. Essentially, it’s what I’d create if I had the ability to design my own camera.
What I’d always hoped for was a camera that could work as well capturing a sunrise in Hawaii as it would capturing nighttime images of the Las Vegas strip. The D500 sensor delivers on both with remarkable color fidelity and astoundingly low noise at even the highest ISOs.
Nimble, Responsive, and Wicked Sharp
The responsive handling is also where the D500 leaves so many compact cameras and smartphones behind. My D5 is the benchmark for responsiveness, but the D500 is every bit the obedient machine that it’s big brother is. The camera fires at the exact moment I release the shutter and at 10 frames per second, it rivals the speed of my D5.
It’s also a very nimble companion with the controls positioned precisely where I’d have placed them if I’d engineered it myself. For example, I find myself frequently adjusting ISO to suit the lighting conditions of the moment. With the ISO button positioned just beside the shutter release, I never have to take my eye from the eyepiece to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor.
Another indispensable feature for me is the tilting touchscreen. I love to make ground-level shots which usually makes it next to impossible to see through the eyepiece. Using the tilting touchscreen, I can turn on Live View, place the camera in nearly any position and see precisely what I’m capturing. Once the exposure is made, I can then use the touchscreen on the LCD to zoom into the image to check sharpness or even scroll between images. The D500 touchscreen is thoroughly essential.
For my purposes, the ideal lens for the D500 is the AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR. It has a very useful zoom range, VR for low-light captures, and it’s wicked sharp even wide open. The lens is such a great match to the D500 that I rarely change to any of my other lenses.
The Wonder of SnapBridge
The built-in SnapBridge technology is what puts the D500 over the top for me. Just download the iOS or Android app, connect the body to your smartphone via Bluetooth, and set it to capture some version of a JPEG—including RAW + JPEG. Moments after you press the shutter release on the camera, the image shows up on your smartphone ready to be viewed, posted, or emailed. And all this occurs while the original file remains safely stored on the XQD or SD card within the camera. Simple, speedy, and useful beyond description.